Engineering Influence and the ACEC Research Institute welcomed WSP's John Porcari onto the show to discuss his work with the ACEC Research Institute on the New Partnership on Infrastructure and  Accelerator for America's new report:  "A Playbook for a new Infrastructure Partnership."

 

Host:

Welcome to another edition of Engineering Influence, a podcast by the American Council of Engineering Companies. It is my pleasure to welcome John Porcari to the program. John is a senior advisor at WSP and has an impressive history, both as the Deputy Secretary of Transportation in the Obama administration, where he was second command to then Secretary Anthony Foxx. And before that, John served two terms as Maryland Secretary of Transportation. His experience in program management, planning, design, and construction delivery is widely sought after by elected officials and policy leaders across the political spectrum. And it's fair to say that his insights and advice are of great value to presidential candidates, which comes up to a sharp focus this year with the general election. Mr. Porcari is now with ACEC member from WSP, where he oversees the firm's advisory services.

Host:

And not long after the ACEC Research Institute was established, WSP suggested that one of the first projects the group could undertake was the new "Partnership for Infrastructure," which is a program that's also supported by ACEC member from HNTB. Now, the Partnership's focus was to interview mayors across the country to better understand local and urban infrastructure challenges and develop a playbook of actionable recommendations. And when the project started in early March, there was a lot of buzz about the potential for an infrastructure bill, but no one could have imagined the disruptive impact of COVID-19. And on top of that, how urban protests would make us all think more about the state of America's cities. Los Angeles-based Accelerator for America interviewed the mayors for the playbook over the course of the Spring and assembled the recommendations and led the socialization of the recommendations and various online forums. The ACEC Research Institute participated in the process as an advisor and a financial supporter, but it doesn't necessarily endorse all the recommendations, but the playbook provides a great value for, firm executives and leaders in the engineering and the A/E/C space. It provides a lot of access to gain key insights into the tough local challenges facing our cities. The mayors are looking for problem solving partners to address complex societal needs. In some cases they want consulting help before they even have projects identified. Also the complexity of project finances, much more challenging today, and simply identifying funding for a list of projects. We all know what COVID-19 and the crunch on state and municipal budgets has really done to the industry. Now, this playbook is called the community serving infrastructure, a playbook for a new infrastructure partnership, and it can be found@acceleratorforamerica.org. The link to that document as well as supporting documents will be added up to the show notes on this episode.

Host:

That was kind of a long introduction kind of setting it up here, John, but I want to give you the opportunity. Number one, thank you for coming on. And number two, you know, for us in the beltway, you are well known as an expert in public administration, infrastructure transportation for those outside of the beltway who are politically active and are engaged in the A/E/C industry. Can you tell us a little bit more about your major interests and, and in, in, in the field and, you know, the turning points in your career that kind of got you to this point?

John Porcari:

Sure. Jeff, and thanks for having me here today. I, I've been very lucky in my professional career, in both the public sector and the private sector and in the public sector, as you pointed out, sort of at the local level, the state level is the Secretary of Transportation at the federal levels, Deputy Secretary of Transportation. And now in the private sector working to help clients get these projects across the finish line which is harder and harder. And we can talk about this a little bit, some of the things that are holding it back, but what's motivated me through my whole career is infrastructure is economic development. I started my public sector career as an economic development person working on major projects. And the more time I spent on economic development, the more there was a transportation and infrastructure linkage to it.

John Porcari:

So it's kind of a natural crossover into transportation. And that's especially true at the local level. We have this great system in the U S at the federal state and local level where each level of government has various responsibilities under our Federalist system, but we sometimes forget that the real actions at the local level. So the project decisions are at the local level, the priorities are established at the local level, and then you have to work your way through what can be sometimes some very difficult federal processes and regulations, for example, to get those local priorities built. So one of the reasons that we were very interested in working with Accelerator for America and the Research Institute to actually join us in that endeavor was we wanted to take a local lens to it and hear directly from mayors of big as the city of Los Angeles. And as small as cities like South bend and Waterloo, Iowa what on the infrastructure side they would like to change and this playbook we've put together some very specific recommendations through that local lens. That'll really help all kinds of infrastructure projects.

Host:

Absolutely. That's something which, you know, echoes throughout the country. I mean, my personal experience was in Congress with former Chairman Shuster, both in the personal office and then a committee and in the personal office, in his area of Pennsylvania, it was always economic development. It was always, you cannot have growth and opportunity without infrastructure, which naturally just tied directly into roads intotransportation networks, because the two are intertwined. And, and those decisions at the local level at the County municipal level really are the things that shape what that economic development is going to look like. So having a playbook, having some kind of a document, which looks and focuses in on the needs and the requirements of mayors and of people who are really active in local government is, is critical because it's not all at the top. It's not all federal. How, how did the accelerator for America? How did, how were they chosen to do this project? Why were they kind of the, the ideal group to, to undertake this?

John Porcari:

It's a great question. We began this discussion, this journey, essentially trying to take a local view to infrastructure by talking to some of the think tanks in the Washington area, some of the larger established organizations and it was such a different kind of view for them that they had trouble getting their heads around it. And so again, together with the ACEC Research Institute we had been working with Accelerator for America on specific projects. And as opposed to a think tank, the Accelerator is known as a do tank. These are mayors like all mayors and County commissioners and County councils that are out there working these issues every day. And, you know, if it works and, you know, if it doesn't at the local level, there's no hiding it. So a believer or not no one has done this before taking this local lens to infrastructure and tried to change federal regulations and requirements and programs to fit local needs rather than the other way around, rather than the experience of mayors and County commissioners across America is you have to kind of force fit what you're trying to do at the local level into whatever federal silo is out there.

John Porcari:

So we took the opposite approach Accelerator turned out to be the perfect partner for it. And the interviews, which were part of the process with mayors across the country, Republicans, Democrats, independents - party had nothing to do with it. Infrastructure had everything to do with it. And it truly is one of the bipartisan issues out there. We heard some common themes that turned into these recommendations in the playbook. Some are very specific, and frankly, some of them are relatively easy to do and would make the infrastructure work at the local level. So much easier, so much more freedom to adapt to local conditions.

Host:

Absolutely. It's really a paradigm shift because so much of the time we're focused on federal policy and programs. And those are developed, you know, with, with some thought and input from state DOT, administrators and such, but really it's, it's never given that focus from the local area because, you know, their needs should really bubble up and shape that policy, because if you're able to solve a lot of the problems with the local level, and a lot of the things that the consulting industry engineering consulting, engineering industry can come in and help in that process as well, understanding how to apply solutions to the challenges that are facing at the local level. It can speed project delivery can improve policy. At the national level, it seems like a natural model that hasn't been followed a lot by Congress. It's an interesting thing.

John Porcari:

That's exactly right. And, and the members of ACEC, I think could be very helpful in this and the the at the local level mayors and their counterparts don't have the luxury of thinking in the silos that the federal government operates in. And as you point out, the reality is that innovation doesn't trickle down from the federal level, it bubbles up from the local level and some of the more successful infrastructure work and infrastructure policies, and even projects have been local decisions that aggregate into a national system. And if, if you think about goods movement, if you think about moving people safely and efficiently they're really thousands of local decisions that together make the national policy not the other way around. We tried to reflect that in the playbook and make sure that the mayors were heard loud and clear on what their priorities were in our, in of course it varies all over the country based on local conditions, but to a person, they, they understood the fact that it's economic development it's quality of life, of their communities, it's building the economic future.

John Porcari:

So in one example, the highway right away is not just right away to them. It's, it's how their water and wastewater systems are conveyed as storm stormwater management. It's where broadband is bringing an economic future to these communities. And so they don't think of it as the state highway departments right away. They think of it is their economic future.

Host:

Yeah. And those, those city planners, those, those you know, local planners have to look forward on, on where's the growth and opportunity going to be, where can we actually create the economic development and how can we use all of those pieces of the infrastructure puzzle together to more effectively create jobs, or attract businesses? One of the big issues that we had in central Pennsylvania was trying to get headquarters with operations and, and trying to do it in such a place where you not only had right away or, or thoroughfare, but then you also have the actual wastewater, water, infrastructure, broadband, all those different aspects. And it's, it's, it's the, at the local level, you see more of the picture than you do if you're just sitting, like you said, in those silos, and you're just looking at one or two different things now, when this started, and we didn't have any idea of what was around the bend. I mean the focus of this project must have been impacted by the pandemic. And then, you know, the social issues layered on top of that kind of two part question, the first is how did it change scope, but then, you know, how did it, how did it also expand to, put a focus on to urban areas of, and their infrastructure needs and how they may have been underserved in the past and looking at what they might need to rebuild after the pandemic?

John Porcari:

It's a great question, Jeff. And we got some great direct input from these mayors. And so is one example. We talked to dozens of mayors across the Heartland of America small and medium sized cities where they're grappling with all kinds of issues, but, but again, trying to build an economic futureit makes sure they could do it. And as we started this project, the pandemic hit so it did change the infrastructure priority to some extent, for example one of the medium sized Midwestern cities that we were working closely with found that to do online instruction for their public school district almost 40% of their students didn't have access to broadband. You can imagine what that did to the priority of broadband relative to some of the other infrastructure priorities that they have at the same timethings like some of the transit service and planning for a future transit capacity changed as well, knowing that that economic lifeline of transit, connecting people to opportunities is, is every bit as important in some of these smaller jurisdictions as it is in large areas.

John Porcari:

And it was a go-no-go item for employment in many ways. So the, the it also at the same time with some of the storm events and natural disasters that we've had in the country while we were developing this, the whole idea of resilience, which really means something in practical terms terms at the local level resiliency is being able to operate your infrastructure, making sure your roads aren't flooded out and your water and wastewater systems work. And you actually have electrical power that can survive these events is something that is, is a very practical value at the local level and something that these mayors are very focused on. So as opposed to an esoteric discussion at the national level about resiliency and climate change the practical, nuts and bolts part of it is it changes infrastructure priorities at the local level. They see the facts on the ground and they have to respond to them. In real time.

Host:

I noticed in the last Congress near the end, the T&I Committee specifically was looking at a lot of different areas related to resiliency, and the word came up a lot more. But I don't think there was a complete appreciation for what it meant. Do you think that these stories and these recommendations from mayors can help fully flesh out federal law makers understanding of the importance of resiliency and what it means? It's not a political term, it's an actual, this is something that has to be considered.

John Porcari:

Yes, Jeff that's exactly right. It is not at all a political term. It's not some esoteric discussion at the local level. It's it's the practical impact of flooding where, you know, the prudent thing to do on the redesigned side is to upsize the the culverts. It's, it's where, you know, that having buried utilities makes them much more resilient for outages and storm events. The practical impact is something that we saw very clearly and heard very clearly from the mayors where they want to make sure that they're squeezing every bit of value out of harder and tax dollars for this infrastructure by making a durable. And future-proofing it to the extent that you can. So one of the great things about applying this local lens to infrastructure is it takes the kind of sterile Washington philosophical and political discussion out of this and puts the practical impact in there where these are people across the political spectrum, working side by side, acknowledging that building more resilient infrastructure is the smart thing to do from an economics point of view. And from obviously from a service delivery point of view for your city.

Host:

Absolutely. I know that there are four broad, which kind of form the focus of the document, and that's maximizing investment for a job and small business growth, empowering localities with effective tools and processes, funding, and financing for community serving infrastructure and making transformative investments for more resilient future, going back to the resiliency part, taking kind of that last one, since we're talking about that, like you said, the impact of, of, of looking at the local level and, and saying, like you said, you know, these power lines, you know, or what have you should be placed underground, or the covert should be made larger. I mean, that definitely will have an impact on those budgetary decisions. And, and especially with the way that the States are going right now having that cash crunch related to the pandemic how do you think the document's going to come into play with that?

John Porcari:

It's a great question. So there are some very specific recommendations related to resiliency, for example, that, that helped carry the argument for these cities to, to do things differently, but it also calls for a reset at the federal level. It's the, it's the local government saying, for example, that you need to form a federal infrastructure planning council. We have all of these federal agencies that don't even talk to each other, let alone work together on a regular basis at the local level, you don't have the luxury of, of building things in silos, organizational silos, this federal infrastructure planning council would be a forcing mechanism to get the different federal agencies like the Corps of Engineers responsible for all of our inland waterways, great lakes inland maritime transportation working with other federal agencies where they very seldom interact in practical terms where they do it's at the local level where you have local representatives and a local project that forces them to work together.

John Porcari:

So the idea is at the state and federal level to, to really highlight what some of those disconnects are, and in, in a very practical way, show how we can do a better job. And again, it recognizes the reality that's that's in our constitution and in the way we operate under federalism, but is not recognized in our institutional structures, which is those decisions and choices are made at the local level. And they should be but you don't have a federal partner that's necessarily recognizing that. And the federal share of funding in many cases in percentage terms is declining every year. So you have this ironic position of more local funding going into these projects, less federal funding, but federal regulation that makes it difficult to do business.

Host:

So how would that, how would that planning council be structured? Would that be executive level, or would that be kind of a congressional action? How do, how, how how's the playbook kind of see this happening?

John Porcari:

Well, it can be done a couple of ways, what the playbook focuses on are practical solutions. So for that planning council, the deputies level that the deputy secretaries and deputy directors in the federal departments by definition are the chief operating officers. And on, on important issues, they function is a deputy's council where they actually get together and work through issues. And what, what the playbook is saying is that for infrastructure planning at the deputy secretary at the deputy director level, we really should have that kind of coordination across the executive branch. Now, as you well know, from, from, from your background, these individuals report to all different committees of jurisdiction, but that shouldn't be the local government's problem. Right?

Speaker 3:

The whole idea is, is that you have the, the executive branch agencies working with each other to make it easier for the project choices and to build those projects at the local level.

Host:

So formalize the informal working groups into an actual council that meets and discusses infrastructure and creates a liaison for the States and for local governments to bring the ideas up, to be discussed at that operational level. That's right. And give them a specific agenda on where those barriers to cooperation are, where some of the loan programs are too restrictive and can't be used. The what you tend to do at the local level is try to get as much different kinds of infrastructure into every project that you do at the federal level. It's more of kind of a rifle shot approach where you have very narrow programs. So part of the agenda for that planning council for example, would be to broaden those programs to think more holistically to, again, frankly get better value out of these public investments by making the infrastructure more holistic and more comprehensive. It sounds fairly common sense. So, so how would, how would that, for example, you know, how would these policies accelerate, you know, improvements really that the brick and mortar infrastructure and the people really care about the, you know, you have the drinking and the wastewater, of course you know, Flint was, you know, still is the poster child for that, but then, like you mentioned earlier, we have, we have broadband, we have the issue with the gas tax and we have declining revenues, but have increasing, you know, via electric vehicle market, but we don't have a national electric vehicle charging infrastructure, you know, that's something which has to be addressed. And, and the other, those transformative areas that seem to be happening at the state and local level, of course, the States that are really ahead of the curve and trying to be centers of innovation and are starting to think of transportation, not in transportation sense, but as in mobility and, and, and as a holistic way of looking at things how would these policies help accelerate that the federal level?

John Porcari:

Yeah, it would do. It would happen a couple of ways. One I mentioned, which is most infrastructure projects of any size are not funded anymore. They're financed. And that's, that's a very important difference where it may be a 50 or 70 year lifespan piece of infrastructure that has a 35 year loan against it. Broadening the eligibility of those loans would be one thing, expanding the capacity of the federal loan programs, whether it's for highway or transit, water or wastewater. If you just look at the lead pipe and lead contamination issue, the, the existing federal programs capacity for loans is only a fraction of what you would actually need. And it's not just Flint, Michigan it's cities and towns across the country and rural areas. It's also other federal policies. So electric vehicle tax credits can be expanded, accelerated depreciation, all the kind of tax policies that actually trigger private sector investment in infrastructure or public private partnerships is, is something that can be encouraged through these recommendations. And the idea was to be w was, was to try to address the infrastructure needs and be agnostic on whether it's publicly addressed or privately addressed, or a partnership between the two but across the spectrum to try to identify some of these very specific recommendations that that can actually make these things happen.

Host:

Yeah, and that's a very important point because earlier in the couple of months ago, we did a, a round table discussion on the future of funding and transportation. And we had some, some policy think tank guys. We had Jeff Davis and Eno, and we had some thought leaders from Harvard. We had kind of a mixture and everyone agreed that, you know, reliance on farebox revenues especially now. I mean, you can't do it, you can't do it. There has to be a, there's not one solution. There has to be a number of different solutions to broaden the type of financing that you can actually go for for these projects that, you know, just relying on trust, run revenue, for example, is, is something which is, which is difficult in a time of declining revenues. Is there a recommendation on the trust fund within the document?

John Porcari:

It doesn't make a specific recommendation on the trust fund. The participants in this study, like everyone else acknowledged that's that it has to be changed. The system has to be changed. There's no, there's no trust in the trust fund anymore, right? If the Congress has to keep putting general funds and other monies into the trust fund, it's actually not a trust fund where and especially with the recession related to the pandemic, we're seeing trust, run revenues declining very rapidly. But the idea would be to at the local level and the federal level to open the aperture for more innovation on the funding and financing side. And there are jurisdictions that have limitations on how they can raise local funds. These local bond issuances and referenda and local other kinds of local self-help initiatives are limited in many places yet.

John Porcari:

They're actually the primary funding source of the local funds for many of these infrastructure projects. So opening it up across the board and making a better case that infrastructure is actually an investment. Yes, it's an expenditure, but infrastructure given its lifespan and given the economic activity that generates is actually a good investment. Whether it's airports and air service highway transit, the utilities that provide services you simply can't have economic growth and the quality of life we all want without that infrastructure investment.

Host:

And, and I know there, there are a couple of ideas about state local road transfers and federal funding for betterments. Can you go a little bit more into that? You know, what problems are we solving by transferring road ownership from, from state to local governments and, and what is the focus on betterments about?

John Porcari:

Sure, let me take each of those in turn so that the road transfer part of it is a recognition that the primary purpose of any given road may change over time. So in every state, there are state routes, the numbered state routes that were probably very important from a regional point of view maybe back to the horse and buggy days. But that state route is now main street for a town or city. And in that municipality it's serving a very different local function as opposed to the regional function that was originally built for. And so who would be the best steward of that? Who would use that right away most effectively for all the things we talked about, water and wastewater, broadband, burying electric utilities transit service, maybe dedicated transit lanes inductive charging in the next few years.

John Porcari:

The idea is that some of the functions of those roads, which were much more of a state function in the past local function now, it's not true in every case. The idea is to look at those individually and see where it makes sense it might have been for that state route example, 75% interest state regional traffic before. And it may be 25% now. So who would be the best steward of that? The betterment issue is a really interesting one, the when there's a hurricane or tornado or storm event that does significant damage for example, to our highway infrastructure. There's, there are emergency relief funds from the federal government to rebuild that in this highway example and until not too long ago about eight years ago, you could only rebuild that highway the same way it was built before you could not put in bigger storm drainage culverts.

John Porcari:

You couldn't raise the elevation. The idea of betterment is now accepted and it's federally funding eligible where you could rebuild that highway. And now you can do it with transit. You can pull it out of the flood, plain, you, you can armor it in ways where you're not rebuilding the same facility time after time with federal money, emergency relief money, every time it's common sense, but it's something that literally was not allowed until fairly recently. And so one aspect of resilience is to make sure those betterments rebuilding smarter every time is built into the core of what we do.

Host:

Yeah, that's a really good point and it makes complete sense. And I know, but it's the kind of thing that, that from an, you know, from an industry perspective, when, when a firm like WSP or a firm, you know, another ACEC member firm is brought onto a project, you know, they're of course working as a trusted advisor to their client to be able to say, okay, well, this road is built this way, but what we know of, you know, past events and you know, our expertise that we bring into it is that you should be improving it in a number of ways. And here is our expert consultation on how to, how to do that. And, if that idea is, is adopted by a broader swath of the States, that it means that you're going to have an improvement overall in the length and the value of infrastructure, like you said, stretching that dollar, that taxpayer dollar further, and just rebuilding a road exactly how it was. And it's just going to be washed away or destroyed in an earthquake, or what have you again,

John Porcari:

Right. That's right.

Host:

Now we talked about fund financing. We talked about the betterment issue. I know that the plan has a few deregulatory ideas on, on project delivery and cutting red tape. They include accelerated procurements reviews, the permitting, P3 processing. I, you know, we've heard a lot of these ideas from state officials. Did it really surprise you that a lot of these priorities were also coming from mayors who were interviewed?

John Porcari:

Not really the, the more time you spend with mayors, the more you see that they really are hands on problem solvers. So the one of the specific recommendations shortening the procurement cycle is basically the the city's asking the federal government to do what they've already done. We had a mayor for example, that during the pandemic cut their procurement times by 50% and just did it they're meeting all their legal criteria. It's there's no part of the procurement process that's been compromised, but they literally shave 50% of the time off. And the idea is if you can do that at a local level, it can be done at the federal level too. And it, if you do it at the local level and you don't have a federal partner that also cuts their response time and their review time, it doesn't help because you have to get ultimately get there. Okay. Anyway, so these are commonsense forms that don't really don't compromise the quality or the integrity of the process or the project. But what, what the recommendation is really saying is we can do it at the local level. We'd like our federal partners to do the same

Host:

Now to kind of wrap it up. I know the last areas, it really kind of goes into the job creation and employment issue, which is, which is especially important now with the effects of of the pandemic on, on employment. But the playbook discusses a number of of different areas. Here are the importance of training centers of local and targeted construction hires and support for small and medium sized businesses and, and the importance of, of expanding federal research into a lot of these emerging transportation and, you know, planning and such, where do you see this going? You know, what area in this kind of gets your attention the most?

John Porcari:

Well from a local perspective, this was a really pressing issue as well. So part of it is trying to squeeze again, as much value as you can out of tax dollars, by making sure the money stays in the local economy, to the extent possible. You know, at the end of the day, these infrastructure jobs or jobs you can't export, they are American jobs. And as an industry, there's a lot we can do to maximize that. But it also it also talks about taking projects as an opportunity to move people up the skill scale. So if you are learning a skilled trade from a laborer to say high voltage, electrician or welder is part of that project. You have brought someone into the middle class and doing that. And there's a whole ecosystem that could be helpful to that.

John Porcari:

The community colleges that are operated at the local level, we'll put together a training course for anything there's demand for. And there's a little bit of a chicken and egg aspect of this, where you need to make it, if it's clear, the demand is there for skills training, as part of infrastructure construction, the training will be there through private programs to community colleges, through unions and others, lots of providers but what we have not done and, and you can't do at the local level by yourself is systematically put, put that together into a system that lifts people up that skills ladder and provides better opportunities.

Host:

And that that's, you know, cross jurisdictional, because that's not just, you know, infrastructure or transportation policy, but it's educational policy at the, at the national level. It's how, how do you, how do you make the two kind of fit together, which shows, you know, the size of the task, but also the value of these recommendations to inform especially federal policy makers. Since it's an election year, I can't not ask the question. How has this playbook been received by the candidates have you or anyone else from, from, you know, who were leading this charge brought this to either the presidential campaigns or, or any of the the leadership and at the federal level to say that if, as you're, as you're developing policies, keep this in mind.

John Porcari:

It's a great question. At the beginning of this discussion, I mentioned that this is very much a bipartisan effort by bipartisan mayors. And so the playbook recommendations have been made available across the board people on both sides of the aisle have been briefed on it. I will just tell you from my personal perspective and personal experience and full disclosure, I'm a strong supporter of vice president Biden. The uptake of these ideas and, and concepts behind it has been very positive. There's a recognition that, that again, the innovation's at the local level, the decision making's at the local level, let's make sure we're letting our local elected officials make they know what the right choices are for their jurisdictions. Let's back them up and support them with federal policies that actually help them as opposed to getting in their way.

Host:

That's a really good point. And I think a good, a good area to, to leave it on. John, do you have anything else to add about the playbook? It, we've covered a lot of ground here. We know a lot of the recommendations, but is there anything, any, any final parting thought that our listeners should know going out of it?

John Porcari:

Well, I, again, this is, this is from a local perspective and it's very practical as mayors are. So there, there's nothing in here that can't be implemented ACEC members around the country should really think about how this can help locally. To a person ,the members are working at the local level, helping with those local choices, literally use the playbook for what it's intended to be, which is a way to help you with infrastructure, construction and, and in a more general sense, help make the connection between infrastructure and economic growth and prosperity. And the fact is, you know, if we're honest with ourselves, you can look at infrastructure coast to coast here, if you're honest with yourself, and you look at that infrastructure more than likely it was built and paid for by your parents, or maybe your grandparents, and in some cases, your great grandparents. So, it is just irresponsible of us not to invest in the future. It's the best thing we can do for the country going forward in terms of thinking about the future.

Host:

Yeah, really good parting thoughts there, because I think that one of the things that our members are very busy running their firms are very busy of course, with the work that they have ahead of themselves and running an office from the time of pandemic. But we can't lose sight of the fact that, that from an industry perspective, we're the thought leaders who can help drive these decision making processes at all levels of government that as an ACEC member, as a professional engineer and a business leader, there's a platform and there's expertise that our elected officials can't get anywhere else. And if they're able to use this documentthe playbook as a way to inform their thinking and develop their own thinking it'll help raise the profile of the industry as a whole, which is of course, one of the focuses of the institutes, you know, one of the key missions is to support the growth and the thought leadership of the industry.

Host:

But, you know, from a business sense, it'll, it'll make you more competitive when you're going for business, because you can put that economic argument behind it. You can put that, you know, like non, non partisan political argument to, to tie it all together and justify a project. I guess I do want to put a plug in because the, the ACC research Institute coming up in the, in, in, in next few weeks is going to be delving into aspects of the playbook. We're going to be doing some round tables on the playbook in conjunction with Accelerator for America. And we had our first series of round tables on the future of engineering. They were very successful and we look forward to another successful series coming up in, in only a few weeks but more information on that's going to be coming up shortly.

Host:

So stay tuned. We are going to post up the the, the program on the show notes, we will have a link to the, to the Accelerator for America website. And then of course, that will have the link to the playbook. John, I really appreciate your time today. Thank you so much. And I know our listeners really benefited from hearing your views and your expertise.

John Porcari:

It's my pleasure. And I do want to thank the ACEC Research Institute, and also everyone who's involved in putting this playbook together, because it took a lot of hands to actually get a nationwide perspective here.

Host:

Well hopefully we can have you back on the show a little bit later after we have those round tables and kind of maybe after once we get a better idea of what happens in November, and we get a better idea of, you know, what infrastructure policy might look like and either administration it might be good to revisit these issues. So until then, again, John Porcari, He leads advisory services at WSP, but he is also just a very, very knowledgeable individual when it comes to federal and state and local transportation policy. And thank you so much for being on the show.

John Porcari:

My pleasure, Jeff. Thanks.

Host:

And this has been Engineering Influence a podcast from the American council of engineering companies. We'll see you next time.

 

 

 

Share | Download(Loading)

Play this podcast on Podbean App