In carrying out its mission, DES relies upon many different types of scientific data that enable it to better evaluate and measure existing environmental conditions, to identify and understand areas of concern, to assign responsibility for these areas, and to promote dialog among a diverse group of stakeholders on environmental issues.
The data DES collects uses must be scientifically-defensible, and the quality of that data must be appropriate for its intended uses. DES, through its Quality Assurance System (QAS), is moving towards a more systematic approach to the management of data and overall quality assurance issues across the department. This QAS is described in the DES Quality Management Plan (QMP) and is frequently updated to highlight the evolving improvements to the system.
The DES Quality Assurance System
The DES QAS consists of the people, functions, tools, and procedures used to improve and assure the quality of data generated for data users and decision-makers. The QAS encompasses, and is applicable to, all aspects of its environmental data operations including planning, sampling, analysis, assessment, and data review and interpretation. It follows established management principles of "Plan-Do-Check-Adapt" or Total Quality Management. In its most basic form, an organization: 1) Plans what it is going to do; 2) Does it; 3) Checks to make sure it was done as planned; and 4) Adapts the system to address problems and to continuously improve operations.
The DES QMP , which was approved by EPA New England in June 2001, provides systematic guidance to ensure that environmental programs (whether they are located within DES, or are working with DES programs on a contractual or volunteer basis), produce the type and quality of results needed, and expected. Specifically, the QMP ensures that all environmental data collected, generated, and used will be scientifically-valid; of known precision and accuracy, completeness, representativeness, and comparability; and legally-defensible. In addition, the QMP includes guidance on assuring that data generated by outside parties (federal, state, and local government agencies, contractors, environmental groups, universities, and volunteer groups) meet DES’s data quality needs.
Implementation of the DES QMP is the responsibility of staff throughout the department, with the guidance and support of the DES Senior Leadership Team, the DES QA Manager, the DES Assistant QA Manager, and the DES QA Team, as well as Program managers.
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