Public-Private Partnerships: Trick or Treat?

As localities increasingly pursue public-private partnerships to fund much-needed infrastructure projects, Ryan Holeywell explores the promise and pitfalls of this popular financing arrangement. Are dissenting voices being stifled?
October 31, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Public-private partnerships (P3s) are clearly on a roll," observes Holeywell. "Last year’s congressional highway authorization vastly expanded the scope of federal mechanisms that provide low-interest loans for projects that typically involve privatization. In addition, the number of states that have passed legislation to enable privatization is on the rise. Many people see P3s as a game-changer: the best, and possibly only, way to repair and replace the country’s public works." 

"Little, however, is said about the downside," he adds. "There’s a growing cadre of academics, activists, and state and federal auditors who question these public-private deals, but their voices aren’t always heard."

"Increasingly, it seems the discussion of P3s isn’t about whether it’s wise for governments to enter the deals; it’s about how governments can best facilitate them."

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Published on Thursday, October 31, 2013 in Governing
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