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Quality Assurance Program Undergoes Sound Changes to Ensure Safe, Correct Work

August 1, 2012 - 12:00pm


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Completing the world’s largest nuclear cleanup safely and correctly is EM’s priority. In support of that central mission, EM recently made changes that strengthen its corporate quality assurance program, marking the first revisions to the quality program since EM established it in 2008. The program provides the foundation for achieving quality through a consistent approach to all mission-related work across the EM complex.

EM believes the changes greatly advance EM’s quality assurance program, serving to enhance the abilities of EM employees and contractors to ensure work is performed correctly the first time. EM site offices across the complex unanimously endorsed the revisions. Groups representing federal employees and contractors praised EM for the improvements and considered them an appropriate response to concerns from EM sites over implementing the quality assurance program.

“We are striving to make EM an organization that is the best in its class,” EM Principal Deputy Secretary Tracy Mustin said. “A strong quality assurance program supports our emphasis on safety. The result will be that we plan, manage, implement and monitor mission performance consistent with established regulations at all of our sites across the EM complex.”

Senior management also approved updates to the EM Quality Policy Statement. The revisions emphasize the importance of ensuring quality in all aspects of EM work.

“We will continuously improve EM’s quality program with an ultimate goal of zero defects that could adversely impact safety and cause budget or schedule setbacks,” Mustin said. “These revised documents are a significant step forward in that direction.”

Important changes to the EM Corporate Quality Assurance Program include:

  • Revisions to DOE quality assurance requirements issued by DOE’s Office of Health, Safety and Security in DOE Order 414.1D. One of these changes clarifies that all software used must meet applicable quality assurance standards. Another revision clarifies a requirement that federal employees for quality assurance oversight of defense nuclear facilities must be qualified in accordance with the DOE standard on technical qualifications.
  • Adoption of the 2008 version of quality assurance requirements for nuclear facilities from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), as recommended in DOE directives. The society provides assistance across all engineering disciplines toward a
    goal of helping the global engineering community.
  • Enhancements and updates to EM management expectations. For example, one expectation calls for lines of communication, feedback mechanisms and interfaces with stakeholders, regulators and EM headquarters to be established and documented.
  • Revisions that lay out steps needed for compliance with quality assurance record management requirements of the National Archives and Records Administration and those under ASME’s nuclear quality assurance standards. The changes clarify the overlap in the requirements of both organizations that had been confusing in the initial revision of the program document.
  • Addition of a section that discusses expectations for validating and verifying computer models used in the EM complex for tasks such as environmental cleanup decision making.
  • Inclusion of federal requirements for quality assurance dealing with safe packaging and transportation of radioactive and fissile materials. The requirements intend to ensure a consistent approach to implementing the federal requirements and mandate adherence to a compliance matrix.

Implementation of the revisions to the program is scheduled for completion in December 2012.