Developers chime in on US infra needs

As part of CG/LA Infrastructure’s North American Leadership Forum, attendees shared their thoughts on what the next US President should prioritise in terms of infrastructure.

While the next US presidential election is still one year off, already advisory firm CG/LA Infrastructure is preparing a set of recommendations for the next American chief executive in the form of Blueprint 2025, and at the firm's 2015 North American Leadership Forum in Washington, DC, a cadre of global developers shared their thoughts on the matter.

Through Blueprint 2025, CG/LA plans to deliver a comprehensive set of ostensible priorities to the next US president in order to plant the seed early on that infrastructure development should be one of the nation's top priorities in the coming years.

The top recommendation for inclusion in Blueprint 2025 from survey participants was that the next president should create an infrastructure plan based on key metrics that sets out annual priorities from 2017 through 2025. As part of this, it was recommended that the executive branch should maintain a list of the top 100 strategic infrastructure projects in the US in order to maximise the economic benefit of infrastructure investment.

“One of the things that's surprising [from the survey results] is that people want a lot more federal coordination and commitment – and that would be through having an overall plan, having a top 100 projects – but they don't want any more federal machinery to run that process,” said CG/LA chief executive Norman Anderson of the results. “The other thing is the idea that you should have better metrics. You know that's a big issue, you should have statistics, you should be able to measure yourself against people around the world. You should be able to measure performance, the public sector should be able to manage performance.

Viewed as critically important was the need for a national public-private partnership (P3) initiative to encourage rapid diffusion of P3 delivery models and adoption of P3 best practices across all US infrastructure markets. In the same vein, participants said they would like to see a federal P3 line item added to the federal budget to cover the cost of integrating new technologies and ensuring rapid approvals.

It was also recommended that the executive branch seeks ways to encourage profit capture in order to spur innovation that leads to increases in productivity and the ability to create value through outstanding performance. Likewise, the majority of participants believed that a reform to procurement guidelines that re-balances the risk/reward equation could be beneficial.

Developers also expressed that they would like to see the three-year limit on permitting similar to the requirements of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which limits permitting to three years of study and a $3 million budget.

Amoung those priorities that participants saw as critically important but also impossible to address in the near term were the need to establish an office of infrastructure technology innovation, a national infrastructure university, and a mandated lead agency to oversee the permitting process.