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COLUMN FINANCE state of art and practice; and in? uencing public policy.” the needs of waterways infrastructure every two years, with
This lofty goal is implemented on a practical level by sev- corresponding opportunities to facilitate the use of alterna- eral committees within COPRI, one of which is the Water- tive ? nancing approaches to meet those needs.
ways Committee, which in turn has a Subcommittee dedi- The COPRI Subcommittee’s work in exploring alterna- cated to “Alternative Financing for Waterways Infrastructure.” tive ? nancing of waterways infrastructure through its own
The Subcommittee’s operating premise is that it is not re- workshops, through the participation of its members in the alistic to rely solely on Congress for the funds necessary to Roundtables organized by the Ash Center, and through raise the inland waterways infrastructure to a grade higher other efforts of its members, has culminated in a report pre- than D. The Subcommittee has been active, therefore, in pared by a COPRI Task Committee published earlier this exploring and advocating for alternative sources of funding. year, “Alternative Financing and Delivery of Waterways In-
Among those initiatives have been several workshops frastructure” ( www.asce.org/uploadedFiles/News_Articles/ conducted throughout the country during 2015 and 2016. alt_? nance_report_? nal.pdf). The Task Committee was
The author spoke at one of these workshops in St. Paul, originally established by COPRI in 2015 to evaluate the
Minnesota in September 2016, at which there were more public-private partnership authorization included in the than 90 attendees, representing the engineering and con- Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. struction industry, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, wa- The scope of the ? nal report, however, is much broader: terway operators and users, ? nancial institutions, conces- it examines the use of alternative ? nancing generally in sionaires, Congressional staff, port authorities, and other support of water resources within the context of the civil stakeholders. A follow-up workshop was held in April of works program of the Army Corps of Engineers. The report this year in Oakland, California. contains speci? c and detailed recommendations to enable
After the St. Paul workshop, Roundtables on Alterna- the use of alternative ? nancing methods to address the in- tive Financing were held in October and December 2016, frastructure needs highlighted in the ASCE Infrastructure organized by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance Report Card. Key constraints are identi? ed, and then spe- and Innovation at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy ci? c legislative, regulatory, or administrative solutions to
School of Management, in partnership with the Army Corps these constraints are offered. Precedents in support of these of Engineers and other federal agencies. Several members of proposed solutions are provided, where available. To adopt the COPRI Subcommittee took part in these Roundtables. a waterways metaphor, there are obstacles in the channel to
From these Roundtables, the Ash Center issued a report in be sure, but the COPRI report is a useful guide for remov-
January of this year, “Tapping Private Financing and Delivery ing them or navigating around them.
to Modernize America’s Federal Water Resources.” Although ASCE is most often identi? ed only with the low grade given in its Infrastructure Report when the needs
ASCE A of the inland waterways infrastructure are being discussed,
In June of this year, the COPRI Subcommittee orga- it would be a disservice to the society and to the solution- nized a separate meeting with staff of the Army Corps of minded engineers who are its members to overlook the
Engineers at its headquarters. The goals of this meeting many contributions that they are making – with far less were, ? rst, to identify the speci? c statutory provisions that fanfare – to meeting those needs.
the Corps views as limiting its ability to use alternative ap- proaches to ? nancing improvements to the inland water- ways infrastructure and, second, to explore with the Corps the statutory authorizations that would give the Corps more ? exibility in this regard. This initiative was undertak-
James A. Kearns has represented owners, operators, en to take advantage of the bipartisan support that devel-