Industry meets the IACS Quality Committee

In conjunction with its meeting on 24 October 2005, the Advisory Committee (AVC) met the IACS Quality Committee (QC) in a joint session in London. This is the first time the two committees have met in plenum since the establishment of the AVC in 1997. AVC is actually an advisory body to the IACS Quality System Certification Scheme (QSCS). The QSCS was set up as an independent body to: 

(a)   set up the IACS Quality Scheme in close cooperation with the IACS Quality Committee;

(b)   perform external audits on each individual IACS classification society to check whether their Quality Systems are in compliance with the IACS Quality System and whether these are thoroughly followed.  

The IACS QSCS is run by a Quality Secretary (Peter Williams) and a few auditors. The Quality Secretary reports on the results of his audits directly to the IACS Council, while the corrective actions are planned in consultation with the Quality Committee. Since the reporting system seems to indicate that the QSCS is a self-auditing scheme, IACS has established an Advisory Committee with well defined Terms of Reference. The AVC membership comprises shipowners' associations, underwriters and IMO. PSC has yet to join.  

Although advisory by nature, the AVC role is to ensure that external genuine feedback is given to IACS QSCS on matters of quality management. In the past, the AVC activity was difficult and sometimes frustrating. However, new changes in the Terms of Reference and a closer cooperation with the IACS Quality Committee are facilitating more active involvement. Among the positive changes are the following:  

(a)   AVC receives the IACS Quality Secretary report to the IACS Council;

(b)   An AVC representative is invited to attend the IACS Council meeting when the QSCS activities are discussed and assessed.

(c)   The AVC reviews the IACS Quality Secretary report and its representative presents the review results to the IACS Council.

(d)   It is possible that the AVC and IACS Quality Committee could hold their meetings back-to-back and thus have joint sessions.  

The AVC will continue to support the IACS Quality Committee to increase its role in coordinating the QSCS activities. For instance, the AVC strongly recommends that the IACS QC receive the results of all audits performed by the Quality Secretary on IACS Class members. AVC also encourages the Quality Committee to develop a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) aimed at assessing the improvement of classification activities as a result of their Quality Systems. The AVC will need to address some of the QSCS current problems such as an increase in the number of audits performed by Flag Administrations on each individual classification society.  

The AVC was also informed that some non-conformities on classification societies were due to owners accepting late delivery of their survey plans, particularly with regard to CAS surveys. Owners' representatives in the AVC were invited to communicate to their members the importance of strict compliance with the new standards for planning ships' surveys. AVC invited the Quality Secretary to provide more information on such issues as numbers and examples of non-compliance rather than names.  

There are two outstanding and difficult issues to be addressed by the AVC and the QSCS in the near future:

(a)   whether a Flag administration representative should be a member of the AVC and if so, who should be selected;

(b)   who should perform an external audit on QSCS. 

At its last meeting, AVC's advice was that, for the former, the Chairman of the IMO Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation could be invited to join the AVC and, for the latter, that the Quality Committee should select a professional external auditor. In order to increase transparency, these audits could be attended by observers such as AVC, IMO and any other Flag Administration.  

The AVC current membership is: Dragos Rauta, INTERTANKO (Chairman), Niels-Bjørn Mortensen, BIMCO (Vice-Chairman), Tore Forsmo, The Central Union of Marine Underwriters Norway(CEFOR), Nigel Carden, International Group of P&I Clubs; Hugh Williams, The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), Peter Hinchliffe, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), Alexander Petrov (on behalf of Adm. Mitropoulos), IMO (Observer) and the IACS Quality Secretary, Peter Williams. 

Contact: Dragos Rauta