February 5, 2015

Brookings Gives Recommendations to States Seeking Public-Private Partnerships for Infrastructure Projects

Public infrastructure around the country is in dire need of investment, but funding major infrastructure projects is often practically and politically difficult for states. Consequently, many states have turned to public-private partnerships (P3s) to deliver, finance, and maintain certain infrastructure projects.

Some believe that P3s are the answer to the U.S.’s infrastructure challenges, while others view P3s as a private takeover of public assets.  But, according to a recent Brookings report, P3s are neither. Instead, they are “simply another tool for procuring or managing public assets”—a tool which may be well-suited to one project and impractical for another. Along with an overview of P3 agreements, the report provides nine recommendations to guide policymakers in evaluating and executing P3 agreements that serve the public interest.  The recommendations include:
  1. Create a strong legal framework at the state level to ensure that the public sector has authority to execute a deal and that the private sector can mitigate unnecessary political risk;
  2. Prioritize projects based on quantifiable goals and analysis, recognizing that not every project is suitable for a P3;
  3. Understand what the private sector needs, because strong P3s require finding the right alignment of interests;
  4. Create a clear and transparent process, because standardizing processes will create a market for P3s “that provides the public and private sector with a clear roadmap for success;” and
  5. Monitor and learn from the process.