EPA Region 1 Quality System Training
Why are you taking this training?
You're taking this training to learn about the:
- EPA New England quality system.
- EPA New England Quality Management Plan that documents this system.
What is a "quality system"?
A quality system is the set of policies, processes, and standard procedures that an organization uses to ensure the success of its work.
Our work at EPA New England includes making critical environmental decisions based on scientific data.
To support these decisions, we operate under a regional quality system to ensure that the environmental data we collect and use are scientifically valid. Environmental data include measurements or information that describe environmental conditions, locations, and processes; ecological or health effects and consequences; and the performance of environmental technology.
The EPA New England quality system has been in effect for over a decade. Over the years, management and staff have established quality policies and integrated standardized procedures into the business operations of all Offices to support data quality.
Quality Management Cycle
Similar to the EPA NE environmental management system (EMS), our quality system is based on the classic quality management cycle.
- Supports adequate project planning
- Facilitates the use of consistent work procedures
- Identifies and corrects problems
- Promotes improvement
- Ensures that EPA has the data it needs to make defensible decisions.
EPA New England Quality Management Plan
EPA Order 5360.1 (QA Order) requires that Regions and Headquarters’ Program Offices document their quality systems in approved Quality Management Plans (QMPs). Our quality system is documented in the EPA New England Quality Management Plan (EPA NE QMP).
Using a collaborative process, the EPA NE QMP was developed with input from the Regional QA Workgroup and program personnel. It was approved by the Regional Administrator, Deputy Regional Administrator, Office Directors, and by the Director of the Quality Staff, Office of Environmental Information.
The EPA NE QMP is maintained and periodically updated by the QA Unit and is available below.
EPA New England Quality Management Plan
The QMP describes quality requirements and procedures for activities that support the collection and use of environmental data and information, including:
- Project planning
- Grants, contracts, and interagency agreements
- Documents and records
- Technical tasks
- Computer software/hardware
- QA assessments/audits and corrective actions responses
Let’s look at some quality requirements and procedures that might be associated with the work you do.
Project Planning: Quality Requirements
- The QMP requires that a systematic planning process, based on the scientific method, be used to plan all environmental data projects and technology activities performed by or for EPA NE.
- The results of this planning process must be described in a written and approved plan (e.g., QA project plan).
For additional guidance refer to EPA New England Quality Assurance Project Plan Program Guidance.
Extramural Financial Agreements: Quality Requirements
The QMP describes compliance with applicable regulations governing extramural financial agreements. These regulations are supported by the following regional policies and procedures included in the QMP:
"Quality Assurance Requirements for OSRR Contracts and Procurements," rev. 4/05
"Quality Assurance Requirements for Non-OSRR Contracts and Procurements," rev. 4/05
- Grants and Cooperative Agreements
"Revised FY05 Requirements for Implementing Quality Assurance Policies for Financial Assistance Agreements Including Grants and Cooperative Agreements," rev. 11/04
- Interagency Agreements
"FY05 Requirements for Implementing New Quality Assurance Policies for Interagency Agreements," rev. 11/04
Documents and Records: Quality Requirements
- The QMP requires that each Office conform to EPA’s National Records Management Program (NRMP) in establishing and implementing regional procedures for identifying and managing documents and records, both printed and electronic, throughout their life cycle.
- All Offices must have procedures in place to ensure that documents and records accurately reflect the work performed.
Technical Tasks: Quality Requirements
- The QMP requires that environmental programs describe the routine procedures they use in standard operating procedures (SOPs). Since SOPs help to ensure that tasks are performed consistently and correctly, they should be written for all technical and nontechnical tasks that support data quality.
- SOPs must be reviewed, approved, tracked, and updated whenever necessary.
Computer Hardware/Software: Quality Requirements
- The QMP requires that all information management, development, installation, testing, use, maintenance, and documentation of computer hardware and software be consistent with EPA Directive 2100 available below.
- All Web site requests must be reviewed and approved prior to posting in accordance with the EPA Web site policy.
QA Assessments: Quality Requirements
- The QMP requires that environmental programs conducted by EPA NE be checked periodically. Organizations funded by EPA NE (states, tribes, other grantees, and contractors) must also undergo assessments.
- These assessments must be summarized in written reports that describe critical problems that were found. Within a specified time frame, the assessed organization submits a plan to correct these problems. It follows up by providing documentation that the corrective action was effective.
Data Assessments: Quality Requirements
- The QMP requires that data be adequately reviewed to evaluate its scientific validity.
- Also, all data collected by or for EPA New England must be assessed to determine whether or not it can be used to support and defend environmental decisions.
Your role in the Quality System
In addition to quality-related requirements and procedures, the QMP identifies roles and responsibilities for ensuring and managing the quality of our work. Specific responsibilities are defined in Sections 1.3.4 through 1.3.10 of the QMP for the following job positions:
- Environmental Data Collection and Technology Staff
- Contract Project Officers
- Grants Project Officers and Grant Specialists
- Contracting Officers
- Contract Officer Representatives
- Project Officers and Project Managers
Your work contributes to the success of EPA’s mission. The Regional Quality Assurance Manager (RQAM), and a team of QA chemists, biologists and engineers are available to assist you in various activities supporting the quality system.
You can help ensure quality by conforming to quality policies and procedures applicable to your job. If you are unsure what quality policies are applicable to you, speak to your manager or contact the RQAM, John Smaldone, OEME, 617.918.8312.
Take Home Message!
EPA New England operates under a well-established and effective quality system.
This quality system is documented in the EPA New England Quality Management Plan that is available on line.
All EPA NE employees are responsible for ensuring the quality of their work and contributing to the success of EPA's mission.
Congratulations! You have successfully completed the EPA New England Quality System Awareness Training.
If you would like to know more about the EPA NE Quality System or have any questions, please contact:
John Smaldone, Regional Quality Assurance Manager, OEME, 617.918.8312 or
Moira Lataille, Quality System Coordinator, OEME, 617.918.8635
or visit the EPA NE QA Unit Web site.