ISO TC 176 has begun the balloting process for a sixth vote on revision ISO 9001:2015, after the prior five votes — and a claimed “13 sources of information” — all resulted in a consensus that the standard should not undergo a revision.

The move proves ISO has abandoned long-standing procedures and compliance with WTO regulations on ensuring that its standards are developed by consensus, as the ISO headquarters in Geneva, through its Technical Management Board, continues to apply pressure on TC 176 to revise ISO 9001 no matter how many votes demand otherwise.

In a mailing sent to TC 176 member nations today, the committee asks for members to vote on “options on the future of ISO 9001,” a couched term that aims, in fact, to override the prior five votes on the subject. Despite this ambiguous subject line, the actual ballot only offers two possible votes:

Option a) Start a revision with the scope aligned to the attached draft Design Specification

Option b) No revision before the next systematic review in 2026

The vote’s deadline is July 28th, giving TC 176 members one month to submit their votes. The ballot cover letter may be downloaded here.

“13 Sources of Information”

Along with the ballot, TC 176 presented a somewhat fictionalized “background” description of events so far, but only admitted to recognizing two prior votes: a 2020 formal Systematic Review and a 2020 ISO 9001 User Survey. In fact, as documented by Oxebridge, a total of five votes were held, of varying types, all of which yielded the same result.

TC 176 admits as much, and then admits another dozen or so “sources” were considered, all of which still demanded that ISO not update ISO 9001:

TG 5 analysed 13 sources of information, including the responses from the 2020 User Survey, and issued a report of their conclusions to the ISO/TC 176/ SC 2/AG 1 Strategic Planning and Operations Task Group (SPOTG) in March 2022. The TG 5 report recommended that although there was no single major driver for an early revision, the collective impact of the factors identified should be considered as they may support a revision before the next systematic review.

It is unclear what other “sources” TC 176 is referring to, but this admission reveals that ISO has decided to override those, as well.

In its justification for doing so, TC 176 claims it is necessary to update ISO 9001 because of unspecified “global changes since 2020” which it claims have had an impact on quality management.

In reality, the push comes from the TMB, the non-elected “enforcer” committee that has the power to disband Technical Committees that fail to comply to its mandates. The TMB has updated mandatory core text, known as Annex SL, and is demanding that ISO 9001 be updated to include this text; but ISO procedures require that revisions only be mounted after TC members vote to approve doing so. The TMB mandate thus finds itself in conflict with the will of TC 176 members, and ISO’s executive is pushing TMB to bring TC 176 to heel.

Key players in TC 176, such as Nigel Croft, Jose Dominguez, and Lorri Hunt, have tied both their reputations and their consulting firms’ success to the need to update ISO 9001, and so have agreed to carry the TMB’s message. Ignoring protocol, they have already created a massive spreadsheet of changes to ISO 9001, as well as the “Design Specification” mentioned in the ballot. Normally, such actions would not take place once a TC has voted to “confirm” a standard as-is.

If ISO 9001 is updated, Croft, Dominguez, and Hunt stand to see a boost in the sales of their services and related books and seminars.

The ISO head office has also pressured TC 176 to ignore world votes in order to support a move by ISO Secretary-General Sergio Mujica, who is angling to be elected as UN Secretary-General once his term at ISO concludes in 2026. Mujica has committed ISO to supporting the UN “Sustainable Development Goals,” and to include “climate action” in all ISO standards, whether or not it is relevant to a standard’s subject matter. Many have rejected the idea that “climate change” should be included in ISO 9001, a quality management standard, and have insisted it be placed instead to ISO 14001, the environmental management standard. But to ensure that Mujica does not look weak before the UN, he is insisting that ISO 9001 have the language included, thus requiring an update to help him burnish his own reputation.

Endless Voting to Achieve Preordained Result

It is a foregone conclusion that ISO 9001 will be updated no matter how many times the world votes against doing so, and sources tell Oxebridge that officials in ISO are already planning on how they will “spin” the optics once they force an update and violate the “consensus principle.”

One Oxebridge reader commented, “the voting will continue until the preordained result is achieved.

At the same time, ISO is planning to release future editions of ISO 9001 via an online subscription service, known as “IEC/ISO Smart”, and make it available for “constant” updates. The move will likely increase the cost of ownership of ISO 9001 by users dramatically since ISO is floating the idea of selling access to it via an annual subscription, rather than a one-time purchase for a PDF or physical copy.

Both ideas — to override consensus and turn ISO 9001 into a “standard as a service” — were born from Mujica’s management approach, which comes from running the Chilean customs agency. Mujica, unlike prior ISO Secretaries-General, had no prior experience in standards or working on consensus-based committees. As a result, Mujica has adopted an authoritarian approach to managing ISO standards, which requires him to ignore decades of ISO procedures and the concept of consensus.


ISO Benchmark

Why we report on these topics

Since 2000, Oxebridge has worked to improve ISO and related certification schemes by identifying problems and then proposing solutions. We report on issues affecting standards users because so few other news outlets do. Our belief is that in order to fix the problems in these schemes, we must first understand the nature and breadth of those problems. Our reporting aims to do just that. Elsewhere on the Oxebridge site you will find White Papers and other articles proposing ideas to correct these problems.