In 2017, Seiler Instruments and Manufacturing Co. (St. Louis MO) was charged by the US Dept. of Justice for violations of the Buy American Act when it used Chinese-made optics in weapons sights then sold to the US military. In addition, the US DOJ found Seiler had violated the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) by providing restricted technical data to China. The company admitted the wrongdoing and avoided trial by agreeing to pay $1,500,000 over two years to the US government.
According to the company’s website, it held ISO 9001 certification issued by Preferred Registrar Group from 2003 through until its most recent audit in June of 2018. The cert is listed to expire in 2021, indicating that Seiler held the certificate while it was violating the Buy American Act, and maintained it throughout the conflict with the DOJ, and then retained it afterward.
Preferred Registrar Group is accredited by ANAB, and the Seiler certificate bears the PRG and ANAB logos.
Under the Buy American Act, companies are prohibited from using foreign items in goods sold to the military and other government agencies. Failure to do so can be treated as a criminal act, and prosecuted as an attempt to defraud the government.
ISO 9001 requires companies to ensure they quality systems address “applicable statutory and regulatory requirements,” so it is not clear how Seiler could have maintained its certification after the scandal was revealed publicly by the DOJ.
ANAB and its accredited certification bodies are under increasing scrutiny for having issued QMS certifications to companies found to be involved in scandals, recalls or injuries to the public, and for not withdrawing those certifications even when the scandals are publicly revealed. ANAB is tasked with ensuring registrars such as PRG follow accreditation rules and only issue such certificates to companies that meet the requirements of the QMS standards. ANAB rarely, however, takes actions against its certification bodies, who pay fees to ANAB.
Representatives of PRG were contacted for comment on this story.