Quality Assurance Planning
Programs and research projects funded by the EPA that acquire, generate, compile or use environmental data are required to implement a quality system.
Are QA Plans needed for my project?
Organizations conducting programs and research projects funded by EPA that acquire, generate, compile or use environmental data are required to establish and implement a quality system. Within the Chesapeake Bay Program, these projects include the collection of groundwater, surface water, sediment, atmospheric, living resource and remotely sensed data. Also subject to EPA quality requirements are data used for environmental model development, calibration, verification and application, and data collected from existing sources of information such as computer databases, models and literature searches.
Grantees and cooperators usually describe their quality systems in two formal documents: a Quality Management Plan and a Quality Assurance Project Plan. EPA must review and approve all Quality Management and Quality Assurance Project Plans prior to the initiation of environmental data collection and/or compilation activities.
What's required for a Quality Management Plan?
The Quality Management Plan documents management practices used to ensure that the results of technical work are of the type and quality needed for their intended use. The elements to be addressed in a Quality Management Plan include: management and organization; quality system description; personnel qualifications and training; procurement of items and services; documentation and records; computer hardware and software; planning; implementation of work processes; assessment and response; and quality improvement. The Quality Management Plan is sometimes viewed as the umbrella document under which individual projects are conducted. State environmental agencies typically have one Quality Management Plan that covers all of their programs involving monitoring.
Quality Management Plans must be prepared in accordance with EPA QA/R-2: EPA Requirements for Quality Management Plans must be submitted at least 45 days prior to the initiation of data collection to the EPA Project Officer or Terry Simpson, EPA Region 3 QA Manager, for review and approval.
What's required for a Quality Assurance Project Plan?
All monitoring programs and research projects must have an EPA approved Quality Assurance Project Plan prior to the start of monitoring or data compilation. A QA Project Plan documents the technical and quality aspects of a project, including project management, implementation and assessment. It specifies responsibilities, monitoring objectives, sampling design, sample collection methods, analytical methods, quality control, data management and data validation activities. The detail expected will correspond to the cost, complexity and duration of the project. Specific requirements for quality assurance project plans are defined in QA/R-5: EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans (EPA 1999)
How do I get my QA Project Plan approved?
Submit your QA Project Plan to the EPA Project Officer the draft grant application, or list the QA Project Plan as a deliverable to be received at least 30 days prior to the initiation of each data collection activity. The QA Project Plan is reviewed by the Chesapeake Bay Program QA Coordinator using a checklist (11 kb) for reviewing Quality Assurance Project Plans to ensure it addresses the required elements. Plans must be approved by the Quality Assurance Officer before sampling begins.
Approved QA plans should be submitted in an electronic file for released on the Chesapeake Bay Program website. See the topics below for examples of approved QA Project Plans:
- Tidal Water Quality Methods and QA
- Nontidal Water Quality Methods and QA
- Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Methods and QA
- Chesapeake Bay Benthic Methods and QA
- Plankton Methods and QA
Quality Assurance Planning Resources
- US EPA Agency-Wide Quality System Documents: EPA directives, internal policies, requirements and guidance for quality assurance programs.
- The Volunteer Monitor's Guide To Quality Assurance Project Plans: The quality assurance project plan, or QAPP, is a document that outlines the procedures that those who conduct a monitoring project will take to ensure that the data they collect and analyze meets project requirements.
- USEPA Region III Quality Management Plan: This Quality Management Plan (QMP) has been developed to address the Agency quality assurance (QA) requirements and guidelines, and for the data quality needs of Region III.