Frequently Asked Questions - AASHTO Accreditation
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How does my laboratory obtain AASHTO Accreditation?
- Ensure that your laboratory’s quality management system meets the requirements of AASHTO R18 and any other ASTM quality system specification that you may need to comply with such as C1077, D3666, D3740, and E329.
- Schedule an on-site assessment with AMRL for asphalt binder, emulsified asphalt, hot mix asphalt, aggregate, soil, or metals testing accreditation. For concrete, cement, masonry, or rebar testing accreditation, please contact CCRL for the on-site assessment.
- Pay your application fee of $250.
- Enroll in the appropriate AMRL or CCRL proficiency samples. AMRL will automatically enroll you once we receive your request for accreditation. Please contact CCRL for enrollment in their program.
- Complete your Criteria Compliance Document online. You can view this document only when logged into AMRL’s website.
- Resolve the nonconformities from your on-site assessment within 90 days of the issuance of the report using our new online system for submitting responses.
- We accept corrective actions using the new website submittal functions. Please log in to our website and click “View My Accreditation Events” to submit responses.
What are the benefits of AASHTO Accreditation?
The process of becoming accredited helps your laboratory improve its quality through our rigorous review of testing, equipment, and quality system management. Many laboratories that are new to the program find the process to be a bit overwhelming but ultimately they appreciate the benefits of knowing that they’re laboratory is maintaining the highest standard in the industry.
Once your laboratory obtains the accreditation, you become part of the elite group of materials testing laboratories that can start bidding on projects that require the accreditation. Specifying agencies include the DOTs, FHWA, the FAA, and many local, state, and regional authorities.
Being accredited also enters you into the AMRL community of accredited laboratories. The people that work for laboratories in our program do more than just conform to standards – they set the standards. Many of the participants in our programs write and submit balloted changes to ASTM standards. As an AASHTO program, AMRL is able to offer its accredited labs the ability to submit a change to an AASHTO standard too – even if you don’t work at a state DoT, your voice can be heard by the AASHTO Subcommittee on Materials.
How long does it take to get my laboratory accredited?
That depends on how quickly you are prepared to get your on-site assessment, whether or not we have an assessor available to get to your laboratory quickly, and how quickly you can complete the process. Most of the process is in your hands – you are responsible for resolving all of the nonconformities in a timely manner. It can take 3 weeks or it can take 3 months.
How do I submit corrective actions to my AMRL or CCRL Report?
Log onto the AMRL website and view “My Accreditation Events”. Once you are there, you can submit corrective actions to each individual nonconformity noted in the AMRL or CCRL report. You must submit supporting evidence along with your written responses.
If a repeat finding is noted, you must also complete the form called the Assessment Corrective Action Report and submit with your other corrective actions.
Please note that we ONLY accept submittals using the new website submittal functions. Paper, faxed, and emailed submittals will not be accepted.
I received low ratings on a proficiency sample. What do I do?
Any result below a 3 is considered a rating worth investigating. You do not need to submit that corrective action to AMRL, but it can be useful to get our opinions on the corrective actions in some cases. The corrective action report for low ratings can be found in our document library. Improved ratings on the next round are a good indication that your corrective actions were effective.
If the ratings were a 0 or 1, you must receive satisfactory ratings on the next round of proficiency testing to avoid a suspension. This suspension occurs whether or not a corrective action was completed because repeat low ratings indicate that either no corrective actions or ineffective corrective actions have been taken.
You may also request an extra proficiency sample (XPS) to resolve the suspension before the next regularly scheduled sample round. We charge the same fees for an XPS used for accreditation reinstatements, but please note that we only ship one sample of soil and aggregate instead of the typical two samples that you are used to receiving. We also limit the attempts to become reinstated to two attempts. If you failed to receive satisfactory ratings on an XPS that was used for accreditation purposes, you will have to wait until the next regularly scheduled round of testing to attempt to have your accreditation reinstated. Also, if your accreditation is reinstated based on satisfactory ratings received on an XPS, you must receive satisfactory ratings on the next regularly scheduled round to maintain the accreditation.
Why are mailed, faxed, and emailed responses no longer being accepted?
Providing excellent customer service has always been very important to our program. To that end, we have created a new web-based laboratory accreditation management system that will greatly improve our efficiency, communication, and responsiveness. Without all laboratories using the new system, it will not succeed though, so it was important to make the use of the system.
Where can I get a detailed program description?
Download the Procedures Manual for a complete explanation of the AASHTO Accreditation Program’s policies and procedures.
I need to show that I am accredited in order to bid for a job. Where can I get something that shows the tests for which I am accredited?
Go to our Accreditation Directory and search for your laboratory. Once you locate it, click on “Show This Entry Only”, which will be located just under your laboratory name and location. Print the page that shows your laboratory’s information and submit it to your specifier as a means of proving your accreditation status.
At the bottom of this page, you will see the date for which this information is considered valid. The specifier may wish to check the website directory themselves to ensure that the information is accurate. Our online directory shows the most current accreditation information.
If you know who your specifier is, you can use the specifier selection function that can be found by selecting “View / Manage Specifiers” from your laboratory’s home page. If you select them, you allow them direct access to your accreditation information.
How do I resolve a suspension?
If the suspension is due to unresolved items from an AMRL or CCRL report, the laboratory must provide corrective action and substantiating evidence (in the timeframe specified) for each item listed in the suspension notice.
If the suspension is for low ratings received in proficiency sample testing, the laboratory may elect to wait until the next round or order an extra proficiency sample. If the laboratory ordered an extra proficiency sample to resolve a suspension, the laboratory is required to receive satisfactory ratings on the next regularly scheduled round of proficiency samples in order to prevent another suspension from occurring.
If the suspension is due to unpaid invoices, the laboratory must make full payment on the invoice and wait for up to 2 weeks for the payment to clear with the bank.
There are other possible reasons for suspensions, and the suspension notice will explain the process. Keep in mind that resolving any suspension takes time, and reinstatement of accreditation is not immediate even if the issue has been resolved.
See the Procedures Manual for a complete description.
All suspension information can be found when logging into the AMRL website and viewing accreditation events. You must submit your corrective actions on that page for the corrective actions to be accepted.
How do I find an accredited laboratory in my area?
Go to our accreditation directory and search based on your location. You can search by city or by entire state. You can even search by type of material being tested and by individual test method!
Does my Laboratory Manager have to be a Professional Engineer?
It depends on your accreditation requirements. R18 and the AAP Procedures Manual do not require that your Laboratory Manager be a P.E., but the person does have to have their education and experience approved by our oversight committee, the AMRL Administrative Task Group (ATG).
If your laboratory needs to be accredited for ASTM C1077 and E329, you do need to have a Laboratory Manager that is a full-time employee of your laboratory (not a contractor or consultant) and holds a valid Professional Engineer’s license.
What is the difference between an observation and a nonconformity?
Some people call them gigs, docks, dings, notes, or deficiencies. CCRL calls them footnotes. AMRL calls them findings and classifies findings into 2 categories: observations and nonconformities, which are defined below:
Nonconformity: A finding that indicates policy or practice contrary to the requirements of applicable AASHTO or ASTM standards or documented quality system procedures.
Observation: (1) A technically-related nonconformity that judgment and experience indicate is not likely to affect the ability of the laboratory to produce valid and accurate test results; (2) A minor failure in some part of the documented quality system, such as a single observed lapse in following one item of the company’s quality system; (3) Specific technical information provided for informational purposes only.
Which findings/footnotes on my AMRL On-Site Assessment or CCRL Laboratory Inspection report are required to be resolved?
All findings (nonconformities and observations) on AMRL reports need to be resolved unless they are designated as “informational” within the text of the note. Once you resolve each finding, you are required to submit an explanation of the corrective action taken to resolve only the nonconformities (or footnotes for CCRL reports) using the online submittal tools on your accreditation events page.
This submittal must include any substantiating evidence to support your explanation. If the nonconformity is a repeat issue, you must perform a root cause analysis and complete an On-Site Assessment Correction Action Form if your company does not have its own version of this document that includes all of the information that our form does.
Although your findings that have been designated as observations require corrective action to be taken, you are not required to submit an explanation of this corrective action to us in order to maintain your accreditation.
I hired a laboratory to work on a project because they said that they were AASHTO Accredited. I checked the directory, and they are not listed. Why would this be?
It is because the laboratory is not accredited. Our database shows the current accreditation status of all laboratories in our program.
If you find that a laboratory is claiming accreditation when they are not actually accredited, you should contact AMRL about this false claim of accreditation.
Can I find out why a laboratory’s accreditation is suspended?
We cannot give you the specific details for a laboratory suspension, but it would most likely be one of the following reasons:
- Lack of adequate resolution of nonconformities noted during their last AMRL or CCRL assessment report.
- Repeated low ratings or non-participation in the AMRL or CCRL proficiency sample programs relevant to the laboratory’s accreditation.
- Non-payment of invoices for services rendered by AMRL.
- Some other lack of conformance to the guidelines of the AASHTO Accreditation Program.
Please contact the suspended laboratory directly for more information on their suspension. If you want to be able to receive notifications about a particular suspension, please register yourself as a specifier on our website. As a specifier, you will receive access to accreditation change notifications, proficiency testing results, and more. Go to “Request AMRL Services” and apply to become a specifier today.
I am already accredited and need to add D3666 right away so I can bid for an airport job. Can you help me?
That depends – do you meet the requirements of D3666? You can submit evidence to your Quality Analyst showing that your laboratory meets the requirements. We charge $100 for the review of this documentation.
Often laboratories request D3740, D3666, C1077, and E329, and they need it right away. The problem is that those standards require technician certifications, and the courses are not offered as quickly as the laboratory needs them to be. It is up to the laboratory to obtain the required certifications before applying for accreditation.
AMRL will not grant your laboratory the accreditation that you need unless you meet the requirements of the specification or test method.
Why am I getting a bill for the AASHTO Accreditation Program?
When you apply for the AASHTO Accreditation Program, you pay a $250 application fee. The following April, you will receive a bill for AAP which covers the accreditation for the time between your initial application and April. Each year thereafter, you will pay for the previous year’s accreditation. Click here to see a detailed explanation of the billing process. If you do not pay your bill, your accreditation will be revoked for the entire scope of the accreditation.
AMRL used to send out bills for all services at once, but it was deemed to be too expensive all at one time. Now it is split out and itemized. The AAP fees cover the administrative costs of managing the accreditation program.
Why am I being billed for last year’s accreditation?
When AMRL split apart its annual invoices and began itemizing all program costs, it was deemed appropriate to bill for the accreditation that was held throughout the year. Sometimes the laboratory does not gain the scope of accreditation for which it seeks – so invoicing for accreditation services ahead of time would not be accurate. To avoid complications, AAP bills represent the accreditation held throughout the previous year as stated at the time of invoicing.
The AAP Invoice shows the billing cycle. This information is new to the printed invoice, but there was no change in the way our billing is processed.
How is the pro-rated discount calculated?
We are pro-rating the AAP fees for new fields of accreditation this year. If a laboratory added a field or is totally new to AAP, their invoice will be prorated for the billing cycle indicated. This does not affect individual methods within an already established accredited field of testing. Here is how it works:
- Take the subtotal for the new field and divide by 12.
- Multiply by the number of months that the lab was not accredited to determine their discount.
Why was my laboratory accreditation suspended even though I submitted corrective actions to low ratings on proficiency sample testing?
The AASHTO Accreditation Program suspends accreditation any time a laboratory either does not participate or receives ratings of 0 or 1 on both proficiency samples in the set for two rounds in a row. Participation is only required for samples that include test methods covered under the scope of the laboratory accreditation.
This suspension occurs whether or not a corrective action has been submitted by the laboratory. This is because after receiving the first set of 0s or 1s, an accredited laboratory should be able to take effective corrective action to resolve the issue(s) that led to the low rating.
What is the difference between AMRL and CCRL?
AMRL is part of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which is sponsored by the state DOTs, the FHWA, the Port Authority of NY/NJ, the Washington DC DOT, and the Puerto Rico DOT. AMRL offers assessments and proficiency samples in the fields of asphalt binder, emulsified asphalts, hot mix asphalt, aggregate, soil, metals, and plastic pipe.
CCRL is part of ASTM International, which is a standards organization that includes both private and public sector membership. CCRL offers assessments and proficiency samples in the fields of concrete, aggregate, cement, pozzolan, masonry, and metals.
If a laboratory is seeking AASHTO Accreditation, they must submit all responses to nonconformities noted in the AMRL and/or CCRL report to the AASHTO Accreditation Program, which is part of AMRL. Responses may be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the minimum amount of tests that I need to perform to gain AASHTO Accreditation?
The minimum is technically one test, but you should always contact the agencies that require the accreditation to find out exactly what they suggest. If your laboratory is not accredited for the list of test methods or the quantity of test methods required by the specifying agency, the accreditation may not qualify your laboratory for certain jobs.
If you are required to become accredited for an ASTM quality system specification such as C1077 or D3740, there are test requirements that are listed. Please view those documents before requesting an AMRL or CCRL on-site assessment.
I disagree with the accreditation decision that was made. Can I appeal?
Yes you can appeal a revocation or denial, and your appeal must be very clear and include appropriate documentation to support your case. All appeals are presented to the oversight committee for AMRL (the ATG) along with an explanation from the AAP. A suspension cannot be appealed.
What do I do if I want to be accredited for a test that I don’t see offered?
Please let us know. We are always expanding our services, but we need your input to ensure that our programs are meeting the needs of the construction materials testing industry.
Can I back-date my accreditation to when I received my assessment?
No. Your laboratory is not accredited until all nonconformities are resolved and your laboratory has been found to comply with the requirements of the AASHTO Accreditation Program.
Are my mobile laboratories considered to be accredited because my main facility is accredited?
No. A mobile facility is required to undergo the same process as a regular facility. If your site facility requires accreditation according to the project guidelines, please check with the owner of the project for clarification though. Just because we do not consider your site facility to be accredited based on your main facility’s accreditation, the project owner may.
My deadline is tomorrow. Can I just submit some responses and get an extension?
No. A laboratory has over 3 months to resolve the nonconformities noted in the report if you include the time it takes to receive the final assessment report. That is more than enough time to submit responses that show that each nonconformity has been effectively resolved.
I want to be accredited for a test where only a mercury thermometer is specified, and I am not allowed to use mercury in my state. Can I still be accredited for that test method?
Yes. We know that ASTM and AASHTO are working on providing the language to specify non-mercury alternatives in all of their standards, but the process has not caught up with the process of outlawing mercury in certain states. In the meantime, the AASHTO Accreditation Program is not going to restrict these laboratories that operate under a mercury ban from obtaining and maintaining their accreditations even when a non-mercury alternative has not yet been specified in the test method.
Does AASHTO Accreditation expire?
No, it does not as long as the laboratory actively and effectively participates. AASHTO Accreditation is a continuous process of laboratory quality improvement. Accreditation remains active as long as a laboratory is effectively participating in the programs and continues to comply with the AASHTO Accreditation Program Procedures Manual requirements. If a laboratory ceases to comply with the requirements, accreditation will be suspended and will ultimately be revoked unless the laboratory can demonstrate compliance by the deadline specified in their suspension notice.
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