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NEVER AUDIT ALONE--THE CASE FOR AUDIT TEAMS
Adams*, N H. NEVER AUDIT ALONE--THE CASE FOR AUDIT TEAMS. QUALITY ASSURANCE: GOOD PRACTICE, REGULATION, AND LAW. Taylor & Francis, Inc., Philadelphia, PA, 7(4):195-200, (1999).
On-site audits conducted by technical and quality assurance (QA) experts at the data-gathering location are the core of an effective QA program. However, inadequate resources for such audits are the bane of a QA program, and the proposed solution frequently is to send only one auditor to the study site. There are several reasons why audits should be performed by more than one person:
Safety? Audits of EPA projects frequently involve hazardous chemicals or other environmental hazards. They also often involve working after normal work hours in remote locations with dangerous equipment. It is unsafe to work alone under such conditions.
Skills? Many of EPA's projects are multidisciplinary, involving multiple measurement systems, several environmental media, and complex automated data collection and analysis systems. It is unlikely that one auditor would have the requisite skills to assess all of these operations.
Separateness? Two auditors can provide two (sometimes differing) perspectives on problems encountered during an audit. Two auditors can provide twice the surveillance power.
Support? The operations that need to be assessed are sometimes in different parts of a site, requiring two auditing devices or considerable commuting time. Also, auditors are occasionally diverted by managers wishing to show their best efforts rather than the whole operation; if two auditors are on-site, one can interview managers while the other talks with technical staff. If there is a dispute, one auditor can support the other in verifying observations.
Savings? Although sending one auditor is perceived to be a cost-saving measure, it may be more economical to send two auditors. Time on site (lodging, food) is decreased, more of the project is assessed in one visit, less pre-audit training is required, and report preparation is accelerated.
In summary, sending more than one auditor on a field audit is smarter, safer, and more effective and can be less expensive in the long run.