Quality assurance in both products created as well as quality assurance of safety are high priorities for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

Veronica Fris, Quality Assurance Manager, tells KMAN through continual improvements, their mission is to always provide a safe operation without mistakes. She talks more about what quality assurance actually is.

“Maintaining a desired level of quality of a service or product by monitoring and controlling every step of production,” Fris says.

She adds that as part of her job, she not only creates step-by-step guidance, but she also provides hands on assistance if someone is missing a step in the biologic program. She talks more about the importance of quality assurance at NBAF.

“It will give our stakeholders confidence that our products and data are accurate, dispensable, and fit for their intended purpose. The way we do that is through a systematic approach and continuous improvement.”

Fris says her team is still being built, as well as the full guidelines they will follow. She tells KMAN the quality assurance process will be designed to follow the International Organization for Standardization as well as Good Laboratory Practices from the Federal Government. She adds that the QA process will mimic that of Plum Island, which is a four stage cycle for continual improvement.

“It’s known as the plan, do, check, and act principle.”

Dr. Ken Burton, National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Coordinator, says Fris’s job, as well as the four stage cycle are both crucial in getting NBAF where they want to be. He says becoming a High Reliability Organization (HRO) is something they strive for. He adds that while that title isn’t as common for large facilities, such as NBAF, he believes it is possible.

“We are working all the time with our staff to make sure that, not only our staff but the researchers that will move from Plum Island, understand the importance of making safety a key characteristic of who we are and not just of what we do.”

He adds that with several employees coming to Manhattan from the Plum Island research team, he hopes they can continue on the tradition of safety that Plum Island has had since 1954.

“We want to provide a comfort level among everybody at NBAF that, it emphasizes speaking up because you have a level of expertise or you have an awareness that maybe someone else doesn’t have, and not because you carry a level of authority.”

NBAF continues through their phase transition and full construction is set to be complete in the spring of 2022.

For more information, visit usda.gov/nbaf.

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