The HCV Network Secretariat recently published the results of an independent review of the Assessor Licensing Scheme (ALS) which provides recommendations for continuous improvement of the scheme. This page provides follow-up information on improvements being implemented by the Secretariat with approval from the HCV Network Management Committee (the governance body that oversees the ALS).

Please note that this page will be regularly updated.

Actions taken

Action 1 - Publish full HCV and HCV-HCSA assessment reports in their original language and remove Public Summary requirement.

Rationale: Licensed Assessors are required to submit a Public Summary (in the language of the full assessment report, plus English*) once all Key Issue sections in the full report are 'Satisfactory’. The final report evaluation outcome is not published until the Public Summary has been developed, translated, and submitted (by the assessor), and then checked for consistency with the full report (by the Secretariat team). Producing, translating, submitting, and checking Public Summaries adds a substantial amount of time to report evaluation timelines (in some cases, this has added up to seven months!). To address concerns over sensitive/confidential information in reports (main reason why the ALS has never published full reports) the Secretariat proposes to develop a procedure in coordination with the assessor and grower working groups.

*This requirement came from the RSPO New Planting Procedure (2015). The 2021 NPP no longer requires this.

Cut-off date for implementation: Friday July 2nd, 2021. Note: The change is applicable to reports under evaluation (to speed-up publication of results) and all assessment reports submitted from July 2nd, onwards.

Decision: The Management Committee approved this action on July 2nd, 2021. The MC asked the Secretariat to develop the procedure in coordination with assessors and growers.

Implementation: The Secretariat held calls on July 12 & 13, 2021 to socialize this improvement. 130 people were invited, including Licensed Assessors, organisations comissioning assessments and members of the QP and Assessor, and grower working groups. Minutes were shared with those who participated in the call. Duringt the call, the Secretariat gathered input for developing a first draft procedure to handle sensitive/confidential information in reports.

Next steps: The Secretariat drafted a procedure for assessment reports which include sensitive or confidential information that needs to be redacted. The draft procedure was shared with ALS participants from August 20th to September 1st, 2021 to gather further feedback. The Secretariat is working on the final procedure.

Action 2 - Remove the requirement that Licensed Assessors must only submit satisfactory reports. This means the ALS will no longer cancel the licence of Licensed Assessors if their report is unsatisfactory.

Rationale: Currently, the ALS Specification establishes that Provisionally Licensed Assessors are only allowed one unsatisfactory report and that all reports submitted by Fully Licensed Assessors must be satisfactory. This means that if Provisionally Licensed Assessors obtain a second unsatisfactory mark or Fully Licensed Assessors obtain an unsatisfactory mark, their licence is cancelled. This rule was originally established to ensure that only the highest performing assessors were part of the ALS. However, in practice, the Secretariat has found that some reports may fail due to circumstances that are beyond the direct responsibility of Licensed Assessors. Cancelling licences due to unsatisfactory marks also reduces the total number of available assessors, which affects organizations commissioning assessments. Note that the Management Committee (governing body of the ALS) may still remove poor performing assessors from the ALS via the Complaints Procedure or via an Internal Investigation.

Consultation: The Secretariat consulted ALS participants about this improvement from August 4th to 18th and received 27 responses (26 agreed, 1 disagreed). Inputs received were collated to inform the Management Commimttee's decision.

Decision: In process of approval by the Management Committee.

Next steps: The ALS Specification and other relevant documents will be updated to reflect this change. To promote further transparency, the website will be updated to show more information about Licensed Assessor performance.


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