Chapter 4: Developing a Project Quality Plan

The following sections describe the development process within the design-bid-build project delivery process. There are also variants between design-bid-build and design-build that are highlighted in Chapter 3. In all cases, the owner is responsible for assurance of the quality plan.

4.1       Goals and Objectives

The goal of a Quality Plan is to explicitly plan for the quality related activities needed to ensure that the project meets the requirements of the grantee and complies with regulatory requirements. The Quality Plan should be developed hand-in-hand with the PMP for the project. It is a living document in that it may need to be revised as the project progresses from the Project Planning Phase through Preliminary Engineering (PE), Final Design, Construction/Procurement, and Testing and Start-up.

4.2       Responsibilities

The PM is responsible for the Quality Plan. Ultimately, the PM must determine which procedures should be applied to the project. Where there is a Director of Quality Assurance or equivalent position, that person should also have to approve the plan.

4.3       Approach

Where a grantee has detailed procedures for carrying out the elements of the quality policy, the development of a Quality Plan for a project is straightforward. The PM can adopt particular procedures as appropriate during the different project phases of Project Planning, PE and Final Design, Procurement/Construction, and Testing and Start-up. The Quality Plan should provide an overview of the entire quality program for the project, and should provide enough detail either through incorporation of or reference to written procedures.

Where written procedures have not been adopted by the grantee, they will have to be developed specifically for the Quality Plan. Thus, if a grantee expects to be involved in multiple capital projects using FTA funding, the grantee should consider the formal development of written procedures.

The Quality Plan should be written to provide project management with easy access to the quality requirements. When the plan references procedures or standards, those items should be readily available as part of the plan.

4.4       Technical Requirements During Each Project Phase

While it is possible that one Quality Plan, applicable throughout the project, could be written at the end of the Planning Phase, the more likely situation is one where the Quality Plan evolves as the project progresses. This is so because the organizations may change and the level of quality assistance required by contractors can vary. Also the procedures, forms, reports, etc., initially proposed for a QA/QC program may not be used or are changed during the course of the project. These changes should be reflected in the Quality Plan if they improve the final documentation and quality of the work.

There are exceptions to the traditional phased approach to a project. In design-build situations, one contractor could be responsible for several project phases. Therefore, the QA/QC program requirements should be completely specified at the time of the project bid and design-build contractor selection.

The following sections describe the type of detail that is desirable in a Quality Plan during the relevant project phases. The description is for the desired detail for a complex project where all of the quality system elements should be included at some time during the project. Less detail may be appropriate for simpler projects (See Chapter 2, Section 2.3).

4.4.1    Project Planning

Project Planning can include the bus maintenance facility planning process, rail modernization planning, and the Alternatives Analysis (AA) process for major capital investments for which FTA has established detailed procedures. Responsibility for bus maintenance facility planning and rail modernization planning typically rests with the operating agency. For AA planning, the responsibility may be spread among several agencies. The lead agency need only have the charter, authority, and capability to perform the planning and receive the grants required to accomplish the AA.

For major capital projects, a PMP should be initiated during the Project Planning Phase and completed and accepted before entering into Final Design. The project owner should develop the PMP, which may be different from the organization doing the Project Plan. Generally, the PMP must be submitted during the project grant review process and as part of FTA's grant application review. A Quality Plan is required as part of the PMP.

At this early phase, much is still unknown about the project. The participants may not be known, so that the Quality Plan cannot name organizations and persons. Timing, budgets, construction techniques, and so forth have yet to be decided. Initially, therefore, the Quality Plan should consist of a general description of the fifteen basic quality elements as applicable to the grantee and the project. The quality policy and appropriate existing procedures should be included in the Quality Plan.

Development of the Quality Plan is important at this phase to set an overall expectation and direction for quality for the project, and to clearly spell out quality requirements for procurement of the design consultants. Table 4-1 indicates the quality system elements for which design related detail might be appropriate at this initial phase.

There may not be a quality requirement for submittal of a Quality Plan for projects which are not major, and which do not have a PMP requirement. However, the development of a Quality Plan can be beneficial for project management and project control purposes. Again, at this phase, the major planning effort should be focused on the quality requirements for the design activity.

4.4.2    Preliminary Engineering and Final Design

The Preliminary Engineering Phase is initiated at the conclusion of Project Planning. In PE the design is developed enough to provide a more accurate estimate of project costs and impacts. The resultant technical and financial information forms the basis for subsequent funding and implementation decisions. During PE, the merits of all sound configurations and designs are investigated. In addition, environmental requirements are completed, including preparation of a Final Environmental Impact Statement, and in some cases, a supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The Final Design Phase is the last project development phase prior to construction. During this phase, the design consultant and/or in-house design staff prepares the plans, specifications, and bid documents required for awarding the individual facility construction and equipment fabrication/installation contracts.

Management of PE and Final Design is the responsibility of the grantee who must ensure that knowledgeable personnel are available to perform the required services.

Two basic alternatives exist for organizing the PE effort. The chosen alternative may be continued into Final Design or a different alternative can be established at that point. The two alternatives are 1) the grantee staff performs all design, or 2) consultants have the primary responsibility for design. There are also organizational alternatives in-between these extremes that mix the use of grantee staff and consultant staff. For larger projects, either the owner or a general design consultant can supervise and manage the work of firms retained to design sections of the project.

As design consultants are chosen and the design management organization is put into place, the PMP should be updated to reflect these actions. The Quality Plan should be updated to reflect each new organization of quality activity, and it should be updated to reflect more closely the planned quality activities during the Final Design Phase. The plan should begin to answer more specifically the questions of who is responsible and when in time actions should occur.

More important, the Quality Plan should be updated to reflect the quality requirements for the next phase in the process. Since an important product of the design phase is construction contract documents for construction contractors, decisions about quality requirements for construction and manufacturing need to be planned and included in the contract documents. Table 4-1 indicates the detailed descriptions that might be appropriate at this phase in the project Quality Plan.

4.4.3    Construction and Equipment Procurement

During the Construction and Equipment Procurement Phase, suppliers, contractors, and/or agency force account employees construct the fixed facilities, fabricate/install equipment, and integrate them into a functioning system. During this phase, the Quality Plan should be developed in sufficient detail to guide the grantee in appropriate QA, QC, and quality oversight procedures.

During this phase, the first task is to procure the required contractors. These include the CMC, the construction contractors, and/or the equipment manufacturers. Where procurement regulations allow, contractors should be prequalified. Evidence of an acceptable quality program should be part of the prequalification process.

Where the specifications for the various contracted project tasks require the contractor to assume responsibilities for specific quality activities, the contractor should prepare written documentation of its quality program. This program should be reviewed and approved for adequacy by the grantee's Project Manager and the Director of Quality Assurance, or equivalent position.

Key quality elements that need to be specified in detail in the Quality Plan and, where appropriate, in contract documents, are procedures for nonconformance and corrective action during manufacturing and/or construction. In particular, the process for stopping work should be spelled out. Persons authorized to issue stop-work orders, procedures for doing so, approvals required, and restrictions need to be clearly understood by the contractors as well as the grantee. The grantee's role in providing quality oversight for the project should be described, and any audit activities should be planned. Table 4-1 indicates the type of information that would be useful at this phase.

4.4.4    Testing and Start-up

The Testing and Start-up Phase is the bridge between the Construction and Equipment Procurement Phase and the beginning of revenue service. The purpose of this phase is to accept the newly constructed or modernized facility, and/ or the newly procured equipment. This phase also includes integration testing of operating system prior to beginning or resuming revenue service. This phase overlaps with Construction and Equipment Procurement Phase, since some testing is performed in accordance with contract requirements during the earlier phase.

The Quality Plan should be modified prior to the beginning of the Testing and Start-up Phase to include detailed procedures for those tests required for the transfer of facilities and equipment from the constructing organization to the operating organization. Although contractually required testing will have been done as part of Construction and Equipment Procurement, other testing may be required by the owner/operating organization to accept the facilities and equipment. Acceptance criteria, however, must be specified at the end of the Final Design Phase and included in the construction contract documents.

Assurance of the testing program at this point is the responsibility of the owner. A test management team, as part of the project staff, should manage testing. A test engineer should manage the program with assistance from consultants and agency staff, as appropriate.

An exception to this situation would be when the contractor constructing the new system will also be responsible for operating the system for a period of time. In this case, all system integration testing would be performed as part of the contract with the constructing/operating organization. The tests must therefore be detailed in the Final Design Phase.

Preparation for revenue service start-up also includes the training of personnel to operate and maintain the facilities. Prior to service start-up the grantee should simulate service to test whether all system elements are functional and perform as designed. Start-up operations should verify the competence of the personnel and ensure a smooth and safe transition into operations.

The Quality Plan for the project should also reflect the need for ongoing maintenance contracts, as well as grantee/operator actions required to keep the contractual warranties in force. Table 4-1 shows the details to be included in the Quality Plan at the beginning of the Testing and Start-up Phase.

Given the existence of a detailed project Quality Plan and given that the plan is carefully executed, each of the project phases from Project Planning through Testing and Start-up should meet the quality specifications of the grantee, and provide excellent service. This, ultimately, is the objective of the quality program.

TABLE 4-1 -- DETAILS OF QUALITY PLAN AT VARIOUS PROJECT PHASES

Quality
Program
Element

Project Phase

Project
Planning

Pre. Engineering/
Final Design

Construction/
Procurement

Testing/
Start-Up

1. Management Responsibility

Describe the quality responsibilities of the project team, and the persons/ organization responsible for quality for the grantee. Identify specific personnel where possible.

Describe the quality responsibilities of the project team, and the persons/organization responsible for quality for the grantee and for the design consultant. Identify specific personnel where possible.

Describe the quality responsibilities of the grantee project team, and the persons/organization responsible for quality for the grantee and for construction management consultants, construction contractors, and equipment manufacturing contractors. Identify specific personnel where possible. Identify grantee staff responsible for quality oversight activities.

Describe the quality responsibilities of the project team, and the persons/organization responsible for quality for the grantee and for construction management consultants, construction contractors, and equipment manufacturing contractors. Identify specific personnel responsible for acceptance, demonstration, and integration testing. Identify grantee test engineer responsible for the testing program.

2. Documented Quality Management System

Incorporate by reference any written procedures for quality applicable to the project. Design-related procedures are particularly relevant. Note that applicable existing procedures can be referenced for any of the quality program elements.

Incorporate by reference any written procedures for quality applicable to the project. Construction and/or equipment manufacturing related procedures are particularly relevant.

Incorporate by reference any written procedures for the Quality Plan applicable to the project. Construction and/or equipment manufacturing related procedures are particularly relevant.

Incorporate by reference any written procedures for the Quality Plan applicable to the project. Testing related procedures are particularly relevant.

3. Design Control

Specify requirements for review & sign-off for design from departments, such as Construction and Operations, and other relevant agencies. Specify required design reviews during the PE and Final Design Phase. Specify any contract quality requirements for PE or Final Design consultants. Describe the procedures to be followed for design changes, including signoff and documentation.

Describe the procedures to be followed for design or specification changes or waivers of requirements during construction. Signoff of the responsible design consultant is desirable as well as signoff by those originally responsible for the design approvals. Requirements for "as-built" documents should be stated.

Describe the procedures to be followed for design or specification changes or waivers of requirements during construction. Signoff of the responsible design consultant is desirable as well as signoff by those originally responsible for the design approvals. Requirements for "as-built" documents should be stated.

Describe the procedures to be followed for fixing problems that are uncovered during final testing. Configuration management practices should be identified and followed.

4. Document Control

A procedure for the control of project documents should be specified. This procedure may be modified as contractors and consultants join the project.

A procedure for the control of project documents should be described. This procedure should incorporate the design consultants for the project. This procedure may be modified as construction contractors and construction management consultants join the project.

A procedure for the control of project documents should be described as relates to the various construction contractors and consultants for the project. Contractor obligations should be specified and should be included in the contract documents.

A procedure for the control of documentation from the testing program should be described.

5. Purchasing

Describe procedures to obtain a list of qualified contractors for the design service. Provide a statement of general requirements, including quality requirements, and any past, demonstrated capability and performance requirements. Describe the process to ensure that purchasing documents are reviewed and approved by a designated authority prior to release.

Describe procedures to obtain a list of qualified contractors for the desired service. Provide a statement of general requirements, including quality requirements, and any past, demonstrated capability and performance requirements. Describe the process to ensure that purchasing documents are reviewed and approved by a designated authority prior to release.

Describe requirements for purchasing control to be placed upon construction contractors or equipment manufacturing contractors for the project. Describe purchasing and receiving control procedures to be followed by the grantee.

In addition to the requirements for testing of materials defined in the purchasing contract documents, the Quality Plan should specify random testing by the grantee of products for which fabricators submit material certificates or certificates of compliance. Testing should also be conducted when the validity of the materials/products or documentation are questionable.

6. Product Identification and Traceability

N/A

Describe requirements for product identification and traceability to be placed in  contract documents, where appropriate, for equipment manufacturers or others supplying products for the project. Describe where these requirements are appropriate.

Describe requirements for product identification and traceability that should be included, where appropriate, in contract documents.

Describe the requirements for product identification and traceability for products and materials turned over to the owner at the project conclusion.

7. Process Control

N/A

Describe requirements for process control and procedures for special processes to be placed in contract documents, where appropriate, for contractors. Describe where these requirements are appropriate.

Describe requirements for process control and procedures for special processes, which should be included, where appropriate, in contract documents. These procedures should specify any sequencing of work requirements.

Describe plans for maintenance of the facility and equipment, especially as required for warranty purposes.

8. Inspection & Testing

N/A

Describe requirements for inspection and testing to be placed in contract documents, where appropriate, for contractors. Inspection and testing can include in-process inspection and testing, final inspection and testing, and receiving inspection. Specifications should indicate the types of tests required and the standards to be met. Describe where these requirements are appropriate.

Describe requirements for inspection and testing for each contract, as appropriate. Inspection and testing can include in-process inspection and testing, final inspection and testing, and receiving inspection. State the types of tests required and the standards to be met.

Describe plans for acceptance testing, demonstration testing, and integration testing of the system and equipment. Acceptance tests verify that performance of all delivered equipment is in conformance with specifications. Demonstration tests demonstrate the reliability of the system equipment. System integration testing demonstrates the ability of various subsystems and facilities to work together as a system and for the new or modernized system to function with an existing system. Tests that affect system safety should be reviewed independently in a safety review to ensure that potential hazards are identified and resolved.

9. Inspection, Measuring & Test Equipment

N/A

Describe requirements for calibration and maintenance of inspection, measuring, and test equipment to be placed in contract documents, where appropriate, for contractors. Describe where these requirements are appropriate.

Describe requirements, as appropriate, for calibration and maintenance of inspection, measuring, and test equipment for each contract.

Describe requirements, as appropriate, for calibration and maintenance of inspection, measuring, and test equipment as required for final testing.

10. Inspection & Test Status

N/A

Describe requirements to be placed in contract documents, where appropriate, for contractors to identify the inspection and test status of work during production and installation. Describe where these requirements are appropriate.

Describe requirements, as appropriate, for contractors to identify the inspection and test status of work during production and installation.

Describe requirements, as appropriate, to identify the inspection and test status of work during final testing.

11. Nonconformance

Procedures for handling nonconforming work should be described, and potential design contractors should be made aware of these procedures.

Grantee procedures for handling nonconforming work should be described, and these procedures should be included in contract documents to clarify future expectations.

Grantee procedures for handling nonconforming work should be specified in detail. All contractors should be made aware of the procedures. Procedures include defining responsibilities, stating conditions that would cause work to stop, and providing documentation. Specify the requirements for the contractor to have their own procedures.

Procedures for handling nonconforming work should be maintained during final testing.

12. Corrective Action

Procedures for handling corrective action should be described, and potential design contractors should be made aware of these procedures.

Grantee procedures for corrective action should be described, and these procedures should be included in contract documents to clarify future expectations.

Procedures for talking corrective action should be specified in detail. Each contractor should be made aware of the procedures. Specify any requirements for the contractor to have their own procedures.

Procedures for taking corrective action should be maintained during final testing.

13. Quality Records

Procedures should be specified for establishing and maintaining quality records. Requirements for contractors and subcontractors should be specified, and made part of bid specifications and contracts.

Procedures should be specified for establishing and maintaining quality records. Requirements for contractors and subcontractors should be specified, and made part of contract documents.

Procedures should be specified for establishing and maintaining quality records. Requirements for contractors and subcontractors should be specified, and made part of the contract documents.

Procedures should be specified for maintaining quality records for a specified period after project completion.

14. Quality Audits

An internal audit should be described with the initial focus on the design process at this phase in the project.

An internal quality audit system should be planned and implemented for the design activities during PE and Final Design. Requirements for contractors to cooperate with quality audits should be stated, and included where appropriate, in contract documents.

An internal audit should be planned and implemented for the construction and equipment manufacturing activities.

A final audit should be planned and implemented to ensure that project quality records are complete and in satisfactory condition.

15. Training

Specify any training required for personnel.

Specify any training required for personnel.

Specify any training required for personnel.

Specify training required for grantee operating and maintenance to ensure a smooth transition to operations.