On October 13, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Board Chair Art Barrett joined infrastructure leaders, such as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, and AASHTO President Shawn Wilson, Ph.D., at the White House for the Accelerating Infrastructure Summit to discuss the efficient implementation of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
The Accelerating Infrastructure Summit emphasized the Biden Administration’s commitment to federal leadership and innovation to accelerate infrastructure to a higher standard of “On Time, On Task, and On Budget.” According to the White House, “about 90% of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds will be delivered by non-federal partners, who have worked closely with federal agencies to revitalize our nation’s infrastructure.” At the summit, the Administration and other organizations announced new efforts and an Action Plan to accelerate the rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure.
Delivering Projects on Time
To maximize the potential of the IIJA, many organizations are banding together to help each other. The Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is expanding its Every Day Counts Program to include all types of surface transportation. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) published guidance and training in accelerated project delivery and streamlined procurement methods for engineers and project managers in 2022. ARTBA’s Construction Forum has issued guidance for parties on design-build projects to better assess and allocate risk, which will maximize cost and time savings on infrastructure projects.
Organizations like The Department of the Interior’s National Park Service (NPS) Construction Center of Excellence is developing and distributing Project Management Manuals to ensure infrastructure projects are managed with the best practices, and ACEC is releasing a study with the University of Colorado on modernizing the design-build process for government agencies.
Equitable Access and Technical Assistance
The Biden Administration is pushing to expand the American workforce, and in this push, federal agencies have hired over 2,500 engineers, environmental analysts, technology specialists and a range of other professionals. The FHWA is increasing its technical assistance program funding by 40% for workforce training, adopting innovative technologies, and managing federal funding.
The USDOT will launch a Project Delivery Center of Excellence at the Volpe Center to support and educate transportation infrastructure managers on project design, planning, and construction, serving as a central resource for the most innovative and effective practices, while bringing project managers together to learn from one another. We can also see states like Kansas and Nevada convening federal, state, and local agencies, Tribal leaders, community partners, and additional stakeholders to better coordinate their implementation of the IIJA while strategizing as to how to maximize investment opportunities.
Delivering Projects on a Budget
The American people should get the biggest bang for their buck on these infrastructure projects. That’s why the White House and the Office of Management and Budget will convene world-leading practitioners and experts on infrastructure project delivery to present findings, analysis, and recommendations, including how to lower the cost of infrastructure delivery. The Department of Transportation Project Delivery Center of Excellence with get together with other organizations, such as AASHTO and ARTBA, among others, to identify root causes of change orders and construction cost overruns and report on best practices to minimize their use.
We can also see the Department of Commerce initiating a “Dig Once” effort in cooperation with the Department of Transportation and Energy, which entails interagency coordination on planning, design, and construction, preventing multiple excavations for broadband, transportation, and electrification projects. The ASCE and ACEC are developing templates and model language for construction contracts to provide new grant recipients with limited experience in project management. The templates will promote accountability and transparency while supporting high quality design and construction contracts.
Having these organizations band together, infrastructure projects in America are bound to be accelerated, making the most out of the funding that is being pumped into our communities. Check out our past articles on the IIJA, and be sure to check back next week when we dive deeper into the IIJA.