General Laboratory Competency
On February 23, 2004, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) Science and Technology Policy Council (STPC) approved a new Policy Directive developed by the Forum on Environmental Measurement (FEM), Assuring the Competency of Environmental Protection Agency Laboratories (PDF) (4 pp, 170K, About PDF). All EPA operated laboratories, including Agency owned, contractor operated facilities must to address the specific items listed in the Laboratory Quality System Components section of the Policy Directive as well as maintain a documented quality system that meets the existing specifications of the EPA Quality System as defined in EPA Order CIO 2105.0 (i.e., formally known as EPA Order 5360.1), Policy and Program Requirements for the Mandatory Agency-wide Quality System (PDF) (12 pp, 78K, About PDF). All laboratories will demonstrate adherence to their quality system through periodic independent assessments and by participation in inter-laboratory comparisons. In addition, where appropriate accreditation programs are available for one or more components of a given laboratory's operations, the laboratory will seek accreditation for those components.
In the Agency’s continued effort to ensure the quality and validity of environmental measurement data, an EPA policy titled, Policy to Assure Competency of Laboratories, Field Sampling, and Other Organizations Generating Environmental Measurement Data under Agency-Funded Acquisitions (PDF) (3 pp, 167K, About PDF), was issued on March 28, 2011. All organizations performing environmental analysis for the Agency shall demonstrate their qualifications in the field(s) of analyses to be conducted, prior to performing such analyses, under Agency-funded acquisitions. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Acquisitions (PDF) (9 pp, 153K, About PDF), document is also available to assist in the implementation of this policy.
A second policy titled, Policy to Assure the Competency of Organizations Generating Environmental Measurement Data under Agency-Funded Assistance Agreements (PDF), (4 pp, 85K, About PDF) was approved by the Science Technology Policy Council (STPC) on December 12, 2012 with implementation criteria approved on March 13, 2013. A Federal Register Notice announced that implementation of the Policy has been extended to take effect on October 1, 2013. Please note, as stated in the policy, the new effective date of October 1, 2013 is for new awards and does not have to be integrated into existing agreements or awards previously made. All organizations performing environmental analysis for the Agency shall demonstrate their qualifications in the field(s) of analyses to be conducted, prior to performing such analyses, under Agency-funded assistance agreements. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Agreements - UPDATE 9/12/13 (PDF) (13 pp, 186K, About PDF) document is also available and will continue to be updated in conjunction with the Office of Grants and Debarment to assist in the implementation of this policy. DRAFT – Examples of Competency Demonstration for Recipients (PDF) (1 pp, 195K, About PDF) are also being made available and any feedback for additions is welcome.
Attached is a compilation of the Questions and Answers – Clarified 02/06/14 (PDF) (20 pp, 142K, About PDF) from the webinar series held from May – August 2013 in addition to the QA Community Webinar in November 2013. The answer to the third question that appears on page 15 was clarified to eliminate confusion.