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OPINION: The cost of delay is approaching the size of the nation’s entire infrastructure backlog

May 18, 2018 From Common Good
Photo courtesy of Cagle Cartoons
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Common Good released an update yesterday of its 2015 report “Two Years, Not Ten Years” revealing that the cost of delay in rebuilding America’s infrastructure has grown in five years from about $3.7 trillion to nearly $3.9 trillion. That’s an increase of nearly $200 billion — or $40 billion per year. The overall total includes direct costs associated with construction delays plus economic and environmental costs of failing to upgrade America’s dilapidated infrastructure. The total approaches in magnitude the entire U.S. infrastructure backlog of $4.6 trillion, as estimated by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“The federal government continues to delay irresponsibly the rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” said Philip K. Howard, chair of nonpartisan Common Good. “The cost of that delay now approaches $4 trillion — a stunning amount of waste, even by Washington standards.”

“Two Years, Not Ten Years” proposed a dramatic reduction of red tape so that infrastructure can be approved in two years or less. It is widely cited as the basis for permitting reforms initiated by executive order by the Trump administration, but legislation to cut the red tape permanently is required. Common Good has proposed a three-page legislative fix to streamline permitting by giving officials the authority and the responsibility to move projects forward and by returning the review to its original public-focused intent.

Common Good ( is a nonpartisan reform coalition that believes individual responsibility, not rote bureaucracy, must be the organizing principle of government. It presents proposals to radically simplify government and restore the ability of officials and citizens alike to use common sense in daily decisions. The Founder and Chair of Common Good is Philip K. Howard, a lawyer and author of “The Rule of Nobody” (W. W. Norton) and “The Death of Common Sense” (Random House), among other books.

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