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Federal Highway Administration
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Bridges & Structures

Oversight of Bridge Load Ratings and Postings

Attachement A Risk Assessment Tools for Bridge Load Rating and Posting

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Screening

  • Determine the Core Element (Bridge Load Rating and Posting) to be assessed.
  • Begin the screening process using the suggested Likelihood and Impact Criteria tables. The attached tables provide a suggested scoring context specific to bridge load rating and posting.
  • Determine a score for Likelihood using the Division's scoring criteria. The attachment suggests a numerical scoring approach, but other scoring options are possible.
  • Determine a score for Impact using the Division's scoring criteria.
  • Determine an overall score for the Core Element based on the Impact and Likelihood scores. Use the Division's typical mathematical operation or procedure to calculate an overall score.
  • This overall score will be used to compare this Core Element against other Core Elements in the Division Office for priority ranking.

Risk Assessment

  • If this Core Element is one of the top scorers as determined by the Division, then develop or select from the attached menu appropriate Risk Statements. The menu provides suggested Risk Statements specific to bridge load rating and posting.
  • Using the Division's scoring criteria, determine a Likelihood and Impact score for each Risk Statement.
  • Determine an overall score based on the Impact and Likelihood scores. Use the Division's typical mathematical operation or procedure to calculate an overall score.
  • This overall score will be used to rank and prioritize all of the Risk Statements from all of the selected high scoring Core Elements in the Division.
  • At this point, the Risk Assessment is complete.

Response Strategies

  • At the discretion of the Division Office, Risk Response strategies should be determined. The attached menu provides suggested Risk Response strategies.

A Menu of Bridge Load Rating and Posting Risk Statements

  • Failure to provide trained staff could result in inaccurate load ratings.
  • Failure to properly check load ratings could result in inaccurate load ratings.
  • New load rating procedures could result in more frequent errors.
  • Failure to document load rating procedures could make re–rating bridges inefficient.
  • Failure to document load rating procedures could result in faulty assumptions being perpetuated
  • Failure to follow load rating policy could produce liability for the bridge owner.
  • Layers of load rating responsibility could result in misapplication of load rating policy.
  • Failure to post a bridge could result in liability for the bridge owner.
  • Outside influence could result in bridges not being properly posted.
  • Lack of FHWA oversight of load rating and posting provisions could result in improperly posted bridges.
  • Failure to properly load rate or post a bridge could result in an unsafe condition.
  • Failure to properly load rate or post a bridge could result in a shorter life for the bridge asset
  • Failure to properly load rate or post a bridge could result in delays, traffic disruption, and negative economic impact.
  • Failure to properly rate a bridge could result in inequitable distribution of bridge funds.
  • The lack of legal enforcement of posted bridge loads could result in unsafe conditions and shorten the bridge's life span.

A Menu of Risk Response Strategies

  • Mitigation
    1. Annual process review
    2. Over the shoulder reviews
    3. Field posting reviews
    4. Inspection in depth
    5. Audit
    6. Surprise inspection
    7. Training
    8. Annual "get them up to speed" meeting
  • Acceptance
    1. Status meetings
    2. Status reports
  • Transfer
    1. Call in OIG
    2. Call in the FBI
Likelihood Criteria
The scoring metrics applied to indicate a high probability of sufficient likelihood of the criteria to cause potential damage to the program
Likelihood Indicators
The scoring metrics applied to indicate a high probability of sufficient likelihood of the criteria to cause potential damage to the program
Scoring ContextScoring
FHWA Staffing (Levels & Experience)
Asks if the FHWA staff assigned to the effort is sufficient. Do they have a clear knowledge, understanding, and ability with the element and its implications?
Severely understaffed or no experience (5)It is unrealistic to expect the staff assigned not to need supplementation or augmentation before the end of the effort.
The Division staff does not have a bridge engineering background or has no experience with load rating.
 
Understaffed or some experience (2)Staff assigned will be over utilized and run the risk of being incapable of completion if additional responsibilities are assigned, or lack experience.
The Division bridge staff has a bridge engineering background but is not familiar with load rating.
Adequately staffed or competent (0)Adequately staffed or competent.
The Division bridge staff has a PE familiar with load rating.
Considerations - Who on the staff are PE's, how familiar is the staff with load rating, how many years of bridge experience do they have, do they have current training in load rating, and is there an adequate number of staff dedicated to load ratings?
DOT Staffing (Levels & Experience)
Asks if the DOT staff assigned to the effort is sufficient. Do they have a clear knowledge, understanding, and ability with the element and its implications?
Severely understaffed or no experience (5)It is unrealistic to expect the staff assigned not to need supplementation or augmentation before the end of the effort. 
Understaffed or some experience (2)Staff assigned will be over utilized and run the risk of being incapable of completion if additional responsibilities are assigned, or lack experience.
The DOT individual charged with load ratings is a PE with sufficient years of experience and current training but the staff are not PE's, lack experience, or do not have current training.
Adequately staffed or competent (0)Adequately staffed or competent.
The DOT person in charge of load rating and the staff have PE's, experience, and current training.
Considerations - Who on the staff are PE's, how familiar is the staff with load rating, how many years of bridge experience do they have, do they have current training in load rating, and is there an adequate number of staff dedicated to load ratings?
Local Staffing (Levels & Experience)
Asks if the local staff assigned to the effort is sufficient. Do they have a clear knowledge, understanding, and ability with the element and its implications?
Severely understaffed or no experience (5)It is unrealistic to expect the staff assigned not to need supplementation or augmentation before the end of the effort. 
Understaffed or some experience (2)Staff assigned will be over utilized and run the risk of being incapable of completion if additional responsibilities are assigned, or lack experience.
The local individual charged with load ratings is a PE with sufficient years of experience and current training but the staff are not PE's, lack experience, or do not have current training.
Adequately staffed or competent (0)Adequately staffed or competent.
The local person in charge of load rating and the staff have PE's, experience, and current training.
Considerations – Who on the staff are PE's, how familiar is the staff with load rating, how many years of bridge experience do they have, do they have current training in load rating, and is there an adequate number of staff dedicated to load ratings?
Operational Procedures
Asks whether there are documented and relevant procedures for this element of the program?
None (5)There are no documented or relevant procedures. 
Some (2)There are some documented procedures or tangentially related procedures.
Good and up–to–date (0) 
Considerations – Are there documented procedures (procedures could include manuals, memorandums, and examples) for load rating and posting at the State and local levels, are the procedures followed, and does the QA/QC program addresses load ratings and postings (refer to FHWA QC/QA framework)? Are Load ratings calculated using up–to–date procedures and software? (Example: using the ASD load rating method would be a 5.)
Guidance is whether or not there is relevant guidance? None (5)There are no documented or relevant guidance. 
Some (2)There is some documented guidance or tangentially related guidance.
Good and up–to–date (0) 
Considerations – Has the FHWA program office established clear load rating and posting policy, has the Division established clear policy between FHWA and the State, and has the State established clear policy with locals and other entities responsible for load rating and posting? Are the policies followed and current?
Problem History asks whether the programs of this nature have had significant problems or ongoing series of problems related to this element? A lot of (5)There are historical events that tie directly to the problem history. 
Some (2)There are rumors or organizational legend of problems related to this element in this type of program.
None (0) 
Considerations – Are there past NBIS review findings on load rating and posting, is there a history of bridge failures due to load or closures due to low load ratings, and is there a history/trend in number of bridges not posted but should be? Is the State increasing load limits, and are posting signs current and adequate?
New Program, Phase or Component is deciding if this program or element of the program is truly novel? Cutting Edge (5)No one has addressed this type of work in this element before. 
Some experience (2)Some people have done this type of work in the past or have done related work.
Old news (0)It's what we do, routine.
Considerations – Are state and local entities familiar with the load rating method and software in use? How much training and experience have they had with the method? Until familiarity is gained, risks may increase for an agency as it transitions from familiar methods such as allowable stress or load factor to LRFR and the accompanying new software.
Complexity is asking if there is a high level of intricacy or challenge associated with the Core Element? High (5)The Core Element involves integration of multiple agencies, consultants, contractors and FHWA HQ. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element involves integration of DOT, FHWA and one other outside agency.
Low (0)This Core Element involves only DOT and FHWA personnel.
Considerations – How complex is the load rating and posting process? Does the State DOT inspect and load rate bridges or is it a more complex process involving consultants, locals and other outside agencies? What is the chain of command necessary to implement load posting?
Outside Control is whether there is an opportunity for outside agencies to assert control or interference? High (5)Numerous outside agencies have the opportunity and ability to voice concerns, influence or direct. 
Moderate (2)One or two outside agencies have the opportunity and ability to voice concerns, influence or direct.
Low (0)There is virtually no opportunity or ability for outside agencies to voice concerns related to this Core Element.
Considerations – Does the inspecting or rating agency have the authority to post bridges, or do others control this decision? What is the degree of political interference in posting decisions, and are there truck route, school route, or emergency vehicle route policies that restrict necessary posting? Do groups such as farmers, authorities, trucking associations, and commerce interest groups influence decisions?
Potential for Waste, Fraud and Abuse asks whether there is an opportunity for this type of inappropriate behavior? A lot of (5)There is limited oversight and ability to identify waste, fraud and abuse. 
Some (2)There is some oversight, but there are gaps in our ability to identify waste, fraud and abuse.
None (0)There is virtually total oversight and no opportunity to identify waste, fraud and abuse.
Considerations – Is there potential for political or executive self–interest to overrule engineering decisions? Are bridges accurately load rated? Is there adequate DOT oversight of load rating and posting? Is there a load rating and posting component in the QC/QA oversight program? Does the Division review this area annually? Are there verifiable calculations documenting the load ratings? Are there independent checks of load ratings? Are load ratings required to be stamped by PE? Is there evidence that data is manipulated to influence federal funding?
Work Force Development and Training is asking if there is a program in place to keep training and development in place for the personnel related to this Core Element? None (5)There are no training or mentoring programs. 
Some (2)There are training and/or mentoring programs, but they are not universally available.
A lot of (0)There are training and mentoring programs, broadly available to FHWA and DOT personnel.
Considerations – Is training provided for load rating personnel? Does the DOT provided training for its staff and other local agencies? Does the DOT require that other agencies and consultants have similar training? Does the training include the latest and current techniques such as LRFR? Is the training on a regular basis?
FHWA Involvement is whether our division office staff is actively involved in managing the Core Element? None (5)Division office personnel have visibility but no management control. 
Some (2)Division office personnel have management control over some aspects of the Core Element.
A lot of (0)Division office personnel have active management control over most aspects of the Core Element.
Considerations – What is the level of effort the Division assigns to oversight and management of load ratings and postings? Is load rating documentation reviewed for accuracy; is a sample of postings verified in the field; are there reasonableness checks of load rating items in NBI; does the Division receive posting notifications; is load rating evaluated annually during the Division's NBIS review?
Consultant Use is whether consultants are actively being applied as primary resources in the effort? A lot of (5)The DOT is using a broad range of consultant to address the Core Element. 
Some (2)The DOT is sharing responsibilities with consultants related to this Core Element.
None (0)The DOT has full responsibility for all aspects of this Core Element.
Considerations – Does your DOT perform oversight and review of the consultant's work? Are there many different consultants performing load ratings? Are consultants providing load ratings on complex structures?
Other is asking if there are other areas of concern related to this Element that are not addressed in the frequency criteria? High (5)Please document criteria used to label this as "high." 
Moderate (2)Please document criteria used to label this as "moderate."
Low (0)Please document criteria used to label this as "low."

Total Likelihood Score: _____

Impact Criteria
Whether these are the areas of concern that are deemed as a high impact to the FHWA.
Impact Levels
The scoring metrics applied to indicate the impact level of the criteria to cause potential damage to the program.
Scoring ContextScoring
Federal Interest is how extensive is the attention that the OIG, Inspector General and other agencies pay to this Core Element? High (5)One or more agencies have an extensive history of investigation, audit or evaluation in this Core Element. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element has been investigated, audited or evaluated once or twice in the past by significant agencies.
Low (0)Never investigated, audited or evaluated.
Considerations – OIG has historically performed audits on bridge inspection. The most recent audit was on load ratings and postings. Load rating and posting data is also used in reports to Congress, and other federal agencies forward NBI data to FHWA.
Effect on Safety High (5)This Core Element directly affects this area. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element indirectly affects this area.
Low (0)This Core Element has no affects on this area.
Considerations – The accurate load rating and posting of bridges has a direct impact on safety. The history in your State should be considered.
Exposure (Public, Media or Political) is how extensive the public and/or media interest is in the element? High (5)The public and media have a history of tracking this element. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element has been the subject of media attention once or twice.
Low (0)Virtually no media attention has ever been paid to this element.
Considerations – This element has an extensive national history of media interest.
Funding Level is how significant is the funding related to the Core Element? High (5)This Core Element accounts for 25% or more of the program costs. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element accounts for 5–24% of the program costs.
Low (0)This Core Element accounts for <5% of the program costs.
Considerations – Load ratings effect the apportionment of Bridge Program Funds. You could consider what portion your State's Highway Bridge Program apportionment is of the State's total Federal–aid program.
Goals are the objectives of the program achievable? High (5)There are clear objectives related to this Core Element that have a direct connection to the objectives in our strategic plan. 
Moderate (2)There are objectives related to this Core Element; however, they are only tangentially related to the objectives in our strategic plan.
Low (0)No clear objectives.
Considerations – The accurate and timely load rating and posting of bridges impacts both the Mobility and Safety goals in our strategic plan.
Controversy or Lawsuits is whether this program or element of the program is subject of internal and/or external controversy? High (5)The Core Element in this environment draws the attention of both internal and external investigators. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element has driven controversy, but has the full force and backing of FHWA HQ management.
Low (0)This is a low–controversy issue/area when considered in terms of the Core Element.
Considerations – Whenever a load–related bridge failure occurs, the load rating/posting is always at the center of the controversy in the discussion of fault or liability. The history in your State should be considered.
Stakeholder Interest asks whether this Core Element attracts attention from a broad spectrum of stakeholders? High (5)Multiple groups of stakeholders have a history of interest and involvement. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element has been drawn the attention historically of one or two groups of stakeholders.
Low (0)Very few stakeholders, if any have expressed interest or involvement.
Considerations – There are a large number of stakeholders (public, trucking industry, ports, land developers, agricultural interests, commercial interests, emergency response providers, schools, etc.) impacted by postings.
Effect on Congestion High (5)This Core Element directly affects this area. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element indirectly affects this area.
Low (0)This Core Element has no affects on this area.
Considerations – The accurate load rating and posting of bridges has an indirect impact on congestion on a national level. The history in your State should be considered.
Effect on the Environment or quality is asking whether the Core Element generate influence in these areas? High (5)This Core Element directly affects this area. 
Moderate (2)This Core Element indirectly affects this area.
Low (0)This Core Element has no affects on this area.
Considerations – This item could have environmental social impacts and should be rated accordingly. Examples of such impacts are: farm equipment restricted from moving between fields due to load posted bridges, environmental justice, or one part of town having a concentration of load posted bridges.
Potential to Effect Public Trust and Confidence is asking if this Core Element has the potential to have these effects? High (5)Public trust and confidence may potentially be eroded by the impact of this Core Element. 
Moderate (2)Public trust and confidence will be only nominally affected by the impact of this Core Element.
Low (0)Public trust and confidence will not be affected at all by this Core Element.
Considerations – The public expects that load ratings are accurate and that load postings are timely.
Emerging Initiatives is whether there will be new ideas, policies, or twists associated with this Core Element? High (5)This involves multiple emerging initiatives in this program. 
Moderate (2)This involves only one emerging initiative in this program.
Low (0)This Core Element involves no emerging initiatives in this program.
Considerations – The LRFR method, the emerging revised Coding Guide, the emerging AASHTO Bridge Evaluation Manual, etc. will all influence the coding of this element.
Other is whether there are other areas of concern related to this Core Element that are not addressed in the severity criteria? High (5)Please document criteria used to label this as "high." 
Moderate (2)Please document criteria used to label this as "moderate."
Low (0)Please document criteria used to label this as "low."

Total Impact Score: _____

Attachment B

Updated: 06/25/2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000