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Construction Oversight: They Build What We Accept. Jim Sorenson Office of Asset Management. Stewardship. Program Administration Technology Deployment Technical Assistance Strategic Initiatives. Project Development Project Delivery Maintenance/Operation Oversight. Oversight and Quality.

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construction oversight they build what we accept

Construction Oversight:They Build What We Accept

Jim Sorenson

Office of Asset Management

  • Program Administration
  • Technology Deployment
  • Technical Assistance
  • Strategic Initiatives
  • Project Development
  • Project Delivery
  • Maintenance/Operation
  • Oversight
oversight and quality
Oversight and Quality
  • Quality Construction is fundamental to meeting the FHWA’s national objectives.
    • Improves system performance
    • Reduces congestion and impacts on the environment
    • Improves safety by minimizing work zone frequency, duration, and disruption of traffic flow
    • Improves the economic efficiency of our highway investments
who wrote this report
Who wrote this report…

“ …the effectiveness of the control and inspection procedures right on the site where the actual project was being carried out was the spot where we found falsification. But they were doing exceptionally well on design for instance and in other areas in the various phases of acquisition, design work, contract award, all these were conducted on a high level. But at the spot where construction was carried out they were not complying with specification as to design and quality of material. At that point it broke down and some fraudulent reports were written by incompetent young men, underpaid, untrained and inexperienced……It is things such as this that we find over and over again. No matter how well the operation is planned and designed and spelled out in detail, at a given point we find there is a breakdown and at that point the whole operation or project breaks down.”

“…How widespread is it?....The disturbing this is we cannot prove that it isn’t widespread. In the face of this we must maintain the confidence of Congress in this Program.… The thing for you to look at is what is the attitude, what is the degree and level of confidence of Congress in you men, both on the Federal level and the State level…”
and 40 years later
And 40 years later…
  • The Honorable John A. Blatnik, chairman of the House Special Subcommittee on the Federal-aid Highway Program speaking on “Highways and the Congress”, at the 41st Annual AASHO Conference, June 1963.
evolution of fhwa oversight
Evolution of FHWA Oversight

The Early Years

  • Federal/State Partnership concept evolved
  • BPR oversight included
    • Periodic field checks
    • Technical input into design and construction problems.
evolution of fhwa oversight8
Evolution of FHWA Oversight

1960’s - The Interstate Era

  • Federal-aid Highway Act signed 1957
    • Rapidly expanding program, and increased federal/state workforce
    • Serious concerns with financial management, corruption, and lack of project oversight
  • House special investigative committee established in 1959.
  • BPR changed its oversight role
    • Increased project level actions.
    • Began delegation some oversight responsibilities to the States
evolution of fhwa oversight9
Evolution of FHWA Oversight

1970’s – Today - Increased State Flexibility

  • USDOT and FHWA formed, 1967
  • Continued delegation of oversight responsibility to States
    • Certification Acceptance initiated, 1973
    • Process/Program reviews
  • Legislative changes - ISTEA, TEA-21 offered States more independence.
  • Recent concerns with lack of oversight
    • Some problems associated with major projects
    • GAO and IG reports indicating lack of FHWA oversight.
the dilemma for today s field engineers
The Dilemma for Today’s Field Engineers
  • Dwindling FTE
  • Loss of expertise by attrition
  • Increasingly politicized highway program
  • Increasing congestion and highway construction delays
  • Increasing public frustration at congestion and construction delays
  • More complex program
  • While our abilities and authority have been stretched - We are still responsible
moving forward
Moving Forward
  • Project to Program
    • Reviews based on risk assessments
    • Joint FHWA/State reviews
  • Building our Technical Expertise
    • Training
    • Easily accessible tools
  • Proactive Stewardship
mary peters july 29 2004
Mary Peters - July 29, 2004

Things are certainly different today, but that doesn't have to be bad. I think it is up to us to reestablish in a new role. We certainly have a valuable role to play and much to contribute, it will just be in a different way than in the past. Likely more program than project related, and to be the guardian of a national transportation system, which is uniquely our role.

this takes you fhwa eyes and ears
This Takes You : FHWA Eyes and Ears
  • Professional
  • Value Added
  • Improved Work Methods
  • Sharing Technology
  • Pro Active Partners

Truly a Transportation Leader

available resources
Available Resources


  • Conducting Reviews that Gets Results
    • Just-in-time training for Teams to use for conducting effective process reviews
  • Construction Program Management Training


  • Construction Program Management and Inspection Guide
  • Construction Program Guide Website
  • National Highway Specifications Website
  • Headquarters initiated process reviews
    • QA Reviews underway
    • Potential for expansion to other types of reviews.


Ken Jacoby

Office of Asset Management


Jeff Lewis

CA Division