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How the Federal Government Wants to Use 'Social Impact Partnerships'

Taking cues from the Trump Administration's recently-released infrastructure plan, the government intends to use a public-private partnership model to take on social challenges.
March 1, 2018, 12pm PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Julie Clopper

The Trump Administration's infrastructure plan relies, controversially, on states and localities to foot much of the bill for repairs and improvements. As Kriston Capps reports, the government's social impact program embraces a similar model.

Often touted by the Trump Administration, public-private partnerships serve as the basis for these social impact partnerships. Capps writes, "The new law imagines federally fueled, locally driven, public-private partnerships that cut costs for the government. The social goals are practical, from reducing the number of kids in foster care to reducing the number of low-income families receiving means-tested benefits." A new Federal Interagency Council on Social Impact Partnerships will be the gatekeeper here.

"In a typical P3, private investors may finance, build, operate, and maintain an infrastructure project, like a building or a bridge. Social impact bonds instead put that private capital toward a social program, with the government paying returns if certain outcomes are met."

These methods aren't entirely rooted in Trump-era policy. Similar bipartisan proposals have come up, including from the Obama administration. "The result could be a new market for best practices in local government—although it may mean more private companies and faith-based organizations getting involved in basic social services."

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Published on Thursday, February 15, 2018 in CityLab
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