Initially there were assumptions and assurances, and there were programs in place to make sure things were done right. Things were being done in a new way, new results were being generated, and they were breaking new ground. Some questions arose, the spokesfolks gave assurances, the public accepted them, and everybody moved forward. The naysayers were nattering nabobs.
Then there were more problems. Things were not as the experts promised. Things were not right. Schedules and records were changed. A complete review was called for, to ensure program integrity.
Some critics questioned: how can the organization investigate itself? It's a variation of the financial world's TB2F (Too Big To Fail). How does an organization police itself, investigate itself, review itself? Can an organization possibly do that?
And here's where the post goes down two different paths.
Organized crime Professional bicycling The UCI, the Tour de France, and the Olympics have implemented reviews that they have designed, funded, and staffed and that will answer only to them. Critics say, no meaningful review can come from organizations reviewing themselves. They may be right.
Path B. Boeing's 787 Dreamliner FAA have grounded the B787 for a complete program review - which was a great call, and if it's just the batteries it'll be fixed and forgotten in a year. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of people with the competence to complete this program review outside of Boeing and Airbus.
The 787 is a completely new kind of project; there just aren't any experts without a conflict of interest. Here's an interesting read, which also mentions that Boeing is in a union dispute with their technical experts.
It's a damn sticky problem. How can you build a truly new thing and introduce it into public use without using the public as test dummies for the first twenty years? How can public trust be established and earned, in an atmosphere where so many apparently trustworthy participants (Armstrong, Madoff, Milken, etc) are cheating?
And if the critic's argument in Path A is correct - that no organization can be expected to review and police itself - what does that mean in the 787 situation, when the only competent people are internal or competitors?
Some may recall a similar situation with the 737 rudders. There's very little new under the sun. In the face of all that, I really admire the FAA decision to ground the 787s. Let me go further and say: I admire the Obama Admnistration's decision to ground the 787's. I'm just not sure how they're possibly going to decide to release them.