Form ProjStat
(Rev. 5/2013)
Research Project Statement 16-237
FY 2016 Annual Program
Develop New Methods for Material Acceptance on Design-Build Projects
The Problem:
The construction industry is losing qualified laborers, as well as inspectors and testing technicians.
There are not enough trained and qualified laborers, inspectors and testers to replace them. There
has been a trend by owners to save money by downsizing their construction quality assurance (QA);
i.e., types and number of manpower, testing programs, documentation, and data gathering efforts, or
handing QA over to the contractor. The FHWA has allowed state DOT’s to use contractor material
tests for acceptance, as long as they are validated by owner tests in accordance with FHWA Technical
Advisory T6120.3, Use of Contractor Test Results in the Acceptance Decision, Recommended Quality
Measures, and the Identification of Contractor/Department Risks, which is based on 23 CFR 637 Construction Inspection and Approval.
On design-build projects, this process has led to a very complicated QA program that requires
contractor quality control and quality assurance (QC/QA) materials testing laboratories and owner
verification , independent assurance and referee labs; i.e., five labs per project. TxDOT implemented
the Technical Advisory with the TxDOT Quality Assurance Program with an Optional 15-year Capital
Maintenance Agreement supported by the Design Build Quality Assurance Program Implementation
Guide. TxDOT has implemented this testing program on over 10 design-build projects since 2000,
and found that validating contractor’s testing using the F- and t-tests for statistical analysis is very
complicated. This leads to a lot of extraneous work that reveals little about the quality of the product.
Often times, it is unknown whether the tests are not validating until it is too late to take action. The f
and t tests statistical analysis works well in the manufacturing arena, where it was developed, but is
not well suited for construction materials testing.
Under current practices employed by the TxDOT Construction Division, Materials & Pavements
Section, the following approach for materials testing is as follows:
 Take one pool of test results.
 Select a group of test results as the QC results.
 Select a second group of test results as the Acceptance results (a smaller data set).
 Determine the mean and standard deviation of the two selected groups of data (remember
they are randomly drawn from the same data set).
 Perform F- and t-tests on the two data sets.
 Sometimes the tests show a fail and sometimes they show a pass.
How can there be fail and pass when the purpose of the tests is to statistically show if the two sets of
data come from the same population of material? The standard deviation is calculated from a
randomly selected pool of test results and then the F- and t-tests are performed against the
selections. This is to show how the F- and t-tests can show differencing results out of the same pool
of data. In other words, this proves that the F- and t-tests are a bogus measure of comparison.
If TxDOT does not follow this very lengthy and complicated process, TxDOT is at risk of losing federal
funding. This cumbersome validation process impacts project cost, schedule and quality.
Project Statement 16-237
Form ProjStat
(Rev. 5/2013)
This research will provide a new strategy or methodology for accepting materials on design-build
projects. This new strategy or methodology should also help the owner define what risk is involved for
construction materials acceptance. Focus should be on eliminating the very complicated current
method of having to validate contractor tests with owner tests, or at least find a replacement for the Fand t-test, which is used in determining if the two material test data sets do validate.
The research objective will be achieved through the following:
 Conduct a review of past and current studies for construction material acceptance.
 Identify current practices and innovative strategies or methods to for construction material
acceptance on design-build projects.
 Identify benefits, costs, and risks to highway agencies, contractors, and the traveling public
for not having appropriate Construction material acceptance on design build projects.
 Evaluate the various strategies and methods for accepting materials on design build projects
based on risk and manpower limitations.
 Develop new strategies or methods for construction materials acceptance on design build
Research should address the following questions:
 Is there a better process to use contractor tests in acceptance?
 Is TxDOT accurately measuring the risk of using contractor tests, and how should TxDOT
measure the risk?
 Are the F- and t-tests the only way to statistically validate contractor material tests?
 What methods are there to allocate more flexibility to the contractor or owner for
construction, material testing, and acceptance?
How does this increase in flexibility effect risk?
1. Value of Research (VoR) that includes both qualitative and economic benefits.
2. A model or method to determine risk and cost if we do not get the materials quality we required.
3. A new method, strategy, test procedures to evaluate that we got the materials quality we
4. Research report documenting work performed and findings.
1. Proposals will be considered non-responsive and will not be accepted for technical evaluation if
they are not received by the deadline or do not meet the requirements stated in RTI’s University
2. Proposals should be submitted in PDF format, 1 PDF file per proposal. File name should include
project name and university abbreviation.
Friday, September 11, 2015 9:00 – 12:00
Austin Riverside Campus
118 E. Riverside Dr.
ENV Conference Room, 1st Floor, 1B1A
Webex Information:
Join the online meeting:
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Project Statement 16-237
Form ProjStat
(Rev. 5/2013)
Meeting number: 737 294 354
Meeting password: 1234
Teleconference information;
Provide your phone number when you join the meeting to receive a call back. Alternatively, you can
Call-in toll-free number: 1-866-6371408 (US)
Conference Code: 199 125 9183
Proposals are due to RTI by 4:00 p.m. Central Time, October 12, 2015. Email submissions should be
sent to [email protected]
Project Statement 16-237