EPA provides grant funding to states and tribes to collect, analyze, and use environmental information under many environmental statutes (e.g. Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act). Grantees must develop and receive EPA approval of a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) prior to receiving funds. QAPPs are technical documents, developed by the grantee and approved by EPA. They ensure data activities are performed correctly and document data quality procedures and key personnel. States, tribes, and EPA are working to make the QAPP process more consistent, timely, and transparent. Through the E-Enterprise model, these partners are using shared governance to improve the process and optimize technology support.
Under the direction of the E-Enterprise Leadership Council, a group of state, tribal, and EPA professionals conducted a Lean-Kaizen event to analyze QAPP business processes across the ten EPA regions. The event yielded the following goals:
- Improve communications between grantees and EPA Quality Assurance (QA) personnel.
- Pursue consistency in grant terms and conditions (T&Cs) across all EPA regional offices.
- Improve QAPP training to better meet the needs of state and tribal grantees.
- Explore how to track, report, and improve the timeliness of QAPP processes.
- Analyze the extent to which information technology solutions could facilitate QAPP processes.
- Analyze how to develop consistency in review of documents across EPA regions.
Throughout FY 2019-2020, small workgroups consisting of state, tribal, and EPA representatives are working to:
- Improve Communications: Develop and communicate broadly across EPA regions a set of criteria and guidelines to improve direct communications between Quality Assurance regional staff and grantees. Develop a list of reference documents needed to conduct a scoping meeting. (Completed)
- Standardize Grant Terms and Conditions: Inventory current national level and programmatic terms and conditions and work to develop standardized QA requirements across programs and regions.
- Assess and provide QAPP Training: Inventory existing training, survey state and tribal training needs and conduct a gap analysis to change future training delivery and scope. Convene a QAPP training workshop for EPA, states and tribes, possibly in conjunction with EE2020 in May 2020.
- Collect Data and Metrics: Collect data and track workflows to better understand the timing and need for rework in the QAPP review-approval process. Set a consistent nationwide target for review and approval of QAPPs to provide consistency across the EPA regions and certainty for the grantees. (Completed)
- Address Consistency in Review: Explore options to create a consistent agency-wide review model that would reduce variation across and within EPA when reviewing or revising grantees’ QAPPs.