Keith Perry* & John Ward** – Mega Infrastructure Projects and Public-Private-Partnerships: What policy-led multi-criteria analysis can offer in project appraisal?
Mega transport infrastructure projects have in recent decades rapidly grown in number, size, complexity and cost. These projects are frequently perceived as critical to the ‘success’ of major urban, metropolitan, regional and/or national development because of their potential to affect significant socio-economic and territorial change.
Notwithstanding that mega infrastructure investments currently overshadow much of the development agendas worldwide, those projects are often deemed ‘unsuccessful’ because they have been unable to meet their original expectations, in terms of delivery to time/cost/specification.
A major cause for such perceived underperformance has been attributed to the inadequacies of ex-ante project appraisal methodologies and the excessive importance given during project appraisal to overtly economic tools such as Cost Benefit Analysis as well as the exclusion of many project stakeholders from the planning and appraisal process.
Many authors have emphasised the need to ensure more holistic and transparent assessment of project proposals by employing Multi-Criteria Analysis (MCA) methodologies more extensively and increasing the stakeholder participatory character of the appraisal exercise.
The growing calls for broader and more transparent project appraisal frameworks coincide with a period when Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are mounting in importance globally as the favoured procurement route for governments looking to undertake new mega transport infrastructure developments. Some see however the practicalities of PPPs as placing them at odds with the trend in aspirations for more inclusive and open project appraisal with adequate consideration of the public interest
The authors explore whether, through broader decision-making frameworks which emphasise sustainability concerns, PPPs can remain compatible with such ambitions. Towards this end, this paper presents a rudimentary Policy Led Multi-Criteria Analysis (PLMCA) approach to project appraisal developed by the OMEGA Centre at University College London (UCL), as a means by which PLMCA can contribute to more holistic PPP procurement practice.