TxDOT synthesis of the construction inspection workload reduction strategies.

TxDOT synthesis of the construction inspection workload reduction strategies.

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  • Alternative Title:
    Synthesis study of programs used to reduce the need for inpsection personnel
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  • Abstract:
    An increase in transportation budgets the past two decades and a consequent movement toward more outsourcing of DOT activities can be significantly attributed to two historic events. The 1998 authorization of the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21), which resulted in an average increase in state funding of more than 44% in transportation programs. The subsequent authorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005, which extended and expanded the TEA-21 (Warne 2003). As a result, DOTs were able to complete projects that would have not been feasible without the additional funding. While these additional projects will decrease congestion and increase transportation safety, the DOTs have not seen a sufficient increase in personnel to manage the additional work. Consequently, TxDOT and other state DOTs are addressing their workforce challenges by outsourcing key project responsibilities that were previously performed by in-house DOT forces and adapting their practices to perform construction administration more efficiently. TxDOT’s Construction Division and the district construction departments have a shortage of skilled inspectors and that is impacting TxDOT’s ability to efficiently manage its QC/QA workload, as suggested by anecdotal evidence. Several large highway projects, especially in the urban areas, where contractors are working six or seven days each week, result in construction inspectors working overtime in order to inspect the work as it is completed. Long-term overtime is a known cause of fatigue (Hanna 2005), and labor laws typically limit the number of consecutive days that a person can work. As a result, the district personnel have had considerable difficulty meeting the inspection needs and requirements, especially because state DOTs have difficulty recruiting and retaining experienced and well qualified inspection personnel. The situation is further complicated with the increase in complexity of transportation construction projects. TxDOT faces significant workforce challenges, particularly in the districts, where the testing and inspection workload is increasing but the workforce is decreasing. As a result of these workforce challenges, TxDOT is looking for more effective ways to manage their testing, inspection, and measurement workload. They are looking to other DOTs from which they believe much can be learned. Other states are facing similar workforce challenges and have taken actions to implement procedures to reduce their construction inspection workload. Such procedures include increasing contractor testing and inspection responsibilities, outsourcing testing and inspection to third parties, creating extensive training and certification programs, and modifying their specifications to minimize time intensive testing and measurement. Accordingly, there is a need to summarize the best practices from those state DOTs that have already instituted successful programs to reduce the QC/QA workload that could potentially aid TxDOT in addressing their specific workload challenges. This project summarized TxDOT’s current workload challenges, identified successful workload reduction strategies that have been implemented in other state DOTs, compared TxDOT’s challenges and practices to the other states’ challenges and practices, and lastly prioritized the workload reduction strategies implemented in other states that could be applied to manage TxDOT’s workforce challenges.
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