Challenges Faced by State Transportation Agencies: Backgrounds and Solutions

This paper describes the challenges faced by State Transportation Agencies in training and maintaining certified NDE inspection personnel. Some of these challenges are institutional and are inherent in personnel practices of public agencies, while others are external and may require the involvement of industry to address. Certification of NDE is largely an employer based program requiring an ASNT Level III which is often not present in state transportation agencies for the administration of written practices. However many state transportation agencies directly, or through consultants, employ inspection personnel to perform NDE for fabrication and maintenance of state bridges and highways. Public agencies also struggle with the inherent perception of conflict associated with employer based certification programs. Another impediment for state transportation agencies is the difficulty in hiring personnel during government spending cuts and the scarcity of locating qualified personnel. This paper will explore the background and delve into the issues regarding these challenges, and also propose possible solutions going forward including implementation of a centralized certification program, benchmarking with other industries similarly affected by qualified personnel shortages and partnering with industry and academia to expand the pool of qualified personnel by implementing these best practices.

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