Recently I was reading a LinkedIn post about infrastructure that was drenched in buzzwords. It struck me that the big professional service fees are in new infrastructure and construction (building more).
That is what many large advisory firms are seeing and want. Fee incentives are all around the size of the overall spend.
However, I think a lot of the ‘thought leadership’ pieces from some of these firms skip over the maintenance and rehabilitation story (keeping what we’ve got going).
Those maintenance / rehab projects are more numerous and smaller in scale. Also, they reach deep into local government systems, bypassing large state and federal bureaucracies.
But there are no real fees for the large advisory firms in that.
Neither federal nor state governments have been successful in keeping the lid on the costs of large projects – they seem to blow out.
And there do not appear to be any real consequences for poor advice.
It is an old line that infrastructure spending kick starts the economy. Also the tired ’shovel ready’ cliche gets trotted out again and again. More of the same thinking, really. Get ready for that to be turbocharged in the upcoming federal election.
We really need to get more service from the infrastructure asset dollar, rather than just building big, dumb assets.
It is instructive that recently a major firm fired a partner for telling its government client they were wasting taxpayer money. That would never have seen the light of day without a transparent, independent inquiry process.
Some large firms are shamelessly conflicted with embedded contractors masquerading at senior levels as independent professionals when they are, in effect, overpaid departmental staff.
Are they being paid to steer projects or steer work to their firms?
Professionalism must be accompanied by independence and transparency, but the penchant for opinion shopping remains strong.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Juvenal)