Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/665311
42 Proceedings Spring 2016 www.uscg.mil/proceedings When top management commits itself, leading the various procedures and processes, much of the apprehension asso- ciated with audits eventually evaporates. Only then does the crew accept that an audit is a vital part of the success of their system. Qualifed Auditors Once we envision an organization where nonconformities are helpful indicators and management provides the sys- tems, resources, and consistency to fuel continued improve- ment, then we have a clean slate to show how auditors contribute to this culture of safety and success. We begin with the concept of a well-trained, qualifed audi- tor — anything less and management will likely lack the important buy-in just discussed. Today, a larger percentage of maritime auditors are mariners themselves, primarily because they know the environment so well. This can be a mixed blessing, especially since, like any profession, audit- ing has its own concepts and training requirements. In general, auditing begins with ethics and performance- based objectives, not ulterior motives. Well-trained auditors don't seek out ways to penalize crews for nonconformities; rather, they see their role as looking for evidence of system conformity. Auditors Adding Value: A Well-Defned Nonconformity Where the system doesn't appear to meet requirements, the auditor must serve the audit client by providing detailed, objective evidence explaining the disconnect. Auditors add value not by giving advice, but by reporting noncon- formities based on actual requirements and supported by the evidence observed. In the end, that should be the only expectation from a good auditor: a well-defned, objective nonconformity. Maintaining this integrity in such a black-and- white fashion should save those under the microscope feelings of defensiveness — they either meet the requirement or they don't. Also, there should be no reason to fear this valuable interaction once we've added to that the previously discussed perspective of seeing nonconformities as helpful indicators. Auditors add value by examining evidence of how well the system helps its users to recognize risks and predict potential nonconformities by analyzing data and getting useful information. This information should provide the trends and analyses to make decisions regarding resources and measures to improve effciency, mitigate risks, and cut losses before they occur. Conficts of Interest Flag state administrations, registered organizations, and registered security organizations should support the audit- ing system by avoiding conficts of interest. For example, when a registered organization represents the flag state for certifcations and then also chooses (or is nominated by principals) to be the consultant and trainer, the objectivity of the audit comes into question. Every stakeholder in the maritime industry must commit to maintaining the inde- pendence of the auditing institution — a premise not unique to maritime auditors alone, but one that stretches across the breadth of the supply chain. Self-Audits: Empowering the Workforce Auditing shouldn't take the place of self and supervisory monitoring. Such monitoring involves the personnel who perform and supervise the work — in particular, the des- ignated person, company security offcer, superintendent, and so forth — who provide the first layer of objectivity regarding how well their processes are fulflling objectives. A system that uses only external audits as a single source of system conformity inputs is ineffcient and indicative of system failure. As stated earlier, internal process monitoring should result in rapid improvements, building a culture that helps employees to determine and meet the process requirements. Eventually, the frst set of nonconformities coming from inter- nal sources will remove the fear of audits; nonconformities will be found, reported, and dealt with … and life will go on — hopefully, for the better. A process-based system bridges the disconnect between the management creating procedures and processes and the crew carrying them out.