Subjective Certifications

January 22nd, 2017

The Court of Appeals Ruling is not in yet.  We will report the Ruling when it is available.  In the interim, a new article as below.

 

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) is in trouble with the authorities.  Again. 

This time, the CSA appears to have violated the regulations of the Professional Engineers of Ontario (PEO).  The PEO regulates and governs the conduct of engineers under the authority of the Professional Engineers Act of Ontario.

When an engineer violates PEO regulations they’re hauled before the PEO’s Complaints and Discipline Committees.  If the PEO rules that the offending engineer is guilty of “professional misconduct or incompetence,” the relevant committee will scourge them and boil them in oil.  Or rescind their license.  One or the other.

Recently, we received a brown envelope sent from deep inside the CSA.  It contained a copy of what appears to be a formal filing of complaint with the PEO against a CSA engineer.  That is, the PEO will not confirm or deny that an investigation is underway, so we cannot definitively state that there is one.  But the filing is comprehensive and complete, so if the document was indeed filed with PEO, then the CSA has yet another professional misconduct headache.  And so does their engineer. 

Specifically, the filing deals with a Ms Kayla Mujkanovic, a medial device certifier at CSA (Kayla May Mujkanovic, PEO # 100189758, registered 2012-11-05, current CSA paygrade - to E3). 

Here’s how the filing began;

“Kayla Mujkanovic should be investigated for professional misconduct [because] she is currently working for CSA Group in addition to having a conflicting job at medical device manufacturers in Toronto, ON.”

That’s true; we checked.  Ms Mujkanovic is indeed employed by CSA, having been hired as a medical device certifier back in Oct., 2012, staying until Feb., 2016, then rehired by CSA in Aug., 2016 in the same certifier role. 

That’s awkward, because she was employed by Kangaroo Group (a “medical device design and engineering” company) from Feb. 22, 2016 to Nov. 25, 2016, overlapping her CSA role by three months.  Some pics of her at Kangaroo, here and here (on right).

Additionally, Ms Mujkanovic was hired by Synaptive Medical on Nov. 28, 2016 as a Quality Systems Specialist “specifically involved in product design / 60601 compliance” and remains employed there, while also at CSA, right now.  So, both jobs, ongoing, at the same time.

The 60601 reference is quite important.  From the bumf;  “60601 is a widely accepted benchmark for medical electrical equipment and compliance with IEC60601-1 has become a requirement for the commercialization of electrical medical equipment in many countries.”

In other words, if a manufacturer wants to sell their products, they need this certification.  That puts power in the hands of the certifier.

And that’s a problem if the certifier is also the manufacturer.  Actually, it’s more than a problem, it’s a conflict of interests.

Quoting the PEO, “professional misconduct [includes] failure to make prompt, voluntary and complete disclosure of an interest, direct or indirect, that might in any way be, or be construed as, prejudicial to the professional judgement of the practitioner [such as] accepting compensation in any form for a particular service from more than one party [or] contracting in the practitioner’s own right to perform professional engineering services for other than the practitioner’s employer.”

The CSA agrees, at least in public.  Regular readers know very well however, that CSA’s public statements are often at variance, and often dramatically at variance, with their actual practices.

In public, the CSA claims the hallmark of independence in their third party certifications.  “We will provide you with third-party verification testing,” for instance.  The CSA mark, they claim, “indicates that your products have been independently tested.”  They hammer the point;  “In order for you to sell your products […] they must be tested by an accredited third party agency”.  These marks are what you need to “sell your product around the world.”

Get the point?  Certification is all about objectivity, that’s why it’s necessarily third-party, someone without ties to the product, the credibility of the certification is dependent on the independence of the tester.

So how is it acceptable that Ms Mujkanovic’s employment is split between engineering compliance of medical devices for one manufacturer and then testing medical devices for engineering compliance at CSA?  Isn’t that certifying one’s own work?  That isn’t really independent, is it?  And Ms Mujkanovic can’t seriously be considered “third-party” to her own employer or her own products.  Bit of a breach, it seems.

From the filing; “Early on in her career is already committing professional misconduct of the form [of] moonlighting rather than being ethical.”  And again; “[this practice] does not offer a true 3rd party relationship as an agency conducting safety evaluations for public safety.”

Though the conflict is worrying already, it actually gets worse.  You see, Ms Mujkanovic’s conflicts extend beyond testing of her own employers’ products, and potentially her own work.  She’s also certifying the products of her competitors.

Quoting CSA;  “CSA Group’s product evaluation services assist manufacturers through every phase of the product development cycle, from pre-production to post-purchase.”

Given Ms Mujkanovic’s conflicting employment, manufacturers would be effectively placing their new designs, their intellectual property, into the hands of their competitor’s employee, being Ms Mujkanovic.  Their competitor would be adjudicating on the permissibility of their new products.

It’s like putting Boeing in charge of the FAA; not many Airbus planes would get certified.

As the PEO filing put it; “How can an individual work for a medical device manufacturer as a Quality Engineer (directly involved in product development, safety and compliance) and objectively evaluate competitor’s products”?  Good question. 

And again;  “How can CSA safely state that [Ms Mujkanovic] is not obtaining competitor’s trade secrets for designs and not applying this learned knowledge in her other company’s work?”  Another good question, especially in the context of CSA’s Benchmarking / Product line review offerings.

Specifically, “CSA Group’s comparative product testing evaluates one product against another.”  Wow.  So Boeing would compare their own planes with Airbus.  How do you suppose that would work out?

According to Ms Mujkanovic’s official job description, she is “required to [review] customer product data specifications [and] electrical schematics.”  That’s the intellectual property part.  She also has the power to “obtain more product information” from the manufacturer.  She may even access to her competitor’s facilities, as she “may be required […] to perform certification activities at customer’s facilities”.  That’s a lot of opportunity.

There is a very good reason why independence is so central to product testing.  Eliminate that independence, and the integrity of that process is eliminated.  What’s left is a certification sticker; bloody expensive but entirely meaningless.

The CSA is indeed selling stickers meaninglessly, and they’ve been outed for this many times before.  Many times, indeed.  Many, many, many, many, many, many, many (etc.) times before.

Being outed doesn’t seem to matter.  We’ve noted this too, we’ve explained why unethical or illegal conduct at CSA is so hard to correct.  The CSA can violate whatever laws it likes, and it can be brazen about it, safe in the knowledge that CSA’s fellow civil servants in Ottawa will protect them every time.

Unaccountability and brazen violation are ignorable by governments, provided they’re one-offs.  Or two or three-offs.  But a long record of violations are another matter, and therein lies CSA’s vulnerability. 

RestoreCSA is a sort of public record of CSA’s private behaviour.  As such, these articles amass, together a critical mass, accumulating with each article a sort of compendium of corruption and our good faith efforts to correct it.  As evidence accumulates, it gets harder to ignore.

The CSA doesn’t ignore us anymore.