Federal Agencies Are Working to Implement the Infrastructure Package on Time and on Budget
The Biden administration has hired more than 2,500 employees to date to support the law’s implementation, with more to come.
The federal government “must take a leadership role” in making sure the $1 trillion infrastructure package is carried out on time, task and budget, says a new report released by the White House on Thursday.
The 21-page action plan outlines how the Biden administration is working to implement the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in November 2021.
“About 90% of bipartisan infrastructure law-funded projects will be built by non-federal agencies, such as state, Tribal, local and territorial governments. There is room for improvement at all levels of government to build projects on time, on task and on budget,” says the plan. “The federal government, which plays a strong and influential role in promoting innovative and streamlined approaches in design, construction and deployment, must take a leadership role in this effort.”
Below are a few examples of federal actions within each priority category.
The Interior Department National Park Service’s Construction Center of Excellence is working on project management manuals to make sure that its infrastructure projects are managed by consistent principles that represent best practices. NPS is also developing “Communities of Practice,” which are groups of people who share similar concerns or passions for something they do and they learn how to do it better. The groups will conduct after-action reviews to find what worked and identify areas for improvement for future projects. NPS will share these practices and results with other federal agencies in spring 2023.
The Energy Department recently established an Office of Clean Energy and Demonstrations to oversee the biggest and most complex demonstration projects. The office will help keep these projects on track “by providing intensive, accountability-based oversight and rapid decision-making capability as projects progress toward deployment.”
The Transportation Department is going to launch a “Project Delivery Center of Excellence” that will help recipients of federal funds to deliver their transportation projects more efficiently.
“Workforce readiness” is another component of this priority area and in addition to the Biden administration supporting workforce initiatives for state, local, Tribal and territorial governments, “the administration is also growing the federal workforce to support the delivery of infrastructure projects across the nation,” said the report.
“Federal agencies are hiring engineers, environmental analysts, technology specialists and [candidates with] a wide range of professional backgrounds to help plan, permit and implement infrastructure projects,” it continued. “To date, the administration has hired more than 2,500 workers to support infrastructure law implementation, with many more to be hired over the coming months.”
The White House and Office of Management and Budget will convene within 60 days experts on infrastructure project costs to give findings, recommendations and analysis to Biden administration officials. “Working with institutions such as the National Bureau of Economic Research and others, the administration will support a forward-looking research agenda on infrastructure costs and project delivery,” the report said. These findings and recommendations will help in informing implementation of the infrastructure package and future Biden administration initiatives.
Additionally, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently created new and simplified protocols to use pre-approved contract language that will save time and money, according to the report.
The action plan also lists examples of technical assistance agencies are giving to new recipients of federal funding, including those in rural and underserved areas.
The summit “comes at a critical moment for the nearly year-old law as high inflation and worker and material shortages are threatening to delay many projects,” The Associated Press noted. This also comes with the midterm elections less than a month away. President Biden “has repeatedly told voters that the government can deliver results with Democrats and Republicans working together,” the Associated Press said.
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