Principles of the AEGIS Quality System (AQUAS)
In order to develop the AQUAS in an efficient manner a number of principles have been recognized that should underpin the system we want to put in place:
1. Quality assurance is based on principle that you:
a) Plan - say what you do
b) Do - do what you say
c) Check - let an independent body check that you do what you say
d) Act - Correct and improve what you say you do
2. AQUAS is based on the principle of consensus.
3. With respect to the technical standards, agreement has to be reached through a well-defined process on what the “lowest” acceptable standards are, i.e. standards that will ensure long-term and secure conservation, genetic integrity, identity and availability of the accessions. Such standards have been coined by the Steering Committee as the “agreed minimum standards”. In order to ensure adequate “buy in” from all the partners it will be critically important to involve all of them in the development process of these minimum standards.
4. Capacity building is a central activity in building and operating the virtual European genebank system at an appropriate level of quality management and thus establishing and operating AQUAS. Capacity building efforts, in particular with regard to training, possibly both from within the genebank or country as well as from outside, will be required to ensure the establishment of widely acceptable standards in all the genebanks hosting European Accessions. They need to be continuing efforts in which all members of the Network have to participate and should be based on the principle “learning by doing” as far as training is concerned. With respect to infrastructural capacity the onus will be in the first place on the respective country. Collaborating European partners are expected to assist with their advice on upgrading to the extent possible. The Steering Committee sees capacity building as a “central requirement” in the establishment and operation of AQUAS, especially as the SC sees “guiding and advising” the partners in such a system as the principal approach rather then policing and monitoring. The involvement of collaborators from the broader PGR community in capacity building measures is essential in order to ensure a wider participation in AEGIS related activities. Consequently, targeted efforts should be made to allow this involvement to happen.
5. The AQUAS should be as little bureaucratic as possible, pragmatic rather than doctrinaire, and it should be recognized that different participating collections can achieve agreed minimum standards in different ways. Furthermore, the general principles are more important than over-prescriptive protocols.
6. A monitoring system should allow the participants to be encouraged to improve the performance, and thus to strengthen the capacity, rather then to feel being policed. Therefore, an “effective guiding and advisory approach at the AEGIS level” will need to be developed to facilitate compliance of the partners with the collectively agreed management and minimum standards. Whereas some kind of monitoring the performance of partners will be essential in order to operate the AQUAS effectively, it is proposed that the emphasis should be on reporting and that the “minimum” monitoring activities will be integrated in this approach. To this effect, a system of “record keeping” of the performed activities will have to be developed in a participatory manner. The performance monitoring itself should be conducted by an ECPGR or a completely independent body.
Return to AQUAS