Chapter 9: Quality Control/Quality Assurance Program

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Section 1: Introduction of the Quality Control / Quality Assurance Program

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Quality Control/Quality Assurance Program

Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 650, Subpart C, Section 313, paragraph (g), Quality Control and Quality Assurance, requires each state to assure that systematic Quality Control (QC) and Quality Assurance (QA) procedures are being used to maintain a high degree of accuracy and consistency in their inspection program. The Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT’s) Bridge Division is tasked with developing a QC/QA Program that fulfills this requirement. It is, however, the responsibility of all personnel involved with the Bridge Inspection Program (BIP) to implement the QC/QA Program.

Accuracy and consistency of the inspection data collected, the manner in which the bridge inspections are performed, and how the data is reported is critical to ensuring long-term reliability of the bridge inventory.

The QC/QA program influences all office and field BIP activities including:

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For purposes of the TxDOT bridge inspection QC/QA Program, the word quality is used and defined in terms of measurable variations from established procedures, practices, and requirements that are in accordance with National Bridge Inspection Standards (NBIS) as well as additional TxDOT requirements. The additional TxDOT requirements can be found in Chapter 3 of this manual, “Qualifications and Responsibilities of Bridge Inspection Personnel” and the current bridge contracts.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) monitors 23 metrics for evaluating the performance of a State’s BIP. These 23 metrics address components of and define different levels of compliance with the NBIS including:

TxDOT is committed to attaining a quality assessment that measures no less than a level of compliance with all 23 NBIS metrics and TxDOT requirements, and to continuously pursue more effective measures leading to the compliance of such standards and requirements. Additionally, TxDOT will continuously strive toward implementing effective and comprehensive measures that enhance the overall quality and consistency of the BIP.

Quality Control

CFR Title 23, Part 650, Subpart C - NBIS, Section 650.305, defines Quality Control (QC) as “Procedures that are intended to maintain the quality of a bridge inspection and load rating at or above a specified level.” These procedures will be implemented on an on-going basis for issues related to program organization and within specific time frames for review task related issues.

Quality Assurance

CFR Title 23, Part 650, Subpart C – NBIS, Section 650.305, defines Quality Assurance (QA) as, “The use of sampling and other measures to assure the adequacy of quality control procedures in order to verify or measure the quality level of the entire bridge inspection and load rating program.” These procedures have the effect of identifying needed changes to policy, guidelines, etc. and permitting for continual improvements to QC protocol thus allowing for a more efficient and effective BIP.

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TxDOT Bridge Division’s QC/QA Program aims to:

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  • generate greater accuracy, consistency, and uniformity of the data collected and in the methodology employed for collecting and reporting this data,
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  • standardize the interpretation and prioritization of inspection findings,
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  • establish and monitor the qualifications of personnel involved in the program,
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  • identify and address unclear or misleading information in the bridge inspection guides and manuals, and
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  • increase communication between personnel involved in the BIP at all levels (Division, District, Consultants, Sub-Consultants, and FHWA).

These goals can be achieved through the establishment and application of procedures and protocols that are practical and pertinent to the BIP. The QC/QA Program allows for checks and balances over these procedures and protocols through periodic and independent inspections, reviews, and evaluations.

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