The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 52-06 [Final (Synthesis)]

Agency Use of Quality Control Plans for Administering Quality Assurance Specifications
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/1/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jo Allen Gause
Research Agency: University of Kansas
Principal Investigator: Dan Tran
Completion Date: 10/5/2021
Comments: Published as NCHRP Synthesis Report 590.
Fiscal Year: 2021


Final Scope


Modern quality assurance (QA) specifications promoted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recognize the state departments of transportation’s (DOT’s) responsibility for monitoring the contractor’s quality control (QC) activities, conducting agency inspection, and conducting acceptance sampling and testing. Research and training focused on acceptance sampling and testing is currently available, and national, regional, and state certification programs have been developed to support those efforts. Research and training on reviewing the contractor’s QC plan and appropriate methods of DOT oversight of QC inspection and testing activities are more limited.


QC plans are usually written by contractors and approved by DOTs, based on DOT requirements and specifications. Well-developed, proactive QC plans should be used to reduce process variability and prevent rework as well as to aid in delivering projects on-schedule and within budget. However, QC plans are often boilerplate or are developed only to be used to meet agency QC specification minimum requirements. Based on the historical quality of QC plans submitted, some DOTs have even stopped requiring QC plans to be submitted. Research has confirmed the importance of QA in transportation projects, and further research is needed in the areas of contractor QC, including adequate agency oversight of the QC plan.


The objective of this synthesis is to document the various QC requirements used by DOTs, including how QC plans are reviewed, accepted, and monitored to achieve project specifications and what actions are being taken by an agency when QC plans are not being followed.


Information gathered should include (but is not limited to):

  • Requirements of contractors regarding QC plans for various project delivery methods
  • Guidance and/or templates provided by DOTs for QC plans
  • Minimum certifications/qualifications for QC personnel required by agencies
  • QC plan review and approval/acceptance processes used by DOTs
  • DOT compliance monitoring and inspection of contractor implementation of QC plans
  • Incentives that DOTs are using to encourage effective and/or innovative QC
  • Actions that an agency takes when QC plans are not followed
  • Innovative efforts in construction quality control
  • Consideration of risk in oversight of QC plans


Information will be collected through literature review, a survey of DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.


Information Sources (Partial):


Topic Panel
Richard Bradbury, Maine Department of Transportation
Tara Cavalline, University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Monica Flournoy,
Georgia Department of Transportation
Georgene Geary, GGfGA Engineering

Greg Snider, Texas Department of Transportation
James Welter, The Ohio Department of Transportation
Matthew Corrigan, Federal Highway Administration
Nelson Gibson, Transportation Research Board

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