DAVID GIONGCO Caltrans Local Assistance Engineer

Electronic Project Documentation

Is electronic recordkeeping acceptable for federal-aid projects?

As long as the project records are acceptable from an engineering, audit, and legal standpoint, electronic files are adequate for documentating a federal-aid project.

FHWA issued a memo (Computerization of Construction Record, updated 2011-04-04) that expanded on these points:

Records, in general, can be admitted as legal evidence if they are considered “trustworthy.” To be considered “trustworthy” the records should meet the following requirements:

  1. Records must be made at or near the time of the event.
  2. Records must be made by or from a person with direct knowledge of the’ event.
  3. Records must be kept in the regular course of business.
  4. The above requirements must be supported through testimony provided by the custodian of the records or other qualified witnesses.

To meet engineering and fiscal requirements, inspection and test reports should provide sufficient information to determine that the project was built in substantial compliance with the plans and specifications and allow verification of pay quantities.

Whether project files are kept as hard copies or electronically, it’s important to understand that the files1 must be complete, available at a single location, and maintained in a manner that is easily accessible in the event of a process review or audit.