The vast majority of disputes are resolved through the three step processes described below and do not rise to the level of administrative review. The first level for the resolution of conflicts, disputes, or differences of opinion occurs between the organization and their assigned lead auditor. Should a successful resolution not be reached, the organization and lead auditor shall present the situation to the appropriate audit manager for discussion and resolution. If resolution is still not reached to the satisfaction of all parties involved, the organization may elevate discussion of the situation to the third level, the NSF International Strategic Registrations (NSF) Certification Board. The organization shall attempt to resolve the dispute at these levels before requesting an administrative review.
An organization, or any other party, directly affected by a decision or action of NSF related to registration by NSF, may request an administrative review. The request shall be in writing to the president of NSF, and state the reasons for requesting an administrative review. The request shall be acknowledged within ten (10) calendar days of receipt, and shall state the name of the NSF staff person assigned to conduct the review NSF may, at its discretion, hold in abeyance any enforcement action against an organization until the administrative review has been conducted. A request for an administrative review shall not entitle the requesting party to be provided any information to which it is not otherwise entitled by applicable law, regulation, NSF policy, or NSF procedures. NSF shall, within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the written request, inform the Organization or the party in writing of the results of the review.
NSF may, at its discretion, hold in abeyance any action required as a result of the administrative review during the time prescribed in the policy for requesting a formal appeal.
An organization, or any other party, directly affected by a decision or action of NSF related to registration by NSF that has requested and been granted an administrative review, but that is not satisfied with the results of the administrative review, may request a formal appeal. The request for formal appeal shall:
The appellant may request a final appeal by an appeals panel if it is not satisfied with the decision of the formal appeal. A final appeal shall not be recognized (or acknowledged) until completion of a formal appeal.
The request for final appeal shall:
Along with the request, the appellant shall pay $10,000.00 U.S. to NSF for NSF's fee for the appeal. NSF shall compensate each appeals panel member $1,000.00 U.S. and pay for the travel, housing, and meal expenses of the panel members to attend the meeting. If the decision of the President is for the appellant, NSF shall reimburse this payment, and the payment for the formal appeal, to the appellant.
The request for the final appeal shall be acknowledged by NSF within ten (10) calendar days of receipt. NSF may, at its discretion, hold in abeyance any enforcement action against an Organization until a decision has been made in response to this appeal.
The final appeal shall be heard by a three (3) member appeals panel. The appeals panel shall be appointed by the chair of the NSF Advisory Council from a list of acceptable candidates agreed to by both parties.
Within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the acknowledgment letter, each party shall submit, to the secretary of the NSF Advisory Council, a list of names of five (5) candidates to serve on the appeals panel. The candidates shall have had no direct involvement with the action being appealed. The secretary of the NSF Advisory Council shall provide to each party a list of candidates for the appeals panel that shall include all members of the NSF Advisory Council and the names of the additional candidates submitted by the appellant and NSF. Each party shall within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the list, cross off any names it objects to, and return the list to the secretary of the NSF Advisory Council. The appeals panel shall be appointed by the chair of the NSF Advisory Council from the marked-up list of candidates provided by each party. If any panel member declines the appointment, the chair of the NSF Advisory Council shall appoint another panel member from the lists.
Before the appeal may go forward, the appellant and NSF shall agree in writing to hold harmless, defend, and indemnify each member of the appeals panel for matters arising out of the appeals process.
Each party shall prepare a written submittal supporting its position but is limited to addressing the decision of the formal appeal or the issues in the written submittals presented in the formal appeal. New information supporting the issues presented in the formal appeal may be provided, but the appellant and NSF shall not raise any new issues. Five (5) copies of the written submittals shall be received by the secretary of the NSF Advisory Council within 15 calendar days of the acknowledgment. Written submittals are limited to ten (10) pages maximum, including references and documentation, which shall be considered with the written submittals provided for the formal appeal. Supporting documentation, as appropriate, shall be made a part of the written submittal and may include notes, correspondence, memoranda, legal or technical opinions, standards, policies, or any other items which bear on or relate to NSF's disputed decision, so long as the documents are not protected by confidentiality agreements that prohibit their disclosure.
The secretary of the NSF Advisory Council shall, within seven (7) calendar days of receipt, distribute the written submittals to both parties and each member of the appeals panel, and set a meeting date. Unless otherwise agreed to by both parties and the appeals panel members, the meeting shall occur within 30 calendar days of distribution of the written submittals. The final appeal meeting is not a legal hearing, and may not involve legal counsel except with the advance agreement of both parties. If agreed, each party may have legal counsel present, but the legal counsel shall not make the oral argument. Each party shall be represented by one person only for purposes of the oral presentations and rebuttal. Up to four (4) representatives of each party shall be permitted to attend, inclusive of the respective presenter and legal counsel. There shall be no electronic recording or verbatim transcription of the proceedings unless agreed to in advance by both parties.
Unless otherwise agreed to by both parties, the secretary of the NSF Advisory Council shall provide administrative support to the appeals panel, and shall attend the meeting for the purpose of assuring proper conduct of the meeting. In this capacity, the secretary shall not be considered one of the representatives of NSF as it relates to the subject matter of the appeal, and the secretary shall not question any presenters, participate in discussions, or otherwise influence the decision of the panel.
If appeals panelists do not agree, the majority opinion shall be reported. The appeals panel shall provide a written recommendation to the president, endorsed by at least two (2) of the appeals panel members within 15 calendar days of the meeting.
Note: By intent, there is no chair of the appeals panel. If there is a unanimous or majority recommendation, the panel members shall agree upon one member to write the opinion; however, the final recommendation shall be agreed to and signed by all concurring panel members.
The President's decision shall be transmitted in writing to both parties within thirty (30) calendar days of the meeting. The final decision shall ensure appropriate correction and corrective action are taken.