Quality Assurance Project Plan Development Guidance

What is a Quality Assurance Project Plan?

Many organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the primary source of funding for Long Island Sound Futures Fund (LISFF) grants, require Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) for projects that collect and use environmental data.  A QAPP documents the project planning process and serves as a blueprint for how your project will collect and analyze that data. 

Why a QAPP?

  • A QAPP aims to ensure the credibility of information collected or used. 
  • A QAPP can help to ensure that data collected will be used for its intended purpose where you aim to influence a decision, research the organization's data quality requirements. 

When is a QAPP Required (or not)?

LISFF grantees whose projects will collect, analyze, or use primary and/or secondary environmental data for the purpose of making decisions, assessment, management or policy recommendations, or drawing conclusions are required to submit a QAPP for review by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and approval by EPA.   

Examples of the types of data collection or use which requires a QAPP includes (but is not limited to): New Primary Data; Existing Secondary Data use (new use for data collected for a different purpose, whether by the same or different groups), Water or other Environmental Media Monitoring; Modeling; GIS/Spatial Analysis; Data associated with Assessment, Development or Design of Project Plans (e.g., fish passage, nitrogen prevention/reduction, green infrastructure, habitat restoration, resilience), Development or Design of Watershed or Community Plans (e.g., watershed, hazard mitigation/resilience), Surveys/Workshops. 


If your data is only to be used for educational purposes only within your immediate community, a QAPP may not be needed. Questions about whether a QAPP is required contact Victoria Moreno and provide a concise description of the type of data to be collected and how you plan to use the data.


QAPP Terms and Conditions in the NFWF Grant Agreement Contract

All LISFF grants proposing environmental data and use have “Terms” and “Conditions” in their grant agreement contracts with NFWF requiring projects complete a QAPP before data collection activities are undertaken. Grantees agree to these terms upon signing the contract. Please note NFWF will not approval disbursement of any funds for actual data collection activities associated with a project until the grantee has an EPA approved QAPP. 

Standard Terms and Condition from NFWF grant agreements concerning QAPPs:

  • QUALITY ASSURANCE PROJECT PLAN: In accordance with 40 CFR 30.54 and 31.45, the NFWF Subrecipient must develop and implement quality assurance and quality control procedures, specification and documentation that are sufficient to produce data of adequate quality to meet project objectives.  The Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) is the document that provides comprehensive details about the quality/control requirements and technical activities that must be implemented to ensure that project objectives are met. The QAPP should be prepared in accordance with EPA QA/R-5: EPA Requirements for Quality Assurance Project Plans (http://www.epa.gov/quality).
  • QUALITY ASSURANCE STATEMENT: GIS ACTIVITIES: The NFWF Subrecipient shall incorporate the practices and principles EPA’s geographical information systems quality assurance.  These quality assurance activities include the following requirements: to, “describe the methods of acquiring, assessing, managing, and processing data from existing sources” (EPA QA/G-5G, p. 22) and, to, “describe the quality assurance and quality control of the instruments, procedures, and methods used to create new geospatial data” (EPA QA/G-5G, p. 21). This includes the completion of FGDC metadata as a required component of all datasets.  State and Federal agencies are considered trusted agencies when acquiring datasets, in compliance with EPA’s geospatial guidance document.  For additional information, please reference the full text of EPA’s geographical information systems QA document (www.epa.gov/quality/qs-docs/g5g-final.pdf).
  • QUALITY ASSURANCE STATEMENT: ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING: The NFWF Subrecipient shall incorporate good engineering principles/practices – a broad set of quality assurance, conservation and safety activities, as well as techniques and approaches that are commonly accepted throughout the engineering profession – into all engineering activities. Engineering work products produced under this Agreement shall bear the appropriate engineering stamp, seal, or other standardized approval.
  • QUALITY ASSURANCE STATEMENT: SECONDARY DATA USE: The NFWF Subrecipient shall ensure that all secondary data is obtained from known and trusted sources and is accompanied by metadata that lists the reason(s) for the data collection, the methodology employed, and lists the Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) standard(s) under which the data collection was completed. The Recipient shall assess such data’s “fitness for use” according to the general data quality assessment factors defined by the EPA Science Policy Council (https://www.epa.gov/quality/epa-quality-management-tools-projects). Data assessment and evaluation activities must be documented.  Any assumptions, troubleshooting, communications, and other relevant documents and records must be maintained with the Recipient’s project files. These records must be organized to allow reconstruction of the process and results, also known as “data mapping”. The identity of the individual(s) and organization that performed the “fitness for use” assessment must be clearly noted on the documents.

Technical Assistance Support for QAPP Development

NFWF has contracted with Stantec, a global infrastructure, environmental and social development company, to provide expert guidance to LISFF grantees to help them develop their QAPP. Contact Victoria Moreno for additional information about this support. 

Timing & Coordination for QAPP Development and Approval

Please plan to submit a draft QAPP to NFWF at least three to four months in advance of starting data driven activity.

Activity Responsibility
Prepare Sections. 1.2 – 1.3 of QAPP template (see below).  Due 1/4/2022 Grantee
Review of Sections 1.2-1.3 and prepare comments1 Stantec
Return comments and as needed schedule calls with grantees NFWF
Prepare a complete draft QAPP v.1.  30 working days Grantee
Review of draft QAPP v.1 and prepare comment matrix1 Stantec
Return comment matrix to grantee and as needed schedule call with grantee NFWF
Revise and prepare a complete draft QAPP v.2 based upon comment matrix. 15 working days Grantee
Re-review QAPP Draft v. 2 if needed1.  Re-review may be occur based on comment matrix and completeness of grantee response Stantec
If re-review not needed, NFWF package and submit to EPA for review NFWF
Review and prepare comments2 EPA
Revise based upon EPA comments. 5 working days Grantee
Review revised QAPP and if needed prepare comments2 EPA
If EPA determines no further EPA revisions NFWF commence routing for signatures NFWF/Grantee/EPA
Final approval LISFF EPA Project Officer

1 Each submission of the draft QAPP to Stantec will initiate a 30-day review and comment period
2 Each submission of the draft QAPP to EPA will initiate a minimum of a 60-day review and comment period

QAPP Templates

Multiple QAPP Templates are available to assist LISFF Grantees. If you are uncertain about which QAPP template to utilize, contact Victoria Moreno.

Other Resources

Helpful Links concerning Citizen Science Projects