|Subject:||INFORMATION: Quality Assurance Stewardship Reviews and Products||Date:||February 17, 2004|
|From:||/s/ Original signed by:
King W. Gee
Associate Administrator for Infrastructure
|To:||Directors of Field Services
Resource Center Managers
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
Quality assurance practices provide one of the most effective means of controlling and improving construction quality. As such, the FHWA considers the use and implementation of sound quality assurance practices to be a critical element in each State's construction program.
In undertaking their construction program management and stewardship responsibilities, the FHWA Division Offices should provide an adequate level of effort toward monitoring, evaluating and improving their States' quality assurance practices. Several initiatives are currently underway to facilitate this effort. This year, the Office of Infrastructure will be conducting several Quality Assurance Stewardship Reviews of State construction quality processes and procedures. These process/program reviews will be continued in future years and will include reviews for other areas of high importance to the States' construction program. The reviews are intended to complement and support the Divisions' evaluation and oversight of the States' program, and provide a national perspective of the program area. We are available to discuss your interest in scheduling these reviews and others for your State.
The Quality Assurance Stewardship Reviews scheduled for 2004 will have an emphasis on evaluating the State's use of contractor's test results for acceptance purposes. For this reason, the reviews targeted for this year only involve States that use contractor's test results in the acceptance decision. Three States have already been scheduled for reviews this year, and a fourth review is currently being planned. The three States scheduled include Georgia, New York, and Indiana. Best practices and issues found during the reviews will be shared nationally after the reviews are completed. The reviews will be closely coordinated with the Divisions and will be comprised of Headquarters and field personnel.
Other tools to assist in the implementation of effective quality assurance programs are also under development, and are summarized below:
Quality Assurance Training
- NHI Course 134042, Material Control and Acceptance - Quality Assurance - This NHI course, which is a core module of the 6-week Highway Materials Course, will be renewed later this year for delivery as a stand-alone course. It will be offered in the original 4½-day format as well as a condensed 2-day format. The course is targeted at highway agency engineers and technicians in materials, construction, research and other highway fields. It provides participants with an understanding of the major elements of a statistically-based quality assurance program.
- Quality Assurance Technologist Course - This 3½-day course is targeted at the field level and provides training and certification in quality assurance practices to construction project managers, field technicians, and contractors. It is intended to provide project staff with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions based on quality assurance data. The course is being finalized by the New England Transportation Technician Certification (NETTCP), and will be available for use by any State through the Transportation Curriculum Coordination Council (TCCC). The course is scheduled for completion by this summer. An NHI version of the course will also be available in 2005.
- Quality Assurance Specification Development and Validation Course - This is a new course planned for development this year with delivery in late 2005. The objective of the course will be to provide the information and background needed to develop sound, statistically based quality assurance specifications; implement the specifications; monitor and validate the specifications; and update or revise the specifications as necessary.
- Technical Advisory "Use of Contractor Test Results in the Acceptance Decision" - This new Technical Advisory will provide guidance and recommendations for the use and evaluation of contractor's testing results for verification and acceptance. It will also provide guidance on the use of various quality measures in statistically based specifications, and the identification of contractor and department risks. The Technical Advisory is currently undergoing development and the final version should be released soon.
- Revised AASHTO R-9 "Standard Recommended Practice for Acceptance Sampling Plans for Highway Construction" - The AASHTO R-9 standard provides guidance to highway agencies for developing quality assurance specifications. The current version of AASHTO R-9 is being revised to incorporate information contained in the FHWA's "Optimal Procedures for Quality Assurance" manual that was released in 2003. The development of the new R-9 standard is underway at this time and will be balloted by the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Materials during the summer of 2004.
- Quality Assurance Analysis Software - New quality assurance software is planned for development later this year. This new software will assist highway agencies and contractors to prepare and analyze statistical acceptance plans, construct and apply operating characteristic (OC) curves, develop composite pay factors and to better evaluate risks associated with acceptance plans using composite pay factors. Current quality assurance software packages have numerous limitations and require the user to have a good background in statistical analysis theory and its application in order to use it effectively. The new software will incorporate the best of the existing quality assurance software packages plus provide additional enhancements, and will be fully compatible with the latest computer systems.
In its stewardship role, FHWA has a responsibility for providing effective program direction and oversight, and for ensuring that the latest technologies and guidance are available for each of the FHWA program areas. These new quality assurance products will provide a valuable tool for helping our field offices in carrying out their stewardship responsibilities for the construction program. Updated information concerning these products will be transmitted as it becomes available. For more information about these and other available products, contact Mike Rafalowski at (202) 366-1571, or Ken Jacoby at (202) 366-6503.