USDA Considering Risk Based Inspection System

The federal government could shift inspectors away from some meat plants to focus on facilities with riskier products and poor safety records.

Backers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposal say they are seeking to bolster safety by shifting to a risk based system, dedicating more time and effort on plants that pose the greatest threat to the public.

Critics worry such a move could leave gaps in the system and result in more Americans getting ill from what they eat. They are particularly concerned by recent talk about “virtual inspections” of processing plants via e-mail or fax.

Richard Raymond, U.S. undersecretary for food safety, recently asked USDA attorneys to review whether an inspector is checking a plant’s records electronically—rather than in person—would satisfy the existing legal requirement of a daily inspection for every processing plant.

Raymond said inspectors sometimes drive well out of their way to reach plants that have stellar histories, simply to review written records. He said if those records were faxed, the inspectors would have more time to scrutinize more troublesome plants.

Raymond acknowledged shifting to virtual inspections would be controversial, but he said such a change would require years of review and would come only after a risk based inspection system is fully implemented.

Raymond hopes to roll out the new policy by next summer.

Under the current system, inspectors are assigned to a specific facility or to regularly patrol several smaller plants. Typical tasks include ensuring a plant is clean, checking the temperature of its ovens and refrigerators, and reviewing its anticontamination measures.

If significant problems develop at a particular plant, additional inspections can be done. But on a day-to-day basis, the system aims for a uniform level of inspection without regard to a facility’s history or the safety measures it uses.

Under the proposed system, plants would receive a risk rating based on the types of products they handle, safety measures they have in place and their track records. Plants deemed high risk would receive more intensive inspections while those with low risk would receive more cursory examinations.


FDA QSR Courses Launched Online

EduNeering, in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has developed a new curriculum of courses on quality systems regulations (QSRs).

The curriculum consists of 11 new web based courses on seven topics: QSRs, design controls, identification and traceability, acceptance activities—nonconforming product, corrective and preventive action, labeling and packaging control, and application of QSR requirements within a medical device manufacturer’s quality system.

Additionally, a new series of courses on the foundations of medical device regulations is expected to be available before the end of the year. All the courses will be added to FDA’s library of compliance courses and will be available exclusively to EduNeering’s clients through its virtual university.


2007 National Housing Quality Award Winners Announced

The National Assn. of Home Builders (NAHB) Research Center and Reed Business Information, publishers of Professional Builder magazine, have announced the winners of the 2007 National Housing Quality (NHQ) Awards.

The NHQ Awards program, patterned after the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, has two divisions—home builder and trade contractor. The awards are open to all U.S. residential construction and independent contractor companies.

A panel of expert judges evaluates entries on the role quality plays in construction, strategic planning, leadership and performance management, trade relationships, customer satisfaction, human resources and business results. The judges selected three winners and awarded two honorable mentions for 2007:

  • Gold award: Estes Homes of Sequim, WA.
  • Silver awards: Floor Art of Tempe, AZ, and Schuck and Sons Construction of Glendale, AZ.
  • Honorable mentions: Atlantic Builders of Fredericks-burg, VA, and Keystone Custom Homes Inc. of Willow Street, PA.

For more information on the National Housing Quality Program, go to www.nahbrc.org/quality or e-mailquality@nahbrc.org.

The FACE of Quality

Name: Martha Gardner.

Residence: Niskayuna, NY.

Education: Doctorate in statistics from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

First job in quality: Co-op statistician for Nortel’s Wireless Division in Morrisville, NC.

Current job: Global quality leader and statistician for General Electric (GE) Global Research in Niska-yuna, NY; coordinates the Global Research lean Six Sigma education program and overall strategy as well as GE’s companywide de-sign for Six Sigma council; leads the probabilistic design research program.

Other activities: Frequent speaker at statistics and Six Sigma events, including ASQ’s 2006 World Conference on Quality and Improvement.

Published works: Contributed to Experimental Designs for Combinatorial and High Throughput Materials Development (Wiley, 2002); several articles for technical journals.

Recent honor: Named to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review top 100 young innovators.

Personal: Married; nine-year-old son.

Favorite ways to relax: Traveling with family, reading.

Quality quote: Quality in a research environment means rigorous application of the scientific method. We must ensure we define our research questions and hypotheses well and collect and analyze data in a manner that enables us to answer these research questions with confidence.


Keynote Speakers Announced For Six Sigma Conference

Final details for the seventh annual ASQ Six Sigma Conference are coming together. Keynote speakers for the event, which is Feb. 12-13 in Phoenix, will be:

  • David C. Everitt, president, agricultural division, John Deere & Co.
  • Rear Adm. W. Mark Skinner, commander, U.S. Navy, Naval Air Systems Command.
  • Gregory H. Watson, president, Business Systems Solutions Inc., and adjunct professor of industrial engineering at Oklahoma State University.

The conference will also feature workshops led by quality professionals sharing case studies from various industries, Six Sigma Black Belt and Green Belt certification exams, and product and service displays by exhibitors.

Attendees who register by Dec. 15 receive a discount. For more information, go to: http://sixsigma.asq.org.


SME Launches Online Video Channel

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) recently launched an online streaming video channel known as Manufacturing Engineering TV (METV) at www.sme.org/metv.

Each month, SME members will be able to watch a video program on their computer at no charge. The lineup of upcoming METV offerings, including lean and other quality topics, and additional information can be found at www.sme.org/cgi-bin/get-press.pl?&&20060037&pr&&sme&.


ISO 9001 Amendment Won’t Be Ready Until 2009

International Organization for Standardization technical committee (TC) 176, the group that writes the ISO 9001 standard, says the newest amendment to the standard will not be ready until February 2009 at the earliest.

TC 176 expects to have firmer information about the next version of ISO 9001 soon, following a November meeting in Busan, Korea. In Busan, TC 176 examined the potential for expanding the scope of the ISO 9001 amendment. Experts from the U.S. technical advisory group to ISO/TC 176 attended the meeting, along with delegates from more than 30 other countries.

The current status of the ISO 9000 family of standards is as follows:

  • ISO 9000: The fundamentals and vocabulary standard. The most current version was published in 2005.
  • ISO 9001: The certifiable standard that contains the requirements for quality management systems. The most current version is from 2000.
  • ISO 9004: The standard that contains guidelines for performance improvement. The most current version is from 2000.

Short Runs

A CALL FOR PAPERS has been issued for the 2007 joint conference of the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics and Design of Industrial Experiments. The theme of the conference is computer experiments vs. physical experiments, and the deadline for abstract submissions is Jan. 15. The conference will be held April 11-13 in Torino, Italy. Early registration opens Dec. 1. For more information, go to http://web.econ.unito.it/deinde07.

RABQSA INTERNATIONAL HAS RELEASED a new auditor certification designed specifically for auditors working for accredited management system certification bodies. The certification was created by certification bodies and is intended to recognize an auditor’s ability to use the certification audit process and add value to a client’s activities. For more information, go to www.rabqsa.com.

ONLY 10% OF DOCTORS and 5% of hospitals in the United States fully use electronic health records, according to a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the federal government’s National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. The study also found that about 25% of doctors use electronic records in some way and that use is greater in the West, followed by the Mid-west, South and Northeast. For more information, go to www.rwjf.org/newsroom/newsreleasesdetail.jsp?id=10439.

JAPAN PLANS TO ESTABLISH a new consumer safety organization, following a series of reports of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning due to defects in Paloma Industries water heaters and on-the-job accidents around the country. The new organization likely will gather and analyze information on consumer related accidents, formulate measures to prevent recurrences and advise companies on how to issue recalls. The government hopes the new organization, modeled after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, will be established in 2009. For more information, go to www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20061023TDY03002.htm (case sensitive).

THAILAND’S PUBLIC SECTOR DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION has set up a quality award that urges government agencies to adopt international standards. Called the Public Service Management Quality Award, it is based on the private sector Thailand Quality Award and the Singapore Quality Award (SQA). The SQA uses the same criteria as the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. For more information, go to www.nationmultimedia.com/2006/10/17/business/business_30016338.php.

A SURVEY ON CATASTROPHE RISK MANAGEMENT was recently conducted by the ACE Group, IBM and KPMG International. The resulting white paper examines current thinking and explores levels of confidence and preparedness among business executives worldwide. To view the report, go to www.kpmg.com/Services/ Advisory/RAS/Other/CatastropheRiskManagement.htm.

EMERGING TRENDS IN SUPPLY MANAGEMENT is the subject of a new Institute for Supply Management report, which is based on a survey of its members. The survey results reveal many significant changes in the supply management landscape. For de-tails, go to www.ism.ws/about/mediaroom/newsreleasedetail.cfm?itemnumber=15573.

THE AMERICAN ASSN. OF RETIRED PERSONS, the National Partnership for Women and Families, and the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) have developed a patient tip sheet that suggests ways to improve safety during surgery. The tips aim to increase communication between patients and doctors. SCIP is a quality improvement initiative sponsored by several healthcare organizations with the goal of using evidence based measures to reduce preventable surgical complications. The tip sheet and additional information about SCIP can be found at www.ofmq.com/qiosc_scip.html.


NEA Opposes Pay-for-Performance Program

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced in October the first grant recipients of the Teacher Incentive Fund, a pay-for-performance program that provides financial bonuses to teachers and principals who raise student achievement in low-income schools.

The National Education Association (NEA) has called the program “unnecessary and duplicative” and has called on the Bush administration to divert funds to existing underfunded programs.

The program will eventually distribute $99 million in grants. Sixteen grants totaling $42 million were awarded in October.

For more information on the Teacher Incentive Fund, go to www.ed.gov/programs/teacherincentive/index.html.

For the NEA’s response to the program, go to www.nea.org/newsreleases/2006/nr061023.html.

ASQ News

ASQ OFFERING DUES RELIEF ASQ members who are retired or unemployed are eligible for a 25 to 100% discount in annual dues, depending on the member’s tenure. Go to www.asq.org/members/account/unemployment.html to fill out an application.

CONFERENCE TO FEATURE SIX SIGMA AND GOLF SESSION Jay Arthur, author of several Six Sigma books, will present a session titled “Shaving Strokes With Six Sigma” at the 2007 World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Orlando, FL. Arthur will demonstrate how to use the define, measure, analyze, improve, control methodology to lower golf scores. Participants will receive Arthur’s Six Sigma Golf booklet and Excel control chart templates to monitor their scores. The session is 3 p.m., Tuesday, May 1. For more information, go to http://wcqi.asq.org.

NEW CASE STUDIES AVAILABLE Several new case studies have been posted in the “Making the Case for Quality” section on ASQ’s website. Among them is the story of Pocono Medical Center in Pennsylvania, which used Six Sigma and lean to deliver blood test results to doctors more quickly. To see all case studies or submit your own, go to www.asq.org/economic-case/markets/index.html. Case studies are divided by market.

NEW SUBSECTION LAUNCHED ASQ has officially recognized the Newfoundland and Labrador subsection in Canada. Sponsored by the Calgary section and headquartered in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the new subsection will serve members in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. ASQ subsections are established to accommodate members who have to travel too far for section meetings. After one year, subsections can apply for section status. There are currently 31 ASQ subsections.

CERTIFICATION EXAM DEADLINE APPROACHING The application deadline for the March 2007 certification exams is Jan. 12. The application deadline for a special administration of the certified reliability engineer, certified Six Sigma Green Belt and certified Six Sigma Black Belt exams on Jan. 25 is also Jan. 12. This special exam administration will be held in conjunction with the Reliability and Maintainability Symposium in Orlando, FL. For more information on exam dates, go to www.asq.org/certification/dates.html.


SOAR Initiative Hits One-Year Mark

A set of initiatives led by ASQ members and staff is making progress toward changing the ways the organization shares information and knowledge, according to ASQ President Ron Atkinson.

Atkinson released a one-year status report on the Summit Outcome Activity Response (SOAR) initiative, the organizationwide program responding to needs identified at the October 2005 Member Value Leadership Summit.

Since the summit, ASQ has established task forces around three major themes: member leader communication, education and training, and the quality body of knowledge.

So far, the member leader communication task force has completed an organizationwide communications audit and has implemented new communication tools, such as the “Friday Fast Facts” e-newsletter for member leaders and a template for member leader communications. This task force is currently working on streamlining member communications to improve their effectiveness.

The education and training task force has surveyed member needs, conducted quality function deployment and voice of the customer training for staff, benchmarked other organizations, and is working on intellectual property issues and improvements to the product development process.

The quality body of knowledge task force is mapping out ASQ’s current body of knowledge and defining roles of stakeholders, creating content development and dissemination processes, and addressing compensation and incentive issues affecting growth of the body of knowledge.

In addition, a separate architecture task force is coordinating work on the three themes and tracking progress on other actions stemming from the 2005 summit. Some of these include redesigning member leader information kits, conducting stakeholder dialogue sessions and launching a member leader community of practice website.

To view Atkinson’s complete status report, go to www.asq.org/members/leaders/soar-milestone-report.html.

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