The National Academies

NCHRP 20-24(42) [Completed]

Guidelines for State DOT quality management systems
[ NCHRP 20-24 (Administration of Highway and Transportation Agencies) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Research Agency: Oasis Consulting Services
Principal Investigator: T. J. Brown
Effective Date: 1/6/2005
Completion Date: 7/7/2006


State Departments of transportation (DOTs) are held accountable for spending public funds on roads. This can be equated to a private organization maximizing return on investment. "Profits" are reinvested in products, services, technology, human resources, and into the organization to create better products and services thereby enticing customers to buy more which results in more revenue. This system of spending and producing is usually managed under some type of quality system. There are numerous types of quality management systems being used by State DOTs. A recent study done by the Standing Committee on Quality (SCOQ) shows that 29 States are using some modified version of the Baldrige Criteria. Other States are using Lean, ISO and a Six Sigma approach. There is a presently a lack of data to demonstrate which system or approach is most effective in a state DOT. States need guidance on how to develop a quality management system that best suits their needs, and how to implement that system and gain department-wide acceptance.


The objective of this project was to develop guidelines for the selection and application of quality management systems in state Departments of Transportation.


1. Conduct and summarize a review of relevant literature and research in progress with respect to quality management systems.

2. Conduct a follow-up to the 2003 SCOQ survey to determine the DOTs' most recent experiences with quality management systems. Identify the rationale and decision-making processes that led the DOT to select the particular quality management system currently in place.

3. Based on the results of the current and previous survey and recommendations of the project panel, identify 10 state DOTs that have been most successful in their development and implementation of quality management systems.

4. Conduct site visits of the ten DOTs identified in Task 3. Conduct in-depth interviews and analysis to identify the attributes and characteristics of successful quality management systems and document empirical evidence of that success. Illustrate the pros and cons of various quality management systems and system components from a DOT perspective.

5. Identify strategies that have led to successful implementation and acceptance of quality management systems across the agency.

6. Using the results of all previous tasks, develop and submit guidelines for the selection and application of quality management systems in state Departments of Transportation.

7. Submit a final report that documents the entire research effort and includes the Task 6 guidelines as a stand-alone document.

Status: The study has now been completed, and the final report, entitled "A Transportation Executive's Guide to Organizational Improvement," is available here (1.54 MB, 141 pp. Adobe PDF).

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