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The Validated Audit Process is the EICC's standard for effective, shareable audits.
One of the most fundamental programs the EICC provides to its members is the Validated Audit Process (VAP). Established in 2009, in 2014 the VAP program will complete its one-thousandth audit, finalize its fifth audit protocol, and release its first comprehensive audit findings report. As the program has grown it has become more complex, with hundreds of auditors from nine firms executing the protocol in more than 20 countries. The current EICC VAP, version 4.0, is in effect until March 31, 2015. An updated, 5.0, version was ratified in 2014 and goes into effect on April 1, 2015.
Audits carried out on EICC member facilities and their suppliers' facilities are completed by independent, third-party auditors specially trained in social and environmental auditing and the VAP audit protocol. The EICC offers trainings for auditors and corporate audit program managers in VAP audits. The trainings are run by internationally-recognized, non-profit supply chain sustainability group Verité at multi-day, in-person trainings that take place several times per year. Please see the EICC events calendar for a complete listing of these trainings.
A typical VAP audit at a single manufacturing facility may last 2-5 days and includes a thorough document review, interviews with management and employees and a visual site survey. Auditors are specially trained to spot hard-to-find audit protocol violations like instances of forced labor, and are specialists in understanding contexts where some violations are more common, such as excessive working hours in areas with high migrant worker populations.
VAP auditors’ reports must be submitted to the EICC Audit Program Manager for review and quality control. The EICC Audit Program Manager comes from the leading social responsibility consulting firm Vectra. Vectra does not conduct their own audits but manages the VAP audit process, including overseeing quality control of VAP audit reports.
Where VAP audits uncover non-compliances to the audit protocol, those findings are rated by severity as “minor,” “major” or “priority.” All three categories of findings have specified periods of time during which the facility in question must remedy the findings and implement systems to prevent reoccurrences. Remedy and prevention plans are part of corrective action plans (CAPs) as referenced above.
A key initial impetus for the founding of the EICC, and one of its continued benefits to its members today, is the practice of sharing audits. Many EICC members share common suppliers, and those suppliers also share common suppliers. Whenever a single EICC member audits its own or a supplier’s facility, the member can share the audit findings with other customers of that facility that are also EICC members. Sharing audits saved EICC members and their suppliers over $2 million in 2013, which not only creates business efficiency but also ensures that cost is less of a barrier for companies seeking to ensure that their and their suppliers’ facilities are living up to the EICC Code of Conduct and protecting workers and their communities.
These documents are selected chapters from the audit operations manual. Please note the entire audit operations manual is not publicly available. All documents here are from version 5.0.1, which goes into effect on April 1, 2015. Until then, we are still auditing against version 4.0.3.
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