PPP Should Include Citizens’ Input
An Interview with Frank Schnidman


Frank Schnidman:

Former Distinguished Professor and John M. DeGrove Eminent Scholar Chair at Florida Atlantic University (FAU).

A Doctor of Jurisprudence, Schnidman has spent over 30 years dealing with sophisticated land policy and land use regulatory issues. In Florida, he is recognised as one of the leading experts concerning redevelopment and Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs). He is the founding Executive Director of one CRA, and consultant to numerous others. He retired from FAU in 2016. He is the author of numerous publications, a Founding Member of the Urban Land Institute Japan Council, and Advisor to the Asia Public Private Partnership Institute.

There are many PPPs in the U.S. now, ranging from large-scale projects like tunnels and highways to smaller ones like affordable housing and cultural facilities.

A PPP is when the government and the private sector cooperate in a joint venture, using the skills and talents of each to achieve project goals. Both parties recognize that the private sector seeks profit for its effort, and that the government seeks to improve the quality of life for its citizens. In a PPP, there is shared risk and shared reward, helping to motivate all to effectively and efficiently complete the PPP project.

If the private sector is simply a consultant to government to implement a project and not a partner, the private sector will follow the instructions of government and the focus on their profit, which can result in a less efficient, higher cost projects.

This private sector role of consultant or contractor to government has been the standard approach in Japan.


Getting “The Public” Involved in PPPs

To make PPPs even more effective in Japan, there needs to be something to fill that gap between government and the private sector, and that is an enhanced ‘the public’, in the PPP. That enhancement is informed citizen participation. The PPP is a system that can potentially reflect the voices of the community through effective community engagement.

Getting the opinions of the citizens that will be impacted by a PPP before final decisions are made can result in more effective projects. Finding out in advance what the citizens seek from infrastructure improvement projects will help guide the planning process and help create better benefits for the community. Incorporating the needs and concerns of those that are to benefit from a project will lessen any community objection as the PPP moves forward.

That is why PPPs should always provide information updates on their project status. Up-to-date web page information, community meetings and public hearings are positive ways to allow the citizens to share their opinions. People who join in these opportunities for engagement with the government and private partners actually enforce the “Public” in PPP—adding the community to the government in the joint venture with the private sector.

Citizen participation in urban planning and development decisions in Japan is increasing. It is important to the success of PPP in Japan that citizens are actively involved in the planning and implementation discussions at all stages of the PPP. Making sure that the project is what the community needs and wants is why there must be a citizen component to the public sector involvement in any PPP.

PPP Should Include Citizens’ Input
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