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A quality control audit reviews quality assurance systems to determine whether they are effective. This may be performed internally for a company’s own reference, or by a third party agency. In some cases, the results are made public, as seen with government agencies which need to be accountable to citizens and residents. The outcome of an audit may include violations of varying severity, or a clean result, with no violations found during the investigation.
Such audits provide a system of accountability to ensure that a company or agency meets its stated quality goals. For a quality control audit to be successful, auditors need unlimited access to personnel, records, and facilities. Third parties can be especially good auditors, as they are neutral, with no stake in the outcome of the investigation. People within a company may have an incentive to return favorable results, and could overlook issues that other investigators might examine more deeply.
Over the course of a quality control audit, auditors can review a variety of materials. They may look at stated policies and procedures, and can compare them to actual performance. This can involve watching employees responsible for quality control as well as interviewing people to determine how knowledgeable they are about procedures, and what they would do in the event of a quality problem. Records can also be reviewed to determine if the company applies policies consistently and logically.
Material collected during a quality control audit can be pulled together into a report. This document can compare and contrast stated goals, policies, and procedures with the actual quality control on the ground. It might highlight specific issues of concern, as well as areas of quality control that are clearly working effectively. Some audits may include case studies of specific incidents to show how the company went wrong or right. The quality control audit may conclude with recommendations to improve or keep systems strong.
Public reports can be reviewed by anyone who requests them. Agencies with bad audit results may be required to provide information about action plans to address the problem, documenting their response to the audit for the benefit of interested parties. Private, internal audits are only circulated among authorized personnel. These can include managers, engineers, and others involved in the design and implementation of quality control and assurance procedures. They can use confidential audits to address known quality issues as early as possible.