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Strengthen Federalism: Establish a National PPP Unit to Support Bottom-Up Infrastructure Investment

In a time of constrained public budgets, leveraging private-sector financial resources and expertise to deliver a range of infrastructure projects has growing appeal. However, these public/private partnerships (PPPs) often entail complicated contracts that differ significantly from project to project and from place to place.

To address this problem, countries, states, and provinces around the world have created specialized institutional entities—called PPP units—to fulfill different functions such as quality control, policy formulation, and technical advice. The federal government should establish a dedicated PPP unit to tackle bottlenecks in the PPP process, protect the public interest, and provide technical assistance to states and other public entities that cannot develop the internal capacity necessary to deal with the projects themselves.

Creating a federal PPP unit would:

  • Provide states, cities, and metropolitan actors with the support and technical assistance needed from the procurement stage through long-term management of the projects by helping public actors determine the best Value for Money investment, assess long-term economic benefits of projects, and increase capacity to deal with contract changes over the life of the PPP

  • Create a more attractive, open, and robust environment that encourages private investment by creating predictability in the procurement process and demonstrating that the government actors involved want to “do business”

  • Serve as the first step in creating an integrated national infrastructure agenda, given that PPPs are integral to the overall capital investment and infrastructure strategy of the nation. Establishing a more uniform PPP process across all 50 U.S. states necessitates creating a broad strategy for national infrastructure development in the future

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SERIES: Remaking Federalism | Renewing the Economy | Number 1

SERIES: Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative | Number 41