Building a 21st century infrastructure in a manner that safeguards our communities and the environment is an important component of President Obama’s effort to strengthen our Nation’s economy, create new jobs, and improve U.S. competitiveness in the global market. Federal agencies seek to ensure that as these major infrastructure projects are proposed, potential impacts on safety, security, and environmental and community resources such as air, water, land, and historical and cultural resources are considered and minimized. Over time, the process and legal requirements for the permitting and review of major infrastructure projects have developed in a siloed and ad-hoc way, creating complex processes that in some cases have taken years or longer to complete. Although there are several reasons why a major infrastructure project may be delayed (including applicant funding uncertainty and state and local reviews), over the past three years the Administration has undertaken an ambitious effort to modernize the Federal government’s role in permitting and review processes.
To ensure his Administration took action to modernize these permitting and review processes, on March 22, 2012, the President signed Executive Order 13604, Improving Performance of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects and subsequently a Presidential Memorandum on May 17, 2013, charging an interagency Steering Committee to lead the development of a plan to turn best practices into standard practice. This Implementation Plan identifies four strategies, 15 reforms, and nearly 100 both near-term and long-term milestones. The strategies are:
- Strategy 1: Institutionalize Interagency Coordination and Transparency, by formalizing interagency coordination policies, including early identification of a lead agency; synchronizing Federal review and permitting processes and decisions; standardizing the use of the Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard; and identifying best practices for early engagement with State, Local and Tribal governments.
- Strategy 2: Improve Project Planning, Siting, and Application Quality by developing tools to assist project applicants in planning for a major infrastructure project and support effective and timely decision-making by agency staff once the Federal processes begins.
- Strategy 3: Improve Permitting Reviews and Mitigation by supporting agency staff in effectively implementing existing regulations, policies, and guidance as well as identifying barriers. This strategy also includes policies to facilitate advance planning for the mitigation of project impacts and landscape- or watershed-level approaches to mitigation, where appropriate.
- Strategy 4: Drive Continued Improvement. Fully implementing these actions and achieving the President’s goal will require a team dedicated to implementing the reforms on an interagency basis, further analyze agency processes, and identify additional reforms. This strategy includes a proposal to establish a dedicated interagency team to support the ongoing improvement of Federal permitting and review responsibilities for major infrastructure projects. In addition, this strategy includes a proposal to develop reliable metrics to track timeframes and outcomes for communities and the environment.
You can now access the Implementation Plan and Fact Sheet.
This effort is led by the Office of Management and Budget as Chair of the interagency Steering Committee (OMB), in coordination with the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and the Department of Transportation as the host of the interagency team.
For more information please see the Permitting Dashboard.
Members of the Steering Committee on Federal Infrastructure Permitting and Review Process Improvement (Steering Committee) include:
Office of Management and Budget
Council on Environmental Quality
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
Department of Agriculture
Department of the Army
Department of Commerce
Department of Defense
Department of Energy
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of the Interior
Department of Transportation
Environmental Protection Agency
Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation