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Quality assurance requirements and activities vary widely among federal agencies and among testing and measurement programs within agencies. Partly as a result of these differences, our knowledge of the quality of environmental data produced under these programs varies widely. Hence, the acceptability of test data (its “transportability”) from one agency or group to another is greatly hindered. That acceptability or transportability of data can be greatly enhanced if the data quality objectives, quality assurance approaches, and data reporting requirements are more closely harmonized among the producing organizations. In recent years attempts to reach consensus agreements on measurement methodology have been given strong impetus by such standardization organizations as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC). However, the quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) practices associated with implementation of those “standardized” methods have been left up to the individual organizations performing testing and measurement. In an attempt to initiate efforts to harmonize QA/QC approaches and the associated reporting of the quality characteristics of measurement data, a workshop was held during February 1987 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cosponsored by the U.S. Army Toxics and Hazardous Materials Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy, the workshop brought together experts in many fields from the sponsors and other agencies. The workshop format was useful in developing a slate of recommended areas for potential harmonization and triggered a series of subsequent positive steps to achieve standardization in approaches to acquiring, characterizing, and reporting analytical data. An effort is underway to use the limited successes experienced in such ad hoc work groups as a stepping-stone to further interagency cooperation in the quality assurance arena. A draft management framework has been developed for an interagency steering committee. Under the aegis of the proposed committee, the activities of such ad hoc work groups as described above can be more formally recognized and coordinated and the results and recommendations of their efforts can be more effectively disseminated to meet mutual needs. Negotiations are currently underway to gain interest and support for this concept at the highest levels in various federal agencies that have environmental testing and measurement responsibilities.
quality assurance, quality control, environmental measurements, data quality objectives, method validation, method equivalency, reference materials, performance evaluation
Acting director, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Las Vegas, NV