US transportation department strategic plan calls for PPPs

The agency’s four-year plan contrasts with recent statements by President Trump, who claimed PPPs do not work.

A five-year fiscal plan drafted by the US Department of Transportation highlights the role of public-private partnerships, despite criticism from President Donald Trump that the ventures are “more trouble than they’re worth”.

The 2018-2022 strategic plan, a draft of which was released 20 October, lays out the agency’s goals over the period. The draft repeatedly calls for ways to tap into private sector infrastructure investment and says DOT programmes will support the use of PPPs.

“By using innovative forms of financing and project delivery, encouraging partnerships between the public and private sectors, and strategically balancing investments across various modes to promote greater efficiencies, DOT can help its public and private partners maximize the returns to the nation’s economy and people,” the document reads.

The plan’s focus on private sector financing comes a month after the president reportedly told a group of Democratic members of Congress that PPPs do not work. His administration previously touted PPPs and leveraging the private sector as pillars of its plan to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure spending; even as a candidate, Trump’s campaign released a policy paper that called for tax credits to spur private investment rather than direct government spending.

The DOT’s strategic plan does not seem to reflect Trump’s newfound scepticism regarding PPPs. The language used in the plan echoes the administration’s infrastructure blueprint released in May, when PPPs were still widely expected to be a focal point of any potential infrastructure legislation.

The 2014-2018 strategic plan, released by former transportation secretary Anthony Foxx, also highlighted an increased role for PPPs to close the nation’s infrastructure deficit.