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Philip Howard in the Washington Post: The High Cost of Red Tape

Writing in the Washington Post in the wake of the recent deadly Amtrak derailment, Philip Howard explains why it’s not only money that is hindering infrastructure improvement. An excerpt:

[A]lmost every category of U.S. infrastructure is in a dangerous or obsolete state — roads and bridges, power generation and transmission, water treatment and delivery, ports and air traffic control. There is no partisan divide on what is needed: a national initiative to modernize our 50- to 100-year-old infrastructure. The upside is as rosy as the status quo is dire. The United States can enhance its competitiveness, achieve a greener footprint and create upward of 2 million jobs.

So what’s the problem? Modernizing infrastructure requires money and permits. Congress needs to create a long-term funding plan and radically reduce the red tape that drives up costs and ensnarls projects in their infancy. Instead, Congress uses short-term fixes to get past the looming insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Congressional efforts to cut red tape are similarly weak.

You can read the full op-ed here.

The Washington Post makes a similar argument in a Wednesday editorial, writing: “Congress also should reduce the time and hassle it takes to get infrastructure projects approved.”

Expediting infrastructure approvals was the topic of a forum Common Good hosted in DC on Tuesday as part of Infrastructure Week 2015. The forum’s cohosts were the Bipartisan Policy Center, the National Association of Manufacturers, and Covington & Burling. You can read reports on the forum by Government Executive here and by NAM here.