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TERMS OF REFERENCE--INTERAGENCY METHODS AND DATA COMPARABILITY
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
A. Group and prioritize methods, which include those
applicable to indicators where interagency comparability is
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
F. Support and promote a national laboratory-accreditation
program and investigate the need for a
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.