I used to criticize Bob King and Bob Knappenberger, the former heads of ANAB, but let’s be honest: since their departure — and that of VP Randy Dougherty — ANAB has become an absolute shit-show. First of all, they have a viper’s nest of eight Vice Presidents, and no senior executive above them to manage anything. Next, those VPs (I’m told) privately can’t stand each other, and each thinks they will be the next CEO. It’s like an episode of Succession, but where everyone is an idiot.

Worse, since the departure of Knappenberger and Dougherty, ANAB has just thrown out any pretense that it gives two or more shits about conflicts of interest. Initially, they hired Keith Greenaway as the leader to replace the retired Knappenberger, and they thought no one would notice that he was actually the son of Skip Greenaway, the President of EAGLE Registrations, which happened to be accredited by ANAB. Yes, it meant that Junior was accrediting Daddy’s company, and ANAB hoped you wouldn’t notice the nepotism.

Apparently, Junior didn’t do a very good job at ANAB and quietly left. So quietly, there wasn’t even an announcement about it, and that left the power vacuum you have now. But the allergy to ethics remains in place, led largely by ANAB’s VP of Conformity Assessment Strategy, Reinaldo Figueiredo of Brazil. Figueiredo has been an absolute train wreck, or as they say in Brasil, um pedaço de merda.

More Conflicts of Interest? Yes, Please!

And so, in 2022, ANAB accredited ASQ to ISO 17024 for its credentialing programs, such as the (dubious) Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) and Certified Quality Engineer (CQE) badges. The problem is this: ASQ used to own ANAB, and the conflicts of interest are still very much present.

You may recall that previously, ANAB’s full name was the “ANSI/ASQ National Accreditation Board,” making ASQ one-half of the “A”. (Now, ANSI is the whole A, or, as I like to call them, an “A whole.”)

But ASQ was hemorrhaging members because apparently, millennials don’t fall for multilevel marketing cults, so it took some drastic steps. First, ASQ sold ANAB in 2018 outright and evicted ANAB from its offices. Then, ASQ then spun off its credentialing programs to a new company, ASQExcellence (ASQE), in what some have argued was an illegal tax-dodge scheme. (The argument goes as follows: ASQ member dues paid for the development of the CQA and CQE intellectual property, only to have it handed over to ASQE without member vote. Oxebridge consulted a tax attorney and confirmed that something probably needs to be resolved in court over this, but no litigants have come forth from within ASQ to mount the case. Because Oxebridge isn’t an ASQ member, we can’t sue.)

The “firewall,” we are supposed to believe, is that ANAB’s new accreditation to ASQE isn’t a conflict because of these sleight-of-hand card tricks. Technically, “ASQE” never owned ANAB, it was ASQ, and that was all years ago, so it’s fine.

Of course, it’s ethical bullshit, but about on track with ANAB’s current state of thinking.

And it doesn’t erase the clearly bad optics. Let’s face it, the same people work there, so it means the same people overseeing ANAB’s accreditation decisions are dealing directly with the same people at ASQ they previously worked with.

But it gets ickier still. The announcement of the ANAB accreditation was led by one of ANAB’s other VPs, Vijay Krishna, VP of Credentialing Programs. Krishna even signed the ANAB cert for ASQ (see right). The problem here is that Krishna was selling ISO 17024 accreditations back when ASQ owned ANAB (see here for one example from 2016), meaning that there was a massive conflict of interest in his role in accrediting ASQ now, to that same standard.

Nobody Remembers Mike Carmody

There’s also a sordid history here. Originally, ANAB was called “RAB” (for Registrar Accreditation Board), and simultaneously credentialed auditors that they later audited for CB accreditation. That arrangement was rife with fraud since it allowed RAB to “write up” CB clients with nonconformities against their auditors; nonconformities which could conveniently be closed if the CB bought some RAB training courses. The scandal led RAB to be broken up, and the ANAB brand was created. The credentialing program was sold to Michael Carmody, in Australia, who created RABQSA. RABQSA was then, itself, accredited to ISO 17024 by JAS-ANZ, also in Australia.

Carmody, known as a bigmouthed bulldog who cared little for rules, immediately announced he would offer a “discount” for ASQ CQA holders if they applied for RABQSA Lead Auditor roles. That prompted Oxebridge to file a noisy complaint against RABQSA, alleging violations of ISO 17024. That standard required RABQSA to do a “crosswalk” study of CQA program requirements against the RABQSA Lead Auditor program, and to take other actions to rule out conflicts.

Carmody did none of that, and slow-walked the investigation, while a crony at JAS-ANZ dropped the investigation, claiming it was “lost” in the records. Carmody never produced the crosswalk, and eventually dropped the ASQ offer entirely. He then resigned, and RABQSA was sold to become Exemplar.

Exemplar, for its part, dropped accreditation entirely, allowing it to do whatever it wanted, arguing that the competition — IRCA in the UK — had never been accredited, so why should Exemplar?

So, yes, all those ISO 9001 Lead Auditor certs out there right now are the product of two huge, unaccredited certificate mills.

Now, ANAB not only finds itself accrediting ASQ, which used to own it, overseen by a guy who used to sell the same exact accreditations for ASQ, but also giving a convenient advantage to ASQ’s top competitor, Exemplar.

The question now is whether ANAB will use its role at the IAF (where ANAB VP Lori Gillespie is Vice-Chair) to influence ISO/CASCO (where ANAB VP Reinaldo Figueiredo is Chair) to require “accredited credentials” for all ISO Lead Auditors. If so, that would immediately prohibit credentials issued by IRCA and Exemplar, granting ANAB’s buddy ASQ sole industry access. “CQA” could replace the traditional Lead Auditor credential.

I personally think it’s unlikely because (a) Gillespie isn’t that smart, (b) CQA isn’t really designed for certification auditing, and (c) ISO might not play along, despite ANAB’s influence at CASCO, because of the really-bad optics. But the fact that the issue becomes something we have to consider just shows how ethics-averse ANAB is now.

There’s nothing not shitty about this arrangement.

About Christopher Paris

Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 30 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001 and Surviving AS9100. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.


ISO 14001 Implementation