Washington DC-based law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge is working with the US government to encourage the creation of Partnerships USA, a support centre to help US mayors and governors in the use of public private partnerships (PPPs).
Countries, such as France, the UK, Greece and Canada, all have state and or federal organisations that support government officials in implementing procurement of public services via PPPs. The UK has formed Partnerships UK, while in British Columbia, Canada Partnerships BC, is a prominent PPP support group.
“I think the governors and their staffs . . . will tell you that they are unfamiliar with this concept of PPPs. They’ve not been trained on it, they’ve never seen it before in their lives. So the issue is where do they go to get expertise? Right now they’re just hiring one consultant after another,” said Frank Rapoport, a partner in McKenna’s PPP practice, who is leading the effort.
The US, which has yet to develop a federal legislative frameworks for PPPs, does not have any such organisations. If implemented, an organisation like Partnerships USA could help streamline and standardise rules and procedures for putting private capital to work in public procurement projects.
“There should be some entity that has common deal documents and common lessons learned that the governors can go to just as [California governor] Schwarzenegger went to Partnerships BC to learn what were these concepts? How were these deals formed?” Rapoport added.
Partnerships USA would be modelled after Partnerships UK, which provides advice, co-investment, compliance monitoring and other support services to the public sector. It would retain independent staff and initially employ federal funds for start-up costs, McKenna said in a statement.
Federal funding is likely to come from US Department of Transportation grants, special Congressional legislation or state governors Rapoport said, adding: “This is in the formative stages.”