P3-friendly legislation taking root.

Recently NJ Senate President Sweeney opined the viability of Public-Private Partnerships.

Political and legislative support is also growing  in states that have already started implementing P3-friendly legislation as well as regulations to control the deliverability on partnership construction projects.

The recent Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act could be beneficial for the development of P3s, setting a positive trend in federal legislation.

A number of states have already taken steps to increase the possibilities for using public-private partnerships for transportation and construction projects.

In California, a recent transportation funding bill could set the stage for the Department of Transportation and regional transportation agencies to enter public-private partnerships for transportation projects beyond the current end date of Jan. 1, 2017. It also would allow the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to use P3s for transportation projects. Bill AB-2742 was held in committee in the Assembly in May.

Louisiana Senate Bill 195 is about to allow the Department of Transportation (DOT) to enter into transportation projects P3s. In June, the governor signed the bill.

In Missouri, Senate Bill 861 would change the existing legislation to allow P3s for construction of public buildings, water facilities, waterways, water supply facilities or pipelines, wastewater or wastewater treatment facilities, and vehicle parking facilities. It does not include highway, interstate or bridge construction, but current legislation already allows for using P3s for pipelines, ferries, river ports, airports, railroads and light rail. The bill was signed by the governor in July.

New Hampshire Senate Bill 549 is another piece of legislation joining the trend. It is bound to allow the Department of Transportation to use public-private partnerships for intermodal infrastructure and transportation projects. This bill was also signed by the governor in June.

In the case of New Hampshire and other states, the new legislation also stipulates the creation of a Public-Private Partnership Infrastructure Oversight Commission. Its mission is to administer P3s, setting contract regulations and bidding criteria.

Thus far, it appears that most states are interested and willing to amend their legislation and to create a healthy environment for public-private partnerships. The trend of introducing regulatory changes is a natural step by state legislators to protect  citizens from unsuccessful P3s.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Private Partnerships

Advantages and Disadvantages of Public Private Partnerships

There are many advantages and disadvantages of public private partnerships that should be considered before entering such a co- venture. A public private partnership refers to a venture in which funding and operations are run by a government agency or authority and a private sector entity. Over the years, public private partnerships have become increasingly popular internationally.

Public private partnerships are common in different areas including, infrastructure, transportation and gas and oil exploration.

Today, governments at all levels are faced with budgetary constraints yet the public needs them to deliver certain services.  Simply put, partnerships between the public and private sectors are critical in ensuring that a country develops economically.

One of the major advantages of public partnership is efficient management. Efficiency is very important in the management of developmental projects. This is achieved when the public sector and private company work together on a project. Plans as well as strategies are formulated and implemented more efficiently.

Another advantage of public private partnership is the improvement of the quality of the end results of a project. Partnership between a public agency and a private company brings technological advancement. This provides the necessary solutions for the completion of a project. Many private companies have highly advanced technology. When the government partners with such companies technology that is needed to deliver quality results is achieved.

The speed with which projects are executed is also enhanced due to the combined efforts of the government agency and the private company. In addition, the cost of accomplishing developmental projects is reduced through public private partnership. Both the government and the private company provide the necessary capital for development projects.

Nevertheless, there are drawbacks or disadvantages of public private partnerships as well. The difference in the work culture is one of the disadvantages of this venture. Differences in the functioning of a government agency and the private sector company can cause problems in the execution of the project.

Changes in government policies, often caused by changes in the electoral make up,  can also affect the model of the public private partnership. Such changes can affect capital flow or direction to favor the government leading to losses for a private company. This is one of the reasons why some companies fear to get into public private partnerships.

Mismanagement of the project is another disadvantage of a public private partnership. Mismanagement of the involved project is always a threat to the programs that are undertaken by the private and public sector. This is caused by unanticipated or unplanned challenges that lead to loss of resources that can benefit the government.

NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto reach terms on new Transportation Trust Fund Agreement.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced Friday that they had come to terms on a new agreement to replenish the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund and gradually phase out the estate tax.

The plan calls for a 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase, which Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Prieto (D-Secaucus) say will generate $1.2 billion each year in new revenue and provide support for approximately $2 billion in annual infrastructure investments. The agreement also calls for several concessions in conjunction with the gas tax hike, such as a plan to gradually phase out New Jersey’s estate tax over the next three to four years.

Details:

  • The attention will now shift to Gov. Chris Christie, who late last month agreed on an 11th-hour plan with Prieto to tie a 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase with a decrease in the state’s sales tax from 7 percent to 6 percent. Sweeney didn’t support the agreement, citing budget concerns;
  • the new agreement, the plan to phase out the estate tax is similar to a bipartisan bill cosponsored months ago by state Sens:
  • the exclusion rate on the estate tax, which currently applies to inheritances valued at $675,000 or more, would be upped to $2 million beginning Jan. 1 and then to the federal level of $5.4 million by Jan. 1, 2018. By Jan. 1, 2020, the tax would be completely eliminated;
  • the plan would also increase the threshold for retirement income exemptions for married couples to $100,000 over four years. Exclusion rates would be increased to $50,000 for married couples filing separately and $75,000 for single taxpayers.
  • the plan also calls for offering a $3,000 personal exemption on state income taxes to qualified veterans, a $500 annual income tax deduction to in-state motorists making up to $100,000 per year and an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit program to 40 percent.

 

How Effective Target Setting Can Impact a Grassroots Campaign

Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC pic
Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC
Image: dmgs.com

Attorney and businessman Martin Milita is graduate of the Temple University School of Law, and served as the chief executive officer of Fiore Group Companies, Inc. from 1996 to 2001. Currently, Martin Milita serves as senior director at Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC, a company that provides a full range of government relations and public affairs services such as grassroots campaigning.

A grassroots campaign is usually undertaken by an organization seeking to impact pending legislation. Because the main objective of a grassroots campaign is to get legislators to take notice of the campaign’s message, some lobbyists may rely on large numbers and loud voices. However, a reliance on these factors may defeat the overall purpose of the campaign.

One of the things that lobbyists must observe in conducting grassroots campaign is effective target setting. Phone calls and mailing in large numbers may be effective if all supporters can actively participate in the campaign, but that is not always the case. Otherwise, lobbyists should target the quality of the legislator connections, not the quantity. In fact, even a small number of phone calls can create a huge impact of they are targeted to people who maintain close relationships with politicians. As such, lobbyists must build these relationships and eventually put them to good use when the need arises.

Overhaul of Small Business Subcontracting Rules

The Federal Acquisition Council published several new contracting rules Thursday, including one designed to increase government subcontracting to smaller businesses.

The new federal acquisition circular adds the terms of a 2013 Small Business Administration rule that made a number of changes to federal small business subcontracting requirements into the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the council said. The rule will go into effect at the beginning of November.

The circular also includes several other changes, such as clarifications meant to reduce confusion for contractors, according to the council, which includes the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. General Services Administration and NASA.

Contractors will have to assign specific North American Industry Classification System codes — used for collecting statistical data — to subcontracts and to provide socioeconomic status of a subcontractor in notifications to unsuccessful subcontract offerers. In addition, contractors will be barred from blocking subcontractors from discussing payment or utilization issues with a contracting officer.

Contracting officers will also get expanded authority, including the discretion to require that small business subcontracting goals be defined in terms of total contract spending — not just based on required subcontract spending — and to request a new subcontracting plan if and when prime contractors grow beyond small business status.

Officers can also establish subcontracting goals at the task or delivery order level when making procurements under overarching indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts, among other changes.The rule also changes the way credit is assigned to federal agencies for meeting their small business contracting goals, allowing agencies that fund a contract — not just those responsible for awarding the deal — to receive credit.

The council had issued a proposed version of the rule in June 2015, following on from the SBA’s final rule, which had been put in place in July 2013, and received several dozen comments on the proposal.

Responding to those comments, the council made several tweaks in the final measure, including clarifying that although contracting officers can establish subcontracting goals for each task order, they cannot ask for new subcontracting plans.

In another tweak, the council also said that prime contractors won’t be held liable for misrepresentations made by a subcontractor regarding size or socioeconomic status, if the contractors otherwise acted in good faith.

The other changes in the circular include revisions to forms related to contracts involving bonds and other financial protections aimed at clarifying liability limitations and reducing confusion for contractors, and updates to outdated references in the regulation to federal guidance on administrative and audit requirements.

Small Business Administration Mentor-Protege Program Expansion

There are several pending regulatory changes previously designated by the SBA for release this year, including a rule that will clarify the agency’s suspension, revocation and debarment procedures for contracting agents, and another that will ease eligibility requirements for the Historically Underutilized Business Zones Program, which covers businesses located in certain “historically underutilized business” areas.

But the upcoming change that has prompted the most interest for many contractors  is a pending final rule expanding the SBA’s Mentor-Protege Program, first floated in a February 2015 proposed rule.

The program allows small businesses to partner in a joint venture with a larger mentor business that can provide advice and assistance, for instance to help win or implement larger or more complex deals that the small businesses lack the resources to win on their own, while still maintaining eligibility for federal small-business set-aside contracts.

Currently, the program is limited to businesses that participate in the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which provides assistance for small businesses majority-owned and -operated by “socially and economically disadvantaged” individuals, but is expected to be extended to all businesses otherwise eligible for set-aside contracts under SBA rules.

While the exact shape of the program expansion has yet to be announced, SBA officials have most recently hinted that the rule should be finalized at some point in July, and have indicated that the program’s terms should be effectively identical to the current 8(a) Mentor-Protege Program.

If those prescriptions hold, then the program’s expansion will be overwhelmingly welcomed throughout the small-business contractor community.

Knights of Columbus Breaks Charitable Records 17th Year in a Row

Knights of Columbus pic
Knights of Columbus
Image: kofc.org

Martin Milita has served as a senior director at Duane Morris Government Strategies in Trenton, New Jersey, since 2012. A committed philanthropist, Martin Milita supports the charitable faith-based organization Knights of Columbus.

A fraternal benefit society dedicated to helping people who are poor, ill, or disabled, Knights of Columbus maintains more than 1.9 million members worldwide. In a recent press release, the society announced its success in attaining record-breaking charitable efforts for the 17th consecutive year. As with previous years, 2015 witnessed steady gains in both donations and service hours. Last year’s totals reached $175,079,192 in contributions and 73.4 million service hours—up $1.5 million and more than a million hours in 2014. As expounded in the Knights’ Annual Survey of Fraternal Activity, 2015’s most magnanimous jurisdictions included Texas, California, Illinois, Michigan, and Ontario.

For the 2016-2017 fraternal year, Knights hopes to continue to expand its number of financial gifts and volunteer hours.