Transition from Approved Arrangements (AA) to the Authorised Officer (AO) model frequently asked questions

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When will AAs be phased out?

Approved Arrangements are being phased out now. The Grain and Plant Products Export Industry Consultative Committee endorsed the plan to phase out existing grain and plant product AAs by 30 June 2014 . Some flexibility has been afforded to fodder and forest products , while further work has been undertaken to update instructional material. All organisations operating under an AA are encouraged to start transitioning to the AO model as soon as possible.

Why are AAs being phased out?

Amendments to the Export Control (Plants and Plant Products) Order 2011 were made to improve the effectiveness of export inspection and certification services and to reduce costs to exporters. AAs currently refer to out -of -date legislation and work instructions. With exporters aligning to the new processes, there will be more consistency and efficiency in maintaining phytosanitary standards. Another advantage of moving to the AO model is that data collected in the Department of Agriculture’s new plant export management system (PEMS) which allow traceability and oversight of inspection records , as well as enhanced reporting of baseline performance in all registered establishments. This will assist the department identify establishments with a good compliance record and therefore less frequent audits. Inspection record data collected from establishments operating under an AA will remain paper based.

How does a company on an AA transition to the AO model?

Establishments operating under AAs are encouraged to transition to the AO model by their staff becoming an AO. For this to occur, they will need to fill in an application form, which can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website.

Further information can be accessed at The Authorised Officer (AO) Company Information Pack.

Is this the only option for a company to transition to the AO model?

The options for transitioning to the AO model include a:

  • company employee trained and approved as an AO to inspect the specific commodities for export
  • third party provider who can provide an AO trained to inspect the commodities for export, at commercial rates
  • company employee or third party provider AO trained to survey empty containers or vessels, at commercial rates
Department of Agriculture AOs trained to inspect specific commodities, empty containers or vessels at the fee for service rates.

Can an Approved Inspector (AI) transfer to a new company and retain their current accreditations or do they need to apply to become an AO and complete new training?

An AI must become an AO before they can undertake inspections with the new company. Every AO candidate will need to complete the online training and assessment process and be deemed competent prior to undertaking inspections. Once they become an AO, they can work in any establishment.

Can an organisation operating an AA continue to operate that arrangement if all AIs have left?

No. The AA cannot continue if all AIs have left the organisation.

Can an organisation operating an AA employ both AIs and AOs?

Yes. The AI will continue working under the AA according to the procedures and documentation within the PMS. The AO will work using the relevant Department of Agriculture Work Instructions from the Plant Export Operations Manual. The AA should be aiming to complete its full transition to the AO model as soon as possible.

Can an Approved Arrangement add another commodity or destination country to its AA?

No. As approved arrangements are being phased out, all companies must transition to the AO model if they want to export a different commodity or to another country not covered by their AA.

If a company had a Sampling Arrangement which has now expired, can the method of sampling collection continue using an AO?

No. The AO must operate under the current Work Instructions from the Plant Export Operation Manual which allows additional flexibility in sample collections.

If an AA is suspended, due to an audit outcome, will they be able to be reinstated?

No. Due to the phasing out of AAs there will be no reinstatement. The Department of Agriculture will work with the company to assist their transition to the AO model.

What happens if I don’t transition to the AO model?

An AA can continue to operate beyond 30 June, 2014 and will not be penalised. If the AA is suspended due to a critical non-conformity, the AA will be revoked.

As operations affecting the AA change, for example changes to key personnel, access to new markets or a new export commodity, there will be no approvals given to amend the AA. Companies are strongly encouraged to be proactive in transitioning to the AO model ahead of an AA becoming redundant.

At present there is no charge for training, and businesses should take advantage of this before AO training become fully cost recovered. You are encouraged to contact your regional office to discuss your options. You may also contact the Authorised Officer Program at Plant Export Training