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An Application of USEPA's Data Quality Objective Process
Karen A. Storne
O’Brien & Gere Engineers, Inc., 5000 Brittonfield Parkway, Syracuse, NY 13221

Paper published in the Proceedings of WTQA '99 (15th Annual Waste Testing & Quality Assurance Symposium), pp. 52-59.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) states that all collected data have error, no one can afford absolute certainty about the data, and uninformed decisions associated with data collection tend to be conservative and expensive.1 The USEPA proposed that, before an environmental data collection project begins, criteria should be established for decision making that is defendable. To accomplish this, the USEPA developed the data quality objective, or DQO, process. This is a systematic planning tool used to establish criteria for data quality, to define tolerable error rates and to develop a data collection design. Gathering the information for the DQO process is time-consuming and may negatively impact the project budget and schedule. Therefore, a computerized worksheet that summarizes the DQO steps was developed and distributed for review by a team of consultant specialists. Based on comments received from the consultant specialists, the limitations of the DQO process, from the consultant’s aspect, were outlined. This paper presents a streamlined approach to the DQO process, involving use of a computerized worksheet to aid a project team through the DQO process. Comments pertaining to the worksheet and the DQO process, which were solicited from the consultant specialists, are described, including the limitations outlined by the consultant specialists.

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