The Importance of a Quality Auditor
By Denessa Bacallan


The Importance of a Quality Auditor

Throughout the last 10 years, I have truly seen it all when it comes to the different styles of auditing a Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 regulated facility. From auditors who simply just check the box to auditors who audit a facility to see if they could withstand an invasion of 20 armed personnel. The spectrum is very wide; however, the quality is very narrow. When MTSA regulated facilities go out looking for an auditor, often times they are looking at price and “the cheaper the better” is not always the way to go. However, there is no need to spend $7,000.00 on a MTSA Security Audit either. To better help Facility Security Officers decide on who to hire to do their audits, I have come up with four guidelines or qualifications you should be looking for in an auditor:

  1. Is the auditor qualified per 33CFR105.415(b)(4)(i) in that does the auditor have “knowledge of methods for conducting audits and inspections, and security, control, and monitoring techniques”? This should be the first thing that you look for, and just a word of advice just because someone was in the U.S. Coast Guard does NOT make them qualified nor knowledgeable in this area. I can’t tell you how many times I have come in behind another auditor to find many things not in compliance and the FSO advise me that the auditor before me was in the U.S. Coast Guard so they assumed they were knowledgeable. You need to ask what they did in the USCG and when they were in the USCG. This is something that many auditors leave out because they got out of the USCG before MTSA was even put into law.
  2. Ask for references. A well-established auditor will always be willing to give you a handful of names and numbers to facilities they have audited in the past. They should also be able to give this too you on the spot.
  3. What tools will the auditor use to audit the facility? Many auditors like to add what I call “fluff”. Fluff is information that pertains nothing to do with the Maritime Aspect of the facility in which you are auditing. I could understand if the entire aspect of the facility was being audited, but it’s not so why do it. Here is why. You know that $7,000.00 price tag I was talking about, it’s the fluff that you are paying for. All MTSA auditors should be using the MTSA Facility Compliance Guide. It is the guide that the U.S. Coast Guard uses to inspect a facility so why shouldn’t it be used to audit? We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel. It only makes sense to audit from the same aspect which a facility is inspected by.
  4. How long will they be on-site and what will the audit entail? During the last 10 years and over 2,000 audits I have found that 90% of auditors only audit a facility during the day time, as if the night shift never existed. This is where auditors set themselves apart from all other auditors. When an auditor commits to coming at night to conduct the same type of interviews and inspect as he/she during the day, it should show you that the auditor is dedicated to their craft. The facts is that they are willing to do a complete audit, not just a 4-5-hour 9am – 1pm audit. If you truly want your money’s worth this is where you get it. Here you will see what areas are truly lacking at your facility. It is often that facility personnel who work nights don’t receive enough training or they just simply forget it because there not around it since they work nights i.e. security drills or exercises.

From these four resources, you should be able to properly choose a quality auditor for your facility without a wide variety in price. The price of an audit is going to depend on the size of the facility but should never be over $6,000.00. If it is, you’re paying too much and I’ll come do it for $6,000.00. The most common price point is anywhere between $1,500.00 – $5,000.00 on average. One other thing that you must remember is that it is ok to have a friendship with your auditor, but remember business is business and the audit must be done correctly to maximize it’s worth.

If you have any questions, please contact me at:

Joseph Powell

P.O. Box 2054

Gautier, MS 39553


Office: 352-302-1442

"Maritime Defense Strategy, LLC provides excellent work and are very knowledgeable. Their compliance audits are very extensive and help ensure the client understands not only what is required but why and what you can do to meet the requirements. Great company and good people to work with."

Rob Carney- Ergon Refining- Vicksburg, MS