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Obama Urges Faster Track for Projects

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

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Calling for more green lights and less red tape, President Obama has announced an initiative to halve the time needed to launch infrastructure construction projects.

The Presidential Memorandum—"Modernizing Federal Infrastructure Review and Permitting Regulations, Policies, and Procedures"—was announced Friday (May 17).

The plan tasks a federal panel with reviewing the entire process for infrastructure construction, to identify efficiencies and best practices in permitting, technologies and processes. At every stage, the goal is to expedite processes, streamline coordination, and prune delays and redundancies that slow projects.

"Our workers are at our best when we're building stuff," Obama said in a speech at Ellicott Dredges, a dredge equipment manufacturing company in Baltimore. "So today, I'm announcing the next step in our effort to cut through red tape that keeps big construction projects from getting off the ground."

speed up infrastructure

President Obama announced an initiative to streamline and speed the process required before breaking ground on infrastructure construction projects

"Now, some of you, if you've heard me, I'm really big on us rebuilding our infrastructure in this country," said Obama. "I want to put people back to work improving our roads, our bridges, our airports, our ports."

Review Timeline

The memorandum gives the Steering Committee on Federal Infrastructure Permiting and Review Process Improvement 60 days to identify and prioritize opportunities to modernize key regulations, policies and procedures to reduce time.

The committee has 120 days from the memorandum date to prepare a plan for permitting infrastructure projects that identifies proposed actions and timelines to:

  • Institutionalize or expand best practices or process improvements that agencies are already implementing to improve the efficiency of reviews;
  • Revise key agency and government-wide review and permitting regulations, policies and procedures;
  • Identify high-performance attributes of infrastructure projects that demonstrate how the projects seek to advance existing statutory and policy objectives and how they lead to improved outcomes for communities and the environment;
  • Create process efficiencies, including additional use of concurrent and integrated reviews;
  • Identify opportunities to use existing share-in-cost authorities and other non-appropriated funding sources to support early coordination and project review;
  • Effectively engage the public and interested stakeholders;
  • Expand coordination with state, local, and tribal governments;
Presidential Memorandum
Virginia DOT

President Obama said it took too long for projects to get off the ground. His memorandum directs federal agencies to identify technologies and processes that can cut that time in half.

  • Expand the use of information technology and identify priority areas for investment to replace paperwork processes, enhance project siting decisions and interagency collaboration, and improve monitoring of project impact and mitigation committments; and
  • Improve mitigation policies to provide developers with added predictability, facilitate landscape-scale mitigation and interagency mitigation plans, and ensure accountability and effectiveness of mitigation activities.

'We Could Do It Faster'

"So we've got to up our game when it comes to infrastructure," Obama said. "[O]ne of the problems we've had in the past is, is that sometimes it takes too long to get projects off the ground. There are all these permits and red tape and planning, and this and that, and some of it's important to do, but we could do it faster."

"Today, I'm directing agencies across the government to do what it takes to cut timelines for breaking ground on major infrastructure projects in half."

Infrastructure sectors covered by the effort include surface transportation, ports, water resources and systems, renewable energy generation, conventional energy production in high-demand areas, electricity transmission, broadband and pipelines.

The modernization effort builds on Executive Order 13604, "Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects," which Obama implemented in March 2012.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Economy; Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Infrastructure; Pipelines; President Obama; Roads/Highways

Comment from John Fauth, (5/21/2013, 8:21 AM)

How bad has regulation become when government complains about it?

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (5/22/2013, 8:00 AM)

I read elsewhere that this streamlining will cut 3 years off the required prep/study/review time on major projects. Yes, three years.

Comment from josh hutcheson, (5/23/2013, 7:35 AM)

at the speed and rate the government works they might get some part of it in place in say ten years or so!!!

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