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Policies and Procedures for EPA Organizations

The EPA Quality System encompasses management and technical activities related to the planning, implementation, assessment, and improvement of environmental programs that involve:

A list of some example activities are contained in Example Activities. The following topics are discussed here:

This information is also contained in the Overview of the EPA Quality System for Environmental Data and Technology (PDF 35pp, 160K About PDF). In addition, some common questions asked by EPA organizations are answered under FAQ #3 - EPA Organizations and Personnel.

For directions on accessing the references listed below, see Information About Downloadable Files.

General Specifications

There are 11 quality management specifications defined in EPA Order CIO 2105.0 (PDF 12pp, 94K About PDF) for all EPA organizations covered by the EPA Quality System. It is EPA policy that EPA organizations conform to the minimum specifications of ANSI/ASQC E4-1994 (an American National Standard) and:

EPA policy CIO 2105.0 also contains program-specific specifications and responsibilities for EPA managers and staff.

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Relationship to EPA's Information Quality Guidelines

EPA's quality system policy includes procedures for developing and implementing program-specific quality-related activities. These activities then serve as a framework for information product developers to ensure that information products meet the specifications of the Information Quality Guidelines (IQGs). For more information, see EPA's Information Quality Guidelines.

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Organizational Implementation

Because of the diversity and dispersion of programs within EPA, the EPA Quality System is decentralized. EPA organizations have individual quality systems that specifically address their needs. As a result, the EPA Quality System is composed of individual quality systems developed and implemented by the various EPA Regions, National Program Offices, and the National Centers and Laboratories in the Office of Research and Development.

Overall, there are more than 40 EPA organizations that maintain quality systems. These organizations are usually at the Regional Office level, at the level immediately below each National Program Office, and at the National Research Center and Laboratory level. Specialized, complex, large, or highly-visible programs (for example, EPA's Great Lakes National Program) also may have their own quality systems. Typically, such programs cut across organizational lines and have their own organizational infrastructure.

The Assistant Administrator for Environmental Information is responsible for developing and coordinating the EPA Quality System in addition to directing its implementation within EPA. This role is performed by the Quality Staff. See Agency-wide Oversight for more information on the Quality Staff.

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The Graded Approach

Because of the diversity of work conducted through procurements and assistance agreements, EPA recognizes that a "one size fits all" approach to quality specifications will not work. Therefore, the implementation of the EPA Quality System is based on a graded approach. A graded approach means that quality systems for different organizations and programs will vary according to the specific objectives and needs of the organization. For example, the quality practices needed in a research program are different from those in a regulatory compliance program because the purpose or intended use of the data is different.

The graded approach applies to the development of a quality system and the resulting documentation. Example applications of a graded approach to documentation include:

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Policies for EPA Organizations

Policies for EPA Organizations are defined in the internal Agency policies listed below.
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Agency-wide Oversight

Oversight of the implementation of the EPA Quality System is performed by:

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