The public sector is the largest service provider in any country, offering a broad array of services that directly affect residents’ lives. The challenges are many, not least balancing the expectations of citizens with budget constraints, environmental impacts and demographic changes. In these tough economic times, local governments need to effectively manage the available resources and processes and work together as a system.

This is where ISO 18091, Quality management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001 in local government, makes a real difference. The recently updated standard aims to help local authorities maintain a high level of service while improving sustainability. It provides diagnostic models and tools for implementing a comprehensive quality management system that will contribute to making local authorities both efficient and reliable.

According to local government specialist Carlos Gadsden, Convenor of the technical committee that revised the standard, we can build stronger regional, national and global governments simply by strengthening integrity in local governance. He said: “ISO 18091 constitutes an excellent tool for local governments to reassure citizens that their needs and expectations are fully understood and met on a consistent basis and in a timely manner.”

ISO 18091 is the first ISO standard directed at the public sector that gives guidelines for the implementation of ISO 9001 in local government, taking account of the context in which it operates. It has been updated to include the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 for quality management systems and a series of annexes to help users get the most out of the standard, including a diagnostic methodology for local authorities to evaluate the scope and maturity of their processes and services.

As Gadsden explains, this is not just a technical document for technicians, but an essential tool for politicians to make “politically viable” what is technically indispensable in local governments and their territories. “Local governments can use these annexes to assess their progress across the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)1) and ensure the continuity of administrative performance needed to sustain the implementation of the SDGs at the local level”, he says. “This will help them become more efficient, thus saving on resources, implement evidence-based decision making, increase engagement and, ultimately, embed the SDGs in the local context.”

ISO 18091 was developed by ISO/TC 176, Quality management and quality assurance, the technical committee behind ISO 9001, whose secretariat is held by SCC, ISO’s member for Canada. It can be purchased from your national ISO member or through the ISO Store.


1) The Sustainable Development Goals form part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global plan of action for people, planet and prosperity now and in the future.