Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bipartisan Policy Center Release Surface Transportation System Plan

Jun 16: The Bipartisan Policy Center's (BPC) National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) held a press conference to release a new report, Performance Driven: Achieving Wiser Investment in Transportation, which they said is a bold set of recommendations for creating a more effective and efficient federal surface transportation system given the current fiscal realities facing the nation.
    BPC Board Member, and NTPP Co-Chair, Chairman Emeritus, Dickinson Wright, PLLC and Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer said, "The economic strength of the country is dependent on our ability to invest effectively in our transportation infrastructure. In the context of severe fiscal challenges and budgetary constraints, we need to make difficult choices and to consider trade-offs. But these constraints and limits can also provide us with the opportunity to accomplish significant programmatic reforms and to do more with less. What NTPP proposes in this report is a framework for ensuring that, no matter the amount of resources available, we should invest in a targeted and performance-driven way. Such an investment strategy can bring both short and long-term benefits. But, as the Report notes, '. . . no matter how much money is available for transportation at the federal level, it needs to be invested wisely.'"
    Co-Chair Congressman Martin Sabo (D-MN), former Chairman of the House Budget Committee said, "This report being issued today retains and builds upon the principles contained in our June 2009 report, translating that long-term vision for the nation's surface transportation policies into an immediately implementable and streamlined programmatic structure that can manage within existing revenue levels. As recommended in NTPP's 2009 report, it is nearly impossible to imagine that the comprehensive reforms that we recommend can be achieved without fundamental reform in the transportation planning process. Such changes will enable almost everything that we recommend in this new report, including, importantly, our capacity to invest scarce resources in the most beneficial programs and projects. A more outcome- and performance-driven planning process is fundamental to ensuring that better investment decisions will be made."
    According to summary information, the aim of this report is to reform, consolidate, and scale the Federal transportation program to maximize progress toward a set of clear national objectives, within a budget constrained by existing revenue levels. "NTPP continues to believe that any amount of federal investment in transportation should advance specific national purposes in the areas of: economic growth, national connectivity, metropolitan accessibility, energy security and environmental protection, and safety. NTPP evaluated existing transportation programs based on the extent to which each is able to advance these national purposes and leverage non-federal funding." The "Key Legislative Recommendations" include:
  • Streamline over 100 programs, by consolidation and elimination, into ten core programs
  • Eliminate programs that lack a specific national purpose
  • Clearly articulate national purposes and a suite of overarching national goals
  • Prioritize the management and preservation of existing transportation system assets
  • Put a more robust, outcome-oriented, better funded transportation planning process in place
  • Develop a National Freight Strategic Plan
  • Make bonus funding available to incentivize effective performance
  • Put in place incentives for investments that are able to leverage non-federal resources
  • Support, promote and reward states and metropolitan regions that secure sustainable revenue
  • Reduce restrictions, regulations, and barriers to non-federal investment in transportation
  • Restructure and adjust the existing match funding requirements
  • Provide funds for pilot programs that help refine performance metrics and develop improved user-based funding mechanisms
    The report indicates that, "We found a major streamlining and downsizing of the current suite of programs can be achieved if one rigorously aligns spending priorities with the advancement of compelling national interests. By cutting more than $14 billion in annual expenditures from the existing program, we are able to propose a consolidated structure with ten core programs that are all clearly focused on advancing our nation's most important transportation related interests. . . In the long term, the programmatic framework proposed in this report allows for the achievement of wiser investments. It offers a sound strategy for securing broad public support for policies and resource commitments that will allow the U.S. to continue to achieve high standards of living and remain competitive in a highly mobile, global economy. It provides a way to make substantial investment and tangible improvement to the vital transportation systems on which our nation depends."
    Access an overview and link to the full report, executive summary, key recommendations, and a Powerpoint presentation (click here). Access the statements from Archer & Sabo (click here). Access the BPC website for more information (click here). [*Transport] (click here for information on getting the links and more information about eNewsUSA).
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