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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Research Council. 2023. Risk-Based Construction Inspection: A Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27099.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Research Council. 2023. Risk-Based Construction Inspection: A Guide. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/27099.
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1   State departments of transportation (DOTs) have historically specified quality stan- dards based on detailed instructions that describe the required materials and construction methods. Construction inspection for acceptance was often based on national standards or engineering experience and judgment when standards were difficult to measure. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET), supported by FHWA and the AASHTO, has been providing a certification program for highway techni- cians involved in the inspection and monitoring of highway construction since 1979. The main inspection areas typically include interpretation of contract plans and specifications; project recordkeeping and reporting; construction surveying; field inspection and testing procedures, techniques, and equipment; and supervisory techniques. In the past, national standards and engineering experience and judgment have meant that DOTs have had adequate and qualified in-house inspection staff; however recent fund- ing constraints have moved the highway construction industry toward reducing in-house staff and outsourcing inspection responsibilities while overseeing ever-larger construction programs. Previous studies (Mostafavi and Abraham, 2012; Hill International, Inc. et al., 2017; and Mohamed and Tran, 2022) have confirmed that given today’s reality of reduced funds and resources, DOTs have sought ways to optimize inspection to do more with less. To achieve this goal, many DOTs have searched for effective strategies to accomplish con- struction inspection with optimized resource allocation. These strategies include: • Acceptance by certification, • Reduced inspection frequencies for low-risk or low-profile projects, • Use of emerging technology applications to save inspection time, • Use of contractor test results in the acceptance decision, and • Alternative project delivery methods. There are different levels of maturity in current inspection practices among DOTs. What is a standard practice in one DOT may not be a standard practice in another. Inspection practices are also evolving, particularly regarding shifting more responsibility to the industry for managing and documenting quality, advances in e-Construction that allow for more efficient data collection and documentation, and advances in remote sensing and related technologies that provide for more efficient or automated data collection. These evolving practices and technologies are not fully addressed in the current DOT construction inspection programs. There is an immediate and compelling need to incorporate risk-based approaches into current practices for construction inspection. This guide has been prepared under NCHRP Project 10-102, “A Guidebook for Risk- Based Construction Inspection,” to help agencies identify opportunities for optimiza- tion. The guide addresses the range of current and evolving practices in today’s inspection S U M M A R Y Risk-Based Construction Inspection: A Guide

2 Risk-Based Construction Inspection: A Guide programs considering current national standards for highway construction inspection and provides practical strategies for immediately implementing a risk-based construction inspec- tion program. The goal of this document is to provide a flexible methodology for risk-based inspection that can be applied at the programmatic level to a standard construction inspection program or at the project level to prioritize highway construction inspection activities and optimize the resources applied to a given project. The anticipated benefits of these guidelines include: • Enhanced understanding of the cost and benefits of construction inspection, • More efficient allocation of inspection and testing resources, and • Better alignment of project inspection and materials risks with inspection resources to help agencies deliver a quality project for the lowest overall cost.

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Due to budget cuts and reduced experience levels of inspectors and engineers, state departments of transportation (DOTs) have implemented risk-based strategies to achieve greater efficiency in construction inspection. These strategies include prioritizing inspection based on inherent risks related to construction operations, using emerging technology applications to save time, and accepting certification and contractors' test results to offset shortages of experienced inspection resources.

NCHRP Research Report 1039: Risk-Based Construction Inspection: A Guide, from TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program, discusses the importance of construction inspection and aims to assist state DOTs and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration in meeting quality standards.

Supplemental to the report are NCHRP Web-Only Document 344: Risk-Based Construction Inspection: Conduct of Research Report and an Inspection Risk Assessment Questionnaire.

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