Is ISSSP a Non-Profit Fraud? You Decide. | Six Sigma Accreditation

The International Society for Six Sigma Professionals (ISSSP), under the direction of Peter Peterka, has begun marketing itself as an accreditation provider (again).  What could have been celebrated as another organization stepping up to help ensure accountability within the Six Sigma industry, instead appears to be just another shameless marketing tactic by Peter Peterka.  This time, it might possibly be at the taxpayer’s expense.

First a little history…

Peter Peterka, owner of the training firm 6sigma.us, appears to have purchased the defunct website ISSSP (International Society for Six Sigma Professionals) in 2015, with a careful website redesign, he tried to make it appear like it was a long-standing accreditation and certification website.  However, this could not be further from the truth.  As those in the industry may already know, ISSSP was never a “Governing Body” before Peter purchased it, but its purpose was, instead, to be an “educational and networking forum”,  never to offer “accreditation” or “certification” services.

Peterka owning his own accrediting agency would clearly be in his best interest.  After all, this scenario would not only bolster his own personal reputation as a consultant, but he could also “accredit” his own training company.  Since Peterka’s training organization is NOT accredited by CSSC or even IASSC, but actually has several Consumer Alerts posted against it, having an ISSSP “accreditation” for his training company would clearly be beneficial.

Creating an industry-recognized accreditation agency, however, is no easy feat.  Before Peterka could lend legitimacy to his own training company, the obvious first step would be to find a way to lend legitimacy to ISSSP.  After all, what would be the point of being accredited by an organization if it wasn’t yet respected as an accrediting body within the industry?  What better way than becoming a Non-Profit Organization? After-all, one of the primary benefits of creating a Non-Profit is to add the appearance of credibility. 

However, obtaining Non-Profit status at this point would have likely caused a serious problem. The ISSSP website had already (since 2015) been drastically changed from promoting “education and networking” (by the previous ISSSP owners) to primarily promoting “certifications” and “accreditations”.  In fact, in late 2015 (under the ownership of Peterka) the ISSSP homepage clearly stated the following as ISSSP’s new goal:

“ISSSP wants to work with the global community to create a Six Sigma governing body that promotes Six Sigma excellence by standardizing the requirement for Six Sigma training and Six Sigma certification.”

What is the International Society of Six Sigma Professionals?

The International Society of Six Sigma Professionals was created to improve the standard, by which, Six Sigma training and Six Sigma certification programs would be judged. Up until the formation of ISSSP, there has not been a true Governing Body over Six Sigma. Our goal is to promote individuals and organizations that meet the high-standards traditionally established by Motorola.

You can see in the ISSSP menu that their primary purpose was changed to primarily promote “Accreditation” and “Certification”:

source: archive.org
source: archive.org
source: archive.org
source: archive.org

Where the problems begin…

Having “accreditation” and “certification” as a primary organizational purpose would almost certainly EXCLUDE ISSSP from achieving Non-Profit Status under 501(c)(6):

Per Wikipedia:

An organization whose primary activity is advertising the products or services of its members does not qualify because the organization is performing a service for its members rather than promoting common interests.[82][83] 

82.  Automotive Electric Association v. Commissioner, 168 F.2d 366 (6th Cir. 1948).
83. “Rev. Rul. 64-315, 1964-2 C.B. 147”. Internal Revenue Service. 1964.

Full Page Available Here

The Cover-Up…

So what exactly was done to their website before applying for Non-Profit status?  It appears that ISSSP removed all traces of “accreditation” from their website in order to fit the Non-Profit narrative.

“Membership” section Before & After:

"Membership” Section Before:
“Membership” Section After (2017):

“Certification” section Before & After:

"Certification” Section Before:
“Certification” Section After (2017):

“Accreditation” section Before & After (completely removed):

"Accreditation” Section Before:
“Accreditation” Section After (2017):

In early 2018, they changed their opening statement on the homepage from:

“ISSSP wants to work with the global community to create a Six Sigma governing body that promotes Six Sigma excellence by standardizing the requirement for Six Sigma training and Six Sigma certification.”

to

“The overriding mission of ISSSP is to advance the discipline and practice of Lean Six Sigma.”

Source: archive.org

The Pay-Off…

This apparent deception seemed to have worked!   

On July 30th, 2018 the IRS approved Peterka’s organization as a Non-Profit (despite Peterka implying it became a non-profit in 2017 here). Then in 2019, ISSSP wasted no time sending a mass email that stated the following:

“In response to requests from the Lean Six Sigma professional community, non-profit organization International Society for Six Sigma Professionals (ISSSP) will be formally launching accreditation of training organizations on Nov. 14, 2019. Accreditation will be offered to organizational members of ISSSP who qualify.”

Source: 2019 ISSSP Newsletter

Clearly, “accreditation” was on the ISSSP agenda since Peterka purchased the website in 2015.  Clearly action was taken to distance ISSSP from their previous stated mission of “accreditation” and “certification” before they received their Non-Profit status.  

These significant website changes certainly seem suspicious given the timeline. Did these “requests from the Lean Six Sigma professional community” come from a time machine? Obviously, these “requests” seem highly questionable, as they obviously seem to fit ISSSP’s previous narrative of offering “accreditation”.

It is painfully obvious to see that ISSSP is simply just pivoting back to its original stated purpose, a purpose that seems to run completely against its Non-Profit eligibility. Again, if you refer back to the Wikipedia quote (and its sources), the exclusion seems very clear:

An organization whose primary activity is advertising the products or services of its members does not qualify because the organization is performing a service for its members rather than promoting common interests.[82][83]

Yet, ISSSP’s very own email specifically states:

Accreditation will be offered to organizational members of ISSSP who qualify.”

The conflict of interest is open and obvious.

 

Digging Even Deeper

Putting aside what appears to be clear indications of tax fraud, let’s dig a little deeper.  The newsletter distributed by ISSSP then goes on to state:

“A formal accreditation advisory committee was approved by the board of directors, consisting of highly qualified volunteer members who are committed to ensuring Lean Six Sigma training programs provide value. These volunteers do not own a training organization.”

Well, that sounds nice!  What could be wrong with that?  Well, ISSSP’s Board Meeting Notes (from less than a month earlier) seem to paint a very different picture from what is implied:

“The AAC [Accreditation Advisory Committee] will also be advised about their role in the Accreditation process. Since the AAC is made up of volunteers there were concerns regarding the time commitment involved. Ms. Barry will attend the AAC meeting to discuss the accreditation process, so a system can be created that ensures our member volunteers are not overworked. The proposed solution is to adapt a procedure that would only escalate applications to the AAC for review, if they are borderline on the Minimum Accredited Training Organization Requirements or the Days Equivalent.”

In other words, it appears that almost all approvals will be handled by 1 person.  That 1 person appears to be Becky Barry.  Becky Barry seems hardly unbiased.

Despite being Peter Peterka’s employee at ISSSP, Becky Barry is also a former employee of Peter Peterka’s training company, 6sigma.us.  According to her Linkedin, she was not employed in a six sigma related capacity, but instead handled their MARKETING:

Source: Linkedin

As well as MARKETING for ISSSP:

Source: Linkedin

This is not surprising, as her educational background is clearly website marketing.

Source: Linkedin

Conveniently, ISSSP now promotes her skills quite differently:

Source: https://isssp.org/about-us/who-we-are/

As you can see, in the eyes of ISSSP, she is now a bona fide “Accreditation Representative”.  Her ISSSP Profile states that she now has “13 years of accreditation related experience”.  What it fails to mention, is that this experience does not seem to relate in any way to Six Sigma. 

The only semi-relatable experience listed on her Linkedin page is from her company “FHR Creations”.  A company that seems to revolve entirely around virtual assistant services and web development.   Yet strangely, she states, “we specialize in helping organizations get PMI, IACET, and GSA approved.”

Source: Linkedin

It is interesting to not that this seemingly loosely related “13 years of experience”:

  1. Seems so out of place in her Linkedin profile.
  2. She does not even personally refer to herself as an “Accreditation Representative” on Linkedin (the full profile can be see here)
  3. Despite FHR Creations “specializing” in PMI, IACET, and GSA approvals, its 1-page website does not even appear to mention this service.

Suspicious is an understatement.

 

The Unethical Marketing Continues…

The entire situation seems like more unethical marketing connected with another Peter Peterka organization.  What kind of marketing does Becky specialize in?  Well, it appears like the deceptive type. 

Here you can see her leaving clearly biased reviews for Peterka’s 6sigma.us and for Peterka’s ISSSP on Google and Facebook:

Source: Facebook (6sigma.us)
Source: Google Reviews (isssp.org)

Here you can see ISSSP Linkedin profile boasting 51-200 Employees.  

Source: Linkedin

However, their website clearly shows only 6 people.  It appears that the deceptive marketing has no end.

Does this really seem like an honest organization?  Is it possible that ISSSP is just a marketing scheme designed to enrich Peter Peterka?

There is little doubt that it would be very profitable to have Peterka’s own training website accredited by a third-party organization. This would be the perfect way to legitimize his own for-profit company (which already has been exposed for extremely questionable behavior in the past).

Another interesting fact is that Peter Peterka actually seems to own the rights to ISSSP’s intellectual property (IP) and website PERSONALLY.  Despite apparent warnings from ISSSP’s own legal counsel, it appears that ISSSP is now leasing all of the property directly from Peter Peterka.

Apparently, this arrangement raised concerns right from the beginning.  ISSSP’s meeting minutes in 2017 state that their attorney “discussed the problems that could potentially occur with the International Society of Six Sigma Professionals and ISSSP names.”

“Attorney Fowler also discussed the problems that could potentially occur with the International Society of Six Sigma Professionals and ISSSP names.  Laura Fowler excused herself from the meeting after her presentation, so that other business could be completed based on her information and more data provided by Peter Peterka and Rebecca Barry.”

“After hearing Laura Fowlers opinions regarding the Intellectual Property associated with the organization, Peter Peterka, Alan Hulme-Low, and Dr. Lepora Menefee agreed that Peter Peterka would keep the rights to all Intellectual Property. The rights will be drawn up into a contract that leases the material to ISSSP on a monthly or annual basis.”

Source (highlighted): 2017 ISSSP Meeting Minutes

“He [Peterka] stated that there is a legal agreement in place to lease the website from him.”

Source (highlighted): 2019 ISSSP Meeting Minutes

 

Conveniently for both Peterka and ISSSP, there seemed to be no mention of a credible third-party appraisal for the related-party transaction within the organization’s minutes. For all we know, Peterka could be paying himself vastly more than fair market price now and/or in the future.

 

Will it Even Matter?

Of course, ISSSP does market other membership advantages as well.  When it was purchased by Peterka, it appears that it came with all of the old white papers and videos from the early 2000’s. However, it is hard to believe anybody would be willing to pay a premium for what appears to be outdated material from over a decade ago. People are smart, they realize that they can get access to CURRENT content from Google, Youtube, and Quora for free.

Fortunately, ISSSP seems to have been largely ignored by the Six Sigma community as a whole.  A bulk mailing list of 9,259 active email addresses came with the purchase of the ISSSP website (as stated in the meeting minutes above). Several days after a seemingly mass newsletter went out, not a single person participated in their forum.  This is not surprising, considering not 1 person participated in the forum for almost a year. This is despite IASSC’s many attempts to raise awareness primarily from individuals associated with ISSSP and/or Peterka’s 6sigma.us).

Hopefully, for the sake of taxpayers, ISSSP will soon be abandoned.  If not, at least the Six Sigma Community can rely on IRS Tax Form 13909 (Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint Referral Form) to help strip ISSSP (which appears to be nothing more than a marketing scheme) of its non-profit status.  Luckily, it doesn’t yet seem worth the paper, postage, and envelope.

 

Update! Our organization has filed legal action in federal court against Peter Peterka (in addition to his organizations Global Six Sigma USA LP and ISSSP) for the distribution of information that is known to be factually false, deceptive, and/or misleading. We feel that holding training providers accountable for their actions will greatly benefit the six sigma industry. We thank you for your support!

 

*Posted: October 27, 2019, Edited: October 30, 2019, Updated: February 26, 2020.