A commission set up by New York Governor David Patterson to examine how the state can share the risks for managing its public assets with the private sector will soon publish its final report, which is already drawing great attention from the infrastructure investment community.
About 100 delegates gathered to discuss the recommendations of the New York State Commission on State Asset Maximization at a an infrastructure conference today, but instead were greeted by a statement from the commission urging more time.
“Our final report, set to be released in the next few weeks, will recommend not only a detailed process for asset maximisation but also specific projects that could be suitable for asset maximisation initiatives,” the statement read.“We look forward to discussing these with all of you upon the release of the report.”
The commission, created last October, was supposed to deliver its final report by 2 April, according to an executive order from the governor. A spokesperson for the commission did not return repeated requests for comment as to why the final report has been delayed.
At the New York State Infrastructure Summit, conference delegates familiar with the commission said its final report would essentially be a more specific version of its preliminary report, issued 15 December 2008. That report outlined five asset classes – transportation, higher education, K-12 education, energy and surplus real estate holdings – in which the state could look for opportunities to partner with the private sector for project delivery and asset management.
The final report will likely present specific “pilot projects” within those asset classes, these people said. The projects would allow the state to test-run public-private partnerships (PPPs) and get acquainted with them on a small scale rather than immediately pursuing high-risk, multi-billion dollar projects like the 2006 lease of the Indiana Toll Road for $3.8 billion.
Education was the most promising area for such pilot projects among delegates interviewed by InfrastructureInvestor. The preliminary report highlighted the possibility of a pilot project to let the State University of New York lease its campus land to private developers to construct academic and non-academic facilities. The report also expressed interest in PPPs for K-12 education, but did not list any potential pilot projects.
The final report is also expected to outline the creation of a state-level entity that will facilitate, oversee and administer PPPs. It is yet unclear, though, whether the commission will recommend that this entity be a stand-alone, independent organisation or whether it will be housed within the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). The ESDC is a state agency responsible for providing economic assistance to New York businesses.
The commission’s final report will also make policy recommendations for enabling legislation for PPPs in New York. The state is not among the 23 states and one US territory that have enabled various statues allowing various PPP approaches, according the US Department of Transportation.