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EPA Quality Management Tools for Organizations and Programs

You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.EPA has developed or adapted several quality management tools to assist in implementing its quality system. The tools and scope of activities supporting the EPA Quality System differ at each level of the organization.

See the EPA's Terminology Search Web service for definitions of common terms used in the context of EPA's Quality System.


Laboratory Quality Systems - Best Practices

Many environmental decisions are supported by laboratory data. If data are not of the quality needed for the decision, then the decision may be incorrect, resulting in unacceptable risk to human health or the environment or the expenditure of funds for unnecessary activities.

Environmental laboratories that do not follow proper procedures can cause incorrect data to be used in decision making. Below are links to references, training, examples and other on-line resources for best practices for laboratory quality systems.

If you can recommend sources of best practices for laboratory quality systems for use in updating this page, please contact us by phone at (202) 565-2441 or E-mail at quality@epa.gov.

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References

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Training

  • Detecting Improper Laboratory Practices - This one and one half day course presents tools and techniques for identifying improper practices in environmental laboratories during routine laboratory assessments. The course identifies "red flags" in each step of the assessment process which can indicate improper practices in the laboratory.

    The material can also be used by laboratory management or quality assurance staff to evaluate the laboratory's internal systems and processes to reduce the likelihood of the improper practices. 
     
  • Data Verification and Validation - This one day course presents tools and techniques for data verification and validation and includes training on data integrity. (This training is available at selected Quality System Training Events)

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Examples and Other On-line Resources

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QA Annual Report and Work Plans

EPA requires annual reviews and planning of the quality system resources and activities for each EPA organization's quality system in a Quality Assurance Annual Report and Work Plan (QAARWP).

The QAARWP is used to report on changes to an organization's quality system (as documented in its approved Quality Management Plan) and provide information on the previous year's quality management activities and those planned for the coming year.

Topics addressed include quality system resources and their adequacy and activities undertaken for the management and implementation of the quality system.

Example activities include

  • quality-related training given and received,
  • system-level and project-level quality assessments,
  • publications,
  • and presentations.

QAARWPs are submitted annually to the Quality Staff, Office of Environmental Information.

All Federal Agencies participate in two other annual self assessment activities that are related to quality. They are the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) planning and reporting activities and the Federal Manager's Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) declarations of material weaknesses.

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References

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Other On-line Resources 

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Quality Management Plans

A Quality Management Plan documents how an organization will plan, implement, and assess the effectiveness of its quality assurance and quality control operations. Specifically, it describes how an organization structures its

  • quality system,
  • the quality policies and procedures,
  • areas of application,
  • and roles, responsibilities, and authorities.

The elements of a quality system are documented in a Quality Management Plan. Both EPA organizations and organizations performing data collection activities funded by EPA are required to document their quality systems.

The Quality Management Plan is an organization or program-specific document; it describes the general practices of an organization or program. Project-specific details of individual projects of the organization or program are documented in a Quality Assurance Project Plan (see QA Project Plans).

Thus, the Quality Management Plan may be viewed as the "umbrella" document under which individual projects are conducted. 

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References

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Training

  • Introduction to Quality Management Plans. This half-day course describes the EPA policies and specifications of Quality Management Plans. It presents information that must be addressed in a Quality Management Plan that satisfies EPA policy.

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Examples and Other On-line Resources

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Quality Systems Assessments

Assessments add value to a quality system by promoting and supporting continuous improvement. EPA's quality system, in conformance with national consensus standards, requires that each organization assess the effectiveness of its quality systems' implementation.

Although organizations are expected to assess themselves, they may also need to assess or be assessed by others in EPA's quality system whose environmental data operations are linked by funding. EPA's Quality Staff also performs assessments of EPA organization's Quality Systems on a 3-year cycle.

A Quality System Audit is used to verify, by examination and evaluations of objective evidence, that applicable elements of the quality system are appropriate and have been

  • developed,
  • documented,
  • and effectively implemented

in accordance and in conjunction with specified specifications. The focus of these assessments is on the quality system process not on evaluating the quality of specific products -- not judging the quality of environmental data or the performance of personnel or programs.

Where quality systems are being developed or not fully implemented, a less rigorous Management Systems Review may be applied instead of a Quality System Audit.


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

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References

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Training

  • Assessing Quality Systems - This one-day course is designed to prepare those who will either assess or be assessed as part of an EPA or EPA-supporting quality system.

    The focus of the course is to improve quality systems and conserve resources through careful planning. Knowledge of the principles and documentation of the quality system is a prerequisite for the course.

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Examples and Other On-line Resources
 

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Training Programs

Training consists of methods and techniques to ensure that all personnel have the necessary skills to effectively accomplish their work and that quality management responsibilities and requirements are understood at every stage of project implementation throughout the Agency.

Quality assurance training plays a key role in institutionalizing EPA's Quality System by promoting knowledge of the system, providing guidance on EPA quality assurance policies, and helping staff develop the technical skills necessary to implement the Quality System.

EPA organizations are required to provide training, for all levels of management and staff, to assure that quality assurance and quality control responsibilities and activities are understood at every stage of project implementation.

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You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.

References

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Training

  • Agency-wide training courses on quality assurance and quality management are available on the Quality Assurance Training Courses page.
    Please note: The Quality Staff is currently in the process of using Skillsoft, the OEI/OARM Learning Management System, and is reviewing and updating our existing training. We thank you for your patience.

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Examples and Other On-line Resources

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