Lessons for the American P3 market from the UK's PF2 initiative - part one of two

It’s frustrating to be an American fan of a British television import like Doctor Who or Downton Abbey. Viewers in Balmoral often enjoy season premiers months in advance of their Baltimore cousins. Yet delay has its benefits. The American fan has ready access to vast troves of pre-existing, online analysis. This makes it easier to determine whether a particular episode is worth watching or to pick apart a troublesome plot line. Similarly, participants in the developing US public-private partnership (P3) market sometimes look to the United Kingdom for a glimpse ahead, and for missteps to avoid. And not without reason. The UK's long running Private Finance Initiative (PFI) originated in the early 1990s as a means to foster private finance and innovation in support of publicly procured infrastructure projects by using a P3 approach. PFI evolved to combine institutional support with standardized procurement methods and contracting templates. PFI has now seen the procurement of more than 700 projects and the investment of some £55 billion in private funds, in a country roughly one fifth the population, and one fortieth the expanse, of the United States. Events have made now a particularly relevant time for the US market to consider hard earned lessons from PFI.

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