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Zeroing in on requirements: Sandia National Laboratories` approach to meaningful program improvement

Description: The necessity to evaluate our participant Quality Assurance (QA) Program for the Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project (YMP) against the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) Quality Assurance Requirements and Description (QARD) issued December 1992, presented an opportunity to improve the QA Program. For some time, the SNL YMP technical staff had complained that the QA requirements imposed on their work were cumbersome and inhibited their ability to perform investigations using scientific methods. There was some truth to this, since SNL had over the years developed some procedures with many detailed controls that were far beyond what was required by project QA requirements. This had occurred either as a result of responding to numerous audit findings with a ``make the auditor happy`` attitude or with an attempt to cover every contingency. Procedures affecting scientific work were authored by the technical staff in an effort to provide them with ownership of the process; unfortunately, there were problems. Procedures were inconsistent because of the varied writing styles and differing perceptions of the degree of QA controls required to implement the program. It was extremely difficult to get all of the technical staff to accept the QA program as it was intended. These issues were endemic to the program and resulted in the QARD, the actual requirements, being written by a team of QA professionals. Once new QARD requirements were issued, an opportunity to evaluate the QA Program and to revise it not only to meet the QARD, but also to make it more plausible and meaningful to the technical staff, was presented. The discussion that follows will describe how the program was changed, will present both the positive and negative experiences observed by SNL personnel during the QARD transition, and will provide some recommendations.
Date: August 1, 1994
Creator: Friend, J.C.; Richards, R.R. & Jaramillo, C.P.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department