While JACIE continues to schedule and conduct inspections, the current situation of the pandemic has required some adaptations to the format of the inspections. Currently, JACIE offers onsite and remote inspections to qualifying applicants. The existence of different inspection modalities has allowed JACIE to adapt to the specific situation of each centre with respect to COVID-19 with great flexibility: although the main inspection modality is onsite, remote inspections are a good alternative when the security of the inspection equipment cannot be guaranteed.
Remote inspections have made it possible on various occasions to carry out inspections that would have had to be cancelled due to the high risk of contagion. The results obtained in recent inspections have shown that the restructuring from an onsite inspection to a remote one is perfectly plausible despite having a very limited time due to rapid rebounds in the rate of infections: in a recent case, due to the perimeter closure of a country, it was necessary to change an inspection to remote mode with only two weeks in advance.
Remote inspections consist of 2-3 half day videoconferences where inspectors have the opportunity to meet and interview (1: 1) the applicant centre team, as well as discuss any findings among themselves. From the JACIE office, several rooms are prepared in Microsoft Teams:
- one for each inspection area, for interviews;
- one for the inspection team to discuss certain common issues;
- and another general room with the complete equipment of the applicant centre for the opening and closing meetings.
To facilitate the evaluation by the inspectors, applicants are requested to provide a video tour of their facilities following specific instructions from JACIE.
Recently, since some inspectors have faced last minute difficulties to travel for an onsite inspection which complicates going remote, JACIE has also implemented a hybrid inspection model. This hybrid model consists of having part of the inspection team onsite, while the inspectors with travel restrictions conduct simultaneously a remote inspection. This solution allows us to maintain the inspection dates as originally scheduled, thanks to the collaboration of the applicants and the inspectors. The applicants need to set up meeting rooms to allow both on site and remote inspectors to participate jointly and to provide streaming for the tour of the facilities, while the inspectors need to work as a team despite the distance.