ELAP one-year follow-up review finds accrediting body back on track

Posted February 3, 2017

An expert advisory panel convened by SCCWRP in 2015 to evaluate the state’s accrediting body for environmental laboratories has completed a one-year follow-up review of the program, concluding that it has regained credibility and is on the right path toward achieving its mission.

The California Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) Expert Review Panel, which met Jan. 31-Feb. 2 at SCCWRP, recommended that the accrediting body continue to pursue implementation of a nationally recognized accreditation standard, as well as use third-party accreditors to help reduce backlogs.

The follow-up meeting was the culmination of a year of sweeping structural changes to the accrediting body. In late 2015, the Panel published an initial program review that described ELAP as ineffective, financially challenged, and lacking credibility.

Since that time, ELAP has implemented new operating procedures and performance evaluation standards. The agency also has created enforcement units, revamped its handling of complaints, and developed a risk-based process to prioritize its backlog of laboratories undergoing review. ELAP, however, continues to face a systematic backlog, in part because it has been unable to hire and retain enough qualified lab assessors.

ELAP is responsible for inspecting about 700 public-health and environmental testing laboratories across California, both public and private. The accrediting body plays a key role in protecting the integrity of environmental data on which the state bases its management decisions.

The ELAP Expert Review Panel will publish a final written report on its findings in March, and is scheduled to present the findings to the State Water Board at a May 3 meeting.

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