Virginia seeks more transparent P3 process

The Commonwealth Transportation Board has called for an extensive review of the state’s P3 processes and policies and for a bigger say in the awarding of P3 projects.

Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) has directed the state’s Office of Transportation Public Private Partnerships (OTP3) to exhaustively review the process for procuring public-private partnerships (PPP; P3) with a view to increasing transparency and direct involvement by the CTB in project development.

The announcement came on Thursday from the office of Governor Terry McAuliffe who asked Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne to work with the CTB in this effort.

“P3s are a great tool for accomplishing projects that would not otherwise get done, but only when they are negotiated to put Virginians’ best interests first,” McAuliffe said in the statement.

In its resolution, the CTB stated that “there have been concerns raised with several projects undertaken under the guidance and direction of the OTP3,” which is why it is asking the office to revisit its manual and guidelines to not only increase transparency but to also enhance the competitive process.

The board also called on the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to develop guidelines that address the risk associated with projects procured under the Public Private Transportation Act of 1995 (PPTA) in order to limit the risks assumed by the state agency.

The head of OTP3 and the Highway Commissioner, who CTB has also directed to establish guidelines that will limit VDOT’s level of exposure to risk, have until October 2014 to present their recommendations to the board.

In addition to having adopted enabling legislation before many other states, Virginia has also developed a robust P3 project pipeline since it established the OTP3 office in June 2011. By the end of 2012, Virginia had closed P3 deals accounting for about $6 billion.

OTP3’s current executive director J Douglas Koelemay was appointed by Governor McAuliffe in early February. He is the P3 agency’s second director, having replaced Tony Kinn who served under McAuliffe’s predecessor Bob McDonnell.

OTP3 works with VDOT and other state agencies to coordinate and oversee transportation P3s.