Stakeholder alignment strategies for highway infrastructure public-private partnerships
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The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and state DOTs across the nation seek private investments to leverage their shrinking financial resources. Involvement of the private sector in financing and delivery of highway public-private partnerships (P3s) in the United States has experienced various limitations and challenges. The lack of standard approaches for P3 project delivery as well as public agencies’ varying levels of maturity in P3 implementation have negative impacts on successful project delivery. There is a need for research to determine the variability in public sector’s project delivery practice, due to its negative impacts that lead to market inefficiency and unpredictability. It is necessary to evaluate and analyze improvement strategies that can standardize P3 project delivery and enhance partnership alignment between the public and private sectors. The overarching objective of this study is to propose recommendations and enablers for improving alignment of public and private sectors in P3s. This study employs a three-phase combinatory research approach to achieve the research objectives. At first, a national survey of state DOTs is conducted to determine the degree of variability in public sector’s P3 practice. Following the public sector survey, twenty-five P3 experts are identified and selected from organizations that are active in the U.S. P3 market. A structured interview protocol is utilized to conduct interviews consistent with study questions and document the results. The third and final phase of the study methodology prior to concluding the analysis and providing recommendations is to conduct case studies of three mature P3 programs (Florida, Texas, and Virginia DOTs). The final phase of the research methodology aims to demonstrate best practices for P3 implementation and sustainment through case studies of agencies in the United States. While there is ample research on P3s in general, this study focuses on the alignment of public and private sectors in highway P3s. This study identifies the leading factors and issues that affect P3 decision-making by the public sector and the inconsistency in P3 implementation across project phases. This study also determines and evaluates the factors that can influence the public and private sector alignment in U.S. P3s and compares them with international best practices. Finally, by identifying recommended strategies and enabling mechanisms, this research aims to mitigate the lack of alignment between the public and private sectors in the U.S. P3 market. This study also demonstrates how mature P3 programs in the U.S. have achieved sustained partnerships. The final contribution of this study is a set of detailed recommendations for alignment of public and private sectors in U.S. P3s. The findings of this study are relevant for the U.S. P3 market, but may also be useful for planners and policy-makers in other countries. The major stakeholders impacted by this research involve public sector agencies, such as state DOTs, state and national infrastructure banks, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), permitting agencies and private sector stakeholders, such as multinational development companies, contractors, investments banks, procurement, financial and legal advisors.