Of Standards and Quality

IMMSSOAs PhilRice turns 33 this November, some may say that PhilRice is a government agency, productive in terms of rice research and development (R&D). Others may claim that it’s an Institute housing high caliber researchers and staff consistently receiving recognitions and accolades over the years. Still others may point to its being an instrument in the country’s aim to achieve rice security and rice self-sufficiency. While these may contribute to PhilRice’s attributes, there is more to PhilRice than these. Behind every PhilRice research and development initiative is a standard kept in managing its environment, people, and operations. What is PhilRice’s standard and how is it ensured? That’s what we’ll find out.

R&D complement

PhilRice always had remarkable principles in doing and administering rice R&D. Even so, it had never officially adopted the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) canon until 2003 when Dr. Leocadio S. Sebastian, then PhilRice executive director advocated securing an ISO certification.

On that year, PhilRice received its very first ISO certification – the ISO 14001: Environmental management – through the efforts of the institute’s newly-formed Environmental Standards and System’s Office (ESSO).

In 2006, two more certifications – the ISO 9001: Quality Management and OHSAS 18001: Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series – were awarded to PhilRice. Integrating all certifications, ESSO’s name was changed to Integrated Standards and Systems Office (ISSO).

ISSO’s scope expanded after 11 years to include internal inspection and quality control to assure PhilRice’s compliance to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the Commission on Audit’s (COA) rules and regulations. Thus, ISSO was transformed to Integrated Management Standards and Services Office (IMSSO) in 2017 with Mrs. Hazel Jane M. Orge as its head.

During this year’s Dangal ng PhilRice, IMSSO received the Best Office Group Award from PhilPRAISE chaired by Dr. Karen Eloisa T. Barroga and PhilRice’s current Acting Executive Director, Dr. Sailila E. Abdula. For one, the office was recognized “for its enormous efforts in rallying offices to practice IMS and make it as a way of life that sustained the PhilRice ISO certifications since 2008 with zero major non-conformance” as stated in the citation.

Attention to standards

Asset 2

As an ISO 14001 certified organization, PhilRice maintains an environmental management system to conform to the research institute’s established environmental policy and requirements. Using this standard helps PhilRice improve resource efficiency, reduce waste, drive down costs, and  provide assurance that environmental impact is being measured. It also helps the Institute  gain competitive advantage in supply chain design, increase new business opportunities, meet legal obligations, and  increase stakeholder and customer trust. The standard further  improves overall environmental impact and  manages environmental obligations with consistency.

On the other hand, using the ISO 9001 foundation helps PhilRice ensure that clients get consistent, good quality products, and services. This standard provides guidance and tools for PhilRice to ensure that the institute’s products and services consistently meet customer’s requirements, and that quality is consistently improved in all its research, development, and general support service operations. It is based on a number of quality management principles including a strong customer focus and impact, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach and continual improvement.

PhilRice also reduces the burden of occupational injuries and diseases by adopting OHSAS 18001’s criteria to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks, and create better, safer working conditions in the institute. Losses brought about by early retirements, staff absence, and rising insurance premiums are avoided through this series.

Leading of IMSSO

Considering the ISO frameworks, IMSSO is tasked to lead efforts toward continuous improvement in PhilRice’s management systems and to ensure full integration of all relevant standards on environmental protection, occupational safety and health, and client satisfaction to ensure quality outputs of the Institute.

With almost a thousand employees and a number of operations being followed through in all stations, how does IMSSO ensure PhilRice standards? Only 10 staff comprised of a safety officer, an environmental management officer, 5 maintenance personnel, admin staffs, and an integrated management representative makes up the office and they are the ones tasked to oversee conformance to the integrated management systems. So how do they do it?

Asset 3

Living it all together

Ensuring PhilRice standards needs cooperation and  behavioral change always proves to be a challenge.

“More than the mindset of compliance to be ISO-certified, each PhilRice staff must embody the standards in their way of life. Each must have genuine concern in the quality of work each delivers. This is why the Service Performance Management System with three indicators – quality, quantity, and timeliness – are put in place to guide us in our work,” Orge said.

Orge also shared that every staff of PhilRice must make sure that they are also concerned in taking good care of themselves. For example, staff driving or riding a bicycle must follow the speed limit on the road while writers must make sure to write under proper illumination, and that each staff must practice proper waste segregation and not just leaving the task alone to the janitors. It’s also important to make sure that there is nothing blocking the fire exits in case of emergency. Apart from IMSSO, every staff must adopt the mentality/mindset.

When grocery shopping, we don’t just buy anything we lay our hands on. For some, we naturally check its expiration date, brand, and price. When considering our better half, we don’t just choose anyone we randomly see. Feelings, commitment, finances, physical aspects, and other factors are reckoned with. When doing just about anything, whether consciously or sub-consciously, each of us has a standard we keep – an idea we use as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations – that help us make decisions and actions in achieving our desired results. When proper standards are integrated in us, it becomes more natural, consistent, and automatic.

Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute