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TECHNICAL APPENDIX

TERMS OF REFERENCE--INTERAGENCY METHODS AND DATA COMPARABILITY BOARD


I. Mission, authority, scope, and applicability.

A. Mission--The mission of the Methods and Data Comparability Board (MDCB) is to promote and coordinate the collection of comparable water-quality data. The MDCB is part of the implementation of the recommendations and strategy of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Monitoring Water Quality (ITFM), as documented in the Final Report entitled the Strategy for Improving Water-Quality Monitoring in the United States (the strategy) , dated August 1995.

B. Authority--The authority for the MDCB, the National Water-Quality Monitoring Council (National Council), and the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) is the Office of Management and Budget Memorandum No. M-92-01. This memorandum requires Federal executive agencies to collaborate with all levels of government and the private sector in conducting water-information activities.

C. Scope--The MDCB, in collaboration with Federal, State, Tribal governments, and private sector organizations, will provide a framework and a forum for comparing, evaluating, and promoting approaches that yield comparable data in all appropriate water-quality-monitoring programs. Action will be taken to improve the scientific validity of water-quality data, to establish comparable approaches to collecting water-quality-monitoring information, to provide a forum for advancing the state of technology of water-quality methods and practices, to assist all levels of government and the private sector in collecting monitoring information in a comparable and coordinated manner, and to recommend initiatives that lead to data comparability among agencies.

D. Applicability--As resources are available and consistent with applicable legal requirements, organizations that voluntarily choose to participate in the nationwide strategy will implement ITFM recommendations and will use future guidelines and procedures developed by the MDCB and other subordinate groups, adopted by the National Council, and accepted by the ACWI. Before adopting guidelines or recommendations for voluntary implementation as part of the strategy, the National Council will announce proposed actions and recommendations for the purpose of obtaining public review and comments.

II. Objectives--To assure the successful implementation of the nationwide strategy on a priority basis, the MDCB will be responsible for achieving the following objectives in collaboration with appropriate Federal, State, and Tribal orgnizations:

A. Group and prioritize methods, which include those applicable to indicators where interagency comparability is important.

B. Develop and promote guidelines to ensure methods and data comparability for priority methods.

C. Develop and promote a performance-based methods system.

D. To meet current and future needs, coordinate the establishment of reference methods for use as baselines with which to compare the performance of alternate methods.

E. Develop guidelines for validating alternative methods against a reference method or specified performance criteria.

F. Support and promote a national laboratory-accreditation program and investigate the need for a prelaboratory-certification program.

G. Establish a set of minimum data-qualifiers for use in describing water-quality measurements.

H. Identify and support program needs for reference methods, standardized performance validation samples, and methods-comparison exercises.

I. Collaborate with other groups to establish and maintain a glossary of water-quality-related terms and data elements required to implement the strategy and to facilitate communication, to establish reference sites for the purpose of comparing field methods, and to conduct other tasks as needed.

J. Provide advice and consultation about methods and data comparability to assist organizations that participate in implementing the strategy.

K. Encourage organizations that are not voting members of the MDCB to participate in methods validation and other activities of the MDCB. The meetings will be open to representatives of any organization that participates in the strategy.

III. Membership.

A. The MDCB membership shall include organizations that represent all levels of government and the private sector. Member organizations may include Federal, State, Tribal, and local government agencies, academia and the research community, private sector nonprofit groups that develop and distribute consensus methods and guidelines, volunteer monitoring groups, the regulated community, and other organizations that collect or use water-quality information. The membership shall represent a balance of interests, expertise, and geographical distribution.

B. The MDCB shall consist of 15 delegates whose terms shall last 3 years. Terms shall be staggered so that normally no more than five members will be replaced in any single year. To achieve the staggered terms, the initial members shall serve as follows: five will be designated for 3-year terms, five will be designated for 2-year terms, and five will be designated for 1-year terms.

C. The cochairs of the National Council shall designate the member organizations of the MDCB in consultation with the members of the National Council. The member organizations shall designate their delegates to the MDCB.

D. The member organizations shall include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), other Federal Government agencies, five State or Tribal government agencies, and five organizations that represent other monitoring sectors. The USEPA delegate shall serve as chair, and the USGS delegate shall serve as vice chair.

E. Each delegate to the MDCB will be expected to attend all meetings of the MDCB or designate a permanent knowledgeable alternate who can attend for the member organization in the absence of the delegate. In the event an organization has no delegate or alternate at more than three consecutive meetings, the chair of the MDCB may inform the cochairs of the National Council and request that they appoint a new member organization.

F. In addition to the voting members of the MDCB, organizations that are implementing the strategy may send nonvoting representatives to participate in the meetings. If a nonvoting representative wishes to make a presentation to the MDCB, then a request must be made to the chair in advance of the meeting to schedule the presentation on the agenda. Also, the chair may request and recognize nonvoting representatives to participate in discussions of the MDCB.

IV. Support staff-An executive secretariat and other support for the MDCB shall be provided by the USGS, through the Office of Water Data Coordination, or other Federal organizations as mutually agreed upon by the supporting agencies.

V. Procedures

A. The MDCB will meet every 3 months with additional meetings called at the request of the chair in consultation with the members.

B. The MDCB will have the authority to create temporary subordinate groups (operating for less than 1 year) to deal with issues that require specialized expertise. Permanent subordinate groups must be approved by the National Council.

C. Actions that constitute final reports or recommendations intended for nationwide implementation as part of the strategy will be signed by the chair of the MDCB and transmitted to the executive secretary of the National Council for approval and public review.

D. Members who maintain a view contrary to that adopted by the MDCB may submit a minority report or recommendation to the chair for transmittal to the National Council.

E. The MDCB will work in collaboration with the National Council to develop and execute the budget for the MDCB.

VI. Quorum/voting--It is the intent of the MDCB to discuss and attempt to resolve all issues through consensus and by recognizing the legitimate interests and diverse points of view of the members of the MDCB. However, acknowledging that complete agreement may not be possible for every deliberation, the MDCB must be able to decide certain difficult issues. To this end, the following rules will apply:

A. Two-thirds of the delegates or alternates will constitute a quorum. Each member organization shall have one vote.

B. The members will strive to operate by consensus. A consensus will exist unless one or more delegates request a vote.

C. If a vote is requested, then the chair will request a motion, and Robert's Rules of Order will apply. An affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the delegates or alternates present will approve the motion.

D. The MDCB may reach consensus in formal session at meetings, in teleconferences, or in writing on an individual basis after every delegate is advised in advance by the chair. The rule for a quorum applies regardless of the method for conducting business.

VII. Documentation

A. Agendas and records of actions by the MDCB will be prepared and disseminated to members and participants by the secretary. Records of actions will be submitted to all delegates for concurrence. Complete records of all MDCB activities, which will include those of its subordinate groups, shall be maintained by the secretary and the Office of Water Data Coordination.

B. The MDCB will prepare an annual report for the National Council. The report will contain the following information: the activities of the MDCB during the past year and plans for future years, a budget request, a list of delegates and alternates, accomplishments, products, recommendations, and an evaluation of the progress in implementing the methods and data-comparability aspects of the strategy. The budget request will identify support and resources that participating organizations plan to provide. Also, the budget request will estimate travel and other support needed for 2 fiscal years beginning on October 1. The report will be submitted to the executive secretary of the National Council by March 1.


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Last modified: Fri Feb 8 14:13:17 EST 2002