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Over the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the utilization of microcomputers in construction. Technology is presently available which allows measurements and test results to be obtained and recorded electronically. This raises a question concerning the proper method of handling and controlling electronic records on Federal-aid construction projects.
The FHWA has established a Headquarters task force to analyze and define electronic recordkeeping parameters for construction projects which will satisfy Federal statutes and regulations. Basically, computerized project records must be maintained so that the legal and financial interests of the Federal Government are protected. The collection and retention of construction records electronically must be acceptable from an engineering, audit, and legal standpoint. Electronic recordkeeping requirements must satisfy these conditions; however, the requirements for electronic records should be no more stringent than requirements for hard copy records. Any records system should allow for the reconstruction of the chain of events that occurs on a project.
Records, in general, can be admitted as legal evidence if they are considered "trustworthy." To be considered "trustworthy" the records should meet the following requirements:
To meet engineering and fiscal requirements, inspection and test reports should provide sufficient information to determine that the project was built in substantial compliance with the plans and specifications and allow verification of pay quantities. These requirements can be met by using standards developed by the industry or by State proven procedures. The Nebraska Department of Roads is experimenting with electronic recordkeeping on several Federal-aid projects this construction season. Part of this experiment involves a comparison of electronic records versus hard copy records for selected pay items.
At some point in the future, national electronic recordkeeping procedures and standards will no doubt be developed. In the meantime, if a State proposes to initiate electronic recordkeeping for Federal-aid projects, it is suggested that the Division Administrator require the State to also maintain its manual system for some reasonable period of time. This will permit evaluation of the State's proposed electronic recordkeeping procedures to determine if they meet the standards for trustworthiness and protect the financial interest of the Federal Government.
Several issues must be considered in adopting electronic records, including security, accessibility, reliability and storage. How these are addressed will depend a great deal on the type of hardware and software utilized in the recordkeeping system.
Attached are draft guidelines to assist in evaluating State procedures for computerized records. As experience is gained in electronic recordkeeping, we will keep you informed. If other States are using computerized project records or plan to use them, please notify Ray Hurst, HHO-32, FTS 366-1565.
/s/ Original signed by:
Guidelines for Evaluation of State Procedures on Electronic Records
The State's procedures for collection and retention of electronic records should include the following provisions:
Security of Records
Reliability of Records
Storage of Records
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