Dec 5, 2017
An Agenda for Federal Transportation and Water Policy
Published in: Public Works Management & Policy [Epub August 2018]. doi: 10.1177/1087724X18789703
Federal infrastructure investment is receiving a great deal of attention, largely about money: how to finance capital investment, operations, and maintenance. Less discussed but very important is modernizing federal policy to support the mature and urban-centered economy of the United States—rather than the economy it had when most of the terms of federal engagement were set. This article summarizes a RAND Corporation report which addresses recent trends in infrastructure spending and finance and proposes improvements in federal infrastructure policy. We argue for modernizing federal policies related to funding, finance, and project selection. Modernization should recognize the centrality of regional initiatives that transcend local government and state boundaries and should encourage different types of financing—public, private, and public-private partnerships. Poorly targeted investment comes from poorly designed policy. Inadequate maintenance often is a symptom of failure of management and governance. More money will help, but it is not nearly enough.