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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Has infrastructure become a bipartisan opportunity?

Let’s put party and partisanship aside. Let’s also forget for a minute the devil in the details.

Both presidential candidates have talked about the need to spend billions improving roads, bridges, ports, the power grid and broadband access. All of this is in the name of rebuilding a badly deteriorating infrastructure.

A New York Times report talks about the broader economic benefits of increased spending on infrastructure, even if it means taking on tens of billions of dollars in debt. The Times quotes former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as saying the borrowings would cost the federal government 1 percent interest while reaping a 3 percent gain because of increased productivity.

I don’t have the numbers to argue what this means to government contractors and the IT and professional services sector. But given the rhetoric of the two campaigns, spending on infrastructure is headed in a bipartisan direction.

The need has become so great – just yesterday we went over a bridge in northern Virginia and my son asked, Dad, why the road so bumpy – that infrastructure spending might be entering the category of health IT, defense, cyber and homeland security. You can count on spending no matter which party is in office.

Of course, this is a very broad brush I’m painting with, and maybe some wishful thinking as well.

I started this post with some very big caveats.

No matter who wins, we’ll like see continued partisanship over any issue that calls for increased spending. There are deep philosophical divides over how to pay for major programs. You either borrow the money or raise taxes and some combination.

There also are creative structures such as privatizes roads and bridges, which generally means adding toll lanes.

But I go back to the great need. State, local and federal agencies are feeling the pressure to make improvements to infrastructures. They’ll be looking for solutions they can afford. The opportunity should be ripe, especially in the areas of broadband, intelligent transportation and smart power grids and utilities.

The challenge for contractors will be deciding where to invest and how much. The gamble will be in the timing. But the need is there, and the payoff could be great.

 

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 19, 2016 at 10:09 AM


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