Over 180 people have died from a deadly mudslide which caused a faulty Brazilian dam to collapse, in spite of safety certification by TUV Sud. Read the story here.
Third-party accreditation was supposed to prevent this sort of thing. ISO standards require SOPs they say prevent corruption. National courts take the claims of accreditation bodies at face value.
Note Oxebridge’s explanation of the structures that enable this deadly situation.
So whereas in the old days these conflicts were typically seen as consultants and auditors swapped envelopes of cash under tables to ensure clients passed audits, now the corruption is nearly entirely institutionalized. And now people are being killed and put at risk. Governments — most especially that of the UK — look the other way, happy to have “privatized standardization” and to boast about third-party accreditation schemes, while ignoring the corruption. It’s so bad in the UK that HRH Princess Anne feted an organization that supports a CB who literally issued an ISO 9001 certificate to a heroin smuggling ring; we have no idea how many people were killed by their client.
The scheme is supposed to be overseen by a network of official “Accreditation Bodies” (ABs) who are all signatory members of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), a shadowy organization answerable to no one, but with its hooks in the governments of various nations. Bodies such as UKAS, ANAB and DAkkS — the latter of which should be overseeing TUV in the Vale disaster — routinely look the other way after such scandals, and are never called on the carpet by regulators or investigators. They escape scrutiny through a convenient mix of obscurity and complexity — no one knows who they are, nor really what they do — and yet their executives probably have more information on these disasters than anyone on the planet.
At some point, a government will have to take notice, and pull in the entire troika — the CB, AB and IAF — after enough people die. This doesn’t imply guilt, mind you, but it would recognize that the auditors involved must have information that is critical to the investigation and public safety. If corruption is uncovered, then so be it, and the appropriate parties should be arrested. If not, at least we can say we had a thorough investigation.
So why have accreditation at all?