Groups Call for Voting Reform

As political candidates duke it out for the chance to be on the ballot in November, two professional societies are calling for an overhaul of the voting process to win back voter confidence.

Quality and statistics must play a key role in ensuring voting procedures are carried out properly and vote totals are measured accurately, ASQ and the American Statistical Assn. (ASA) recommended in separate statements earlier this year.

"It's very important for citizens to have as much trust in their voting systems as they have in their medical care systems or air travel," said Liz Keim, a past president of ASQ. "So why not leverage some of the same basic tools that bring reliability to critical functions … to solve quality problems that continue to plague our elections?"

Peter Lachenbruch, ASA president and board chairman, said state and federal governments must adopt routine monitoring of all electoral procedures to ensure continuous quality improvement.

"Statistical methods can provide confidence in well-conducted contests," Lachenbruch said in a prepared statement. "They can also identify common sources of problems and help avert future electoral failures."

ASQ's recommendations include:

  • Establish standardized procedures, such as voting machine start-up protocols, voter instruction procedures and steps for secure handling of ballots and equipment.
  • Implement simple checklists based on the standardized procedures.
  • Test the proposed solutions adequately.
  • Train the volunteer election workers on critical points in the system where problems are likely to occur.
  • Standardize and document procedures at polling places.
  • Implement checklists for volunteers at polling places, similar to preflight checklists used by pilots.

ASA called on the federal government to:

  • Conduct broader research into the integrity of elections.
  • Provide tools to help election officials conduct high-integrity elections.
  • Design acceptable ballots and procedures to test ballots on the actual voting machines.

ASA and ASQ agree that audits must be part of the election process overhaul.

ASA recommends "audits of voter-verified hardcopy records to provide high—and clearly specified—levels of confidence in electoral outcomes."

ASQ suggests two types of audits:

  1. Post-election audits of results to detect anomalies that indicate fraud or systemic errors in voting equipment.
  2. Audits against an established standard. The Election Assistance Commission is working to establish this standard.

ASQ's recommendations are included in the latest ASQ Quarterly Quality Report. You can access the entire report at www.asq.org/quality-report/reports/200803.html.


Food Safety Measures Ramped Up for Olympics

Concerns over the safety of food at this summer's Olympic Games has prompted China's top quality official to advise food suppliers to save video records of their monitoring procedures in case tampering does occur.

"The safety of Olympic food is our top priority," said Li Changjiang, the director of China's general administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine. "We must look carefully into every step of the production process and be vigilant to possible sabotage."

Changjiang asked suppliers to maintain video monitoring records of their food's storage and production. Usually, suppliers overwrite monitoring tapes every 20 to 30 days.

Chinese government officials are also planning to use global positioning satellites to monitor food production, processing factories and food hygiene to make sure safe food is delivered to the 10,500 athletes residing in the Olympic Village.

Food products will be affixed with an Olympic food safety logistics code and transportation vehicles will be tracked using global positioning satellites.

Meanwhile, a Chinese government news agency reported a World Health Organization official recently gave high marks to China and its preparation for possible public health threats during the upcoming Olympics. The opening ceremony is Aug. 8.

Sources: The Associated Press, the International Herald Tribune and Asian News International.

The safety of Olympic food is our top priority. We must look carefully into every step of the production process and be vigilant to possible sabotage.

Who's Who in Q

Name: Wilson Goncalves da Silva.

Residence: Londrina, Paraná, Brazil.

Education: He holds post graduate degrees in business administration from Alvarez Penteado, and in total quality management from Fundaçäo Getulio Vargas, both located in Säo Paulo, Brazil.

Current Job: Packaging manager at Sandoz do Brasil Ltd., a Novartis company.

Previous Job: Goncalves has worked in the pharmaceutical industry since 1974.

Introduction to quality: During his last year as a chemistry student, Goncalves worked at Eli Lilly and Co. and came in contact with different quality tools and quality manuals. He was exposed to quality concepts such as current good manufacturing practices, internal audits and standard operating practices.

ASQ Activities: An ASQ member since 1996, Goncalves became country councilor for Brazil in 2000. He is a member of several divisions, including Lean Enterprise, Human Development and Leadership, and Food, Drug and Cosmetics. Goncalves is applying to be regional country councilor of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Division.

Other Activities: He is the director of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering—Brazil.

Personal: Married, three children.

Favorite Ways to Relax: Reading, walking on the beach and preparing a Brazilian barbecue.

Quality Quote: Companies are looking for more "problem solvers" inside the workplace and encouraging quality managers to use their brains to solve problems permanently.


Quality Professionals Coming Together

Nearly 2,000 quality professionals gathered in Houston last month for ASQ's annual World Conference on Quality and Improvement and the Quality Institute for Healthcare. The conference followed the theme "Generation Quality," and a number of speakers and sessions addressed that focus. Other themes coursed through the conference schedule, including international quality and innovation.

Featured events

Rear Adm. T.K. "Ken" Mattingly, one of the heroes of the Apollo 13 space mission, retold the adventure of the space flight gone awry, and how he and a team worked together to bring the crew safely back to earth.

The biggest lessons Mattingly took away from the near-disaster could be applied to any challenge: Have a clear goal.

"Know what you have to accomplish and don't let anything get in the way," Mattingly said.

Personal accountability is also a factor in any team's success, he added. It's important for each team member to be able to say, "It won't fail because of me," he said.

An international panel discussion, titled "21st Century Challenges Call the Quality Movement to Action," brought together some of today's brightest thinkers in quality: James Faubion, chair, department of anthropology, Rice University, Houston; Marius J.S. Buiting, president of the European Society for Quality in Healthcare; Shoji Shiba, visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and professor emeritus, University of Tsukuba, Japan; and Margaret Wheatley, president emerita of the Berkana Institute.

They relayed their unique views on how crucial quality is when addressing many of society's problems, and how quality can lead to a richer life for everyone.

Remembering Juran

The death of Joseph M. Juran in late February was on the minds of quality professionals as they gathered for the conference. Juran Institute CEO Joseph DeFao offered a moving tribute and introduced a video that led off conference activities.

"One thing Dr. Juran would want most—don't forget the contributions quality leaders have made. In the words of Juran, "Keep the revolution alive."

During the conference, a separate room with remembrances was open to all attendees.

Team excellence awards

The Boeing Co.'s Universal Splice Machine Project team took top honors, winning the gold award at the 23rd International Team Excellence competition.

A rigorous finalist competition included 26 teams from around the world. Gold, silver and bronze awards were presented at the conference.

The Silver Award went to Healthways' Improving Member Contact Rate team. Bayer MaterialScience's Optimizing the TL/LTL Decision team took the Bronze Award.

ASQ officers

ASQ announced the names of its officers for the 2008-2009 term at the annual business meeting, held in conjunction with the World Conference. The newly elected officers who will assume their roles July 1, are:

  • President Roberto M. Saco.
  • Chairman Michael D. Nichols.
  • President-elect Peter L. Andres.
  • Treasurer E. David Spong.

Newly elected board members are Darlene Deane, Alexis P. Goncalves, Marc Kelemen and Art Trepanier. Re-elected board members are Belinda Chavez, Lou Anne Lathrop, Aimee Siegler and Steve Wilson.

Date in Quality History

QP looks back on an event or person that made a difference in the history of quality.

June 18, 1926

Philip B. "Phil" Crosby was born in Wheeling, WV.

Crosby was a businessman and author who contributed to management theory and quality management practices. He is widely recognized for promoting the concept of zero defects and for defining quality as conformance to requirements.

Crosby is credited with reinforcing the message, "Do things right the first time." He also became well known for acquainting quality professionals with the following theories: The price of nonconformance is a measure of poor quality; prevention is a means to eliminate quality problems; leadership is a requirement to make progress; teamwork is the principle for work; and customer requirements define the standard of quality performance.

Crosby's first book, Quality is Free, has been credited, in part, with igniting the quality revolution in the United States and Europe. He published a total of 13 books, including The Absolutes of Leadership in 1996 and Quality and Me, an autobiography published in 1999.

He died in August 2001 at the age of 75.


APQC Releases Three New Process Frameworks

APQC, formerly known as the American Productivity and Quality Center, has developed three industry-specific business process frameworks for the consumer products, electric utilities, and aerospace and defense industries.

The industry versions are based on APQC's Process Classification Framework (PCF), a taxonomy of cross-functional business processes intended to allow objective comparison of performance within and among organizations.

Supported by IBM, the three frameworks and newly updated cross-industry PCF are available at no charge for organizations to download at www.apqc.org/pcf. An additional seven industry PCFs are scheduled for release later this year.

APQC's PCF now forms the foundation of the Open Standards Benchmarking Collaborative research.

Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, readers can take a short, informal survey, and we post the results. Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"What ill effects has your company experienced as a result of the sluggish economy?"

Budget cuts: 28.1%

Layoffs: 18.7%

None: 18.7%

All of the above: 15.6%


At www.qualityprogress.com, past articles are organized and divided into topics and subtopics. "Customer loyalty and satisfaction," has been divided into three subtopics. The top articles for each subtopic are as follows:

  • Customer experience management: "Eight Steps to Sustain Change," by John R. Schultz.
  • Customer requirements: "AS&D Standards" Revisions to Improve Supplier Performance," by L.L. "Buddy" Cressionnie.
  • Customer satisfaction and value: "Build Loyalty Through Experience Management," by Leonard L. Berry and Lewis P. Carbone.

To check out more articles and other articles under different topics, click on "Topics" on at www.qualityprogress.com.


QP scours the news wires each day to bring you the latest local, regional, national and international stories related to quality. Each week, QP editors post about 10 articles a day on topics such as air travel, healthcare and product recalls. Visit www.qualityprogress.com and find Quality News Today on the right-hand side of the home page.


CALL FOR '09 PAPERS Proposals for sessions at next year's ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Minneapolis will be accepted until Aug. 1. The conference will focus on five areas: quality basics, customer service, driving quality throughout the organization, improved performance and 21st century needs, competencies and issues. Visit http://wcqi.asq.org for more details on the submission process.

SR WEBSITE ASQ has launched a new website, www.thesro.org, devoted to quality's role in social responsibility (SR). The first phase of the website features user-generated content about quality's contribution to SR, the ISO 26000 draft standard and related ASQ products, events and research.

BUSH AND BALDRIGE (above right) President George W. Bush recognized this year's Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients at a White House reception following the awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., in April. ASQ led a letter writing campaign earlier this year to convince the president to attend the ceremony to highlight the prestige of the award. Bush had not participated in four out of the last five ceremonies.


This month's Web Watch focuses on customer satisfaction. For more quality related websites, visit www.asq.org.


The Customer Satisfaction Measurement Assn. is a membership organization that conducts benchmarking studies to identify practices that improve customer satisfaction and overall operations. The site lists 70 organizations as members, including Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions and government agencies.


Have a compliment or complaint about a product or service? Want to read what other people think? This website allows consumers to leave feedback on good and bad experiences with companies in a variety of industries. Free of charge, users may enter comments or read other users' comments and rankings of individual companies.

Free registration allows you to manage your letters and participate in rankings and, according to the website, increases your chances of receiving responses from companies.


This site provides simple guidelines for designing customer satisfaction surveys and employee opinion surveys. Steps detailed include defining the goals of the research, writing the individual survey items and testing the reliability of a survey. The site also provides free downloadable sample surveys.


The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) tracks trends in customer satisfaction and provides benchmarking insights into the consumer economy for companies, industry trade associations and government agencies. ACSI rates industries such as manufacturing, transportation, retail and finance on scales of 0-100 based on telephone interviews with consumers. The results of these quarterly studies can be found on this website, organized by industry and specific companies.

Found an interesting quality site? If you come across a noncommercial site that could be useful to other quality professionals, e-mail it to medmund@asq.org.


Is SportsCenter Next?

ESPN, the sports media giant, recently published a two-part series on building the best fantasy baseball team after talking to a group of statisticians (and self-professed baseball fanatics) that first had the work published in QP last year.

ESPN.com's Jason Grey picked up on the study done by I. Elaine Allen, an associate professor of statistics and entrepreneurship at Babson College in Massachusetts (and a regular contributor to QP's "Statistics Roundtable" column), Kirill Kustov, a Babson undergraduate statistics student and George Recck, the director of the college's math resource center.

Grey's column and the QP article, "Building a Better Fantasy Baseball Team" (pp. 24-29, April 2007), detail how the group applied multivariate and univariate analysis to players' statistics to reveal which players have the potential to be the most valuable on a fantasy baseball team.

Visit www.espn.com and search under "Grey Matter" to view the columns. You must pay a subscription to access this part of ESPN.com's fantasy baseball section. To view the QP article, visit www.asq.org/quality-progress/2007/04/statistics/building-a-better-fantasy-baseball-team.html.

The estimated number of professionals who have received ASQ certifications since ASQ began offering them 40 years ago.


THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR STANDARDIZATION (ISO) has launched a project committee to develop an international standard on energy management. The standard will be based on continual improvement and the plan-do-check-act approach used in ISO 9001 and ISO 14000 to provide compatibility and integration opportunities. For details, go to www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1122 (case sensitive).

THE STANDARDS ENGINEERING SOCIETY (SES) is sponsoring a paper competition as part of the U.S. celebration of World Standards Day, Oct. 23. The competition's theme is "intelligent and sustainable buildings." Submissions must be received by SES by Aug. 29 to be eligible for three cash prizes. For details, go to www.ses-standards.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=77.

THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR NONDESTRUCTIVE TESTING is developing a new instruction series program for magnet particle, liquid penetrant, ultrasonic, electromagnetic and radiographic testing and is seeking qualified authors. For more information, go to www.asnt.org/latestnews/authors2007a.htm.

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