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Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-12-027    Date:  May 2012
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-12-027
Date: May 2012


Evaluation of State Quality Assurance Program Effectiveness

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Evaluation of State Quality Assurance Program Effectiveness report cover


In view of the different transportation department construction quality assurance (QA) programs and their importance toward obtaining low-cost, high-quality construction, a need still exists to measure how well each program is working. This report documents the investigation of different transportation department construction QA programs and provides recommendations for improvements that can increase the effectiveness of QA programs.

Jorge E. Pagán-Ortiz
Director, Office of Infrastructure
Research and Development


This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers’ names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient’s Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Evaluation of State Quality Assurance Program Effectiveness

5. Report Date

May 2012

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

James S. Moulthrop, P.E., Fugro Consultants, Inc.
Charles S. Hughes, P.E., Fugro Consultants, Inc.
Richard M. Weed, P.E., Consultant
James L. Burati, Jr., Ph.D., Consultant

8. Performing Organization Report No.


9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Fugro Consultants, Inc.
8613 Cross Park Dr.
Austin, TX 78754

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)

11. Contract or Grant No.

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Infrastructure Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

The Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR) was Fred Faridazar, HRDI-20.

16. Abstract

In early 2008, the Federal Highway Administration issued a task order under the Advanced Quality Systems Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity Contract for a contractor to quantify the effectiveness of State quality assurance (QA) programs. The objective of the study was to develop, apply, and make recommendations for the use of a procedure that transportation departments could use to quantify and improve the effectiveness of existing quality assurance programs.

Based on the knowledge and experience of the research team, four State highway agencies (SHAs) were chosen to participate. An introductory project meeting was held in December 2008, but due to personnel problems, only three agencies participated. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the objectives and scope of the project with State representatives and request their input. The three SHAs agreed to provide QA data from construction projects in their State for the team to analyze. Because sufficient data were not available to accomplish the original task, the scope was modified to use an analysis of acceptance procedures included in the agencies’ specifications instead of using actual QA data.

In summary, four SHA construction specifications were selected for analysis from three SHAs, two for hot mix asphalt (HMA) pavements and two for portland cement concrete (PCC) pavements. The study shows that either the computer program SPECRISK or computer simulation can be used to analyze the statistical risks of most, if not all, specifications. Both HMA pavement specifications and one of the PCC pavement specifications were amenable to analysis by SPECRISK because they are based on percent within limits as the statistical quality measure. The remaining PCC pavement specification was based on averages and had to be analyzed by computer simulation. Probabilistic Optimization for Profit (Prob.O.Prof) was one of the software programs anticipated to be useful in the analysis. However, it required data that were not available and thus could not be used in the analyses. The report includes analysis of the specifications, particularly the risks involved and recommendations for improving areas that are considered unclear or statistically invalid.

17. Key Words

Quality assurance, Percent within limits, SPECRISK

18. Distribution Statement

19. Security Classification
(of this report)


20. Security Classification
(of this page)


21. No. of Pages


22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables




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