NASHTU Legislative Priorities – 2017
Cost Comparison – For architectural, engineering, and related services on surface transportation projects using federal funds, a government agency should prepare an estimate of the cost of procuring the services under a private contract and an estimate of having the services performed by employees of a government agency.
This proposal will ensure that taxpayers receive safe, high quality transportation services at the best price. Increasingly, state and local departments of transportation are spending hundreds of millions of federal dollars on private contracts for engineering and related transportation services without competitive bidding and without determining whether these contracts are cost-effective and protect the public interest.
Public Inspection – To require public employees to carry out the construction inspection functions on federally-funded surface transportation projects.
Requiring public employees to perform the construction inspection functions on transportation projects will protect public safety and ensure that scarce transportation funds are not wasted. On transportation projects, construction inspectors are the eyes, ears, and voice of the public. Public inspectors ensure that construction standards are met, that projects meet safety requirements, and that the materials used will stand the test of time. In short, they are there to ensure that the motoring public gets what they pay for, and that public safety and the public interest are protected.
Outsourcing Mandates and Incentives Limit State Flexibility
Outsourcing mandates or incentives are an inappropriate use of federal authority that infringes on a state’s ability to choose how best to deliver its transportation program.
During the last authorization, a broad coalition of transportation groups including AASHTO, NASHTU and other public and private sector stakeholders, worked together to block the inclusion of language that would mandate or incentivize the outsourcing of engineering and design services. These proposals would skew a state’s decision-making authority and could lead to states favoring a particular delivery method that would not be in the best interest of taxpayers. States should also not be penalized for choosing to utilize their own in-house professionals to deliver safe and cost-effective transportation services.
Increased Transportation Funding Creates Jobs, Economic Competitiveness
The funding to support our nation’s highways and bridges is increasingly inadequate due to its reliance on the dwindling gas tax. While the new surface transportation authorization (FAST Act) included “modest” increases in transportation funding, it is not enough for states to eliminate their large backlog of needed infrastructure repairs and improvements to maintain their networks and reduce congestion. According to ASCE’s latest Report Card on America’s Infrastructure, 42% of the nation’s urban highways are congested, costing the economy $101 billion annually in wasted time and fuel. Adequate transportation funding is critical to job creation and the country’s economic competitiveness.
Now that the long-term authorization has been enacted, it is time for Congress to address the huge transportation funding shortfalls. Under the FAST Act, the average annual highway funding is $57.5 billion. Adjusted for inflation, this is about $16 billion short of the annual Highway Trust Fund revenues. Instead of raising additional revenue, the FAST Act bridges the gap by relying on $70 billion in General Fund support. NASHTU looks forward to working with Congress to close this deficit to help repair and rebuild our highway infrastructure.