Winter Haven FL — Smithers Quality Assessments, a registrar of ISO 9001 and AS9100 management systems, has pulled language and materials from its website that indicated it had “partnered” with consulting firm Sedlak Consulting, including an ISO 9001:2008 checklist that featured both companies’ logos. Sedlak Consulting is operated by John Sedlak, Smithers’ former VP and Chief Operating Officer, who started an ISO 9001 consulting firm after leaving SQA.

The move by Smithers was prompted by the filing of a formal complaint to Smithers by Oxebridge Quality Resources, which cited ISO 17021 prohibitions against registrars co-marketing services with any single consulting firm. Accreditation rules attempt to ensure impartiality and objectivity by ensuring there exists a firewall between registrars and consultants.

Smithers had initially closed the complaint, using its internal corrective action system, but Oxebridge found additional references to the Sedlak “partnership” which required Smithers to take further action. An additional request to look into “white papers” which appear on Smithers’ site, many of which are authored by consultants and feature marketing language promoting the consultants, was investigated by ANAB, at Smitherss request, and found not to be a violation of accreditation rules.

“Smithers response was another example of a registrar properly abiding by the accreditation rules requiring that complaints from third parties, including Oxebridge, be properly processed and resolved,” said Christopher Paris, Oxebridge’s founder and VP Operations. “In contrast to our the hostile responses some registrars have engaged in when concerns are filed by clients, third parties or even Oxebridge, it is a good reminder that some registrars still know how to follow the rules.”

Oxebridge, which is in a unique position to observe the work of many US based registrars because of its large client base, routinely issues concerns or files complaints on behalf of its clients, or as an industry stakeholder, in order to uphold the three pillars of ISO 17021 which aim to maintain the validity of QMS certifications: competence, consistency and impartiality.

“Oxebridge cannot issue accredited ISO 9001 certificates, and registrars cannot consult,” Mr. Paris said. “Maintaining that relationship is key to ensuring the value and merit of every accredited QMS certification in the world. We saw what happened when auditors acted as consultants with the Enron scandal. We can’t have that in the world of quality management, where product quality can save lives and boost entire economies.”

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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.

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