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2.13.2 Developement of quality assurance project plan

The quality assurance project plan is the critical planning document for any environmental operation because it documents how quality assurance/quality control activities will be implemented during the life cycle of a project ([EPA-1997a], [EPA-2002]). The quality assurance project plan is the blueprint for identifying how the quality system of the organization performing the work is reflected in a particular project and in associated technical goals. This section provides information on how to develop a quality assurance project plan based on the data quality objective process [EPA-2006]. The results of the data quality objective process provide key inputs to the quality assurance project plan and will largely determine the level of detail in the quality assurance project plan.

As example, the consensus standard ANSI/ASQC E4-1994 ([ANSI-1995) describes the minimum set of quality elements required to conduct programs involving environmental data collection and evaluation. Table 2.15 lists the quality elements for collection and evaluation of environmental data from ANSI/ASQC E4-1994. These quality elements are provided as examples that should be addressed when developing a quality assurance project plan.

Each of these quality elements should be considered during survey planning to determine the degree to which they will be addressed in the quality assurance project plan. Additional quality elements may need to be added to this list as a result of organizational preferences or requirements of federal and state regulatory authorities. For example, safety and health or public participation may be included as elements to be considered during the development of a quality assurance project plan.

Quality Assurance Project Plan element

1 Planning and Scoping (reference the QA Manual for information on the quality system)

2 Design of Data Collection Operations (including training)

3 Implementation of Planned Operations (including documents and records)

4 Assessment and Verification of Data Usability

Table 2.15 Example of quality assurance project plan elements for site surveys and investigations

In Table 2.16 an example of a format for a quality assurance project plan for site surveys and investigation is presented.

Quality assurance project plan element Content

Planning and scoping (reference the quality assurance manual for information on the quality system) Project management
Title and approval sheet
Table of contents
Distribution list
Project/Task organization
Problem definition/Background
Project task description
Quality objectives and criteria for measurement data
Special training requirements/Certification

Design of data collection operations (including training) Measurement/Data acquisition
Sampling process design (Experimental design)
Sampling methods requirements
Sample handling and custody requirements
Analytical methods requirements
Quality control requirements
Instrument/Equipment testing, inspection and maintenance requirements
Instrument calibration and frequency
Inspection/Acceptance requirements for supplies and consumables

Implementation of planned operations (including documents and records) Assessment/Oversight
Assessments and response actions
Reports to management

Assessment and verification of data usability Data validation and usability
Data review, validation, and verification requirements
Validation and verification methods
Reconciliation with user requirements

Table 2.16 Example of a format for a quality assurance project plan for site surveys and investigations

Quality assurance project plans should be developed using a graded approaches as discussed in Section 2.13.1. In other words, existing methodologies, procedures, designs, etc. can be included by reference. This is especially useful for not too complicated environmental remediation programmes.

Quality assurance project plans should be developed to document the results of the planning phase of the data life cycle (see Sections 2.2.2 and 3.3). The level of detail provided in the quality assurance project plan for relevant quality elements is determined using the data quality objective process during planning activities. Information that is already provided in existing documents does not need to be repeated in the quality assurance project plans, and can be included by reference.

For example, the quality system description, personnel qualifications and requirements, and standard operating procedures for laboratory analysis of samples may simply be references to existing documents (e.g., quality management plan, laboratory procedure manual). Standard operating procedures for performing direct measurements with a specific instrument may be attached to the quality assurance project plan because this information may not be readily available from other sources.

There is no particular format recommended for developing a quality assurance project plan. Table 2.16 provides an example of a quality assurance project plan format.