There are entrenched “ways of doing business” by many public organizations to renew, expand, operate, and maintain infrastructure assets. Unfortunately, these methods are not providing the results many organizations require. New ways of looking at infrastructure are needed even if “we have never done it this way before”.
The New Paradigm
The design, development, build, finance, operation, and maintenance of infrastructure assets is a complex process. To address this complexity, a paradigm shift in how to approach infrastructure is necessary. The new paradigm requires:
- Stakeholders viewed as partners – There are numerous stakeholders who will be involved in the entire life-cycle of an asset. Stakeholders to the asset include individuals and in some case organizations within and external to the public sector entity. Within the public sector organization, it includes administrators, infrastructure specialists, engineers, legal, accounting, and senior decision-makers. External to the public sector organization, it includes for-profit vendors and contractors, funding groups, professionals such as legal and accounting, and regulators. In the past, these various groups viewed each other in a “us vs them” mentality. The new paradigm views each stakeholder as a partner to the infrastructure asset. By adopting this approach, the emphasis is on fair treatment for all partners.
- Transparency – By encouraging transparency in all transactions between the various partner stakeholders to an asset, it creates an atmosphere of trust. This encourages long-term and deep partnerships between the various stakeholders. For funding groups, transparency lessens misunderstanding and mitigates risk in their initial underwriting process. For vendors and contractors, a transparent, open, honest approach to solution providing results in procurement processes whose focus in on the best solutions rather than lowest cost. For senior decision-makers, transparency means better information to make long-term decisions.
- Long-term perspective – By planning for the full life of an asset, stakeholders look for ways to create sustainability and financial viability of the asset.
It is this paradigm which sets the stage for public sector entities to thrive with infrastructure in the 21st century. All other secrets require Secret 1 to be in place and effective, prior to moving forward.
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