Auditing Environmental Data Systems


Worthington, Jeffrey C.; Coll, Stephen A.   (1992, ASQC)   TechLaw, Inc., Lakewood, CO 80215

Annual Quality Congress, Nashville TN    Vol. 46    No. 0
QICID: 9889    May 1992    pp. 692-705.
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Article Abstract

The EPA's Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM) presents a plan for auditing computerized environmental data to ensure it is scientifically sound and legally defensible.

Historically, environmental data was most susceptible to corruption by the method with which it was collected. If collected correctly, it was thereafter relatively secure. Storing that data on a computer database, however, introduces opportunity for corruption through fraud or mishandling. To reduce that risk, follow the audit procedures proposed by the OIRM. Among other things, the procedure recommends that:

  • one person oversee the database, that all users be trained to minimum competency, that periodic inspections be conducted, corrective actions taken, and that a Quality Assurance Unit be set up to monitor and report results.
  • Furthermore, the database should be housed in a controlled environment.
  • Equipment should be of appropriate design and adequate capacity, and it should be regularly serviced.
  • Backup and recovery plans should allow data recovery after a mishap.
  • Data in the system should bear security classification and be protected from unauthorized access.
  • Activity on the database should be recorded and only one person should have access to that record.
All of the above should be in written operating procedures and adherence should be checked by periodic audit. The paper includes a sample checklist for conducting an audit and a sample report log.Conscientious application of these procedures should reduce risks to data integrity.


Audit checklist,Computers,Data analysis,Electronic data systems,Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),Office of Information Resources Management (OIRM)

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