Developing and Maintaining ISO 17025 Accreditation for the U.S. National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction – Civil Support Teams

Data Quality, Management and Review
Oral Presentation

Prepared by L. Kearby, D. Lewis, D. Stordal
Signature Science, LLC, 8329 North Mopac Expressway, Austin, Texas, 78759, United States

Contact Information:; 512-533-2026


The National Guard maintains 57 full-time, quick-response Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) - Civil Support Teams (CSTs) that are equipped and trained to support response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) event by identifying threat agents and other substances, advising on response measures, and assisting with requests for military support. In 2006, NGB leadership established a goal to achieve and maintain ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for every WMD-CST laboratory in order to standardize analytical practices and procedures and bolster the technical credibility and defensibility of data generated by the laboratories. Signature Science, LLC (SigSci) worked closely with NGB and the WMD-CST community, as well as A2LA, to implement an ISO/IEC 17025 compliant quality system, and in 2017 achieved accreditation for every WMD-CST laboratory.

This presentation discusses the approaches used to overcome the unique challenges associated with developing, implementing, and maintaining a quality system that

 addresses the complexity of a joint state and federal military command structure and procedures;
 is tailored to the WMD-CST mission of qualitative identification of threat agents for purposes of response action; and
 accounts for fact that WMD-CST operators might analyze only a handful or fewer samples for a given response action, but where the variety of sample types and the possible targets are almost unlimited.

Key elements of the solution include strong collaboration with NGB management, the WMD-CSTs and the accrediting body; a systematic integration program that began with Beta teams and continues with ongoing training and readiness reviews; the development and maintenance of standardized forms and tools; a rigorous method validation program; and a comprehensive proficiency testing program that fully covers the wide range of analytical methods and environmental matrices that the WMD-CST teams must be able to analyze and interpret.