Approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on December 15, 2020
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 5, 2021
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 16, 2021
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recognizes Public Private Partnerships (P3s) as one of many methods of financing and delivering infrastructure improvements. ASCE supports the use of P3 project delivery methods to enhance federal, state, and local resources when the public interest is protected by meeting the following criteria:
- Any public revenue derived from P3s must be dedicated exclusively back to the project itself or comparable infrastructure facilities in the state or locality where the project is based. Revenue and assessment of revenue should be reported annually to the general public in a public forum available to access by all.
- The P3 contract includes, at a minimum, asset performance criteria that address long-term viability, life cycle costs, return on public and private investment, handback conditions at end of contract term, projected yearly revenue, identification of responsible parties and their roles, and residual value.
- Transparency and public participation in all aspects of contract development, project implementation and any subsequent operation.
- There is participation and compliance by both public and private partners with all applicable planning and design standards, and environmental requirements. Appropriate professionals including professional engineers should be part of this process.
- The engineering firms as prime consultants and subconsultants, and as part of a larger P3 team that likely includes a contractor, developer, and operator among others, and the consultants should be appropriately licensed engineering firms in their respective areas of expertise for which they are providing engineer-of-record services.
- Furthermore, a small and disadvantaged business program should be included with establishment of participation goals, outreach provisions, local company and human resources preferences, and presentation of plans to achieve stated goals and provisions.
P3s refer to contractual agreements between a public sector contracting authority and a private entity for delivery of public infrastructure projects. In general, successful P3s share the following:
- A Life Cycle Perspective: Private partner provides financing in addition to combined project delivery phases including design, construction, operations, and maintenance
- Incentivized Risk Sharing: The private partner assumes substantial risks for compensation based on ongoing key performance metrics for the asset. The private sector partner can be compensated from either public sector payments and/or any revenue generated from the project.
- Public Ownership: The public partner retains project ownership and ultimate responsibility to the public.
Strained federal, state, and local government budgets, combined with increasing demand, have led to the implementation of P3s in a growing number of states and localities. The injection of private capital into public works, however, has drawn some criticism or skepticism from stakeholder groups and raised the need for guiding principles for these projects as they are planned, implemented, and maintained.
Guidelines for the development of P3 selection shall also include a Progressive Design Build Concept which is a Qualification Based Selection or be based on Best Value (50/50) Selection. The contract provisions by governing agencies shall protect the public interest. Issues addressed by these guidelines include, but are not limited to providing for the input from affected individuals and communities, establishing design and construction quality requirements, addressing environmental impacts and construction impacts, establishing accountability, transparency, and equity standards, and addressing, public access, consumer rights, safety and security, sustainability and resilience, long-term ownership, the completion schedule, maintenance requirements, operational performance, a reasonable rate of return for all parties, the handback provisions and handover provisions to the public agency at the end of the contract term.
P3s can be an effective method of project financing and delivery to supplement limited public funds to prevent continued degradation of infrastructure and reduced reliability of infrastructure systems, as well as provide needed additional capacity. P3s do not replace the need for public funding of infrastructure projects and should only be used when the public interest is protected.
Examples of financing mechanisms used on P3 transportation projects include, but are not limited to municipal bonds, private activity bonds (PABs), advance refunding, Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans, Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEEs), and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans, tolling, and asset recycling.
P3s cannot replace a public commitment to funding. These financing tools allow projects to be accelerated to deliver benefits sooner by efficiently borrowing against future revenues available for infrastructure funding. Without P3s, borrowing for project construction could be significantly more costly or not possible. Financing by any technique does not supplant the need for adequate user fees or other sources of revenue and funding to eventually pay for projects.ASCE
Policy Statement 526
First Approved 2008
The other ASCE policies that relate to innovative financing are:
PS 382 Transportation Funding
PS 434 Transportation Trust Funds
PS 532 National Infrastructure