The use of public-private partnerships (P3s) for infrastructure delivery, particularly for highway projects, has been increasing in the USA. The purpose of this paper is…
The use of public-private partnerships (P3s) for infrastructure delivery, particularly for highway projects, has been increasing in the USA. The purpose of this paper is to empirically evaluate the difference of P3s and non-P3 highway projects, in terms of their costs and efficiency.
An empirical model of highway construction costs was estimated using a linear regression model that explicitly accounts for the cost differential between the contracts. The differences between efficiencies was also evaluated through a two-stage analysis, where projects’-specific technical efficiencies were first estimated using stochastic frontier analysis and data envelopment analysis, and then the difference in technical efficiencies between the two groups were evaluated through non-parametric tests of means.
Controlling for various project characteristics, the P3 highway projects in the USA showed higher initial costs than non-P3 projects. However, the efficiency scores showed no significant difference between the two groups. This inconsistency between initial costs and technical efficiency scores suggests the complexity involved in P3 projects, which are not captured in the efficiency analysis.
Limited availability of P3 project data due to their immaturity (in cases of P3 projects that include operation and management) and their complex engineering specifications may have caused biased results. Importantly, the study analyzed project costs as of financial close; post-financial close variations, such as change orders during construction, cost/schedule overruns, and renegotiation of contract terms, are beyond the scope of the analysis in this study.
The present study contributes to the literature as one of the earliest empirical analyses of the performance of highway P3s in the USA. Also, this is one of the first studies to employ frontier analysis methods that focus on the efficiency of highway project delivery.