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US TAG 176 Participation Plummets, Member Category Falsification Continues
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19 January, 2019 - 9:24 AM
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An analysis of the current roster of members of the US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO TC 176, the official US delegation that authors the ISO 9000 family of standards, shows a hemorrhaging of participants since the ISO 9001:2015 standard was released. In addition, the problem of TAG members falsifying the “interest category” that they represent, to minimize the appearance of domination by consultants, continues unabated under the Paul Palmes regime.

During the ramp-up to ISO 9001:2015, the US TAG had a total of 241 members; the TAG currently has 138, a loss of 103 members, or 43%. The defection is strongest among end user organizations, an interest category that lost almost half of its participants since 2015. The second largest defection was from private consultants, who dropped from 98 in 2015 to only 55 in 2019. Registrars (certification bodies) dropped from 17 participants to only 10.

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Despite the losses among the “conflicted class” of private consultants and registrar representatives, who stand to make money whenever the standard is revised, the overall percentage of control by the two groups has only dipped slightly under Paul Palmes’ leadership. In 2015, the combined power of consultants and CB reps amounted to 48% of the total membership; in 2019, the number has only dropped to 47%.

The US TAG rules require that the group ensure no single stakeholder category dominates, but for decades the TAG Secretary – managed by ASQ – has permitted members to set their own designation, which ASQ does not then verify. This allows private consultants to mask their identities as such, reducing the “official” number of consultants. The Oxebridge analysis corrects these numbers based on the actual roles of the individuals as verified by their current employment and LinkedIn profiles. Officially, the TAG reports only 31% of members being consultants, and does not report CB reps at all, masking them as user organizations or under other categories.

Oxebridge has repeatedly asked the ASQ Secretary, Jennifer Admussen, to look into the problem, but she has refused.  In November of 2015, Oxebridge filed an official complaint against the TAG and asked Admussen to recuse herself, but she again refused and issued a response rejecting the allegations. ANSI refused to accept escalation of the complaint unless Oxebridge paid it over $1200 in “filing fees.” Admussen has recently been found circulating emails in her official capacity attempting to have Oxebridge banned from ASQ events, in apparent retaliation for this and other reports on her activities. ASQ CEO William Troy has refused to take action against Admussen, or to take steps to ensure the TAG Secretary role completes its duties as required by ANSI procedures.

The official tally of members, as currently recorded by the ASQ Secretary, is shown here:

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The actual interest category designations, corrected by Oxebridge and verified by current employment status and industry role, is shown here:

Image EnlargerWell-known consultants such as Jack West and Charles Cianfrani have intentionally falsified their status, claiming to be “individuals,” a designation typically reserved for retired industry specialists. West and Cianfrani have both insisted to Oxebridge that they are “retired” and no longer active in the ISO standards community “other than an occasional Webinar and writing,” however both are contributors and/or directors of the American Quality Institute, which hosts the annual ISO 9000 Conference. Despiting claiming to be retired, West continues to market his consulting services through Silver Fox Advisors, and Cianfrani lists himself as currently working for his consulting company, Green Lane Quality Management Services.  The pair are thought to be the most famous book authors on the subject of ISO 9001. They have refused to correct their listings in the TAG roster for over a decade.

Likewise, the ASQ Secretary has refused to enforce proper designation of members, despite ANSI rules to do so. ANSI has refused to enforce the rules on the TAG.

The TAG put Baskar Kotte in the position of ensuring membership diversity, but Kotte is himself a long-time consultant, and has done nothing to ensure greater participation by ISO 9001 end users. Kotte has also refused to enforce the rules on interest category fairness.

ISO 9001:2015 has been criticized as being too confusing and “heady,” pushing users to purchase the consulting services of the TAG members themselves in order to decipher its content. TAG leader Lorri Hunt, a private consultant herself, presented a slide at a closed-door TAG meeting which discussed ISO 9001’s new “risk-based thinking” approach as “the biggest boon to consultants ever.” Hunt went on to write a book and perform seminars and consulting on “risk-based thinking” both before and after the standard was published. Both West and Hunt gave $1,000-per-head seminars on ISO 9001:2015  as early as 2011, before early drafts of the standard were even written. West insisted at that time, too, that he was already “retired.”

It is not clear if the defection of end users from TAG participation is due to displeasure with the ISO 9001 standard itself or the management of the TAG, generally led by Hunt, a polarizing figure. Individuals have reported to Oxebridge they left the group for such reasons, but the evidence is anecdotal.

It is likely that consultants joined the TAG during the ISO 9001:2015 development purely to add the credential to their marketing, and then quit when the standard was released.

Recently leaders in the TAG promoted an IAF survey on minimum audit days for ISO 9001 audits, but only allowed certification bodies, accreditation bodies and consultants to participate in the survey, ignoring ISO 9001 user organizations entirely.

UPDATE Feb 1, 2019: Baskar Kotte wrote to insist that the interest categories were recently corrected, claiming the data I have from six months ago is no longer accurate. Kotte could not provide the current member list or the updated category data, despite having presumably updated the data personally and submitting it himself to the TAG, so his claims could not be verified. Kotte said he then quit the TAG entirely, so doesn’t have access to the report. There would be nothing stopping him from asking Hunt for it, of course, but he’s signaled that he’s not willing to do that. So his claims that the data was corrected after decades of falsification remain unverified.


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