Certification to ISO 9000 series standards is becoming increasingly important for government departments and agencies, according to Howie Ng, chief executive of the Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency (HKQAA). Mr Ng said the move had been partly driven by the insistence of the Works Bureau and the Housing Authority for ISO certification among contractors and consultants. 'They also believe certification will improve their operations and assist them in delivering a better service to their clients,' he said. More than 10 departments and agencies are ISO 9001-certified now that the Civil Engineering Office and the Landslip Prevention Measures branch of the Geotechnical Engineering Office have received certificates. Others include the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, the Housing Department, Government Flying Service, Hong Kong Police Force, Marine Department and the Printing Department. 'Either the whole or part of these organisations are certified,' Mr Ng said. The agency had granted 1,009 certificates up to December 31 last year and is issuing 20 certificates a month. Most have been given to construction firms. But now there was increasing interest from tertiary industries, including medical, tourism and financial services, Mr Ng said. He said successful implementation of ISO 9000 series standards relied heavily on the commitment from management. 'Firms can implement a minimum system to get certified but they cannot get all the benefits. 'To do this needs a commitment from top management which has to involve all levels,' Mr Ng said. 'ISO 9000 can be a flexible, rather than bureaucratic, system. It all depends on how you use it.' Other accreditation bodies, including Bureau Veritas of France, had issued about 1,000 certificates locally, he said. There was also growing interest in ISO 9000 accreditation on the mainland. This had led to the HKQAA setting up a representative office in Guangzhou and becoming a member of the China National Accreditation of Certification Bodies.