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AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript
Season 1, Episode 3: FAQ - To whom do I talk about my accreditation?
Released: August 3, 2020
Hosts: Brian Jonson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Manager; Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source
Note: Please reference AASHTO re:source and AASHTO Accreditation Program policies and procedures online for official guidance on this, and other topics.
Transcription is auto-generated.
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00:00:02 ANNOUNCER: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials, testing, and inspection with people in the know from exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. Now here our host, Brian Johnson.
00:00:24 BRIAN: Hey, this is Brian. Today is one of the episodes where we're going to have some real Q&A. So we've got a very frequently asked question that Kim is going to ask me and I'm going to do my best to answer it in a way that works for everyone. So let's try it out.
00:00:42 KIM: All right, so this is a question that we get. All the time, you know. It is an FAQ on our website because we get it. All the time but people. Always want to. Know who do they talk to about their credit?
00:00:54 BRIAN: Yeah, that should be an easier answer than it is, but there the answer is it depends on what you want to know. If you just want general information, you can reach out to your state QA. We actually have a document on the website. If you go to the. Contact us page on ashtorethsource.org and you Scroll down. You'll get to the area where the accreditation program staff are listed and you'll see all the quality analysts and you'll see me. And we have a link that says find your quality analyst by state or province. That's for our Canadian friends. If you click on that, you'll see the list of all the state and provincial assignments that we have for our quality analyst. Find your state, find the quality analyst. Page 2 will have the contact information and you reach out to them. It's it, it's pretty easy.
00:01:55 KIM: So that's good to know for that location. The document there for laboratories seeking accreditation, right? Because if you're already accredited laboratory. You're going to. Have right on your laboratory homepage who your quality analyst is assigned to you for general things. o at the top of your laboratory homepage it will say please reach out to. For accreditation issues. So if you're seeking accreditation, that document is really good because you don't have that information already on your page, correct?
00:02:25 BRIAN: That's right that you. You your page when you start out, either you don't have one because you're not registered, or you're registered, but you don't have any accreditation. If there's no accreditation, you don't have an accreditation contact. That's the way our website works currently. But for those of you who are accredited, you typically are calling because you have a specific question related to an accreditation event, either an onsite assessment, corrective action submittal or low proficiency sample ratings, or some other issue. If there is an open file, you would actually go to your accreditation events, which is located on your My Lab Page, which would be the page you land on when you log in and when you go to that accreditation event page, you'll see all the different accreditation activities that you have that are open or closed. And chances are the issue that you're looking for is going to be on top of that. Or list of accreditation events. And conveniently on the right side of that list, you'll see your quality analyst. And if you click over there or pretty much anywhere on that bar of the accreditation event except for the links that you'll see to open documents, you'll be able to reach the quality.
00:03:48 KIM: Yeah, I think. It's best for laboratories if they can communicate to a specific accreditation event is. To use the. Website and not necessarily e-mail outside of that. Just so everything kind of stays together for our quality analysts for some background. For listeners, if. You're like, why do we have Two types of quality analysts, right, and we're really not two different types. It's just how the how laboratories need to. Access it because. We have on average about 10 quality analysts. But we have over 2000 accredited laboratories, so we have to break that up. That workload up a little bit. You want to explain that process a little bit more.
00:04:26 BRIAN: Ok. I do and now we. Have the state QA is assigned to handle all sort of general inquiries and. They handle the annual review activities, which is just an annual submittal that laboratories that are accredited have to do the state. QA is familiar with all the state requirements, so if there are certification programs that are offered by a state dot, they're going to have that answer. For the assessment reports, we distribute those in sort of a round Robin fashion. So that list of 10 quality, unless you know one report goes to QA one next report goes to QA two and it just keeps going in a circular pattern so that we can evenly distribute the workload.
00:05:13 KIM: Yeah, I know some of our laboratories are like, man, I wish had the same quality analyst for everything. And again, that's just not really possible. Sometimes it will happen, sometimes just the luck of the draw is the next quality analyst. For that, your assessment report is going to be your quality analyst by state, so it does sometimes happen, but it's not the norm. That's for sure.
00:05:35 BRIAN: Yeah, and another. Question that's related to This is why doesn't the assessor just address all of these issues? You know, why do we have to deal with? Somebody else, I want people to keep in mind that the assessors are traveling a lot and a long time ago we didn't have quality analysts and we had the assessors. Handling it and we would have files that were so late back then because they there just weren't people available to address the customer's concerns or review corrective actions. So it was just. Really, it was really a bad system and we know that people are more eager to get these things done quickly than ever, so it's important to have a dedicated staff able to address them. I mean, even with the dedicated staff we have, we still have people who are they want it reviewed basically instantaneously.
00:06:27 BRIAN: When they submit their corrective actions, which is obviously not going to be possible for us to do but. We set a goal for ourselves to get back to people when they submit their corrective actions within two weeks. If we were having the assessors do it, it would be probably more like 2 months because of the travel involved, so that's the that's the main reason why we can't just have the assessors. Follow up on it.
00:06:53 KIM: Yeah, I think that's a really good point that it, it's this systems that we have in place now seeing from the outside of like that's why are you doing it that way, but there are. Good reasons for. We're doing things the way we're doing them. And we're always looking to improve them. So what we're doing right now, we may find in five years a better way of doing that and we're going to evolve with that as well because our real goal is to be timely and accurate. That is part. Of our quality policy, those are specific things. Those are really important to AASHTO resource and the AASHTO Accreditation Program. That were accurate and timely. In granting accreditations or facilitating that. Because it's so important to them for free.
00:07:36 BRIAN: And I have a related issue that comes up all the time too with contact and this, this stems from basically every time I've ever given a presentation to a general audience, one of the first questions I get is always, well, what's CCRL doing because we handle the accreditation. For all of the CCRL activities to the assessments and then efficiency samples. So we'll get questions about that. The quality analysts are well equipped to deal with those questions because they deal just as much with the concrete issues as they do with the asphalt and soil issues. So questions about these are all generally we can answer most of those, unless they're really specific about issues that only Israel would know, like, when are you coming? To the lab. Can I talk to the inspector?
00:08:31 BRIAN: Looks like you should talk to CCRL about that if you have an issue with shipping your proficiency samples or invoicing with CCRL, those are not questions for us. We would just direct you over there, but it is I I say that with the understanding that it is extremely confusing. That people have to deal with two organizations to get one AASHTO Accreditation. So we get that.
00:08:55 KIM: Yeah, yeah. And we understand that it's confusing and that's. Unfortunately, what it is for right now. So we do our best to try to make that seamless. Where we can, but it is two different organizations. You know CCRL is a part of ASTM and AASHTO Resource is AASHTO and AASHTO accreditation program is AASHTO. So yeah, it can be confusing and. And definitely we are very sympathetic to that misunderstanding that the our customers have.
00:09:27 BRIAN: And we've talked for what, like 10 minutes about how to contact somebody. So that sounds pretty complicated. But with any of this, these kind of questions when people have them, if you reach out to our general number or general e-mail, either info. I guess that would be the best one. Info@aashtoreource.org would be your most general e-mail inbox or the 240-436-4900 number that would be. A way to get to the right person anytime.
00:10:05 KIM: Yeah, no, with any questions, our administrative staff is amazing about being able to answer your questions themselves or direct you to someone who can. So that is definitely a great point there, Brian, of. That you don't need to. Know who to contact for what. Cause you could just call our main number and ask your question and then we'll transfer you to the right person. But if you want to know who? To contact directly. Again, it's it really does depend on what the issue is, but. Now hopefully you have a little bit of understanding of why it's the answer is depends. For that question.
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00:10:39 BRIAN: Yeah, I I would hope so. A this this was this was a real Q&A part of Q&A. We we'd love to get more questions from you. So we can cover them on future episodes, so send us an e-mail, email@example.com for any questions. You have or you can just call me Brian Johnson at 240-436-4820. We'll see if we can get it in a future episode. Thanks for listening.