Frequent Questions about Region 1 Quality Assurance

The EPA New England Quality Assurance (QA) Unit frequently responds to questions, clarifies QA terms and provides guidance to the public. Some frequently asked questions and our responses are below. The Quality Staff within the Office of Environmental Information at headquarters also provides clarification of terms on the Frequent Questions about EPA's Quality System.

Question: What's the difference between Quality Assurance and Quality Control?

Answer: Quality assurance (QA) is defined as an integrated system of management activities involving planning, training, quality control, assessment, data review, reporting and quality improvement to ensure that a process, item or service is of the type and quality needed and expected by the user. QA is a management function that deals with setting policy and running an administrative system of controls to ensure the usability of the product (e.g., data). Quality control (QC) is defined as a system of technical activities that measures the performance of a process, item or service against a defined set of criteria or standard. QC is a technical function that includes activities such as calibrations and analyses of check samples (performance evaluation samples, duplicates, spikes, blanks, etc.) to assess the bias and precision associated with sample results.

Question: Does EPA New England have a Quality Management Plan?

Answer: Yes, EPA New England has a Quality Management Plan which was approved by the Director of the Quality Staff, Office of Environmental Information on March 30, 2006.