UK-based ISO 9001 registrar URS (United Registrar of Systems) has closed a complaint filed against it by Oxebridge, after another ISO Whistleblower Program report. A source reported that URS’ office in Doha Qatar had quoted a combined ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 certification audit for an audit duration dramatically below that required by accreditation rules, presumably to win the contract by offering a low price. Oxebridge reported the quote to URS’ home office in the UK, which launched an investigation.
URS responded by acknowledging the rules had been violated, but then claimed the problem was isolated to a single incident by a single URS Middle East employee, who was then reprimanded. URS insists that no other incidents have occurred.
Oxebridge has subsequently discovered the “employee” involved was Marketing Executive Jojith Jose, a senior member of the URS Middle East team, and not a lower-level staffer.
Certification bodies routinely write nonconformities against ISO 9001 certified clients for “poor root cause analysis” when a client blames “operator error” as a root cause. Instead, they insist, systemic corrective action must be implemented, and that blaming an individual is an ineffective solution.
More troubling, however, was that URS then blamed the company that reported the problem originally, claiming the company “was not genuine.” URS then expanded on this idea in its official root cause analysis, and added a veiled threat aimed at the whistleblower:
The cause of this issue is complex and we have received worrying feedback from our URS ME Office regarding some malpractice towards them involving false applications for Certification. (This is a separate issue that will be monitored by Head Office and the correct authorities informed when appropriate evidence is gathered).
Oxebridge responded to URS by insisting that the “root cause” cannot be the victim.
Regardless of the tone of URS’ response, Oxebridge has accepted the findings and closed the complaint on its end. If similar proposals by URS Middle East are discovered, however, the issue will be reopened or escalated to UKAS.
The data collected by the ISO Whistleblower Program is being collated to develop trends related to problems and malpractice by CBs in aggregate, with the hope of presenting the data to government agencies and regulators in the future.
CBs have reacted with overt hostility to the program, having benefited from years of lax accreditation oversight by bodies such as ANAB and UKAS. Multiple registrars have engaged in smear campaigns against whistleblowers, including Oxebridge, and have repeatedly threatened legal action or made physical threats against complainants.