A QUESTION OF STANDARDS

This paper discusses a recent proposal made by the U.S. Department of Transportation calling for interstate maintenance guidelines to assure quality standards for transportation facilities. It is the opinion of the author that "quality of service versus societal cost is the overriding issue of greatest criticality in all forms of transportation." Because of the absence of an authoritative cost/benefit analysis for the imposition of quality standards, a workshop on Maintenance Quality Standards was sponsored by the Operations and Maintenance of Transportation Facilities Section of the TRB. Various advantages and disadvantages of such standards were cited during the conference. The major advantages are: standards provide a legal basis for proof of a good job; they are evidence that public funds are being expended wisely; they enhance the ability of management to communicate objectives to subordinates; some type of standards are essential to management control; standards make it possible to allocate resources on the basis of need; sampling reduces the cost of measuring maintenance quality; and quality measurements make possible timely feedback of information on road-system condition. The principal disadvantages are: the uniformity of maintenance standards would create inflexibility that would make it difficult to handle the many exceptions that occur in maintenance operations; an agency is liable in lawsuits if established standards have not been met; standards cannot substitute for competent supervisors and workers; training becomes a problem; weather and terrain introduce variations, which are not provided for by quality standards; it is difficult to replicate results by different people even though the same method is used; and the bureaucratic tendency is to continually ask for greater refinement of procedures and more data.

Media Info

  • Features: Photos; References;
  • Pagination: p. 6-9
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00310711
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: May 21 1980 12:00AM