Travis County – in Austin, Texas – has chosen international consultancy Ernst & Young (E&Y) to serve as an advisor on the development of a new courthouse. Specifically, E&Y will help the county to determine if a public-private partnership (PPP) structure is the best way to procure the courthouse project.
The advisory role follows a request for information process conducted by Travis County which saw it receive close to two dozen responses from the private sector for a potential PPP. E&Y will now take the lead in reviewing the submissions from the private sector and assist the county with developing the project.
E&Y beat competition from KPMG for the advisory role, following a competitive process that saw the likes of Cushman & Wakefield, Oxford Commercial, Jones Lang and LaSalle Americas also vying for the advisory role. E&Y declined to comment and Travis County did not return calls seeking comment.
But Sean Maher, business development director at service provider Johnson Controls, believes that courthouse PPPs are the wave of the future. At a conference held in Austin, Texas on January 25, Maher – part of a panel titled ‘Examples of how it has worked’ (in reference to PPPs) – pointed to the Long Beach Courthouse project in California as a successful example.
“I would characterise activity for courts as an education process. It took California about five-to-six years to decide to set up a PPP. For others, the learning curve will be shorter, but it will take time for them to understand and get to a comfort level with the process,” Maher told Infrastructure Investor.