The White House Infrastructure Investment Plan
Back at the beginning of February, about the same time that the Office of Management and Budget released the White House’s federal budget request for fiscal year 2019, the administration also published its long awaited plan for rebuilding aging infrastructure across the United States. The proposed plan, which calls on Congress to pass an infrastructure renewal bill that will stimulate $1.5T in investment, is divided into four major sections, with one of those dealing with incentive financing. Here are some key points industry should know from each of the sections.
Section 1) Infrastructure Incentives Program (IIP). This program, funded to the tune of $100B, is intended to support the renewal of “surface transportation and airports, passenger rail, ports and waterways, flood control, water supply, hydropower, water resources, drinking water facilities, wastewater facilities, storm water facilities, and Brownfield and Superfund sites.” Funds provided to the fund would be administered by the Department of Transportation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Private sector proposals for improving infrastructure in the areas outlined above will be submitted to the program offices of these agencies for consideration, with awards for funding made in the form of grants.
Section 2) Rural Infrastructure Incentive Program (RIIP). Funded by $50B, RIIP money will be distributed to governor’s offices around the country to incentivize rural infrastructure building programs. Eligible areas for funding include transportation infrastructure of all kinds, rural broadband, waste disposal, power and electric, and water resources.
Section 3) Transformative Projects Program (TPP). The White House Plan authorizes an additional $20B for the Department of Commerce to administer the Transformative Projects Program. TPP funding is intended to spur game-changing investment in projects that significantly improve the performance, availability, safety, reliability, frequency, and service speed of infrastructure programs, including reducing user costs, introducing new types of services, and improving services. Funding of TPP projects will support the three different phases of the project life cycle: demonstration, project planning, and capital construction.
Section 4) Infrastructure Financing Programs (IFPs). Intended to help finance “major, complex infrastructure projects,” the IFPs provides $20B to boost the capacity of current federal credit programs. Of that total, $14B is “for the expansion of existing credit programs to address a broader range of infrastructure needs, giving State and local governments increased opportunity to finance large-scale infrastructure projects under terms that are more advantageous than in the financial market.”
A large number of additional details are contained in the White House Plan, including a significant number of ways the administration intends to loosen permitting and building regulations to speed construction starts. Most important for industry is to recognize that the $200B in funds being made available for infrastructure will be accessible via grant proposals. There may be contract competitions at the Department of Commerce, but this is still unclear. Contact the DOC to ask. Additionally, of all the programs mentioned above, the TPP is likely to be the one where technology providers will find the most receptive audience. Internet of Things technology, as well as back-end analytics, are often touted as achieving significant performance gains and those are the improvements the administration is seeking.
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