DOELAP Experiences in Accreditation
S.O. Schwahn (US Department of Energy)
The Department of Energy Laboratory Accreditation Program (DOELAP) accredits dosimetry programs that monitor radiation exposure to Department of Energy (DOE) workers and contractors. While DOELAP is an accrediting body, it is also accredited by an outside entity, NVLAP, to requirements in NIST Publication 150 and 150-2. The requirements in NIST Publication 150 are based directly on the international standard ISO/IEC-17025. DOELAP has a unique perspective as both an accrediting body and an accredited organization. Under the NVLAP accreditation process, DOELAP has had its program assessed several times. As has been the DOELAP experience, initial assessments are likely to identify findings mainly from inadequate documentation (from the point of view of the Standard) of existing processes. Assessed organizations will likely find that follow-up assessments typically result in a few findings; these continuing findings do not necessarily reflect declining quality, but may simply be due to differing points of view and different areas of assessors' expertise. These different viewpoints often provide a welcome diversity that would otherwise be unavailable. In proficiency testing, DOELAP has consistently performed with agreement better than 2.5%, and usually better than 1%, when compared directly with NIST fields. The accreditation process has shown itself to be of value in creating a solid, defensible program.