Survey: Need to educate governments about PPPs

A new survey of US transportation officials unveiled at a New York conference shows that most are still ambivalent about the use of PPPs, suggesting an opportunity to inform the industry. Fully 70 percent of officials also find PPPs just as or more attractive in today’s economic crisis.

A survey of US transportation officials unveiled at today’s Dow Jones Infrastructure Summit shows that most have not yet made up their mind about public-private partnerships (PPPs), creating an opportunity for the industry to educate them about their benefits.

The survey showed showed that 46 percent of regional, state and local officials who have issued, are issuing or are about to issue requests for proposals to a PPP are indifferent about their use. Transportation officials without that kind of experience were 76 percent indifferent toward their use.
Across both groups, 71 percent of the 75 survey respondents found PPPs to be just as or more attractive in today’s economic crisis.

“That really creates an opportunity for all of us in this room to educate them on the real value and opportunity that PPP offers,” Harvey Bernstein, vice president at McGraw-Hill Contruction, which sponsored the survey, told delegates at the summit.

“There is a real need for a center of creation of knowledge on the part o the US government,” Bernstein said, alluding to an organisation such as Partnerships UK, which educates the participants in the British PPP market about the benefits of PPPs and helps administer their use.

Creating such an organisation at the federal level would hasten the development of the market, Bernstein said, because instead of having to deal with 50 states market participants could have one central organisation to provide such support.

The survey also found that experience with PPPs among transportation officials led to a more positive outlook on their use, with 92 percent of the experienced officials expressing moderate or high interest in their use, versus 52 percent among those without experience.

Officials are also keenly aware of PPPs, as 70 percent across both groups admitted that they know of PPP projects outside their state.

As a result, PPPs are well known but not well understood by officials, the study concludes, suggesting continuing education as the solution to cracking open the market.