Three Questions For
March 19, 2021
Melanie Gravois — the Lab’s Quality Assurance (QA) Program Manager in the Office of Institutional Assurance & Integrity (OIAI) — began her 22-year career at DOE's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, and has worked at Berkeley Lab for over 14 years.
The OIAI, part of the Lab Directorate, oversees the Contractor Assurance System (CAS), which provides the DOE, UC, and Berkeley Lab leadership with confidence that the Lab is achieving its scientific mission within the DOE requirements and its stewardship responsibilities.
This involves supporting administration of the UC/DOE Prime Contract, managing and addressing risk and issues, assessing our institutional processes, ensuring quality assurance is built into our systems, sharing lessons learned and monitoring and analyzing performance metrics.
How would you describe QA in how it relates to contractor assurance at the Lab?
QA works in tandem with CAS to help the Lab assure that its scientific mission is being met. If CAS is “What” we have to do to plan and execute work, then QA is “How” we do that in a reliable, repeatable and sustainable manner. QA is a key component of stewardship, and it makes great business sense. Meeting our key objectives is critical, and the manner with which we achieve that is just as important.
Why are you passionate about QA?
I’ve always appreciated working smarter, not harder. My goal is to make things as efficient as possible without compromising quality so we can focus on the most important things. I help drive improved efficiency and sustainability by preventing/minimizing rework (doing things over) through establishing policies/protocols; partnering to solve problems; and ensuring products/services provided or procured meet acceptable thresholds. QA is a way of life and can help all of us work smarter, not harder.
How do you spend your time outside the Lab
I’m a working artist and small business owner of a grassroots gallery — The Artists Loft — in Oakland that’s dedicated to helping local artists stay tied to their community (pictured below). A lot of my inspiration comes from living and traveling, domestically and internationally. An Army brat, I was born in Vietnam, grew up between the U.S. and Europe, and have been traveling ever since. I feel privileged to have experienced, and learned from, such rich and diverse cultures.