Frequently Asked Questions About Accreditation
Why should my CRA become accredited?
Accreditation is a substantial step in building value within your organization, offering a roadmap to begin to build the quality that will make the difference in what you have to offer, what you deliver and the kind of organization you create. Becoming accredited requires you to formally document all of your policies and procedures, and requires that your processes adhere to those documented policies and procedures. When going through the accreditation process, you may come across items that you are doing today but have not documented and therefore are not doing consistently, items that you had not previously considered and more. Formally documenting your policies makes it easier for you to train new employees and ensure the uniformity of your processes.
Accreditation demonstrates to existing and prospective clients that your firm is able to deliver professional services at a high standard. Accreditation strengthens the marketplace perception of your business’ commitment to excellence, compliance and consumer protection; a powerful advantage in today’s competitive environment. Employers who are themselves not qualified to evaluate your processes rely upon the BSCC's audit to show that your firm complies with industry set standards.
What does the accreditation process entail?
CRAs have six months from the date their letter of intent is submitted to submit their application and payment. Upon acceptance of the application, the applicant has an additional six months to send supporting documentation. (Applicants can submit application, payment and supporting material altogether if preferred). Once the materials, application and payment are received, the information is provided to the auditor who performs a desk audit. Next, the auditor contacts the CRA and arranges a day and time to visit the facility and perform an onsite audit. Once the review is complete, the auditor provides the applicant with a copy of findings, recommendations and any suggested improvements. The applicant has the opportunity to modify its processes according to recommendations and respond to the auditor’s report. At the conclusion of the process, the auditor’s full report is provided to the BSCC for final approval. For more detail, view the BSAAP Policies & Procedures.
What is a reasonable time estimate for a CRA considering accreditation?
This depends on the state of the firm’s current practices and how adequately policies are documented and procedures are followed. The period before submission usually takes six months while the audit process usually takes 3-4 months, depending on the auditor’s schedule and when the auditor is able to visit the facility.
What's a good estimate of the fee(s) for a CRA to become accredited?
Total first year fees are estimated to cost a CRA between $6,000 and $9,000. This estimate consists of two elements: 1) a $5,000 accreditation fee (members) or $7,500 (non-members) made payable to PBSA (organizations that require multiple site visits may incur additional expense), and 2) Estimated auditor travel and expenses for a one-day on-site audit paid directly to the third-party auditor. This fee typically ranges between $1,000 and $1,500. Note that fees are subject to change at the discretion of the BSCC. The current fee schedule is available in the BSAAP Policies & Procedures.
What happens if a CRA doesn't qualify on the first try?
During the review process, the auditor may note non-conformities or opportunities for improvement. The applicant has the opportunity to modify its processes according to the findings and respond to the auditor’s report. Typically, any deficiencies can be handled and addressed enabling the CRA to become accredited. If, however accreditation is denied, and any appeals are not successful, the applicant will be eligible to re-apply for accreditation in one year.
How long does the BSAAP accreditation last?
BSAAP accreditation is valid for five years, provided the accredited CRA successfully completes an Interim Surveillance Audit during its third year of accreditation. At least six months prior to the five-year expiration date, the review process must be repeated which involves submission of an application, fee, supporting self-audit materials, as well as an onsite audit.
What are the tangible benefits of BSAAP accreditation?
Tangible benefits include use of the BSAAP accreditation logo, accreditation status designation in the online directory, press release template announcing your accreditation and exposure resulting from PBSA's marketing and public relations efforts.
Is accreditation available to CRAs outside of the United States?
CRAs providing services under the BSAAP United States Employment Screening Services can apply for accreditation regardless of its physical operating locations. The CRA will be subject to the same audit expectations outlined in the Policies and Procedures. For additional details, please see the Physical Location of Agency Applying for US Accreditation Opinion Letter.
PBSA is also in the process of drafting an expansion to the program which would allow CRAs who provide non-US employment screening background checks to pursue accreditation. The program is expected to be rolled out late in 2021.
What is the BSCC and what is its role?
The BSAAP is both a standard setting and conformity assessment program for CRAs. The governing body for the accreditation program and future personnel certification is the Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC). The role of the BSCC members can be found in the Policies and Procedures and is summarized as follows:
- Annually review all BSAAP Standard and propose changes in the Standard that reflect best practices in consumer reporting
- Review the goals and the program’s mission at the Council’s first meeting of each year
- Periodically review all policies and procedures and propose changes in these documents to meet the ongoing needs of the accreditation program
- Periodically review accreditation fees and propose modifications as deemed necessary
- Vote (with the exception of the Chair) on accreditation and decisions
- Participate in subcommittees of the Council
- Attend scheduled meetings
- Review complaints of an accredited agency’s alleged non-compliance with the Accredited Agency Code of Conduct or the BSAAP Standard and propose appropriate probation periods and/or sanctions
- Select and oversee BSAAP third-party auditor
How do I know there will be no bias by the BSCC when approving or denying accreditation?
Applicants are presented to the BSCC in a “blind” process. Upon receipt at the PBSA office, each application is assigned a unique identifying number containing a combination of letters and numbers which is used on all subsequent audit letters, votes, discussions or other matters presented to the BSCC.