Quality Assurance

I. Policy Statement

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. is Committed to the Continuous Achievement of Excellence

As a leader in cultural resources management consulting, Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. (Commonwealth Heritage Group) takes seriously its obligation to maintain high professional standards. We are committed to the achievement of excellence and have developed this Quality Assurance Plan to support attainment of our, and our clients’, quality objectives.

Commonwealth Heritage Group’s integrated, multi-level Quality Assurance Plan ensures consistent excellence in performance and product. All levels of our staff are actively involved in and responsible for monitoring and assessing quality. Each individual in the organization is ultimately responsible for the quality of his or her own work. Our field and laboratory supervisors (e.g., field and laboratory directors, crew chiefs) are granted the responsibility and authority to monitor, assess, and modify performance in order to achieve quality standards. Senior management is charged with the continued assessment of the Quality Assurance Plan and the consistent implementation of project-specific procedures designed to reach Commonwealth Heritage Group’s and our clients’ quality goals. Commonwealth Heritage Group’s Quality Assurance Plan is binding on all of Commonwealth Heritage Group’s personnel. Commonwealth Heritage Group’s Organization Chart and Function Chart illustrate our integrated approach to quality assurance.

II. Personnel Training and Qualifications

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Encourages the Achievement of Excellence through Continuous Training and Professional Development

Commonwealth Heritage Group’s regular and temporary personnel are chosen for their qualifications and demonstrated ability to bring projects to a successful completion. As illustrated in the attached biographical sketches, all of our key personnel meet or exceed federal and state requirements for conducting archaeological, historical, and/or architectural history research. Nevertheless, we recognize the importance of project-specific training and provide all project personnel with written requirements and guidelines based on the project’s scope of work. All field and laboratory technicians participate in on-site cultural resources and safety training. On-site training is conducted by the supervisory personnel assigned to the project.

In order to keep informed of new developments and maintain and expand professional and technical capabilities, Commonwealth Heritage Group encourages its staff to participate in other professional development and training opportunities offered through professional organizations or educational institutions. This includes training in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, in integrating Section 106 with the National Environmental Policy Act, and in preparing preservation and planning documents meeting these and other federal and state regulations.

III. Quality Improvement

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Fosters a Non-threatening Environment where Quality is Continuously Assessed

Commonwealth Heritage Group’s commitment to quality assurance includes the continuous appraisal of work and products. Each individual staff member is encouraged to critically assess the quality of items, activities, and processes. In the event that an item, activity, or process does not meet project quality standards, Commonwealth Heritage Group staff is charged with the responsibility to make immediate corrections and restore the quality of the item, activity, or process. If the actions required to make necessary corrections are outside of an individual’s scope of authority, he/she will promptly notify the immediate supervisor with that authority. Together, the supervisor and staff will take the steps necessary to restore quality. Once the quality of the item, action, or process has been restored, appropriate actions will be implemented to deter recurrence.

In order to preserve and improve quality, Commonwealth Heritage Group fosters a non-threatening environment where staff members are encouraged to identify and correct actions that jeopardize project quality and goals. Suggestions for actions that preserve and promote quality are welcome from all staff members.

IV. Documents and Records

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Promotes Efficient Communication through Clearly Written Documents and Records

All controlled documents and procedures will be issued in duplicate by the Project Manager and will include the date of issue, the words “Supersedes All Others,” and the Project Manager’s initials. Controlled documents will be given to staff members personally by their immediate supervisor and receipt will be acknowledged by signing the bottom of the document and returning one signed copy to the immediate supervisor. By acknowledging receipt of the documents, staff members acknowledge their responsibility to adhere to the regulations and procedures contained in controlled documents. All controlled documents will be returned to Commonwealth Heritage Group’s main office in Jackson, Michigan.

Project records will include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following forms and documents:

  • time sheets
  • travel and expense records
  • daily field summaries
  • site recording forms
  • site survey lists
  • shovel test and excavation records
  • shovel test and feature map sheets
  • plan and profile records
  • field and laboratory catalogs
  • artifact bag lists
  • feature, artifact, and flotation checklists
  • building/structure sketches
  • architectural history inventory forms
  • above-ground resource site plans
  • photographs
  • photography records

 

Minor revisions to project records will be made by drawing a line through the revised or deleted information, writing any corrections directly on the project record, and initialing all revisions. Any record requiring extensive revisions will be rewritten; the original record will be clearly marked with an X across the page and the word “VOID” with the revisor’s initials at the top of the page. The voided record will be attached to the rewritten record.

Technical reports and other text-based documents (collectively referred herein as reports) will be undergo multiple reviews before they are produced and submitted to a client. Reports typically are primarily authored by a single individual or are composed of contributions by two or more authors. Each type of report requires slightly different review processes.

Reports primarily authored by one individual

The individual authoring a report will review and edit his/her own work before submitting it to a superior and is responsible for its accuracy and quality. The First Draft of the report shall be properly formatted and complete, including graphics. The author will work with support staff to accomplish tasks such as report formatting and graphics preparation. Report format will follow the guidelines established in Commonwealth Heritage Group’s style guide (Memorandum dated June 18, 2001). If a report is submitted in a format other than that specified in the style guide, it will be returned to the author for formatting. The only exception to this policy is if a report has been prepared in a client-specified format that has been approved by the project’s Principal Investigator and/or Project Manager or an office-specific format approved by the Quality Assurance individual assigned to each of Commonwealth Heritage Group’s offices.

The Principal Investigator or Project Manager for the project will review the submitted report (First Draft) for readability, grammatical correctness, and technical accuracy. If a report is deemed unacceptable for editing, it will be returned to the author for revision. The author may opt for editing/revision on his/her own or seek assistance from an independent staff member approved by the Principal Investigator and/or Project Manager.

The Principal Investigator or Project Manager will then edit and arrange the production of a completed Second Draft of the report.

A final edit will be conducted by the Quality Assurance individual assigned to each of Commonwealth Heritage Group’s offices. The final edit will be on hard copy using standard editing procedures and proofreader’s marks. After editing the report, the final draft (Third Draft) will be returned to the Principal Investigator or Project Manager who will implement production with the assistance of support staff.

Reports with multiple authors

The individual authoring a report contribution will review and edit his/her own work before submitting it to a superior and is responsible for its accuracy and quality.

Review of reports with multiple authors differs from that for single author reports primarily by the fact that the Principal Investigator assembles the report from individual contributions and he/she, therefore, is responsible for formatting and assembly of the First Draft.

The First Draft will then be reviewed and edited by the Project Manager for the project. At the discretion of Quality Assurance individual assigned to each of Commonwealth Heritage Group’s offices, a senior staff member other than the Project Manager may be designated to review the First Draft and produce the Second Draft.

Review of the Second Draft and production of the final draft (Third Draft) remains as above.

Copies of controlled documents (current and superseded), project records (voided and revised), and report manuscripts (final, draft, and edited hard copies) will be retained at Commonwealth Heritage Group’s Jackson, Michigan, office as quality documents.

V. Work Process

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Achieves Quality by Developing Processes and Procedures that Meet or Exceed Industry Standards

Project-specific instructions and procedures will be developed in accordance with the scope of work at the outset of the project. All processes will be controlled by written instructions and procedures; work will conform to the guidelines set out in the Department of the Interior National Park Service Archeology and Historic Preservation; Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines (48 FR 44716-44742).

Artifacts will be curated in accordance with the regulations at 36 CFR Part 79, Curation of Federally-Owned and Administered Archaeological Collections or by other written curation procedures developed by the client. Documents such as photographs, drawings, maps, and written records will be submitted to the curating institution or the client. If neither require submission of photographs, drawings, maps, and written records, they will be retained with the project files.

Prior to the start of field activities, Commonwealth Heritage Group will request a list of the client’s support services (e.g., Safety, Industrial Hygiene, Emergency Services) that have or may have responsibility for the project area. Commonwealth Heritage Group will follow written procedures as required by the client; in the absence of such written procedures, Commonwealth Heritage Group will follow the procedures in its own fieldwork Safety Plan.

VI. Procurement

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Ensures Attainment of Quality through Clear Communication with Sub-Contractors

Commonwealth Heritage Group will submit to sub-contractors duplicate copies of its Quality Assurance Plan, the procurement, and written requirements, guidelines, and procedures. Sub-contractors will acknowledge their receipt of these documents by signing one copy of each and returning it to the Project Manager. By acknowledging receipt of the documents, sub-contractors acknowledge their responsibility for maintaining the quality and excellence objectives established by Commonwealth Heritage Group and the client.

VII. Management Assessment

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Management is Personally Committed to the Achievement of Excellence

In addition to the day-to-day quality assessments carried out by Commonwealth Heritage Group’s project staff, Commonwealth Heritage Group senior management and project management will assess project quality through reviews of project quality documents and interviews with project personnel. If these documents and interviews indicate that project quality needs improvement any area, senior management, project management, and project personnel will immediately develop and implement an appropriate plan to restore project quality to acceptable levels. Project plans and the objectives will be communicated, in writing, to the project staff.

VIII. Independent Assessment

Commonwealth Heritage Group, Inc. Promotes Project Quality through Independent Assessment of its Work and Products

Commonwealth Heritage Group’s Quality Assurance Plan provides a means for continuous individual assessment of quality. In addition to continuous individual monitoring, daily (or more frequent) monitoring and assessment of quality will be conducted by Commonwealth Heritage Group’s personnel through surveillance of project activities. Personnel assigned to each project and project management will conduct weekly quality assessments by reviewing project documents, and Commonwealth Heritage Group’s senior management and project management will monitor project quality through monthly reviews of project quality documents and interviews with personnel assigned to the project.

As described above, technical reports and documents will be subject to a three-step review and editing process before being released. All project quality documents and technical reports will be reviewed by the project’s Independent Quality Assurance Individual (the Quality Assurance individual assigned to the specific Commonwealth Heritage Group’s office).