The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) formally received its ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System or QMS) certification.

The ceremony for the handing over of the ISO Compliance Certificate was held on 27 January 2020 at the Carlos P. Romulo Library, Department of Foreign Affairs, with the entire FSI officers and staff in attendance.

Ms. Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Officer-in-Charge (Director-General), receives the ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management System) Certificate from independent auditor, SOCOTEC Certification Philippines, represented by Ms. Laureen Grace Calmerin. This milestone for the FSI was witnessed by Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs J. Eduardo Malaya (extreme right) and Development Academy of the Philippines Vice-President Arnel Abanto (extreme left).

“The certificate is the tangible proof of FSI’s commitment to meet customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance, good governance, transparency, predictability and reliability, and ultimately, high quality service to country,” said FSI Officer-in-Charge (Director-General) Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat, as she congratulated FSI officers and staff for the hard work to achieve QMS compliance.   

Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary J. Eduardo Malaya witnessed the event, and likewise congratulated FSI for the QMS certification. He noted the “quick progress of FSI in QMS compliance under the leadership of Director-General Balatbat,” having completed both the QMS implementation and audit in less than a year.

“This certification is a testament not only to what good leadership can achieve, but also to what a collective will and effort of empowered employees can accomplish,” Mr. Malaya added.

SOCOTEC Certification Philippines, Inc., an independent auditor, assessed the Institute for QMS compliance on 03 and 16 December 2019. SOCOTEC Business Development and Client Relations Manager Laureen Grace Calmerin represented SOCOTEC in the ceremony.

Ms. Calmerin told FSI officers and staff that having been ISO certified is something to “brag about,” as she explained, “At present, there are 3,730 organizations in the Philippines certified against QMS. Knowing this, you should feel proud as you are now among those who are ISO certified in the country.”

Guests from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also witnessed the handing over ceremony.

The Institute went through a series of trainings conducted by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) from April to December 2019, courtesy of DAP’s P1.3 Million Technical Assistance Grant for FSI.

DAP’s Team that facilitated the QMS trainings and seminars-workshops for FSI also attended the ceremony, with DAP Vice-President and Managing Director Arnel Abanto.

OIC Director-General Balatbat had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the DAP in February 2019 to secure the said Grant for the ISO certification process.

The Technical Assistance Grant covered the following seminars and workshops:

  • Orientation on QMS
  • QMS Requirements and Documentation
  • Process-mapping and Risk-based Quality Planning
  • QMS Documentation
  • Enhancement of Operational Controls and Procedures
  • Auditing QMS
  • Root Cause Analysis and Corrective Action Formulation
  • 5S (Workplace Cleaning and Organizing Technique)
  • Management Review
  • Readiness Assessment

FSI OIC Director-General Balatbat acknowledged DAP’s guidance, assistance, and unwavering support throughout FSI’s QMS journey in 2019.

“Achieving the certification is not the end goal. We expect to continue this journey and keep finding ways to improve the way we do things and make QMS a part of our culture and DNA,” emphasized OIC Director-General Balatbat.

She cited as examples the Institute’s recently implemented Document Tracking System, which shall better track turnaround time for completing action on tasks, and plans to develop a dashboard of performance indicators for FSI.

The Core Team that led the staff of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in an eight-month series of Quality Management System trainings/seminars-workshops joins FSI Officer-in-Charge (Director-General) Celeste Vinzon-Balatbat and Acting Secretary of Foreign Affairs J. Eduardo Malaya in receiving the ISO Certification from independent auditor SOCOTEC Certification Philippines. Also in photo are representatives from the Development Academy of the Philippines.

The certification is a step towards FSI’s attaining its vision to be “among the leading institutions in Asia for diplomatic training and foreign policy research by 2026.”

OIC Director-General Balatbat’s initiative to pursue ISO certification is in line with FSI’s 2019-2026 Strategic Plans, which include “Improvement of Its Systems and Processes,” and follows DFA’s earlier example of obtaining ISO certification.

The Institute’s ISO certification shall inspire its personnel to continue to improve their service quality, particularly in research and training.