A source has reported to Oxebridge that the US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 176, the committee which writes the ISO 9000 series of standards, is sending two private consultants to represent the United States at closed-door meetings at which the update of the controversial Annex SL will be discussed.

Consultants Lorri Hunt and Jose Dominguez will represent the US at the meeting, which is being pushed by the ISO Technical Management Board (TMB) as a means of fielding comments for the updating of Annex SL. That document forced mandatory text on all ISO management system standards, resulting in approximately 1/3 of the text of ISO 9001:2015 not being written by TC 176, but by the non-elected TMB instead.

As a result, the coming meeting may influence some of the Annex SL revised text, but may be ignored altogether by the TMB if it so chooses, making the event largely theatrical.

Nevertheless, the fact that ISO 9001 users are prohibited from attending, while private consultants are given access, is troubling. Lorri Hunt runs a private consulting company (Hunt & Associates) and it was her presentation at an official TAG 176 meeting in August 2015 that boasted Annex SL would be “the biggest boon to consultants ever.”  Dominguez works with Mexican consulting firm INLAC, which also provides ISO 9001 related training courses. Both Hunt and Dominguez co-wrote a book on the ISO 9001:2015 changes, using their roles on the TAG to market it. The book’s promotion on Amazon reads:

ISO 9001:2015 is here. A lot has changed. There’s an entirely new structure. New requirements have been added. Old requirements have been updated and moved. Some requirements have been removed. To remain compliant, you’ve got to transition to the new standard.Fortunately, you’ve got access to inside information in this new handbook from Lorri Hunt, Jose Dominguez, and Craig William. All three have spent years in leadership positions on the ISO committee that helped to write the new standard. No one is more qualified to write on ISO 9001:2015 than these three technical experts.

This suggests that any changes to Annex SL will likely prompt Hunt and Dominguez to issue a second edition of their book, or to publish an entirely new one, thus personally benefiting from any changes made to Annex SL.

ISO leaders such as Nigel Croft and Dick Hortensius, who are heading up the Annex SL revision, have insisted that ISO member nations and TC representatives are given opportunities to provide feedback on Annex SL, but fail to reveal that any such consultation or feedback is empty: the TMB publishes Annex SL as part of the ISO Consolidated Supplement, an internal procedure document that is subject to no international voting at all. Furthermore, voting on Annex SL text is prohibited during the development of any related management system standard, which was the case during the voting of ISO 9001:2015; all comments related to suggesting edits to the Annex SL text were deleted without action.

Both ISO’s own rules of procedure require that standards be written by volunteer industry experts, operating from within Technical Committees, but the TMB has usurped this authority by writing mandatory text for the TCs and then prohibiting them from editing it. The coming closed-door meeting in Atlanta will provide the TMB and its mouthpieces to claim that committees such as TC 176 were consulted, but will not rectify the fact that the TMB is prohibited from writing Annex SL to begin with.

Oxebridge has confirmed that the TMB mandates violate all six of the principles required by the World Trade Organization for ISO standards development, including transparency and participation by developing nations. The TMB is comprised of 15 permanent member nations, with every other nation excluded from participation. Its publications are not subject to any voting, and the TMB holds the power to disband any Technical Committee that disagrees with it. The TMB answers only to the ISO Executive, whose prime responsibility is to increase the sale of ISO standards.

ISO 9001 users have complained about the new 2015 edition, saying it was unnecessarily complicated and forced expensive changes to users’ quality systems; much of the “new” content was driven by the Annex SL text, such as the clauses on “context of the organization” and “risks and opportunities,” none of which was written by quality management experts. ISO rejected a call in 2013 to pause the development of the standard and reconsider Annex SL, and now faces an early revision to the text because of negative user feedback.

An update to Annex SL will likely force an early update to ISO 9001 as well, forcing companies to undergo additional audits and to buy a new copy of the standard. Representatives of the TMB have claimed that this is not true, but have not been able to explain how standards relying on two different versions of Annex SL will be able to exist simultaneously.

Within the US TAG, Oxebridge has confirmed the assignment of Hunt and Dominguez preceded the election of new TAG 176 chair Alan Daniels, of Boeing, and instead occurred under the leadership of Paul Palmes, another private consultant. Palmes was co-author with prior Chair Alka Jarvis on another book on ISO 9001, in which they personally profited from the changes made in ISO 9001:2015. Meanwhile, Jack West — who held the Chair position before Daniels, Palmes and Jarvis — also has published a host of books on ISO 9001, while offering consulting services through his firm, Silver Fox Advisors.

It is hoped that under the Daniels regime, the role of private consultants in corrupting the ISO standards development process will be minimized. To date, Daniels is the only TAG 176 Chair in over three decades who has not sought to profit personally from the leadership position.