In carrying out its mission, NHDES 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 dialogue among a diverse group of stakeholders on environmental issues.
The data NHDES collects must be scientifically defensible, and the quality of that data must be appropriate for its intended uses. NHDES, through its Quality Assurance System (QAS), is moving toward a more systematic approach to the management of data and overall quality assurance issues across the department. This QAS is described in the NHDES Quality Management Plan (QMP) and is frequently updated to highlight the evolving improvements to the system.
The DES Quality Assurance System
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 NHDES QMP , which was approved by EPA New England in June 2001, provides systematic guidance to ensure that environmental programs (whether they are located within NHDES, or are working with NHDES 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 NHDES’s data quality needs.
Implementation of the NHDES QMP is the responsibility of staff throughout the department, with the guidance and support of the NHDES Senior Leadership Team, the NHDES QA Manager, the NHDES Assistant QA Manager and the NHDES QA Team, as well as program managers.
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