WASHINGTON – In country X “New highway projects can require up to 200 regulatory steps and take between 9 and 19 years to complete –with planning, design and environmental reviews consuming up to half of that time. Even small projects can take between four and six years from start to finish.”
If true, this is an extreme and sad example of how a grotesque level of bureaucratic inefficiency, combined with layers of overlapping political jurisdictions, (central, regional and local governments having to agree on where to build a highway), delay or kill investments aimed at improving basic infrastructure. Imagine that. May be 10 years, in many cases much longer, to have a highway project proposed, presented, vetted, approved and finally built.
And where is this happening? Are we talking about India, Sudan, Venezuela, or Uzbekistan?
This is happening in America
No. We are talking about the Unites States of America, supposedly the beacon of economic modernity, managerial efficiency and effective public administration.
At least this is what we get from a WSJ op-ed piece by Mac Zimmerman (Taxing for Highways, Paying for Bike Lanes, May 26, 2015) from which the above quote is extracted.
And we can assume that the author did not make this up, as the data he produced in his article is taken from a 2011 study produced by the non partisan Congressional Research Service.
So, there you have it. Crazy, but true. And here is an incredible paradox. US experts and various consultants go around the world explaining to emerging markets governments how red tape prevents economic development.
May be it is time to redirect this effort. It is frankly absurd that, as a Nation, we tolerate this level of inefficiency. No wonder that our economic competitiveness rankings have been going steadily down in the past few years.
The question is: does anybody care? Do we really believe that 10-15 years or more to build a highway is just about right?