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    Quality Control

    The BeringWatch Database Quality Assurance System

    A critical aspect of data management involves program oversight or QA/QC. A detailed QA/QC protocol provides a framework for recording observation activities and helps with data proofing and verification. This is best accomplished through fast and effective communication between field observers (data collectors) and program management (data managers). In a geographically decentralized network like the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, this is best accomplished over the internet. Over the last 6 years the St. Paul Tribal ECO has developed an effective quality assurance program that they call the Quality Control and Correction Action Report (QCCAR) system for use with their Sentinel monitoring program. We have recently implemented an online version of the QCCAR in the BeringWatch database.

    The online QCCAR module consists of the following components:

    1. An interactive scheduling calendar with automatic email notification for use in developing and approving monitoring schedules and tracking scheduled activities.

    2. The QCCAR system is implemented as an internet-based forum allowing data entry and verification issues to be tracked and resolved interactively by Sentinels, program managers and scientific advisors. Automated email notification is used to facilitate correspondence and effective exchange between parties..

    3. QCCAR data is stored in a tabular format which makes it easy to produce reports for user-determined time periods to track open or active and closed issues in the QCCAR forum, by observer, problem type and time period.

    Scientific Advisory Panel

    To support this effort we have also recruited scientific colleagues to serve on an external scientific advisory panel (SAP). The panel represents areas of expertise relevant to the program (e.g. LTK, and the taxonomy, distribution and natural history of focal species). The SAP includes collaborating scientists from management agencies and academic institutions such as the NMFS, USFWS, ADFG and Alaska State Universities. The input from these external reviewers will continue to ensure that high quality data is collected and maintained and will help foster a network of experts to reinforce data quality standards. SAP members are not compensated for their services and therefore we try to limit the time required on their part by focusing their input on critical programmatic issues and scientific needs such as confirming rare species identifications or brand resights.