[Updated – see below.]
The Registration Management Committee is refusing to take up an official complaint filed with it against Probitas, the aerospace auditor certification body that ruled it is acceptable for certified auditors to falsify their aerospace credentials, provided they do it after they become accredited.
Oxebridge filed a complaint against an NQA-USA Lead AS9100 auditor who was found to be lying on his LinkedIn profile about his aerospace experience, claiming to be a “Director of Quality and Engineering” for a large Seattle aerospace company. In reality, the auditor had not worked for the company for years, and it appears he never held the position of “Director” at all.
This appeared to violate Probitas’ “Code of Conduct” for certified auditors, and Oxebridge filed a complaint with the auditor certification body. Probitas’ Rich DeMary cleared the auditor, saying that the only information ever verified by Probitas would be the information provided by the auditor at the time of their application to Probitas, and nothing thereafter. Oxebridge argues this wholly invalidates the Probitas Code of Conduct, which exists to apply to auditors after they receive certification, not before.
The complaint was then escalated to the AAQG RMC, which oversees auditor certifications. For months, however, representatives of the RMC have refused to acknowledge the complaint nor even respond to requests for updates.
RMC published procedures indicate that the RMC Chair must respond to complaints filed against auditor certification bodies or training providers, such as Probitas. The RMC webpage is not clear on who is the current Chair, since it lists multiple Chairs: Susie Neal of UTC, Darrely Taylor of Raytheon and Jeff Ewing of Northrup Grumman. In addition, representatives of IAQG and SAE — which oversee the entire AS9100 scheme — were contacted.
In all, some ten individuals have refused to respond, indicating a likely coordinated effort to ignore the issue, even as it grows in seriousness.
Left to stand, the DeMary decision for Probitas would nullify the entire Code of Conduct of auditors, which says that they cannot make misleading statements as part of their auditor role. This would legitimize a host of bad practices currently underway by such auditors, including falsifying audit reports and accepting bribes, activities which are currently done “in the shadows.”
The move also further de-legitimizes the entire AS9100 certification scheme, since the various parties at the highest levels of oversight appear willing to allow auditors to lie about their credentials rather than admit one or more “bad apples” fell through the cracks.
Because the RMC has published its complaint procedure, and because Probitas has published its Code of Conduct, failure by the bodies to obey their own published rules may result in allegations of fraud under the US Federal Trade Commission. Such laws require that companies abide by published rules and marketing, lest they be seen as engaged in deceptive trade practices. Oxebridge is in conversations with multiple attorneys to determine what laws or regulations may be broken, and how to proceed to force RMC to respond to the complaint.
Ironically, the move comes as IAQG launches a new PR campaign initiative around the concept of “Collaborative Quality Leadership.” Such claims will ring hollow if the IAQG and its attendant bodies, such as the AAQG and RMC, pick and choose who it will accept industry complaints and feedback from.
Oxebridge is investigating multiple AS9100 Lead Auditors for bribery, report falsification, and other ethical and legal violations, so the issue is not likely to go away for the various oversight bodies.
UPDATE 26 December 2019: The former president of the IAQG, Bill Schmeige of Parker Hannifin, has promised to pursue the matter, writing:
The situation you describe is certainly unacceptable and will be investigated. Anything less than complete integrity in everything we do to ensure that the AS9100 certification is valued, and the brand protected, is unacceptable. I will follow up with the team regularly to ensure the matter is getting the right attention.