The two documents relate to specific aspects of "conformity assessment" – the name given to the processes used to demonstrate that a product, service, management system or organization  meets specified requirements, such as those of a standard. Both were developed by the ISO Committee on conformity assessment (ISO/CASCO).

The new standard is ISO/IEC 17020:2012, which gives requirements for inspection bodies. Their work can include the examination of materials, products, installations, plants, processes, work procedures or services,  checking that they meet requirements and reporting the results to clients.

Inspection bodies carry out assessments on behalf of private sector clients, or public sector authorizes, with the objective of providing information about the conformity of inspected items with regulations, standards, specifications, inspection schemes or contracts. Inspection parameters include matters of quantity, quality, safety, fitness for purpose, and safety compliance of installations or systems.

ISO/IEC 17020 will help to ensure trust, transparency and good practice in inspection by providing internationally harmonized requirements for inspection bodies.

The new technical specification is ISO/IEC TS 17022:2012, which contains requirements and recommendations for the content of an audit report of a third-party management system certification, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001.

It has been developed to ensure that audit reports include the basic information required of them and to improve their consistency. This will help to increase the credibility of audit teams and the certification process.

Although the audit client and the certification body are the primary users of audit reports, the content of such reports may be required to satisfy the needs of other interested parties, such as accreditation bodies or regulatory authorities.

ISO/IEC 17020, Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection, and ISO/IEC TS 17022, Requirements and recommendations for content of a third-party audit report on management systems, are available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). They may also be obtained directly from the ISO Central Secretariat, price 92 and 50 Swiss francs respectively through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department.