By Steven T. Buccigross, CPA | Partner, BlumShapiro & Company P.C.
This plan, President Trump has said, would create millions of new construction jobs while repairing (or completely rebuilding) highways, bridges and other pieces of infrastructure that are currently in poor condition. Ultimately, the plan would serve as the first step to achieving Candidate Trump’s now-ubiquitous goal of “Making America Great Again.”
A fully developed $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan is far from finalized, but President Trump has made it clear that this will be a top priority for his administration. President Trump recently told the press that infrastructure is a very popular issue among lawmakers and signaled he may want to “speed up” the timeline for his proposal, and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has gone on record to say the package could be unveiled as early as May.
For construction professionals, that means it’s crucial to start planning ahead for what could be a windfall of available work.
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently assigned a “D+” grade to the country’s infrastructure system, claiming the system would need an investment of nearly $4.6 trillion just to bring that grade up to a “B.” The ASCE reported that one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition; pointed at more than 15,000 “high-hazard” dams across the country; and estimated that America’s public transportation systems are facing a $90 billion repair backlog.
Clearly, once a spending plan is announced and approved, the new administration won’t have much trouble finding projects in which to invest. If contractors or construction companies want to compete for these jobs, they need to make sure they have crews available to start working immediately. That means, when possible, companies may want to consider increasing their selectivity when it comes to smaller projects over the course of the year.
Prepare to start quickly
President Trump recently stressed one line item he’d like to see in a finalized infrastructure plan, suggesting a 90-day deadline for states to begin on working on projects for which they receive federal funding.
"We're not going to give the money to states unless they can prove that they can be ready, willing and able to start the project," Trump said.
The National Governors Association recently released a list of 428 “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects, so meeting this proposed, ambitious deadline will certainly be possible. But it won’t be easy. Construction companies hoping to compete for these projects need to pay special attention to logistics to ensure they can start working almost immediately after winning the bid.
Ensure you have necessary certifications
Most, if not all, states require contractors to hold special certifications in order to apply for state- or federal-funded projects. Applying for and getting approved for these certifications can take time, and most require at least one year of reviewed and audited financial statements.
In Connecticut, contractors should start with the Department of Administrative Services. In Massachusetts, contractor certification forms can be found here. And, in Rhode Island, companies need to register with the state’s Division of Purchases.
To ensure they’re ready if and when a spending plan is approved, contractors should consider starting the process now.
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