Quality Assurance Project Plan Development Guidance

Quality Assurance/Quality Control Requirements for Long Island Sound Futures Fund Grantees 

Projects funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Long Island Sound Futures Fund (LISFF) in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entail that grant agreements contain language requiring funded projects complete a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) before project activities, specifically data collection, are undertaken. Grantees agree to these terms upon signing of the grant contract. 

Projects that require a QAPP have the following Standard Term and Condition entered in a NFWF grant agreement (contract):

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.

Please also review QAPP Frequently Asked Questions.  

Types of Data Requiring a QAPP

Examples of the types of data collection or use which requires a QAPP includes (but is not limited to):

  • New data collection
  • Existing data use (a new use for data collected for a different purpose, whether by the same or different groups)
  • Water monitoring
  • Data collection and analysis proposed to support decision-making
    • Examples include but are not limited to management by government agencies, research, modeling, project design, etc. 
  • Data collection and analysis associated with development or design of plans and projects e.g. fish passage, watershed or water quality/habitat restoration project plans etc. 
  • Water or other environmental media monitoring
  • Model development or use
  • Volunteer/Citizen Science Monitoring

The question to be answered by the QAPP: Are these data of suitable quality and quantity for use in the project, regardless of how useful they were for their original, intended use?

Steps in QAPP Development and Submission to NFWF

Technical Assistance Support for QAPP Development: NFWF has contracted with Cardno, a global infrastructure, environmental and social development company, to provide expert guidance to LISFF grantees to help them develop their QAPP. Please refer to NFWF’s QAPP Development Guide or contact Erin Lewis, Long Island Sound Coordinator, for additional information about this support. 

Prepare a draft QAPP: Prior to submission of a draft QAPP to EPA, NFWF will have your document reviewed by the external QAPP consultant Cardno.  Please plan to submit a draft QAPP to NFWF at least three months in advance of starting data driven activity for review and comment about draft QAPP.  Please also note review and comment is dependent upon the quality of the QAPP submission and thus may involve several iterations prior to submission by NFWF to EPA. Each resubmission of the draft QAPP to Cardno will initiate a 30-day review and comment period.

The QAPP is then submitted to the EPA by NFWF: Please allow a minimum of 60 days for review and comment of draft QAPP documents by EPA. As with Cardno, each iteration of the QAPP will be reviewed by EPA over a thirty-day period. Please also note review and comment is dependent upon the quality of the QAPP submission and thus may involve several iterations after submission by NFWF to EPA and prior to EPA approval.

QAPP Review and Approvals: NFWF will advise grantees concerning the status of the QAPP review (e.g. approved, requested revisions, etc.) and help route the final QAPP for all required signatures.

Related Documents

Helpful Links concerning Citizen Science Projects