Infrastructure Council

The most recent executive order is unique enough that some review and comment are appropriate. Establishing a special council to focus on infrastructure is not a particular surprise, given the call by many for more infrastructure spending. But, some of the particulars of the order are worthy of note.

  1. It will be housed in the Department of Commerce and is to be made up of no more than 15 members all appointed by the president as representatives of various identified infrastructure sectors.
  2. Quoting from the executive order: “Sec. 4. Mission of Council. The Council shall study the scope and effectiveness of, and make findings and recommendations to the President regarding, Federal Government funding, support, and delivery of infrastructure projects in several sectors, including surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resources, renewable energy generation, electricity transmission, broadband, pipelines, and other such sectors as determined by the Council.In pursuing its mission, the Council shall make findings and recommendations concerning the following:(a) prioritizing the Nation’s infrastructure needs;

    (b) accelerating pre-construction approval processes;

    (c) developing funding and financing options capable of generating new infrastructure investment over the next 10 years;

    (d) identifying methods to increase public-private partnerships for infrastructure projects, including appropriate statutory or regulatory changes;

    (e) identifying best practices in and opportunities to improve procurement methods, grant procedures, and infrastructure delivery systems; and

    (f) promoting advanced manufacturing and infrastructure-related technological innovation.”

  3. The ultimate result is to be a report by the council to the president.
  4. The end date of the council is December 31, 2018.

Following are some of my thoughts:

I find item “b” above to be interesting in that it is consistent with so many of the actions of this administration to reduce or eliminate standard review processes.

For some time now, various reports in the media have focused on the high probability that infrastructure funding, if it is forth-coming at all, would benefit his business cronies by requiring public-private partnerships. Item “d” above confirms this as a strategy.

With all the difficulties Congress is having to pass bills this session, it remains to be seen if any kind of infrastructure funding is passed and appropriated, but establishment of this council implies the administration is unlikely to propose anything specific until sometime after the 2018 elections.

Official Title and Link:

Presidential Executive Order Establishing a Presidential Advisory Council on Infrastructure

Executive Order dated July 19, 2017

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