US federal government tasked with delivering Biden’s landmark infrastructure law ‘on time, on task and on budget’

By on 19/10/2022 | Updated on 19/10/2022
A construction worker wearing a hi-vis vest and hard hat ours concrete.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates than a trillion dollars to modernising infrastructure with the aim of increasing economic competitiveness, strengthening the supply chain and creating jobs. Photo by Yury Kim via Pexels

The US federal government “must take a leadership role” in delivering the Biden administration’s landmark US$1.2 trillion infrastructure package “on time, on task and on budget”, according to a new action plan released by the White House.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, was signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021 and is the country’s largest ever investment in infrastructure. It allocates more than a trillion dollars to modernising infrastructure with the aim of increasing economic competitiveness, strengthening the supply chain, creating jobs and lowering costs for working families, while at the same time championing clean energy.

Read more: Biden beefs up federal requirement to assess environmental impact of infrastructure after dilution by Trump

Though 90% of the infrastructure law-funded projects will be built by state, local, territorial and tribal governments, the action plan said the federal government must play “a strong and influential role in promoting innovative and streamlined approaches in design, construction and development”.

“Over recent decades, infrastructure projects in the United States have too often been slowed down by inefficient processes, poor coordination, a lack of resources and capacity, and cost and schedule overruns,” it said. “While there are innovative practices in use all over the country, they are not widely communicated or shared, leading to uneven and inconsistent project outcomes… We must find better and faster ways to deliver results.”

Sharing of best practices

The Action Plan for Accelerating Infrastructure Projects aims to fast-track innovation in the delivery of infrastructure investments through disseminating key actions that “support more efficient processes, collaboration, sharing of best practices” and aim to “root out” the causes of delays and overruns.

The plan outlines more than 15 projects and initiatives that have or will be implemented either government-wide or by certain departments and agencies. These include the Department of Transportation Project Delivery Center of Excellence, which will be established to support and educate transportation infrastructure project managers at all levels of government in successful project planning and implementation; the expansion of the Federal Highway Administration’s Every Day Counts Program – a federal-state collaborative partnership which identifies and deploys new ways to accelerate the delivery of highway infrastructure; and the launch of the ‘Dig Once’ initiative, which aims to “coordinate efforts, lower project costs and minimise disruptions” in broadband, transportation and electrification projects.

The White House and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will also convene a panel of experts to develop a research agenda on cost overruns.

Need for ‘ingenuity and new thinking’

The federal government said it had “a broad array of tools and resources to spur further innovation and promote efficiency and effectiveness” and that the plan outlines new initiatives “to expand awareness and training on best practices on a national scale”.

It said infrastructure projects are “too important to the nation’s economy” to be built “the old way”, and that as well as funding, a shift to improved delivery would require “ingenuity and new thinking”.

Read more: US federal staff to be deployed to rural communities to boost economic opportunities

“This action plan demonstrates that the federal government is committed to accelerating infrastructure improvements. By building on success, modernising our approach, and devoting the resources of the federal government and its partners, we will successfully address these challenges and bring this historic programme to a successful completion.”

Alignment with the Inflation Reduction Act

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law goes hand-in-hand with another milestone piece of legislation – the Inflation Reduction Act – which was signed into law by Biden in August this year shortly after clearing both the House and Senate.  

The legislation allocates US$454bn to tackle climate change, subsidise healthcare and reform taxes. It is a spin-off of Biden’s flagship Build Back Better agenda – developed between 2020 and 2021 – which sought to make the largest nationwide public investments in social, environmental and infrastructure programmes since the Great Depression, and was initially estimated to cost US$3.5 trillion.

It had to be renegotiated after a senator pulled his support, resulting in the heavily watered-down by still significant Inflation Reduction Act.

Read more: Biden says government is working again as US Senate passes milestone climate change bill

Like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, combatting climate change and promoting equity are key facets of the act.

“I ran for president promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does — period,” Biden said, adding that the law “makes the largest investment ever in combatting the existential crisis of climate change” and that it would strengthen energy security, create jobs in solar panel, wind turbine and electric vehicle manufacturing, and “lower families’ energy costs by hundreds of dollars each year”.

The latest action plan comes less than a month before the US midterm elections, in which voters will be influenced by their perception of whether Biden is delivering on his promises.

Read more: US government agencies to roll out climate change training for officials to help meet targets

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About Mia Hunt

Mia is a journalist and editor with a background in covering commercial property, having been market reports and supplements editor at trade title Property Week and deputy editor of Shopping Centre magazine, now known as Retail Destination. She has also undertaken freelance work for several publications including the preview magazine of international trade show, MAPIC, and TES Global (formerly the Times Educational Supplement) and has produced a white paper on energy efficiency in business for E.ON. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a member of the Revo Customer Experience Committee and an ACE Awards judge. Mia graduated from Kingston University with a first-class degree in journalism and was part of the team that produced The River newspaper, which won Publication of the Year at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2010.

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