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News | Oct. 5, 2017

QA specialist volunteers for Candid Critters study

By Randy Wright DCMA Hampton

Kenneth Grant, a quality assurance specialist with Defense Contract Management Agency Hampton, based in Asheville, North Carolina, volunteered to participate with the Candid Critters scientific study as a citizen science volunteer.

The study is a collaboration between the Smithsonian, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission and other partners.

“I saw the request for volunteers on the N.C. Wildlife Resource website and thought it would be great to know what kind of wildlife was roaming on my property,” he said. “I thought if they are kind enough to donate the cameras, then the least I can do is donate my time and property.”

According to the project’s website, the objective is “to engage citizens of all ages, backgrounds and experiences with the wildlife of their state through camera trapping and to collect wildlife data useful for management and conservation questions.”

Grant initially participated in the program from February to May. He and other participants placed motion and heat sensitive trail cameras on their property for four, three-week rotational periods over a three-month season. The data gathered allowed participants to provide scientists with information for conservation and management purposes. As part of the study, numerous animals, including deer, coyotes, bear and elk, are studied for their size and growth or decline in population. 

“It’s been a really rewarding experience,” said Grant. “I had no idea there was so much animal activity during the night-time hours. Knowing there is so much animal activity at night has changed my risk awareness. I try to mitigate any animal contact at night by carrying a flashlight and making noises when I am walking to and from my car.”

The researchers determine which areas across the state of North Carolina they would like to study at any given time to gather scientific data. Although Grant will not participate in the fall study because his county is not included, he plans to participate in future studies. Grant said just as animals are under surveillance on his property, he also uses surveillance techniques on his job.

At DCMA, Grant provides risk-based surveillance of supplier quality systems and processes from contract award to contract completion.

“My duties include preparing surveillance plans for both critical safety items and non-critical safety items tailored to a level of detail appropriate to the size, complexity and criticality of a supplier’s facility and contracts,” said Grant.

“I also perform pre-award duties when requested by customers, conduct or participate in post-award meetings, and review contracts and technical data packages to identify the specification requirements, which the contractor’s processes must meet,” said Grant. “In addition, I design, develop, plan, implement, analyze and adjust an effective risk management program for five contractors to ensure all risks to the successful contract completion are mitigated in our service members’ best interests.”

Grant said his DCMA job allows him to make a difference everyday as he “performs process reviews and product examinations as well as track and evaluate supplier responses to corrective action requests and product quality defect reports.”

Grant plans to continue to use his surveillance skills, both through his on-going volunteer efforts with Candid Critters and on his job.

“I am a more observant individual at home and as a quality assurance specialist,” he said. “I know there are often things that aren’t readily apparent and taking a closer look sometimes reveals things not seen before.

“I use this knowledge and awareness when reviewing contractual documents and contractor records to look a little deeper for what might ordinarily be missed. A great deal of attention to detail is required to perform a quality assurance specialist job. You never know what might be hiding in the weeds.”