NCSL Releases Public-Private Partnership Toolkit for Legislators


NCSL press release

As of June 2017, 39 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have enabling laws for public-private partnerships.

Boston—A growing number of states have expanded their public-private partnerships (P3s) beyond transportation to include other government-delivered infrastructure needs. According to a report issued by the National Conference of State Legislatures during its 43rd annual Legislative Summit in Boston, P3s come in a variety of forms, and this report is designed to aid legislators with policy options currently available to states when considering P3s.

NCSL’s Transportation Program, in cooperation with the NCSL Foundation for States Legislatures, has released “P3 Infrastructure Delivery: Principles for State Legislatures.”

The report focuses on nine principles to help state legislators as they consider and perhaps adopt a procurement and financing approach involving P3s. It also identifies real-world examples, either from individual P3 projects or recent state legislative action, to highlight the importance of these principles.

Those principles include:

  • PRINCIPLE 1: Be informed. State decision makers need access to fact-based information that supports sound decisions. NCSL has continuously sought to provide state legislators with fact-based, un-biased and relevant policy information on P3s.
  • PRINCIPLE 2: Separate the debates. Debates about the P3 approach should be distinct from issues such as tolling, taxes or specific deals.
  • PRINCIPLE 3: Consider the public interest for all stakeholders. State legislators will want to consider how to protect the public interest throughout the P3 process.
  • PRINCIPLE 4: Involve and educate stakeholders. Stakeholder involvement helps protect the public interest, gain support and mitigate political risk.
  • PRINCIPLE 5: Take a long-term perspective. State legislators will want to approach P3 decisions with the long-term impacts in mind.
  • PRINCIPLE 6: Let infrastructure needs drive P3 projects—not the other way around. P3s should be pursued to support a state’s infrastructure needs and public benefit, not just to raise revenue.
  • PRINCIPLE 7: Support comprehensive project analyses. Before pursuing a P3, it should be shown to be a better option than traditional project delivery.
  • PRINCIPLE 8: Be clear about the financial issues. States will want to carefully assess financial goals, an asset’s value and how to spend any proceeds.
  • PRINCIPLE 9: Set good ground rules for bidding and negotiations. Legislation should promote fairness, clarity and transparency in the procurement process.

This report is the final product of the 2016 NCSL Foundation Partnership on Multi-Sector Public-Private Partnerships. Throughout this 15-month month project, lawmakers had a unique opportunity to work with industry leaders, researchers and national experts as they discussed emerging policy issues surrounding the expanding P3 industry. They also discussed the potential role in helping strengthen public infrastructure assets in arenas as diverse as water, energy, higher education, transportation and others.

By creating specialized educational resources and facilitating candid discussions between state policymakers, industry experts and private sector companies, this project aids legislators in ensuring their state’s ability to improve public infrastructure while keeping the public’s interest intact.

For a copy of the report, please click here.


Since 1975, NCSL has served as the bipartisan organization serving the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.