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ISO 9001:2000 Certified
PENNDOT Engineering District 10 Construction Unit implements a Quality Management System

On July 22, 2003, PENNDOT Engineering District 10 Construction Unit was certified as meeting the requirements of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2000 by KEMA-Registered Quality, an ANSI-RAB NAP accredited organization. PENNDOT Engineering District 10 is the first District in the State to receive the ISO 9001:2000 certification. The District’s Construction Unit received the official certification for its Quality Management System (QMS) in construction activities. ISO certification is a rigorous process that requires a third party external audit. The Construction Unit underwent this audit process in June, 2003, to determine its degree of conformance to ISO standards. The goal was achieved through the establishment of a QMS for all operations associated with the Construction Unit including field services and office support.

District 10’s Construction Unit, led by Joseph J. Szczur, P.E., Assistant District Executive for Construction, is tasked with the responsibility of managing and inspecting contract work on State roadways and bridges in Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson counties. The Unit employs 83 people in 7 functional areas and has the responsibility for ensuring that all road construction in the District is performed in accordance with Federal, State and Local regulations in addition to adhering to all contract mandated requirements. About 25% of the personnel are engineers, 65% are technical and management staff directly involved in road construction with the balance being support staff attending to the many fiscal and administrative aspects of highway construction. By earning ISO 9001 certification, the District is ensuring that quality is integrated into the processes used to monitor contractor activities and administer contract requirements. Quality certification also helps to ensure that Commonwealth residents get efficient and effective use of their tax dollars. This year, the District has nearly $200 million in transportation improvements underway.

The organization pursued the development of an ISO compliant QMS in an effort to consolidate quality management systems, processes, and philosophies into a globally accepted standard set. As a result of this all of the unit’s business planning processes, process mapping, key process investigations, measurement systems, and customer inquiry and complaint handling and tracking have been consolidated into one management review process focusing on continual improvement.

Aside from the conventional activities such as forming an implementation team and performing a gap analysis, we identified our key processes and sub-processes for every activity within our scope of responsibility. Those responsible for each key process started with the existing in-place process map or a blank piece of paper; all inputs to the process were identified, the activities were evaluated to ensure internal and external customer requirements were met, and the expected outputs from the process were identified. To demonstrate that the outputs conform to requirements and to ensure that the process was performing to expectations existing metrics were evaluated and revised or created if necessary. We also identified all interfaces and all records that were required by State or contract mandate.

At this point, process flow charts or process maps were developed, except for the simplest processes. We decided that it was a worthwhile investment to document most processes with detailed procedures since the act of writing the procedures provided a check to ensure that all activities were adding value and to provide a reliable reference to train new personnel. In the end, 23 QMS processes and 33 Product Realization processes were developed. Most of the documentation is 2 pages or less (one of our guidelines, since longer documentation is difficult to follow consistently) with an accompanying flow chart. Our system was developed in a manner that others could easily copy or emulate. Additionally, our entire QMS is electronic, to avoid redundancy of paper copies with varying updates.

Procedural aspects of the project implementation such as developing a quality policy, defining and setting objectives, setting-up corrective action and implementing management review were handled in such a way that avoided any duplication of effort. Richard Polenik, Assistant Materials Manager, was assigned as our management representative to coordinate and implement our QMS. After implementation, Lisa Andrus-Peace, District Quality Coordinator, has been working closely with the Construction Unit to insure various aspects of our QMS are handled effectively.

It took 8 months from project start to certification. No additional manpower and limited use of consulting help to ensured we defined and stayed on an efficient path to implementation. Consultant help was most useful in structuring the project, in providing initial training, in conducting Internal Auditor training for compliance and improvement and in providing a check on the extent and detail contained in our documentation.

Costs that had been readily absorbed in the past were now traced back to root cause in the QMS. We asked, “when this unexpected cost was created, where did our ISO QMS fail? Did we have a quality process for this item? Did we follow our procedures and still endure the cost? Did we fail to follow our own procedure or process?” Using this logic, we have a repeatable and rationale method to cut costs.

Achieving ISO 9001:2000 compliance was an exhilarating journey, accompanied by a less than expected level of resistance throughout the organization. Long term employees (many of our staff have over 20 years experience), SAP implementation, an unusually high construction portfolio and several other factors could have been the basis for resistance. But our team chose to “just do it”. As one of our staff said …” if the ISO process is viewed as meaningful for 600,000 mostly private sector organizations, we should be able to use it effectively here.”

The good news and the bad news is that in going through the process, we identified many more improvement projects than we have time or resources to attack. But through time we will attack these as well and the Management review process is our vehicle for setting priorities and allocating resources.

A quality manual was developed to create uniform processes that integrate quality into all aspects of the Construction Unit. The manual is available for public review on District 10’s website by going to, click “Regional Information,” click “10,” click “District 10 Initiatives,” and then “Construction ISO 9001 Manual.”

by H. Daniel Cessna, P.E., Assistant Construction Engineer, PENNDOT and Charlie Cianfrani, ARBOR E&T, LLC.


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