Issues and Options in Infrastructure Investment

Report
May 16, 2008

The condition and adequacy of the nation’s physical infrastructure—including its surface, air, and water transportation networks; its energy, water, and telecommunications utilities; and its dams and schools—are important for the vitality of the economy and for public health and safety. Yet calls for increased federal investment in infrastructure must be carefully analyzed and weighed against other spending priorities.

At the request of the Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget, CBO has prepared this paper, which draws heavily from testimony presented May 8, 2008, before a joint hearing of that committee and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. This paper provides data on current investments, reviews future investments as proposed or analyzed by various entities, and discusses issues and options related to the federal role in helping the nation meet demands for infrastructure services. In keeping with CBO’s mandate to provide objective, impartial analysis, this paper makes no recommendations.

A data supplement, consisting of tables that detail public infrastructure spending by the federal government and by state and local governments from 1956 to 2007, is available at CBO’s Web site. That supplement updates data in a supplement to Trends in Public Spending on Transportation and Infrastructure, 1956–2004, a CBO paper published in August 2007.