acil-shn Archive [Apr/May 2012] [04/09/12]
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From the Editor

Below are presentation synopses in chronological order from the ACIL Policies and Practices Conference in Washington, DC.  The articles contain links for members to access the speakers’ visual aids if available.  Look for the four business practices presentations as webinars in the near future.

Policy Meetings (March 28th)

EPA Joins Environmental Sciences Section Meeting

Moderated by Joe Konschnik (Restek) with presentations from Bruce Godfrey (Curtis & Tompkins), Charlie Carter (TestAmerica) and Judy Morgan (Environmental Science), the opening roundtable discussed using modern electronic data management, expanding laboratory capabilities via LC/MS/MS for laboratories to increase productivity, reduce waste and become greener.  Click on each presentation to view it:  Charlie Carter, LCMS-MS Advantages & Disadvantages in an Environmental Laboratory; Judy Morgan, Laboratory Green Initiatives; Bruce Godfrey, New Trends in Laboratory Data and Information Management.

Next, ACIL CEO Milt Bush reviewed the status and activities of the ACIL Non-Governmental Accreditation Initiative, focusing on ACIL activities and accomplishments in New Jersey, Florida, California and New York.  During the ensuing discussion, EPA participants noted that the Safe Water Drinking Act does not preclude  states from adopting the ACIL program and recognizing third-party accreditation, but current EPA regulations do contain restrictions.  However, the EPA indicated a willingness to consider changing these regulations to eliminate the issue.

Shen-yi Yang from EPA's Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery (ORCR) gave a presentation on current activities relative to updating the SW-846 manual and developing new analytical methods.  Following this presentation, participants discussed  ILI’s current efforts to assist EPA with modernizing their analytical methods, especially EPA's Office of Water (OW) Methods 624 and 625, and future ILI activities.

The February 15, 2012 ILI workshop included 32 scientists from ACIL member laboratories and technology innovation companies, EPA, wastewater testing laboratories, other technology companies, and experts in the field from consulting companies.  Due to time constraints, the workshop focused mainly on Methods 624 and 625, followed by a short discussion on a sample holding time issue in response to an ORCR request for input from the group. Click here for Judy Morgan's feedback from this event in the right column of this newsletter.

Based on workshop participant suggestions, updated versions of the methods have been prepared and will be circulated to the participants and to P2 session attendees for a second round of comments to resolve any potential conflicting recommendations.   ACIL also plans to conduct a survey to identify any existing validation data gaps with ACIL members generating needed data via a study to be developed and presented to the Environmental Sciences Section (ESS) membership in the near future.  Due to the success of this first ILI workshop, EPA expressed interest in partnering on future ILI workshops to modernize additional EPA methods for drinking water and solid waste.
 
At the end of the session, EPA shared with ACIL members its plans to give accredited laboratories an advantage on winning EPA contracts in an effort to improve the Forum on Environmental Monitoring Policy to Assure Laboratory Competency; and in response to questions and comments raised by several ESS members, the EPA's Ramona Trovato discussed methodology and issues related to the environmental monitoring of fracking operations.

Conformity Assessment Meeting Includes OMB, NEMA and NIST

Michael Marcus from Marcus Spectrum Solutions LLC began his presentation “Enforcement in the Digital Age” by highlighting the FCC’s lack of attention to enforcement issues, noting that improved compliance helps both ACIL member laboratories and their clients. He attributes these problems to the FCC’s lack of financial and personnel resources, outdated FCC regulations, no criminal penalties for submission of fraudulent data, inadequate labeling and continued use of obsolete and inadequate test methods to show regulatory compliance. He also noted that the FCC Commissioners do not understand spectrum policy issues well.

Next, NEMA’s Director of International Standards Ken Gettman discussed how EMI testing relates to product safety testing under the CB Scheme, explaining that National Certification Bodies (NCBs) meet specified requirements for internal quality systems and technical competence as outlined in ISO/IEC Guide 65 and the IECEE Rules of Procedure, enabling them to issue CB Test Certificates within scope parameters and requiring them to accept CB Test Certificates and Reports from other NCBs. A CB Testing Laboratory (CBTL) conducts testing and issues CB Test Reports for products within the scope of an associated NCB. When employed by multiple NCBs, a CBTL may only operate in a given category with one NCB. Currently, NCBs may refuse to accept EMI test reports from non-CBTLs. ACIL plans to work with IECEE to resolve this issue.

Jogdinar (Joe) Dhillon of NIST reviewed the six Mutual Recognition Agreements/Arrangements (MRAs) in the telecom and EMC sectors (APEC, EFTA, EU, Japan, Mexico and CITEL), and indicated the number of Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) designated in the US under each MRA with US CAB locations. He also shared the status of ongoing negotiations for proposed new MRAs with Israel (Phase I and Phase II) and the Republic of Korea (Phase II). Finally, he reviewed the NIST Global Standards Information (GSI) Website with specific links to learn about the use of US standards; trade-related regulatory, standards and conformity assessment information; standards-related workshops and education seminars; MRA texts; the NVCASE Program; and registration to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations. To view his presentation and these links, click here.

Next, Jeff Weiss of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) discussed the White House initiative to review the federal use of standards in conformity assessment activities, stemming from the requirements of Executive Order 13563, which emphasizes that the US regulatory system ‘‘must protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation.’’ He referred to OMB Circular A-119, which is intended to minimize government agency reliance on government-unique standards, directs Federal agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in lieu of government-unique standards except where inconsistent with law or otherwise impractical, and directs the Secretary of Commerce to issue guidance to agencies to coordinate conformity assessment activities.

He alerted ACIL attendees to the pending OMB Request for Information published in the Federal Register 2 days after his presentation, and told attendees about an April 11th NIST workshop, entitled ‘‘Conformity Assessment: Approaches and Best Practices,’’ to seek input on the planned update of the NIST Guidance on Federal Conformity Assessment Activities (15 CFR Part 287). Comments are due to NIST on April 30, 2012. He also noted OMB’s public workshop at NIST on May 15, 2012. To assist the White House in updating its use of standards in conformity assessment activities, ACIL has planned its own workshop on April 17th in Washington, DC.  (Click here for additional information or see announcement in this newsletter.) To view Jeff's presentation, click here.

The Conformity Assessment Section (CAS) ended its session with a 6-person panel and round table discussion on the current state of conformity assessment in China. Key problem areas include high recertification costs, significant regulatory costs and delays amounting to trade barriers, lack of transparency in Chinese regulatory practices, no final authorities to definitively set Chinese trade policy and procedures, numerous post-market surveillance issues, number and complexity of regulations that outstrip regulatory agency capacity, no recognition of CB Scheme reports or accreditation of foreign test laboratories, no competition between Chinese government-approved laboratories and theft of intellectual property during testing at Chinese government-approved laboratories.  To resolve these issues, an ACIL position paper, currently under CAS review, will be supplied to US government representatives to use at the upcoming US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) discussions.

Food Sciences Laboratories Meet with FDA

John Bode, a consultant to ACIL, started the session with an overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation, and led a discussion regarding the act’s controversial implementation of fees.  To view John’s presentation, click here.

Then Dr. Jon Wong from the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition presented his research and protocols on multi-residue pesticide testing and targeted analysis.  His presentation also discussed methods for pesticides in dietary supplements and suggested the possibility of a collaborative study with FDA and AOAC, offering an opportunity for private laboratories to become part of the study.

Tim McGrath, Director, Food Emergency Response Network Branch in FDA’s Division of Field Science discussed private laboratory analytical package reviews, outlining his plans for improving consistency, communication and review times.  His wish list includes a cooperative agreement between private laboratories and the FDA.  Further, Tim provided an update on implementation of FSMA laboratory-related provisions.  To view his presentation, click here.

The afternoon concluded with goal setting and a discussion of ways to achieve FSS goals, including the proposed scheduling of a roundtable with senior executives from the food manufacturing industry to learn why they use private laboratories.

Construction Materials and Engineering Testing Meeting Features FHWA, FAA and AASHTO

To meet ACIL member needs for Construction Materials and Engineering Testing (CMET) personnel certification, the section plans to proceed with a pilot program in soils based on the NETTCP program currently used in the northeast, and offer it as an alternative to state programs, after confirming that NICET cannot currently address ACIL member needs for separate field and laboratory technician certifications.

NETTCP Executive Director Chris Bowker reviewed the NETTCP personnel certification program, which started in 1996 to meet federal regulations in 23 CFR 637, and follows AASHTO and most ASTM standards with approximately 1,500 certifications projected for FY 2011, mostly for non-government personnel.  ACIL members gave the NETTCP manuals rave reviews, and vetted NETTCP field performance evaluation methodology.

Program development will consider future accreditation to ISO 17024, and include additional input from state DOT representatives, FHWA and AASHTO, which offered to act as a conduit between ACIL and the state DOTs.  Greg Cline (FAA) noted that the FAA is also developing national programs through associations, i.e. the American Concrete Institute and Asphalt Institute.  Check the ACIL website for details on this new program as they become available.

Greg Cline, FAA airfields pavement engineer, reviewed upcoming revisions to FAA regulations with the goal to move to one standard guide for airfield pavement and mandate a 40-year design life, all while modifying design specifications to become both faster and less expensive.   He advocates strengthening requirements for technicians, but noted that to receive FAA endorsement, this cannot increase the cost to the taxpayer.  He welcomes comments from ACIL members via email.

To access Chris Bowker’s presentation on the NETTCP, click here.  To access Greg Cline’s presentation on FAA standards, click here.

Business Practices Presentations (March 29th)

Liability and the Independent Test Laboratory

Gardner Duval from Whiteford Taylor Preston discussed laboratory exposure for liability, noting that laboratories really only have liability to those with whom they have a contract.  Since they do not have a relationship with the end user and do not design or manufacture products, laboratory exposure typically involves errors and omissions.

The closer the laboratory moves toward design, the greater its risk for liability.  Laboratories can use indemnifications in the contract to transfer risk, noting that when the contract is silent, errors and omissions more likely lead to liability.  He also noted that this transfer of risk is enforceable in some states, but not others.

The assignment of obligation always goes with the manufacturer by law, and manufacturing to a standard is not an absolute defense.  In court, lawyers prefer to use independent laboratories to minimize bias.  To view this presentation, click here.

Future of US Healthcare

ACIL assembled a panel of experts to field member questions and provide information on the future of US healthcare with suggestions on managing costs, including encouraging employee engagement in healthcare choices, incorporating wellness programs and promoting healthcare savings accounts.

Christopher Mullins, executive director of United Healthcare’s Mid-Atlantic Region; Michael Ford, president and CEO of MedAlliance Management Group; and Alex Adler, president and founder of HGA Financial discussed trends leading to problems with the current healthcare system, including the continuing rise of casual use of the system, the shortage of primary care physicians and decreased number of specialists, the aging population and lack of consumer-driven choices, which may lead to waiting for procedures in the future.

Michael predicted that more large employers will negotiate directly with providers, and Christopher added that companies with high risk tolerance are moving toward self-funding.  Christopher noted that the return on investment for corporate wellness programs is $2.5 - $3 for each dollar invested with leadership-endorsed, employer-provided programs that push employee accountability leading the way.  He also argued to focus on quality, not unit cost because lowest cost may equal highest quality when factoring in outcomes such as lower readmission rates, fewer complications and faster recovery times.

Finally, the panel discussed tort reform, with Michael noting that evidence-based medicine currently used in 25-30 percent of medical areas dictates the course of action to doctors and reduces their ability to ask for unneeded tests.  On the implementation of the new healthcare law, the panelists noted that it has less impact on companies under 100 employees (50 employees in some states).

Hiring/Integrating the Right People for Long-Term Success

SESCO Management Consultants President and CEO Bill Ford suggested telling your story via the media to increase the number of resumes received, then using techniques such as behavioral interviewing, reference and credit checks, drug testing and psychological assessments to identify the best candidate to hire.  

When checking references, ask about the individual’s eligibility for rehire.  To avoid legal problems, do credit checks consistently, and use psychological assessments consistently within position after narrowing applicants to three or less.  Use drug tests for everyone as 20 percent abuse prescription drugs, and develop open ended interview questions that speak to your organization and the job.

Bill suggests using high performing employees to train mediocre ones, noting that Generation X and Y employees need a lot of mentoring and career development assistance.  Companies can only provide the proper environment; motivation comes from within. Since companies cannot afford mediocrity in today’s economic climate, if training efforts fail, terminate after exhausting reasonable accommodations.

ACIL members shared other ways of identifying quality new hires, including employee referrals, alumni organizations, LinkedIn for interns and coops with universities for IT people, noting that it is rare to find one person with both strong technical and people skills and that highly technical people tend to be more critical and defensive.

Since front-line supervisors have the greatest impact on employee retention, provide human resources support either through an internal HR manager or SESCO for supervisory duties, and make sure that the evaluation process aligns with company values.

Refer to Bill’s presentation for SESCO’s Behavioral Interviewing Guide containing a list of interview questions and Orientation Checklist, and use your ACIL member benefits to call SESCO for recommendations on proper applicant assessment tools based on position and company.

Viewing Your Business as Separate Cost Centers to Attain Financial Success

ACIL Chairman J. Trevor Boyce (Microbac) shared his view of financial management emphasizing the importance of keeping the business’ house in order to stay aloft, then focusing on long-term viability to head in the right direction.

He showed a graph of testing service life represented by a hump, noting that a company can enter the market at any point on the hump, and since eventually every test becomes unprofitable, keep bringing in new tests/services to maintain long-term viability.  He also advised members to use revenue/FTE to measure efficiency, not profitability, since it does not include salaries.

Trevor cautioned people about using separate P&L’s for each division as it keeps people from working together, and recommended using compensation based on the corporate P&L to mitigate.

He also recommended using strong leaders within the company to develop a pervasive customer-centric attitude that uses personal involvement and problem solving to drive customer purchasing decisions, which are emotional not technical, and to use metrics and goals to keep companies focused.  To view Trevor’s presentation, click here.

Using New Technology to Improve Business Efficiency

According to Jay Fredkin from CABEM Technology, the difficult task of identifying best practices and workflow comprises half of any new technology project to improve business efficiency, noting that social networking is currently providing the greatest impact on the laboratory business and driving collaboration.

As the teleworking trend continues and mobility increases, use Skype for gain further integration and control, and rely on the cloud to handle IT infrastructure, leaving company computers with the capacity to handle larger volumes of data, including video for test reports.  This also maximizes security, giving complete control of data at all times as required by the Department of Defense, according to panelist Art Villa (NTS).

Use the iterative data from business analytics to bring new perspective to company operations, divide information and put it on different servers to increase security and use cloud computing within the firewall for security, but place information for collaboration in the cloud.  For example, NTS’ customer portal remains outside their network.  Art views IT as a utility that is always on with objective data always available.

Brian Matthews from CABEM Technology unveiled CABEM’s new Vlab software system, which allows customers to interface with the test and provides for real-time scheduling.  Look for information on a new ACIL member benefit, offering this software at a reduced price to ACIL members.  To view these presentations, click on the appropriate panelist’s name:  Jay Fredkin, Art Villa.

Committees and Sections

If you’d like to get involved in any of the sections noted at the beginning of this newsletter, contact Tony Anderson for the call-in information to join the section’s monthly teleconference. Find complete meeting minutes on the ACIL Website in the Members Only Section.

Here We Grow Again!

Welcome to these new members.  To learn more, click on the company name to visit their website or on the contact name to send an e-mail.

Environmental/Food Sciences Corporate Member: QC Laboratories Inc., Marc Carter; Southampton, PA 18966

With over 60 years of experience in independent testing, QC Laboratories’ 180 team members provide full-service chemistry, microbiology, and aquatic toxicology services to the environmental, dairy, food, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. NELAC and FDA certified, and FDA registered, QC offers a fleet of couriers for sample pick-up in their service area with client service throughout the US.

Conformity Assessment Adjunct Member:  Teradata Corporation, John Flavin; San Diego, CA 92127

The Teradata Corporation EMC Laboratory is used for in-house testing of all Teradata products for compliance with worldwide EMI and safety standards.

Accreditation Body Member: ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board/ACLASS, Keith Greenaway; Alexandria, VA 22314

One of three brands of the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board, ACLASS provides accreditation for ISO/IEC 17025 testing and calibration laboratories, ISO/IEC 17020 inspection bodies, ISO Guide 34 reference material producers, ISO/IEC 17043 proficiency testing providers and numerous industry-specific programs. ACLASS is recognized by ILAC, APLAC and IAAC as a signatory of multilateral recognition arrangements that facilitate acceptance of test and calibration data internationally.

 

In This Issue

Save the Date!
ACIL 75th Anniversary Annual Meeting
Westin Times Square
New York, NY
October 6-9, 2012

Join us for a special celebration of ACIL’s diamond anniversary. This meeting is loaded with networking opportunities while seeing the sights of New York. As usual, we will also offer outstanding educational sessions to keep ACIL leaders and future leaders abreast of current best practices.  Stay tuned for registration information.  Hope to see you there!

In preparation for the special 75th anniversary meeting in New York, Walter Poggi (Retlif) is compiling a list of VIPs, including former members, retirees and past presidents to invite to this landmark occasion.  If you know of anyone that you think should be on this list, please email their contact information to Walter as soon as possible.

ACIL P2 Conference Photos

Whether you were lucky enough to attend the successful P2 Conference on March 28 and 29 in Arlington, VA, or just want to see what you missed, click here for photos from the meeting.

ACIL OMB A-119 Workshop

Re: Conformity Assessment
April 17, 2012; 10am-2pm
UL Washington, DC Offices

If you are interested in attending or participating remotely in this ACIL venture to prepare a response to NIST’s Request for Information (RFI) on OMB Circular A-119 (Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Conformity Assessment Activities), contact Milt Bush as soon as possible.  For more information on this ACIL Government Relations Committee event, click here.

ACIL Wins Seat on SGTCC

Representing ACIL, Don Heirman was elected as a voting member of NIST’s Smart Grid Testing and Certification Committee (SGTCC) in March, and will begin feeding information to members of ACIL’s Smart Grid Task Force immediately, and assist the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) Plenary Chair Steve Widergren reach his goal to establish a testing and certification framework that coordinates many testing organizations across the spectrum of SG concerns.  This position is in addition to Don’s previous appointment to the SGIP.  To learn more about the new members on the SGTCC, click here.

In other Smart Grid news, ACIL members A2LA, L-A-B, PJLA and ACLASS comprised the majority of accreditation bodies at the March 21st SGIP workshop in Charlotte, NC to promote cooperation between Interoperability Testing and Certification Authorities and testing laboratory accrediting organizations and facilitate Interoperability Process Reference Manual implementation. To view the webinar from this meeting, click here.

Membership Update

Thank you to all ACIL members who promptly remitted dues payments this year, resulting in a 45 percent increase as compared to January 2011.  Attesting to ACIL’s membership value, we posted a 97.18% retention rate as of January 31, 2012.  As of April 1, 2012, members in good standing continue to receive ACIL member services and benefits.  If you have questions about your dues status, contact Richard Bright.

ILI Workshop Benefits

by Judy Morgan (Environmental Science)
The recent EPA methods workshop was a phenomenal opportunity for the private sector to work together with a government agency to achieve a common goal. The forum allowed laboratories, suppliers and EPA officials to sit together and discuss much needed changes to methodology surpassed by years of technological advances. The call-in option allowed for participation of analysts who otherwise would not have gotten the opportunity to experience this type of collaboration. This proved a great experience for some of the more junior staff. Overall, the workshop was a great success that resulted in suggested changes that all participants had the opportunity to discuss and agree upon. Due to this success, I am looking forward to future ILI workshops.

Smart Grid IPRM Specifies NACLA

The Smart Grid Testing and Certification Committee’s (SGTCC) Smart Grid Interoperability Panel released its Interoperability Process Reference Manual, Version 2, in January 2012 listing NACLA recognition as one way for accreditation bodies to meet SGTCC accreditation requirements.  In other news, NACLA joined the US Chamber of Commerce in February 2012 to further strengthen its position in the market.

NACLA Z540.3 Training

Partnering with Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), NACLA is conducting the following course:

Requirements for the Calibration of Measuring and Test Equipment
AIAG Headquarters
Southfield, MI
April 11 – 12, 2012; 8am-5pm
Special ACIL Member Rate: $695
To register, click here.

A2LA Named Future 50 Winner

“SmartCEO Magazine” named A2LA one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the greater Baltimore area based on the combined growth rates of revenues and employees over a 3-year period.  One of two non-profit organizations identified as recipients of this award, A2LA showed steady growth while remaining true to its mission to provide exceptional products and services to customers. 

Worker’s Compensation

To learn how to avoid four costly mistakes when analyzing worker’s compensation costs and maximize savings, click here.

In Memoriam

Ken Albutt Dies
Former UILI President Ken Albutt passed away on January 31, 2012 after working in the interest of UILI and the international laboratory community for more than five decades.  He was buried on February 17, 2012 in the UK in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.  Condolences may be sent to his wife, Jane, at Bank Edge Hall, Edge Nr Painswick, Glos GL6 6NG, United Kingdom.

Thank You Sponsors!

Once again, a sincere thanks to the industry sponsors below, who provide particularly generous support, enabling us to offer exceptional ACIL programs.

ACIL National Champion

 

ACIL Partners

 

ACIL Newsletter Staff

Editor
Adrienne Bush

Contributor
Milton Bush

Production
Dennis Lowry