Throughout the last fifteen 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 check the box to collect a paycheck to auditors who audit a facility to see if it could withstand an invasion. The spectrum is very wide; however, the quality is very narrow. When MTSA regulated facilities look for an auditor, they often look at the price and “the cheaper, the better” is not always the way to go. However, there is no need to spend $7,000.00 on an 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:
- 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 often I have come in behind another auditor to find many things not in compliance, and the FSO advises 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.
- 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 to you on the spot.
- What tools will the auditor use to audit the facility? Many auditors like to add what I call “fluff.” Fluff is information that has nothing to do with the Maritime Aspect of the facility they 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 (.pdf document opens in a new tab). 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 in which a facility is inspected.
- How long will they be on-site and what will the audit entail? During the last ten years and over 2,000 audits, I have found that 90% of auditors only audit a facility during the daytime, 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 they do during the day, it should show you that the auditor is dedicated to their craft. The fact 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. For example, facility personnel who work nights don’t receive enough training or forget it because they’re not around it since they work nights, i.e., security drills or exercises.
From these four resources, you should properly choose a quality auditor for your facility without a wide variety in price. The price of an audit will 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 do it for $6,000.00. The most common price point is anywhere between $1,500.00 – $5,000.00 on average. You must remember that it is okay to have a friendship with your auditor, but remember business is business and the audit must be done correctly to maximize its worth.