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Recommended Minimum Qualifications for Transportation Project Quality Roles


Effective quality management is a critical part of the successful delivery of transportation projects. Owner agencies, designers, contractors and material suppliers all require certain key quality roles to assure that the final product meets requirements. Typical roles include quality assurance engineers/managers; project resident engineers; project quality managers; design quality managers; construction quality managers and quality control managers. These roles can vary depending on project delivery method used or by agency organizational structure. People filling these roles must have relevant design and construction education and experience, but also require a minimum level of understanding of quality management principles.

Currently, there are no national guidelines for minimum qualifications for personnel filling quality roles on public transportation projects. Several certification programs exist, including:

  • NorthEast Transportation Training and Certification Program (NETTCP) Quality Assurance Technologist course.

  • Construction Quality Management for Contractors certification developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USAEC) and U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC).

  • American Society for Quality Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence, Quality Engineer, and Quality Auditor.

  • ISO Lead Auditor.

However, most agencies do not require certification for quality roles, instead relying on minimum educational and experience levels that may or may not include quality management training or experience. Increased knowledge of quality management principles will lead to improved outcomes on transportation projects, including less rework, 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 due to inadequate quality on construction projects can amount to seven to eleven 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 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 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 on 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. State DOT materials engineers, construction engineer and QA engineers will be key personnel to lead implementation of the guidelines by means of revised specifications. This will involve partnering efforts with the contracting and consulting community as well as material producer organizations.

Potential challenges will be similar to those encountered when organizations worked to improve safety; it may require a shift in cultural beliefs for agencies and industry to invest in additional education and/or certification of their staff. Inconsistent terminology related to QA will present challenges by inhibiting effective communication at the national level.


The AASHTO Committee on Materials and Pavements (specifically technical subcommittee 5c, Quality Assurance and Environmental) will be instrumental in the implementation effort:

Curt Turgeon, Minnesota DOT, Chair of TS 5c Tel.: (651) 366-5535

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

Elizabeth Kraft, National Quality Director, Atkins
Tel: (720) 352-4216
Date Posted:01/08/2020
Date Modified:01/23/2020
Index Terms:Quality assurance, Specialized training, Certification, Project management,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Education and Training

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