COVID-19 NOTICE: The operational impacts of COVID-19 are leading to the postponement of some VAP and SVAP assessments across industries. We are remaining in regular communication with members and participating suppliers and actively working with all facilities to accommodate requests for rescheduling. Assessments will be scheduled at the earliest possible date with consideration given to maintaining health and safety. The expiration date on a current VAP or SVAP is still valid but we are offering flexibility if a facility needs to reschedule.
One of the most fundamental RBA programs is the Validated Assessment Program (VAP), which is the leading standard for onsite compliance verification and effective, shareable audits. The RBA itself does not conduct the audits but rather sets the standards and relies on approved audit firms. Since 2009, RBA members have completed more than 4,000 VAP onsite compliance audits conducted by independent third-party audit firms that have been approved by the RBA to execute the VAP protocol. As the program has grown it has become more complex, with hundreds of auditors from 11 firms in more than 20 countries.
VAP Recognition Program
The RBA recognizes that the primary value of an on-site compliance audit is not in the identification of issues at a factory, but in the correction of those issues. We want to recognize those factories that demonstrate their commitment to corporate responsibility through verified closure of the issues identified in a VAP audit.
We offer three levels of recognition:
- Platinum: for factories with a minimum VAP score of 200 and all Priority, Major and Minor findings closed
- Gold: for factories with a minimum VAP score of 180 and all Priority and Major findings closed
- Silver: for factories with a minimum VAP score of 160 and all Priority findings closed
To meet the requirements for recognition, all audits must be a Full VAP. The following audit types are not eligible for recognition:
- Customer Managed Audit (CMA)
- Auditee Managed Audit (AMA)
- Customized Assessment
- New Factory Evaluation
- VAP: Service Provider
- VAP Audit Report completed with exceptions
VAP Guidance Documents
The below documents are selected chapters from the VAP operations manual. Please note the entire VAP operations manual is not publicly available. If you have any questions, please contact us.
- Auditee Preparation (English)
- Auditee Corrective Action Plan Management (English)
- Root Cause Analysis (English)
- Code Interpretation Guidance (v7.0, effective as of Jan. 1, 2021) (English)
- New Code Interpretation Guidance (v7.1, effective July 1, 2022) (English)
- Remote Audit Program During COVID-19 (English)
- Operations Manual Notifications
- Working Hours Guidance (English)
- Definition of Fees (effective as of Jan. 1, 2021) (English)
- Worker-Type Guidance (English)
- VAP Definitions (English)
More About VAP Audits
Audits carried out on RBA member facilities and their suppliers' facilities are completed by independent third-party auditors specially trained in social and environmental auditing and the VAP protocol. Please see the RBA events calendar for a complete listing of trainings.
For more information about auditor qualifications, please see the Auditor Guidebook.
A typical VAP onsite audit at a single manufacturing facility may last 2-5 days and includes a thorough document review, interviews with management and employees and a visual site survey. The VAP uses local, native-speaking auditors where possible and they are specially trained to spot hard-to-find VAP protocol violations like instances of forced labor. They are also specialists in understanding where some violations are more common, such as excessive working hours in areas with high migrant worker populations.
VAP reports written by the independent audit firms must be submitted to the Audit Quality Manager (AQM) for review and quality control.
Where VAP audits uncover non-compliances to the protocol, those findings are rated by severity as “minor,” “major” or “priority.” All three categories of findings have specified periods of time during which the facility in question must remedy the findings and implement systems to prevent reoccurrences. Remedy and prevention plans are part of corrective action plans (CAPs) referenced above.
A key initial impetus for the founding of the RBA, and one of its continued benefits to its members today, is the practice of sharing audits. Many RBA members share common suppliers, and those suppliers also share common suppliers. Whenever a single RBA member audits its own or a supplier’s facility, the member can share the findings with other customers of that facility that are also RBA members. Sharing audits saves RBA members and their suppliers millions of dollars each year, which not only creates business efficiency but also ensures that cost is less of a barrier for companies seeking to ensure that their facilities and those of their suppliers are living up to the RBA Code of Conduct and protecting workers and their communities.
In 2018, the RBA began a new project to increase sharing of audits, known as the Audit Cooperation Program.
- VAP Introduction and Overview (v7.0).
- RBA Code of Conduct
- Glossary and Frequently Asked Questions
- Approved Audit Firms for VAP
- Auditor Guidebook
- VAP Third-Party Payer Process
- AQM-Managed CAP Process
- Grievance Mechanism
- Worker-Type Chart from VAP Ops Manual
- Auditee Agreement
- Authorized Recipient Attachment (Attachment B)
- Third-Party Validated Audit Costing Approval (Attachment D)
Scheduling a VAP Assessment
Don't have your RBA-Online login information? Contact us.
Trainings on VAP
View upcoming VAP trainings here.