SD19 - Estimated Costs and Personnel Requirements for Establishing and Administering the Environmental Laboratory Certification Program

Executive Summary:
The Department of General Services (DGS), Division of Consolidated Laboratory (DCLS), provides scientific analyses for the health, environmental, and consumer protection programs of state and local governments, and local water authorities. DCLS also provides a laboratory certification program for laboratories under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. This certification of public laboratories is provided through a general fund appropriation. The certification of private laboratories and out-of-state Iaboratories is supported by fees.

§ 2.1-429.01 of the Code of Virginia (COV) requires that the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services establish an Environmental Laboratory Certification Program for the certification of laboratories conducting any tests, analyses, measurements, or monitoring required by Chapter 13 (§ 10.1-1300 et seq.) of Title 10.1, the Virginia Waste Manage Act (§ 10.1-1400 et seq.) and the State Water Control Law (§ 62.1-44.2 et seq.) Certification services will be supported by fees. DCLS is also required to establish fee categories based on the types of substances for which tests, analyses, measure monitoring are performed. All fees will be based on program costs to implement and maintain the certification program, and will depend on the number of laboratories seeking accreditation, and the number and type of tests performed in those laboratories.

The purpose of the Environmental Laboratory Certification Program is to ensure that laboratories provide accurate and consistent tests, analyses, measurements, and monitoring to meet the goals and requirements of Chapter 13 of Title 10.1, the Virginia Waste Management Act, and the State Water Control Law. To meet reciprocity requirements between states, laboratories must meet the established standards of the National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference (NELAC). Customers of laboratory services will be assured that those laboratories with Virginia accreditation have met the rigorous NELAC standards.

Laboratories requesting certification must participate in an approved proficiency testing program and have an on-site inspection of their facility and methods by a qualified third party provider. The results of the proficiency testing and on-site inspection will be reviewed by DCLS. If the criteria are met, accreditation will be given for a two-year period.

Workload projections are based on experience of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). DEQ currently conducts data audits on laboratories that submit data under the DEQ monitoring programs.

The attached spreadsheets (Attachment B) show data from DEQ conducted audits for fiscal years 1996 and 1997. The data show that DEQ conducted audits on 627 in-house laboratories and 51 commercial laboratories in FY 96 for a total of 678 laboratories. In FY97 the totals were 633 in-house laboratories and 43 commercial laboratories for a total of 676 laboratories. These laboratory audits are conducted every three years.

We used these workload numbers and information provided by DEQ to project workload for the accreditation program. Based on the DEQ laboratory audit data, we can conservatively estimate 600 audits, or 1,800 laboratories (i.e., 600 audits X 3-year audit cycle) or over 1800 laboratories currently supplying data to the monitoring programs. DEQ also estimates there are between 800 and 1000 laboratories currently supplying data under the Virginia Waste Management Act and State Water Control Law who will elect to participate in the accreditation program.

The accreditation program will certify laboratories every two years. Based on DCLS certification experiences with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Milk Certification Program, and the estimated number of laboratories currently providing data to DEQ, we project a workload of from 400 to 500 laboratories per year. We estimate that this workload will require a staff of 8.0 positions to support the environmental accreditation program, when fully implemented.

Staffing levels will be driven by the number of laboratories applying for accreditation. DCLS will add staff to meet the number of laboratories applying for certification. If the total number of laboratories we project do, in fact, apply for the program, the estimated annual cost will be approximately $404,000.