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Quality Assurance Stewardship Review

Background

A replacement of FHWA's sampling and testing regulations titled, "Quality Assurance Procedures for Construction", was published on June 29, 1995 as 23 CFR 637.

The regulations require each State Agency to have in place an approved Quality Assurance Program for materials used in Federal-aid highway construction projects. These regulations allow additional flexibility in sampling and testing including the use of Contractor QC test results in the overall Agency acceptance decision, provided certain checks and balances are in place. In addition, consultants may be used in performing Dispute Resolution or Independent Assurance if the laboratories have been AASHTO accredited. The States may also use a system approach to IA instead of establishing frequencies based on individual project quantities.

The regulations also add several additional requirements. They include: (1) the State Agency's central laboratory was required to become accredited by the AASHTO Accreditation Program by June 30, 1997; and, (2) all testing personnel and laboratories must be qualified using State procedures by June 29, 2000.

This review is part of the Federal Highway Administration stewardship activities for State Agency Quality Assurance Programs.

Scope

The objective of this assessment and information sharing will be to review the State Agencies' Quality Assurance Program practices and procedures, and to ascertain the status of the States' implementation of the Quality Assurance regulation. The review will be looking at the entire Quality Assurance Program in a State with an emphasis on the use of Contractor QC test data in the Agency acceptance decision.

The assessment will be a joint effort involving FHWA Headquarters, Resource Center and Division personnel. Material practices involving the regulation at the State Headquarters, Region/District and project levels will be examined.

Since the regulation provides additional flexibility in accomplishing sampling and testing requirements, there is a need for information exchange on the implementation of the regulation's provisions. This assessment activity will concentrate on the flexibility issues and also efforts made in the qualification of laboratories and technicians.

Assessment Procedures

The assessment will include (1) interviews with State Agency Headquarters, Region/District and field office personnel and FHWA personnel, (2) review of State Agency implementation strategies including policy and procedure documents and office records where applicable, (3) visits to construction projects to assess field practices as appropriate, and (4) identification of best practices.

Entrance conferences will be held, as appropriate, with top FHWA Division and State Agency personnel to explain the assessment intent and process. Closeout meetings will be held with the Division and State Agency offices to share information obtained from the assessment.

A state-of-the-practice report will be prepared upon completion of the assessment at the end of each fiscal year.

Quality Assurance Procedures Assessment Guidelines

March 2004

State ______________________ Date __________________

DOT Participants



FHWA Participants



  1. State Agency Management & Oversight of QA Program:
    1. Which of the State Agency units has overall responsibility for management and oversight of the Agency's Quality Assurance (QA) Program? (obtain Org Charts)
    2. What is the organizational relationship between the district/project materials personnel and the central materials office?
    3. What type of oversight of field operations does the State have? (i.e. - does the State do any type of process reviews for independent oversight? Has the Division Office or State done any process reviews? Does the State's current practices take into account the recommendations raised during past process reviews?
  2. QA Program Documents, Written Procedures and Policies:
    1. Does the State DOT have a materials manual(s)? Title(?) Date(?)
    2. What documents constitute the DOT's Quality Assurance Program? Date (?)
    3. Has the FHWA Division Office provided written approval of the Agency's QA Program document(s) (637.205(a))? (Date?)
    4. Do all Agency personnel involved in the quality assurance program have access to the approved Quality assurance Program?
    5. Are the following included in written form?
      1. Are all samples taken on a random basis? [637.205 (e)]
      2. What process is used to determine sampling location ?
      3. Project quality control sampling guide frequencies and points of sampling [637.207(a)(1)(ii)]. Source?
      4. Verification testing sampling guide frequencies and sampling points. [637.207(a)(1)(i)(A)/(B)] Source?
      5. Guidelines for modifying frequencies. Source?
      6. Does the program identify specific attributes that need to be inspected by the agency to insure quality of the finished product? [637.207(a)(1)(i)(C)] Source?
      7. Does the State require the contractor to submit a Quality Control Program?
      8. Does the State approve or accept the QC program?
      9. How does the State monitor the QC program
      10. Are Contractor's QC data used in the acceptance decision?
      11. If yes, on what materials? What test methods are used?
      12. Does the program identify specific attributes that need to be inspected by the contractor to insure quality of the finished product? Source?
      13. How are QC data compared to verification data? [637.207(a)(1)(ii)(B)]
      14. Describe the method for dispute resolution? [637.207(a)(1)(iii)]
      15. Who performs the dispute resolution?
      16. Are consultants used in the Independent Assurance Program?
      17. What procedures are used in the IA program to evaluate equipment? [637.207(a)(2)(i)]? Source?
        1. Equipment calibration checks _____
        2. IA testing on split samples _____
        3. IA testing on proficiency samples _____
      18. What procedures are used in the IA program to evaluate Personnel? [637.207(a)(2)(ii)]? Source?
        1. IA testing on split samples _____
        2. IA testing on proficiency samples _____
      19. The method of Independent Assurance (IA) testing (e.g. traditional, system or a combination of both).
        If using only a "system" approach to IA testing go to question 3z
      20. Independent Assurance sampling frequencies and sampling points, if traditional approach is used. Requirement for split samples. [637.207(a)(2)] Source?
      21. Who is responsible for taking traditional IA samples, performing and observing tests. What documentation is required? Source?
      22. Limit of IA observation tests. Source?
      23. Guidelines for determining major differences between tests used in the acceptance decision and IA test results. How were the guidelines developed? What documentation is required? Source?
      24. Who is responsible for resolving major differences between tests used in the acceptance decision and IA test results? What documentation is required? Source?
      25. Method of tracking the system approach to IA testing. Who is responsible for making sure testers are "qualified" and equipment calibrated?
      26. Procedures for providing yearly report to FHWA, if using the system approach for IA.
      27. Process for evaluating project sampling and testing personnel and their results other than by IA sampling and testing procedures. What documentation is required? Source?
      28. Manufactured material certification program and verification (inspection and testing) steps. Source?
      29. Acceptance of small quantities. Source?
      30. Modified testing procedures. Source?
  3. Quality Assurance Records and Data Management
    1. Describe the usage of computers in the State DOT's materials program.
    2. How is source documentation managed?
    3. Are there requirements for Agency personnel to periodically review Contractor QC records? (Describe procedures and provide reference in QA Program document(s))
    4. Are there requirements for Contractors to certify all (or some) QC records and to retain all QC records for a minimum period of 3 years? (Describe requirements and provide reference in QA Program document(s))
    5. Is the contractor QC sampling, testing, and inspection Report Forms be submitted to the Agency in a timely manner? (source)
    6. Does the QA Program include procedures for preparation of a "Materials Acceptance Certification" upon final Agency acceptance of all materials produced and placed on each construction project to meet either of the following? (Describe procedures and provide reference in QA Program document(s))
      1. State Agency requirements _____
      2. FHWA requirements [637.207(a)(3)]
  4. Personnel Training and Qualification Determinations
    1. Do the qualification/certification programs required technicians for each Project Produced Material include the following items as a minimum? (Provide reference in QA Program document(s))
      1. Formal training of personnel including all sampling & testing procedures with instruction on the importance of proper procedures and the significance of test results _____
      2. Hands-on training to demonstrate proficiency of all sampling & testing to be performed _____
      3. A period of on-the-job training with a qualified individual to assure familiarity with Agency procedures _____
      4. A written examination and a performance examination for the various sampling & testing methods _____
      5. Re-qualification at 2 to 5 year intervals (data from the Agency IA program can be used as a part of the re-qualification process _____
      6. A documented process for removing personnel that perform sampling and testing procedures incorrectly
    2. Are there procedures to track and confirm that all testing personnel are qualified/certified through the appropriate programs?
  5. Laboratories Accreditation and Qualification
    1. Have all test methods used in the State DOT acceptance decision on NHS projects been accredited by AMRL or comparable FHWA-approved laboratory accreditation program?
    2. Does the Agency QA Program require each of the following laboratories to be accredited by the AASHTO Accreditation Program (or a comparable laboratory accreditation program approved by the FHWA) [637.209(a)(2,3,4)]? (Provide reference in QA Program document(s))
      1. Agency Central Laboratory _____
      2. Consultant (Designated Agent) laboratory performing IA sampling & testing _____
      3. iii. Consultant (Designated Agent) laboratory performing IA sampling & testing
    3. Does the Agency QA Program require each of the following laboratories that perform testing used in the Agency acceptance determination to be qualified through an appropriate Laboratory Qualification Program (LQP) [637.209(a)(1)]? (Provide reference in QA Program document(s))
      1. Contractor QC laboratory (plant or project) _____
      2. Agency project laboratory performing Acceptance/Verification testing _____
      3. Agency Region/District laboratory performing Acceptance/Verification testing _____
      4. iv. Consultant (Designated Agent) laboratory performing Acceptance/Verification testing _____
    4. For laboratories required to be qualified, does the Agency QA Program specify one of the following Laboratory Qualification Programs (LQPs)? (Provide reference in QA Program document(s))
      1. A State Agency developed and run LQP _____
      2. A Regional LQP _____
    5. Do the LQPs specified for each Project Produced Material include the following requirements as a minimum? (Provide reference in QA Program document(s))
      1. Lab Supervisors experienced (minimum 3 years) in sampling and testing _____
      2. Lab personnel qualified/certified through an acceptable Qualification/Certification program _____
      3. Test equipment calibrated and verified in proper working order _____
      4. Current Reference Manuals with sampling & testing policies and procedures _____
      5. Routine IA program evaluation of laboratory testing equipment and personnel _____
      6. A continuing program of proficiency testing
    6. Other than IA sampling and testing, is there a comparative sample program? Source?
    7. What is the procedure for calibrating testing equipment. What documentation is required? Source?
  6. Consultant Services
    1. Does the DOT use consultants in its materials program? What areas? If used in for IA sampling and testing or dispute resolution sampling and testing have the tests being performed been accredited by AMRL or a comparable FHWA-approved laboratory accreditation program?
    2. How are consultant testers determined to be "qualified" tracked? Are checks in place to ensure the qualifications of the consultants in the field?
  7. FHWA NHS/Oversight/ Non-Oversight Projects
    1. Do the Quality Assurance requirements and procedures included in the Agency QA Program differ depending upon roadway system or level of FHWA/State Agency oversight (e.g. level of documentation required, Agency personnel responsible)?
      1. Projects on the NHS versus non-NHS _____
      2. NHS Projects with full FHWA oversight versus State Agency only oversight _____
  8. Soils (Obtain written procedures or give reference)
    1. What tests are used in controlling soils material?
      1. Moisture
      2. Density
      3. Other
    2. Describe the quality control (if used), verification, and IA sampling, testing, and inspection procedures.
  9. Aggregates (Obtain any written procedures or give reference)
    1. What basis is aggregate quality determined? (e.g. project-by-project, source, annually)
    2. For untreated layers, describe the quality control (if used), verification, and IA sampling, testing, and inspection procedures. By Whom?
    3. In asphalt concrete, describe the quality control (if used), verification, and IA sampling, testing, and inspection procedures is performed prior to production.
    4. In Portland cement concrete, describe the quality control (if used), verification, and IA sampling, testing, and inspection procedures is performed prior to production.
  10. Asphalt Cement Concrete (Obtain any written procedures or give references)
    1. Describe the changes that have occurred due to Superpave technology.
    2. Who conducts mix designs? State DOT ____ Contractor ____
      1. Are actual project materials including additives used in the mix design?
      2. In Contractor mix designs, what information and data are supplied to the State DOT?
      3. What tests are used to determine moisture damage?
      4. Are mix designs verified at the start of and during production?
      5. Is an HMA "Field verification" procedure required at the start of production using a "Control Strip"?
    3. Describe the basis for accepting asphalt binder.
    4. Describe the basis for accepting antistrip additives.
    5. What testing and inspection is conducted at the asphalt concrete plant for quality control? For verification? By whom?
      1. Gradations
      2. Extractions
      3. Other
    6. Who is responsible for plant inspection prior to production? During Production?
    7. Who furnishes the testing equipment at the plant? State DOT ____ Contractor ____
    8. What testing and inspection is performed before and during laydown/compaction operations? By Whom?
      1. Temperatures
      2. Extractions
      3. Gradations
      4. Densities
  11. Portland Cement Concrete (Obtain any written procedures or give references)
    1. Who conducts mix designs? State DOT ____ Contractor ____
      1. Are actual project materials including admixtures used in the mix design?
      2. In Contractor mix designs, are trial batches required?
      3. What information and data are furnished to the State DOT?
      4. Describe how the State DOT verifies Contractor furnished mix designs?
    2. Describe the basis for accepting Portland cement.
    3. Describe the basis for accepting PCC admixtures.
    4. What tests are performed at the concrete plant for quality control? For verification? By whom?
      1. Gradation
      2. Moisture
      3. Other
    5. Who conducts plant inspections prior to production? During production?
    6. Who furnishes the testing equipment at the plant? The State DOT or the Contractor?
    7. What type of inspection is required for transmit mix trucks?
    8. What testing, inspection or checks are performed at the work site? By Whom?
      1. Temperature
      2. Slump
      3. Air
      4. Yield
      5. w/c ratio
      6. inspection
    9. What controls are there for adding water in the field?

Project Information

  1. Scope/type of project
  2. Cost of construction
  3. Number of inspectors
  4. Number of testers
  5. Have there been any reports of fraudulent activity
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Updated: 04/07/2011
 

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