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Quality Assurance Standards

Every customer wants a quality product, and the government is no exception, remember with the government or it's prime contractors, "quality will be assumed."

When the government purchases products or services from your company, you will be subjected to a very definite standard of quality as specified in your contract. The level and type of quality standard that you will be required to meet will depend on the product or service being purchased. For example, an extensive quality requirement would probably not be imposed if you are producing a non-complex item, since simple measurement or testing would be able to determine whether it conforms to contract requirements.

To assure the government, as well as other prospective customers, that you will provide a quality product, you need to have a well-documented quality assurance (QA) program in place. Your program should provide a systematic approach for evaluation, inspection, testing, calibration or whatever is needed to monitor and assure the quality of your product. And, most importantly, that approach should be written down.

Business Tools

In the Business Tools area is a Sample Quality Assurance Manual that you can use to help develop a QA program for your company.

From the government's point of view, the purpose of a quality program is to provide a way to assure that an item complies with contract specifications. From your point of view, the purpose is twofold: It will attract and assure government buyers, and perhaps even more importantly, it will also save you money by providing you with the necessary indicators and tools to identify problem areas and the means for correcting those areas. It will make you look at every aspect and phase of your manufacturing and operating processes as well as the results of those processes. If a process results in a bad output, you will be able to identify where changes need to be made to produce an acceptable product.

Example

Example

The owners of a small company in the Midwest that manufactured items for the government had no quality control system, but they did have a 100-percent acceptance rate with the government inspectors. However, they were losing money and couldn't figure out why.

Their approach was to scrap all the items that didn't meet government specs, let the government see only the "good" items, and simply buy enough materials to accommodate the high scrap rate. While this approach resulted in a high acceptance rate, the high cost of materials ate into their profits and hurt the company financially. A good quality control system would have helped them identify the real problem, reduce the amount of scrap, and cut the cost of materials.

Set up a good quality control system and it will pay for itself by reducing material and operational costs, and will make your company more attractive to prospective customers. Remember that the government, like any customer, wants a quality product, on time and at a reasonable price. No more, no less. And these days, ISO certification becomes a marketing tool to help sell your company.

A high-quality QA program will also assure that the reliability and quality of the product are maintained throughout the life of the product. Companies that do business with the government need reliability assurance, since the government now requires guarantees on some of their purchases. Also, an aggressive quality control program will prevent product degradation below some minimum requirement that you set.

The government assures quality by reviewing a contractor's inspection system, quality program, or any method used by the contractor to assure compliance with the contract requirements. But, regardless of the government's quality assurance actions, the contractor is responsible for inspecting and controlling product quality, and for offering to the government only materials that conform to contract requirements, either as an individual item or in conjunction with any other item.

Warning

Warning

All government quality assurance requirements are spelled out in Part 46 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Any language that you will see in a bid or contract related to quality control consists of clauses extracted from this Part.

For more information, see these topics: