ASQ - Energy and Environmental Division

In an effort to discover more about this field, I entered "Energy and Environment" into an Internet search engine. One of my findings was information prepared by Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy group. Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program (CMEP) (http://www.citizen.org/cmep/) is dedicated to addressing energy and environmental concerns.

The CMEP history page reads, "Since 1974, when Ralph Nader founded Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program (CMEP), the organization has been a powerful voice for protecting America's natural resources by promoting renewable and energy efficiency technologies, watch-dogging nuclear safety issues, stopping the reckless disposal of radioactive waste, ensuring that environmental and consumer interests are protected as the electric utility industry deregulates, and improving transportation policy. CMEP has provided hard-hitting information about energy issues to all public policy forums and hundreds of citizens groups since its creation."

As soon as I saw the name, Ralph Nader, I recognized the bias and intent of this organization. As professionals, we can choose to support or oppose Nader and his fellow advocates, but we definitely cannot ignore their research or opinions. I reviewed this site and immediately discovered that the content was similar to the scope of ASQ's Energy and Environmental Division. The text and content was intended, not for the executive, professional, or practitioner, but for the general public.

I enjoyed the material that I found at the site, once I got past the emotional appeals and reviewed the substance. Unfortunately, the same activist themes emerged over and over again. Furthermore, the information was often without context and consequently offered little credibility. A biased site, which does not provide a balanced view, diminishes its own arguments and undermines its efforts.

I would like to help these people make their message more effective and achieve their desired results. As a professional, I am ethically obligated to serve the public and reduce the society's loss. I believe that this is a very vivid example of an "Interested Party" (ISO 14001 management representatives will appreciate this) that needs to be integrated into a company's management system.

Another change that would make the efforts of Public Citizen more effective would be the introduction of credible and verifiable metrics. The articles in this Web site quote statistics and figures without communicating to the reader the significance of those statistics, or without comparing the statistics to objective benchmarks. Whenever an issue is raised, a decision has to be made. Without objective metrics, the decision becomes subjective, emotional, and tending toward the status quo rather than making progressive change.

I also think that as professionals, we in ASQ have an obligation to inform and advise consumer advocates about realistic and effective management system processes. In particular, the director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program has opposed the introduction of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs because they reduce the Number of inspectors and inspections. Under a HACCP program, the need for inspections is reduced by preventive risk analysis, continuous maintenance and corrective actions, and emphasis on inspecting at control points deemed critical to protecting the hazard. The result of intelligently applied industrial engineering and constraints management is a greater efficiency of safety protection with fewer designated inspectors. Public Citizen opposes this concept because it doesn't understand industrial engineering, preferring the outdated concept of inspecting safety into the product.

What is the value of an organization like Public Citizen? The issues it raises and the opinions it espouses have merit and are worthy of addressing. This level of public discourse justifies the establishment and maintenance of a robust management system, so that companies can address concerns and allegations in a factual and objective manner. Public Citizen has identified where industries are vulnerable and at risk and has a sophisticated approach to legislation and litigation.

I encourage all members of ASQ's Energy and Environmental Division to review this site for themselves and to review the past accomplishments of Ralph Nader and his advocates. This legitimate political movement could complicate the operation of integrated management systems and jeopardize the financial stability and competitiveness of corporations. The only way to overcome its hazards is to establish a management system capable of addressing the allegations of this most interested party.

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