November 15, 2022
ACEC Marks the One-Year Anniversary of the IIJA
On the heels of the hard-fought midterm elections, the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is a good opportunity to remind lawmakers and the public about the continued bipartisan support for addressing our infrastructure needs. The implementation of the IIJA – including tens of billions of dollars in funds made available to state and local agencies for improvements in transportation, water, environmental protection, and clean energy – demonstrates what we can accomplish when lawmakers, private industry, and public agencies work together for the common good.
Well-designed, well-built, and well-maintained infrastructure can solve many of America’s problems, including addressing the climate challenge, providing mobility and access to work opportunities, and enhancing public health and safety.
The passage of the IIJA and the early stages of implementation have highlighted the essential role engineers play in sustaining a growing population and mitigating future climate and other risks. Through IIJA, our civil, electrical, chemical, mechanical and environmental engineers are helping to rebuild and modernize infrastructure, including roads, bridges, dams, levees, waterways, ports, energy and communications systems, industrial processes, buildings, and water supply and treatment facilities. America’s engineers are mission-driven to make the built environment better. Every component of the hundreds of programs and billions of dollars of investment in the IIJA start with sound engineering by trained, dedicated engineering professionals.
Implementation of IIJA has also highlighted the constraints on the engineering workforce. As historic as the bill is, there simply aren’t enough engineers to do the work the IIJA sets out to do. 82,000 new engineers will be required to take full advantage of the bill and right now, the engineering and design services sector is facing near full employment.
ACEC urges our leaders in Washington to support policies that incentivize STEM education and immigration policies that attract talented foreign engineers who, in many cases, graduated from American universities. We are also working with state and local agencies to ensure that procurement and contracting policies allow our firms to attract, recruit, and retain more skilled professionals.
As implementation of this historic law continues over the next several years, success will depend on the ability to move projects through the regulatory approval process expeditiously. Adequate funding is essential, but timely delivery of infrastructure to meet the challenges of climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience depend on efficient regulatory review.
The Administration has committed to these goals, but more can and must be done. We also encourage regulators to effectively balance the desire to bolster the domestic manufacturing base through Build America, Buy America policies while recognizing supply chain challenges and the availability of certain construction materials and manufactured products essential to modernizing our infrastructure. The construction industry and state and local agencies responsible for managing the majority of the IIJA funds need better guidance and a transparent process for efficiently processing necessary waivers.
ACEC and our member firms are committed to deliver on the promised benefits of the transformative IIJA investments now and in the years to come.
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