Policy for the Reimbursement of Costs for Quality Assurance of Water-Quality Analytical Laboratories

In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 412					
February 3, 2000


Subject:  Policy for the Reimbursement of Costs for Quality 
          Assurance of Water-Quality Analytical Laboratories

Purpose of Memorandum

This memorandum provides a description of the process that will be used by 
the Branch of Quality Systems (BQS) beginning in fiscal year 2001 to 
recover costs directly related to the quality assurance/quality control 
(QA/QC) of water-quality analytical laboratories used by the Water 
Resources Division (WRD).


All water-quality analytical laboratories that are used by WRD to provide 
analytical data to a public accessible data base, published in 
Open-File-Data Reports, or made available to the public without a method 
description, must be evaluated and certified by BQS.  This policy was 
established in the Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 98.03 to 
ensure that WRD data are of known and documented quality.  This 
certification must be done before the laboratory can analyze environmental 
samples for WRD. Re-certification of laboratories in the program will be 
done every three years. Regional Hydrologists are responsible for 
enforcing this policy.

The laboratory evaluation and certification process covers the production 
(non-research) activities of:
·    The National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL), Denver, Colorado
·    Laboratories under contract to the NWQL
·    Laboratories under contract or Cooperative Agreement with Districts
·    District laboratories including the Quality of Water Services 
     Unit (QWSU), Ocala, Florida
·    National Research Program (NRP) laboratories

Laboratory activities not covered by this process include:

·    Development of analytical techniques
·    Analysis for research purposes
·    Analysis for screening or reconnaissance purposes

Costs for Quality Assurance of Water-Quality Laboratories

There are two sources of funds to cover costs for the QA/QC of 
water-quality analytical laboratories: (1) Division Technical Support 
funds and (2) program funds. Division Technical Support funds will be used 
for Division Good activities. Division Goods are defined in Shapiro and 
others, 1999, as activities or products that benefit many customers and 
offices simultaneously without detracting or diminishing from the benefits 
received by any one customer and office. Division Good activities or 
products for QA of water-quality laboratories are the general planning of 
the QA process, management oversight, associated data base and WEB page 
activities, and similar actions needed to report results of these 
activities to the Division.  

Program funds (primarily from Districts) will be used to reimburse the BQS 
for all District Good activities. Shapiro and others, 1999, define 
District Goods as those activities or products that benefit primarily the 
District that purchases or pays for the activity or products. District 
Good activities for QA/QC of water-quality laboratories are activities 
needed to acquire written documentation required to review and evaluate 
specific laboratory QA plans, analytical methods, historical and current 
performance-evaluation data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 
standard reference sample intercomparison, other non-USGS performance 
testing, and any other pertinent QC data.  Costs reimbursable to BQS 
include salaries, travel (if necessary), and other expenses directly 
related to laboratory reviews such as obtaining QC data, purchase of 
standards, and participation in the Standard Reference Sample program.


Districts will request laboratory certification by notifying BQS when use 
of a new laboratory or method is planned. The BQS will develop a schedule 
for evaluating and certifying the laboratory in conjunction with the 
District and provide an estimate of the costs that will be charged to the 

Re-certification of laboratories already in the program will be scheduled 
by BQS every three years.  BQS will notify affected Districts in the 
summer for the following fiscal year.

The evaluation will include a laboratory review and submission of a 
proficiency sample for the methods used. General costs for a paper review 
range from $800 to $1,500.  Depending on the size and complexity of the 
review, an on-site review also may be needed and would cost an additional 
$1,000 to $5,000. The proficiency sample costs will range from $50 to 
about $750.  Proficiency samples for organic compounds will normally cost 
more than $350. Districts will reimburse the BQS for the cost of the 
review and proficiency sample upon receipt of the memorandum from BQS that 
identifies the status of the laboratory (see OWQ Technical Memorandum 
98.03). BQS will generate a standard voucher to the District for payment 
of costs.

The BQS recognizes the need to do these reviews as economically as 
possible and will respond to requests quickly to avoid delays in 
approvals. The acquisition, submission, and laboratory analysis of the 
proficiency sample frequently takes several weeks. District cooperation in 
helping to ensure that USGS data are of known and documented quality is 


Office of Water Quality Technical Memorandum 98.03 (Revised): Policy for 
the Evaluation and Approval of Production Analytical Laboratories, April 
16, 1998

Shapiro, C. D., Gebert, W. A., Goddard, K. E., Pederson, G. L., Pratt, L. 
K., Yurewicz, M. C., 1999, The National Water Quality Laboratory—An 
analysis of funding: U.S. Geological Survey, Admin. Report, p.23-24.

                                 Janice R. Ward /s/
                                 Acting Chief, Office of Water Quality

This memorandum refers to OWQ Technical Memorandum 98.03.
Distribution:  All WRD Employees