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Recommended Minimum Qualifications for Transportation Project Quality Management Roles


Effective management of quality during the design and construction of public transportation projects is a critical, yet often overlooked part of the successful delivery of these projects. Owner agencies, designers, contractors and material suppliers all require specific quality roles and functions to assure that the project meets design requirements and long-term performance expectations. Typical quality roles include owner quality assurance engineers/managers; design quality managers; construction quality managers; quality control plan administrators and quality control managers. These roles and functions will vary depending on project delivery method specified by the owner or their organizational structure. While the minimum qualifications for roles such as lead designer, project manager or construction engineer are usually well-defined to include specific levels of education, experience and professional licensure, minimum requirements for quality-related roles often do not include specific training or certification in quality management principles. This may be due to an assumption that education and experience in a particular design or construction discipline provides the skills necessary to provide effective quality management; this ignores the fact that quality management is itself a specialized discipline that requires training and experience. It is also critical that individuals in these roles understand the overall project quality efforts and how their functions support those efforts. The pervasive lack of training in quality management principles leads to compromised overall short and long-term quality of projects.

Some owner agencies specify or recommend minimum qualifications for personnel filling key management roles focused on quality engaged on public construction projects. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) require QC managers/administrators working on their projects to hold a certificate in Construction Quality Management for Contractors, that is offered as a partnership between those agencies and two national contractor associations. The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) “Quality Management System Guidelines” recommends that certain project personnel hold certifications through the American Society for Quality including Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence; Quality Engineer; and Quality Auditor. Several state DOTs in the northeast require QC plan administrators to hold the Quality Assurance Technologist certification administered by the NorthEast Transportation Training and Certification Program (NETTCP). However, most agencies do not require certification for quality management roles. Instead they rely on minimum educational and experience levels that may or may not include training on or experience with quality management principles.

Increased knowledge of quality management principles will lead to improved outcomes on transportation projects, including well defined and understood roles, less rework, shorter project completion times, extended facility life, reduced operating costs, and fewer traffic delays.


Develop recommended minimum qualifications for design and construction quality management roles on public transportation projects.


Ineffective quality management in the transportation project delivery process can lead to project delays and cost escalation due to constructability problems, rework, and disputes, as well as reduced service life and increased maintenance costs of completed facilities. Published reports have estimated that rework on construction projects can account for as much as 25 percent of total project cost. Given the total cost of delivering public transportation projects in the United States, improved quality management in design and construction could result in millions of dollars in annual savings to taxpayers.

Related Research:

Several published reports and articles discuss quality management approaches on public transportation projects (many specific to design-build contracting). However, none discuss in detail the qualifications needed to effectively conduct various quality roles.

Kraft, E. and Molenaar, K.: “Fundamental Project Quality Assurance Organizations in Highway Design and Construction” – ASCE Journal of Management in Engineering, July 2014.

Gransberg, D., Molenaar, K.: “Analysis of Owner's Design and Construction Quality Management Approaches In Design/Build Projects” – American Society of Civil Engineers, 2004.

Baabak Ashuri, Ph. D., Yashovardhan Jallan, Jung Hyun Lee: “Materials Quality Management for Alternative Project Delivery” - Georgia Department of Transportation, May 2018.

Ghada M. Gad, Simon A. Adamtey, Douglas D. Gransberg: “Trends in Quality Management Approaches to Design–Build Transportation Projects” - Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, No. 2504, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., 2015, pp. 87–92.

Gransberg, D., and K. Molenaar: “Analysis of Owner’s Design and Construction Quality Management Approaches in Design/Build Projects” - Journal of Management in Engineering, Vol. 20, No. 4, 2004, pp. 162–168.

Gransberg, D., Datin, J., and Molenaar, K. (2008). NCHRP Synthesis 376: Quality Assurance in Design-Build Projects, Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC.


Task 1 – Literature review. Include public transportation agency specifications related to quality management for design and construction.

Task 2 – Survey of public transportation agencies to determine current requirements for quality management roles (including agency, designer and contractor roles), for both traditional delivery and alternative delivery projects.

Task 3 - Identify existing training/certification programs for quality management roles that are related to transportation project delivery, or other related industry sectors. Review the prerequisites, course content, intended audience guidelines, examination process, and recertification requirements.

Task 4 – Develop suggested minimum qualifications for various quality management roles , including education, certification, and experience requirements. Consider both traditional and alternative project delivery methods.

Task 5 – Publish a guide for agencies to use to develop minimum qualification/certification requirements for various quality management roles for public transportation projects.


Implementation of the guidelines will be accomplished through presentations at the AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavements, AASHTO Committee on Construction, and through presentation at various regional and national meetings and conferences (including the TRB annual meeting), as well as a TRB webinar. Potential challenges will be similar to those encountered when organizations worked to improve safety. It will require a shift in cultural beliefs for agencies and industry to invest in additional training and/or certification of quality management staff. Inconsistent terminology related to QA will present challenges by inhibiting effective communication at the national level.


The AASHTO Committee on Research and Innovation

Sponsoring Committee:AKC30, Quality Assurance Management
Research Period:12 - 24 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Bradbury, Lauzon, Hand
Source Info:Rick Bradbury, Maine Department of Transportation
Tel: (207) 624-3482

Robert Lauzon, Connecticut Department of Transportation
Tel: (860) 258-0312

Adam Hand, University of Nevada Reno
Tel: (775) 784-1439
Date Posted:01/08/2020
Date Modified:07/28/2021
Index Terms:Quality assurance, Specialized training, Certification, Project management,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Education and Training

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