Quality Assurance Organization Selection Factors for Highway Design and Construction Projects

A project quality assurance organization (QAO) assigns project quality responsibilities and relationships, both for design and construction. In the highway sector, all project quality roles and responsibilities have historically been assigned to the state highway agency (SHA), an accepted and well-understood industry practice. However, increasing use of alternative project delivery methods and reductions in SHA staffing are having an impact on traditional QAO practices. SHAs are increasingly selecting alternative QAOs, but they are making these selections in an ad hoc manner because of limited staff knowledge and experience, and a lack of guidance from the research community. Highway design and construction quality research focuses almost exclusively on inspections, observations, corporate quality, warranties, and materials testing, resulting in a gap in the research about shifts in project quality roles and responsibilities. This research extends the civil engineering quality management body of knowledge by identifying factors that influence the selection of QAOs and rating the appropriateness of the QAOs for each selection factor. Because of the complexity of the topic, scope of the decision process, and the limited project data available, structured interviews and the Delphi method were chosen to explore the selection factors. The research discovered 10 factors: project size, project complexity, project delivery method, project schedule sensitivity, availability of agency project staff, agency project staff experience, agency culture, industry ability to manage their own quality, trust between agency and industry, and amount of quality risk to shift away from the agency. The research provides the highway industry with new understanding of the effects that each selection factor has on the fundamental QAOs. This fundamental knowledge will allow SHAs to make more informed QAO selections.


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  • Accession Number: 01529128
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: Jun 26 2014 9:31AM