A Single Audit Standard?

Unless you live under a rock (i.e. don’t read trade pubs) you probably know ARGUS has partnered with the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF) to provide operators with a combined ARGUS Platinum / ACSF Industry Audit Standard (IAS) product.

The related ACSF press release says, “In the near future, ARGUS will offer an Industry Audit Standard (IAS) module as an add-on to its proprietary Platinum Audit Standard. The IAS module will contain operational requirements that have been extracted from best practices used by the FAR Part 121 community and have applicability to the Parts 135 and 91K marketplace. Operators that successfully complete the audit performed against the Platinum standard, including the IAS module, will receive the ARGUS Platinum rating and be added to the ACSF registry.”

So many people have asked me what I think about this announcement and since a blog is nothing if not an individual’s personal (public) soapbox, I figured I’d address the issue here after some careful contemplation.

I think the ARGUS/ACSF combined product is a great idea in principle. I was the ACSF’s first Director back when we were trying to figure out what the Foundation would do, what it stood for, and how we’d eventually impact the industry. One of our first goals was to provide a SINGLE audit standard that raised the overall level of safety for the industry and also reduced the need for multiple audits from different vendors, customers, and so on. What does this ARGUS/ACSF combined audit provide? A SINGLE audit product. I’ll admit that out of pure pride I wish it was an ACSF IAS audit with an ARGUS “add-on module”, but hey – the end result is the same: one visit from a pair of auditors which saves the operator time and money in preparing for audits and hosting auditors. (I have no idea what the new ACSF/ARGUS product will cost so I’m just referring to the operator’s time spent dealing with audits.) The ACSF standards bring a higher level of play to the game and the ARGUS name brings familiarity with much of the industry and customers.

For those reasons, I think the concept is a sound one. Will it work? My crystal ball is foggy on that part. I just don’t know enough yet about how ACSF and ARGUS will implement the new combined product. The IAS audit itself is a lot of work for auditors to complete in 3 or 4 days on-site with an operator. It seems to me it would be difficult to add another audit and complete them both in a similar timeframe, but if ARGUS develops a concise process that acknowledges the similarities between the (new) ARGUS Platinum requirements and the IAS requirements, it could work. I am anxious to watch the implementation unfold.

I was a bit hesitant to publish this post because few topics (maybe the meaning of “rest”?) can create as much heated discussion as the legitimacy of one audit standard or auditing firm versus another so I’m sure I’ll tick someone off with this post. In an effort to be fair and open, I’ll tell you I have long-term personal connections with ACSF and have a soft spot for the Foundation since I was part of the organization in its infancy. I have never worked for or with ARGUS. And since I conduct ACSF audits, yes, it’s very likely I’ll lose some auditing business as a result of the convenience of this new initiative. But in this case, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a …” And here’s why:

I whole-heartedly believe the ACSF IAS can help an operator become a safer, more effective, and more efficient business, so any initiative that advances awareness of the IAS and exposes more of our industry to this high level of operations is a good thing.

If you’ve ever considered completing the ACSF IAS but aren’t sure where to start, drop me a line or give me a call and we’ll talk. I’d love to walk you through the standards and help your organization decide whether it’s the right audit for you or help you identify portions of the audit that could improve your organization NOW while you prepare for the audit at a later time.

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