If the name Roger Frost, formerly the head PR flack at ISO, rings bells it’s because I wrote a lot about him over the past 15 years. Frost routinely authored and issued ISO’s press releases, breathlessly declaring the miracles of ISO standards, while engaging in an annual exercise of self-parody when he would add equally self-loving text with every release of the ISO Survey data.
Over and over, I berated Frost for lying to the public and ISO’s users, falsely spinning the numbers to mean the exact opposite of what the statistics actually showed. They say there are lies, damned lies and statistics; Roger Frost was the personal embodiment of all three acting in simultaneous harmony.
So I’m shocked — shocked, I say! — to find this 2015 article when the former flack ripped open the throat of his former employer and left ISO flopping on the floor like a savaged marlin. I’m also outright pissed I didn’t find this until three years later.
An article posted on the Nikkei Asian Review entitled “ISO Silent Over Volkswagen Certifications” was written by none other than Roger Gareth Frost. In the article, Frost flays the flesh off of ISO’s back by declaring ISO complicit in the VW emissions scandal, calling ISO’s silence on the matter “disastrously poor judgment.”
Frost takes his cat-o-nine-tails to VW’s registrar and their accreditation body, too, in something that would appear just another day at awork if the article was published here on the Oxebridge site, but which is nothing less than stunning when seen in a different forum:
TUV Nord, VW’s supplier of certification, is accredited — approved as competent — by DAkkS, the German national accreditation body and a member of the IAF. Shareholders in DAkkS include the German government. On TUV Nord’s website, it continues to display an April press release publicizing its re-certification of VW to ISO 9001, as well as recalling its ISO 14001 certification of the company. Regarding the ISO 9001 certification, TUV Nord says, “The quality management system also fulfills requirements of German and international road traffic legislation ….”
Apparently, neither VW nor TUV Nord is sensitive to the irony of the above statements in the wake of the scandal.
When Frost gets the usual runaround from an IAF spokesperson — you know, the guy doing the exact same job that Frost used to do at ISO — he rends his garments in shock, and comes to the same conclusion I was hammering Frost about for about 15 years:
Even though a company has implemented ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 and had its management systems certified by a body accredited by an IAF member, this does not necessarily mean that customers can count on their quality requirements being fulfilled by the company’s products. And regulators cannot necessarily count on the company meeting environmental and other relevant rules. What is more, according to IAF/ILAC, despite noncompliance with regulations, the company may still be awarded a certificate because legal noncompliance does not necessarily mean noncompliance to a standard.
Frost was really ticked off that the websites of both ISO and IAF claim to want feedback from users, but then refused to answer his questions. You know, the same thing he routinely did whenever I asked him for clarifications on his misleading statements and press releases surrounding each annual ISO Survey release:
Hopefully, ISO will find the time to answer and the IAF will stop hiding behind generalities. Otherwise, the confidence of customers and regulators in standards, certification and accreditation could be seriously dented by the VW crisis.
He then took a shot at his replacement, presumably Katie Bird, by saying:
However, ISO’s marketing, communication and information department had “no time” to answer the question on its flagship standards and certification in light of the VW scandal.
I’m thinking when Frost left ISO, they escorted him out with security manhandling his upper body as his legs flailed about and he screamed to the rafters, “You haven’t heard the last of me, you bastards! You hear me? I’ll get you!! I’ll get all of you!!”
For that VW article, Frost even took a swipe in his bio plug at the end of the article. That plug lists him as “a Welsh journalist, was formerly ISO’s head of communication and editor-in-chief of its magazine, ISO Management Systems.” So not only did Frost garotte his former employer, he made sure everyone knew he was doing it as a former employee.
But what is just absolutely stunning, is Roger Frost’s refusal to acknowledge his own culpability in the annual ISO Survey fibs. Instead, he goes there, showing he has no self-awareness whatsoever, or simply knows the casual Nikkei Asian Review reader would never know he was the root of his own problem:
In practice, ISO has an ambiguous attitude toward certification. On one hand, it states that certification to its standards is not compulsory and not a requirement of the standards. On the other hand, it indirectly promotes certification through The ISO Survey of Certifications, published annually, which provides data on the number of certificates of conformity issued worldwide to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and other ISO management standards. In ISO’s comments on the survey data, it highlights what it sees as significant increases and downplays less flattering figures. It might be argued that such is the stuff of public relations. However, ISO now presents certification to its standards in completely overblown marketing terms.
Frost wrote a few fluff pieces for the Nikkei Asian Review website, each time giving somewhat bland and understated promotion to some new ISO thing or another. For “Asian Mines: Beware, ISO Wants to Clean You Up” (paywall), Frost wrote a fluff piece on coming ISO standards related to mining environmental concerns. For “Disability Market: The Next Big Consumer Segment” (paywall) Frost praised ISO’s work on disability standards. But those were published in May and June of 2015 respectively. By November of the same year, Frost published his scorched-earth tear down of ISO in the VW article, and then was never heard from again.
I mean it. He disappeared off the pages of Nikkei Asian Review. Not only that, he disappeared from social media and there’s nary a trace of him on any publication, anywhere. That might be the result of poor Googling, or maybe he’s just doing some lower-key, less PR-related work these days. Maybe he’s retired. Maybe ISO sued the pants off of him. Or maybe they had him murdered in his sleep by sending ninjas to his house and perforating his body with cool, matte-black throwing stars. So long as they followed official ISO procedures for assassination, it’s all in order.
What it proves, though, is that even ISO’s old-time, hardcore supporters and former employees can’t defend their activities anymore.
Katie Bird, it’s all on you now. Look to Frost for your future: a career wasted on spinning garbage followed by a brief revelation, in your late middle age, that your life was a fraud, followed by some sort of reckoning. You’d be better off quitting and selling Herbalife.
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 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.