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February 17, 2017
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Safe hands

If the market is looking for a pointer as to where the US federal government is heading, the latest infrastructure appointments are a positive sign

One of the key questions being posed of controversial new President Donald Trump from the US P3 market over the past month has revolved around exactly how he will turn his big talk surrounding the use of private capital into delivering on his ambitious infrastructure proposals

So far – and unfortunately this doesn’t end with infrastructure – we have heard a vast amount of hot air and mixed messages from the White House. 

Yes, we know that P3s are on the agenda, as we also know that large tax breaks are afoot. But genuine details, not so much. 

It was therefore good news for the market that former HDR director of strategic consulting DJ Gribbin was this week appointed in the role of special assistant to the president. He, alongside National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, who has been appointed to lead the White House's infrastructure team, will be responsible for overseeing the next move from the government. 

Details are now expected in April or May as part of the wider tax reforms but early signs from P3 Bulletin sources reveal that there is plenty to still be optimistic about. 

After all, if Trump is to really utilize the P3 model to get this program off the ground, then surrounding himself with the right people will be key.

In Gribbin in particular, he has something of a P3 stalwart who has vital experience with the model across the public and private sectors.“P3s are amazingly efficient in delivering a project at a low cost, with a high value, and at the same time shifting substantial risks to the private sector,” he told P3 Bulletin in an interview last year, just after joining HDR.

 “When dealing with large, complicated infrastructure procurements, states end up with a much better procurement with P3. ”

Let’s not also forget the appointment of Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary – someone else who is a known proponent of the model and capable of steering the government down the right path. 

Having people of this experience will be vital to genuinely harnessing P3s to deliver the projects that the US truly needs. 

Of course it will be regional governments that really drive the activity in the coming years. But having known supporters of P3s at the top will be vital to delivering on all the recent good work done at federal level to really support the wider market. Now we must continue to sit tight and wait for these people to truly get to work and start to reveal the details behind the promise. 

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If the market is looking for a pointer as to where the US federal government is heading, the latest infrastructure appointments are a positive sign

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