The long-awaited bipartisan US $1.2 Infrastructure bill has not been signed into law by President Joe Biden on 15 November 2021.
The “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act”, the single most significant federal investment in American history, contains an estimated $550 billion in new spending, which will touch all infrastructure sectors from transportation, water to energy, broadband, and the resilience and rehabilitation of the nation’s natural resources.
Growth needed to accommodate Federal funding infusion
The US has faced a major lack of investment in its infrastructure (Laughlin, 2018). With the Infrastructure bill soon becoming a law, federal agencies from the DOT, DOE, and EPA will oversee a surge of funding and administer new grants and design programs. At the same time, state and localities, from the transportation department to water utilities, must identify and execute needed projects on the ground.
Challenges and opportunities that come with the infrastructure bill
According to Brookings’ article, “America has an infrastructure bill. What happens next?” the sudden increase in spending, one that easily exceeds $100 to $200 billion, will profoundly impact internal government operations.
The article explains that these changes will bring about significant new challenges and opportunities that will include the following:
- Launching multiple new federal funding is a huge undertaking that will require a significant amount of work from planning, public and private review, and hiring new staff.
- State and local officials will need to be prepared to handle the influx of new federal funding. They should ask themselves whether they have the data and community support to submit applications for the new grant programs.
- The construction of new infrastructure will increase demands for materials, equipment, and supplies computers, adding more pressure to the already frayed global supply chains.
- New programs from infrastructure funding will also increase demands for more skilled workers from budget experts, infrastructure-related talents – construction workers, tradespeople, engineers, infrastructure asset managers, and conservationists.
Segal’s article “Passage Of Biden’s Plan To Tackle Infrastructure Crisis Creates Challenges And Opportunities” on Forbes quotes Murray Rowden, the global head of infrastructure at Turner and Townsend, an international construction consulting firm, saying that the US is the only major western country without a national infrastructure plan and needs one desperately.
He says, “If the federal government is going to infuse the economy with trillions of dollars, this would be a great opportunity to combine this stimulus plan with the rollout of a [plan] to help guide the proper utilization of these funds” (Segal, 2021).
A national infrastructure plan that adopts infrastructure asset management (IAM) can help address the enormous challenges and opportunities arising from implementing the massive infrastructure investments that will soon take place in the US.
America is investing in itself again, and this time, it comes with a historic price tag.
The application of infrastructure asset management can help state and local agencies undertake sustainable and inclusive development.
IAM entails a systematic approach to managing assets – over entire life cycles and within a broader asset portfolio.
It ensures that public investments in infrastructure are optimized and adequately serve communities for generations to come.
Laughlin, M. (2018, May 18). Study: A Lack of American Infrastructure Investment is Costing Billions. GT. https://www.govtech.com/fs/infrastructure/study-a-lack-of-american-infrastructure-investment-is-costing-billions.html
Adie T., George C., Kane, J.W., & Bourne A. (2021, November 9). America has an infrastructure bill. What happens next?. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2021/11/09/america-has-an-infrastructure-bill-what-happens-next/
Segal, E. (2021, November 6). Passage of Biden’s Plan to Tackle Infrastructure Crisis Creates Challenges and Opportunites. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsegal/2021/11/06/passage-of-bidens-infrastructure-plan-creates-new-challenges-and-opportunities/?sh=340da9a338a9
PHOTO CREDIT: Karl Hipolito