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Engineering Influence from ACEC
30 minutes | Oct 21, 2021
Mark Goodale on How to Build Effective Leadership Teams
What is good leadership and how does it manifest itself within the leadership team and the firm? This issue is increasingly important for engineering firms as the Baby Boom generation retires and new leaders are evolving. It’s something you want to get right from the get-go. To offer some direction on how to do that, Mark Goodale, a principal at Morrissey Goodale, came on the program. Mark recently presented a program for ACEC on Building Effective Leadership Teams. Click here for more information on the online class
18 minutes | Oct 19, 2021
Deltek‘s Deniece Peterson on the Congressional Infrastructure Negotiations and the Impact on Individual Firms
Infrastructure is THE topic on Capitol Hill right now and the engineering industry is very invested in what happens. ACEC’s advocacy team has been working for months to build support for a robust infrastructure program and continues to work towards passage. As the Congressional debates drag on, however, individual engineering firms face uncertainty, unsure about how to incorporate these potential huge infrastructure investments in their business planning. To offer some context to where we are right now and to provide some guidance for engineering firms, Deniece Peterson, Senior Director of Federal Market Analysis at Deltek, joins the program.
33 minutes | Oct 12, 2021
What Will the U.S. Energy Sector Look Like in 2035?
Renewables are the fastest-growing sector in the energy market, with solar and wind expected to make up 70% of utility-scale electricity generation capacity domestic additions in 2021. Critical to the current and future expansion of the renewables market is storage, because solar and wind are intermittent but energy demand is constant. Storage technologies have developed at a rapid pace in recent years, but what about going forward. What can we expect in the energy sector in 2035? Arup offers an answer to that question in its report—Future of Energy 2035: What will a future U.S. energy storage look like? Joining us on the program are two authors of the report. Cole Roberts is Arup's Energy Business Leader for the Americas region, and Geoff Gunn is the Energy Systems Lead. Click here to download the report. In the podcast, Roberts highlighted two Arup projects: Charge4AllTM, which is geospatial site suitability software for streamlining the deployment of public charging points for electric vehicles. SolarResilient, which provides recommendations for solar PV plus battery storage systems to simultaneously answer the need for energy resilience during a grid disruption while also decarbonizing the community by providing renewable energy storage and generation.
21 minutes | Oct 8, 2021
Government Affairs Update for 10-8-21
Steve Hall joins the program to discuss the current state of play on infrastructure and reconciliation as well as the impending EO on vaccinations for federal contractors. Make sure to register for our webinar on Monday, October 11th at 1:30pm "Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors." Register here: https://education.acec.org/diweb/catalog/item?id=8329585 The September 24th guidance to federal contractors covered a broad range of contract types and contractors, and mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for covered contractor employees along with masking and social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The guidance also includes some unanticipated exceptions. The guidance sets baseline requirements under the Executive Order that are expected to be updated over time and implemented through a contract clause that will be issued by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (“FAR”) Council on October 8th. Join attorneys from the Covington & Burling Contracts Practice Group on Monday, October 11 at 1:30 EST to review the requirements A/E firms must meet in order comply with EO 14042 and continue contracting with the federal government. Presenters: Jennifer Plitsch, co-chair of the firm’s Government Contracts practice group. Her practice includes a wide range of contracting issues for large and small businesses in both defense and civilian contracting. Her practice involves advising clients on contract proposal, performance, and compliance questions as well as transactional and legislative issues. Her practice also includes bid protest and contract claims and appeals litigation before GAO, agency boards and the federal courts. Ms. Plitsch has particular expertise in advising clients in the pharmaceutical and biologics industry. She advises a range of pharmaceutical and biologics manufacturers on Federal Supply Schedule contracts, including the complex pricing requirements imposed on products under the Veterans Health Care Act, as well as research and development contracts and grants with various federal agencies. She also has significant experience advising on the requirements of various programs under which vaccine products and biodefense medical countermeasures are procured by the Government. Tyler Evans, partner in the Covington & Burling’s Washington, D.C. office and a member of the government contracts group. His practice covers multiple subject-matter areas, including research and development, non-traditional contracting, intellectual property, contract negotiations, flow-down requirements, small business issues, sourcing restrictions, costs, and compliance.
31 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
Thornton Tomasetti‘s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Program
Diversity and Inclusion is an important pursuit across U.S. industries and within engineering firms. It’s the right thing to do, but it is also a critical component in solving our STEM talent shortage and studies have found that diverse and inclusive companies perform better in the market. Many engineering firms have established D&I programs, and we have one of the leading firms with us today. Thornton Tomasetti, which is #62 on the 2021 ENR 500 and has 1,500 employees worldwide, launched its formal D&I program in 2016 and has continued to build and augment it ever since. Joining us on the program are Thornton Tomasetti President Wayne Stocks and Senior Principal Peggy Van Eepoel.
13 minutes | Sep 29, 2021
Doing Good with the Terracon Foundation
Immediately after Hurricane Ida swept through Louisiana last month, leaving a trail of destruction, the Terracon Foundation, which is a corporate philanthropy initiative of ACEC member firm Terracon, made two $5,000 grants to food banks in Louisiana for food and supplies in the hardest-hit communities. This is just the latest instance of the good work the Foundation has done since its founding in 2008, and we wanted to know more about it, so on the program with us today are two leaders of the Foundation. Scott Kolodziej is the Foundation Chair. He is an Environmental Department Manager and Principal at Terracon, and was appointed this year to the Chair role after three years on the Terracon Foundation Board. Kristi Tahmasiyan is the Manager of the Terracon Foundation. She is the Director of Mergers and Acquisitions at Terracon and a Principal of the Firm. She has served the Terracon Foundation in various roles, including a three-year term on the Foundation Board from 2014 to 2017.
18 minutes | Sep 28, 2021
Walter P Moore‘s Ray Drexler on the Current State of Flood Protection
In August, Walter P Moore published a white paper titled An Introduction to Flood Protection: What Owners Need to Know to Protect Their Properties. The white paper focuses on the numerous flood protection approaches and building owner needs and provides an in-depth review of the flood protection process. One of the authors of the report joined the program to talk about the white paper and flood protection. Ray Drexler is a Principal and Senior Project Manager in Walter P Moore Diagnostics with experience in diversified aspects of forensic engineering. Ray's expertise includes evaluating, assessing, and designing repairs for distress related to facades, steel/concrete structures, and below-grade waterproofing. Click here to view the white paper.
22 minutes | Sep 24, 2021
Government Affairs Update for 9-24-21
Matt Reiffer joins the program to preview a critical week ahead in Washington. Congress is facing numerous deadlines and the clock is ticking. Will there be a vote on infrastructure on Monday? Can an agreement on reconciliation be reached? What about the debt limit and the CR? Tune in and find out.
21 minutes | Sep 23, 2021
Discussing Ergonomics with the Life Health Trust
Lindsay Simone with the ACEC Life Health Trust joined the program today to discuss the importance of ergonomics in avoiding long-term health issues. We discuss simple things you can do to reduce back pain, eye strain and avoid the perils of the modern office and worksite.
23 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Private Markets Update: ACEC‘s Erin McLaughlin Discusses the Energy & Utilities Market Sector
Last week, ACEC released our latest Private Industry Brief, which provides practical, detailed information and targeted market insights on key A/E private sectors. This issue focuses on the Energy & Utilities market and provides a lot of data on the current state and future prospects of the sector To dive a little deeper into the numbers and analysis, Erin McLaughlin, ACEC vice president for private market resources, joined the program. Click here to download the brief.
19 minutes | Sep 21, 2021
Executive Coach Ted Gerber Shares How to Build Effective Teams Within an Organization
Ted Gerber, president of Addison Resources Group in New York City, joins us on the program to talk about team building. With more than 25 years of experience working with firms in a variety of industries to improve leadership effectiveness, Ted offers keen insights into the skills and characteristics that make for good teams within an engineering firm. Ted recently presented an online class on team building for ACEC. Click here for the On-Demand class.
40 minutes | Sep 16, 2021
A Conversation with Jeff Speck about Road Engineering Standards and a Lot More
What began as a conversation about induced demand with urban planner Jeff Speck quickly broadened into a wider discussion about U.S. road engineering standards, their impact, and what responsibility engineers may have to improve them. Speck is the author of Walkable City, one of the most influential and widely read city planning books in recent years. He subsequently wrote Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places, which is targeted towards traffic engineers and transportation professionals. If you've read these books, you know he doesn't hold back on his opinions, and that trait comes through on this podcast. So, buckle up.
21 minutes | Sep 10, 2021
Government Affairs Update for 9-10-21
On this week's Government Affairs Update, Katharine Mottley, our tax and regulatory guru, joined the program to discuss the status of the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill moving in Congress and how emerging divisions among congressional Democrats may impact the process. We also discuss several revenue bills moving through Congress, including potential changes to important passthrough deductions for our industry.
31 minutes | Sep 7, 2021
Minding Your Business: Wes Guckert Shares the Secrets to Successful Business Development
One of the most daunting challenges is business development, the pursuit of strategic opportunities for the firm, whether that be new clients, more business from existing clients, or even new partnerships or business relationships. This can often feel like you're racing on a hamster wheel that is always accelerating. Wes Guckert came on the program to help us dig into how to succeed at business development. President and CEO of The Traffic Group in White Marsh, MD., Wes is a frequent speaker on the subject and recently presented an online class for ACEC. Click here to link to the ACEC On-Demand class, What is BD's Secret Sauce?
25 minutes | Sep 3, 2021
MO Spotlight: Strategic Engagement with ACEC Indiana
On today's Member Organization Spotlight, we feature ACEC Indiana's former and current President Michael Rowe and Cash Canfield to discuss a strategic enrollment process they undertook with their DOT.
22 minutes | Aug 31, 2021
Speechworks Joey Asher on the Keys to Good Virtual Platform Presentations
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have spent a lot more of our workday in the virtual environment, talking to colleagues, clients, and others over Teams, Zoom, Webex, etc. Many engineering firms now do online client presentations, and they can be quite a challenge because the skills and systems that make for successful face-to-face presentations don’t necessarily transfer to the virtual world. To share his insights into how to adapt client presentations to the virtual world, Joey Asher came on the program. Joey is president of Atlanta-based Speechworks, which offers communication and public speaking skills training and coaching to businesses nationwide.
21 minutes | Aug 27, 2021
Government Affairs Update for 8-27-21 With Steve Hall
Steve Hall came on the program to recap the month's events related to infrastructure and the PPP FAR credits clause.
25 minutes | Aug 26, 2021
AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker Discusses the Architectural Billings Index and the Economic Outlook
ACEC Private Market Resources Vice President Erin McLaughlin talks with Kermit Baker, chief economist at the American Institute of Architects, about the Architectural Billing Index survey and the economic outlook for the design services industry. For more information, the ACEC Research Institute has released two economic forecasts for the engineering industry: 2021-2025 Engineering Industry Forecast 2021-26 Engineering Industry Outlook Special Report: Infrastructure Scenarios & Their Impact on Engineering and Design Services.
33 minutes | Aug 24, 2021
Karen Susman on Tips and Tactics for Dealing with Difficult Conversations
Karen Susman of Karen Susman and Associates in Denver joins the program to offer her expertise on how engineers can deal with difficult conversations. The discussion is replete with big strategies and small tactics for handling tough topics with clients, employees, subcontractors, and friends and family. Karen presented an online class for ACEC in June titled Dealing With Difficult Conversations: Communication, Conflict and Other Snafus. The On-Demand Class is available to stream here.
41 minutes | Aug 20, 2021
ACEC Government Affairs Update for 8-20-21: A Conversation with Former DOT Secretary Slater and T&I Chairman Shuster
On this week's Government Affairs Update, we are joined by Rodney Slater, former Transportation Secretary under the Clinton Administration and Bill Shuster, former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Both are now with Washington, DC lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs. In a wide ranging conversation, we cover the status of infrastructure in Congress, how Secretary Buttigieg is doing, and the what lies ahead for Speaker Pelosi in the House as it returns from the August recess. Transcript: Host: Welcome to the Government Affairs Update from American Council of Engineering Companies. Today, we are very pleased to bring you two experts when it comes to infrastructure to get some interesting perspectives on what's happening right now in Washington, as the bipartisan agreement on infrastructure moves from the Senate over to the House. And I'm joined today by Secretary Rodney Slater and former Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Bill Shuster, both of whom are right now with Squire Patton Boggs in Washington, DC. Secretary Slater was Transportation Department Secretary under President Bill Clinton, and Chairman Shuster, in full disclosure, I used to work with Chairman Shuster while he was Chairman of the T&I Committee. Both bring extensive experience here. And I thank you both for joining us today on the program. Thank you very much for coming on. Secretary Slater: Thank you. Host: I want to start off actually with you Chairman Shuster, because this is, this is kind of an interesting situation we find ourselves in because you spent a significant amount of time and energy as both a member of T&I, and then also as Chairman in pushing a long-term, substantive infrastructure bill beyond just highway authorization. How does it feel seeing this now to be so close to such a generational investment in infrastructure? Chairman Shuster: Well, I think it's good. The bill is, is this large - a trillion dollars, it has some positive, real positive things in it. Like for instance, taking the cap off the PABs, that is one thing they've done. They've done some procurement reforms in it. That's positive. And they've also put in a section, I think it's a hundred million dollars that goes to states and locals to help them analyze a big job, big projects, to see if it makes more sense to use the private sector dollars or to or to stay with traditional government programs. And I think that's a thing because I think they're going to find in many cases it may be a little bit cost higher up front, but when you get the private sector involved over a period of time, it usually drives the cost down because the private sector is very much focused on that. Chairman Shuster: They did some things in there that I wish they would have eased up on. Some of them, they put some regs in there too, and I believe it's going to make it a little more difficult to build roads and bridges because of some of the things that they put back in or increased. But I think overall the fact that it's a bipartisan bill, it's got a pretty big number. It includes some things that haven't been traditional like broadband, which I think is is something that you've got Republican support for. I just wish my good friend, Peter DeFazio, he didn't, he wasn't able to get a bipartisan bill out of the house. And, and I think we've seen over the last 20, 30 years at Secretary Slater knows transportation bills when they come out on a bipartisan way they pass. And that's what we've seen in the Senate. And I think the House will take it up to pass it also. Host: And Secretary Slater, I mean, looking at this bill and how expansive it is and how it goes beyond your traditional roads, bridges and highways and rail systems and the like, you know, what, how, what do you think this means, you know, for the economy? Secretary Slater: Yeah. Well, first of all, Jeff, I'm excited about the bill. I mean, it's taken them a long time to make infrastructure week something other than, you know, a tagline to a conference without the action to go along with it. And so I applaud the President, you know, I know the Vice President was involved, and clearly other members of this team Steve Richetti in particular and the entire Congress for really working hard to pull this off. Now I say the entire Congress. So you know, I'm being cautiously optimistic here, but I think with the momentum built by the action of the Senate, that that's a real possibility and I'm, I'm excited about it. I echo the sentiments that the chairman noted about the differences in this bill as relates to bills in the past. You know, this focus on broadband is just essential in this day in time. Secretary Slater: And especially in this post pandemic era that we're trying to bring online, but I also applaud the leaders for really giving us a bill that has a lot more resilience focus to it, sustainability focused dealing with some of the climate challenges we face and then issues as relates to equity. And so I think that it's a bill that is future oriented future leaning. There are those who might argue that more needs to be done clearly the Democrats and any Republican that might have that belief will have an opportunity to deal with that with the with the other measures that are being put forward. But when it comes to really doing something that is akin to what we've done in the past, and then sort of building back better, I think that this is an answer to that to that challenge, Host: You know, Secretary, you bring up a good point because one of the words has been used a lot is the question of resiliency, and it's just not resiliency against extreme weather, but it's also resiliency for critical infrastructure against external threats. I mean, we're seeing a significant increase in the number of cyber-attacks on computer systems and just critical hard infrastructure. And Chairman you also did a lot of work at T& I on pre-disaster mitigation getting the dollars there and getting things done before the next storm hits before the next tropical storm turns into a hurricane. Do you think the bill does enough? If not, you think that, that, what, what do you think needs to be done in addition, you know, to really what we're looking at here in this bipartisan agreement to really strengthen our infrastructure? Let's start with the Chairman. Chairman Shuster: I think the bill does. A good bit in it to help with resiliency, which, you know, as we were talking about back on the committee of how do we build things before they collapse or hurricane blows them down or whatever the case may be. And at the end of the day, you save money by building these things stronger, being able to withstand a catastrophic weather event. So I think it's positive. I think that there, there needs to be more streamlining to get these things done because I just, I feel that as we did in the past, we run into these hurdles to build these things faster and more effectively. But I think overall, it's, it's a, it's a positive thing. It isn't enough, probably not, but it all depends on what if the hurricanes and the tornado seasons and the earthquake seasons and the fire seasons over the next coming years looks like. But I, I think it's definitely a step in the right direction. Secretary Slater: I agree with that. And Jeff, if I may, I, I think that the members of the Council really have a big role to play here. I mean, this is not something that's across the finish line just yet, but you know, engineering companies that are in the business of giving us the kind of system we need and deserve going forward, actually spending the resources in a proper way. You have a lot to say about this bill about it's, I mean, people may say shortcomings. I just think it's to be applauded the fact that we've gotten it done. There are other things that could have been done. Maybe a bit more here or there that can be done later. We shouldn't allow the perfect to sort of distract us from the, from the good, and this is a good, good start. Secretary Slater: And when it comes to the issue of you know, security and cyber concerns, I mean, we, there's a report in today's paper about the rail system in Iran, possibly being attacked by cyber-attacks. And then just a few months ago some pipeline here in the US and also a ferry system up in the in the Northeast. So we've got these issues to be concerned about, and I'm very pleased, and we're starting to really come to grips with this, both the public and the private sectors to do something about it. Host: Yeah. You raise a good point, especially with the rail system in Iran. I mean as some of our larger firms and actually a lot of our medium-sized firms as well, you know, it's a question of designing the best infrastructure possible. And usually today, that means with the rise of AI and machine learning and the like, intelligent transportation systems, which are networked, which are, you know, have to talk to each other that are open up to potential external threat. So the question is designing it in such a way where it's hardened. Host: And you're correct to the point that it's good, that we're having the conversation that, that this has to be. And also the fact that our firms are designing not for what is today, but what will be 20 years, 30 years down the line, the bridge is going to last a hundred years for the building on a shore that's going to potentially see a sea level you rise or, or erosion from the beach. Host: And those are all things that, of course our members are very concerned about. On the question to pay-fors because this is something which is interesting because when we got the framework, when everybody's wondering, okay, how are we going to pay for this thing? And then through the debate and the amendment debate, you know, they really considered everything from unspent COVID dollars to changing regulations on reporting requirements on cryptocurrencies, but what wasn't really talked about a lot with the user fee and, and, you know, Chairman Shuster, I know, you know, from my experience with you, it was always that simple, very basic argument of saying that if you use the roadways, you should pay into keeping them in good repair, and that user fee consideration. Secretary Slater, you were with the Clinton administration. Of course I was the last time the tax, the gas tax was actually addressed. It seems like we're getting further away from the idea of that user fee model. What do you both see as the future of, of infrastructure funding chairman you know, where do you see things moving? Chairman Shuster: Think it's, first of all, look, we made a mistake when the Republicans controlled the house in 2005, I guess when we passed safety loo we, when we were doing this big tax bill, I, you know, what the leadership and try to convince them, instead of giving the average American a $2,000 cut in their taxes, let's do $1,800 or $1,750 and, and deal with the gas tax because that is a user fee. And again, I think they missed the opportunity not to do the user or the gas tax forever, but to do it for a period of time that they can't implement, implement something that's different. And that would be miles travel tax. And they, they, they put some big, they expanded the pilot program, but I really think they were going to be dealing in five years with how are we going to fund the next transportation bill? Chairman Shuster: And with this bill, they had to back fill the highway trust fund shortage. It's like $120 billion, and that's going to just keep growing. So, you know, and it's, I believe as a conservative that as you pointed out at the beginning, if you're going to use the system, you need to pay into the system. And I'll just say this for rural America, where I come from, the average, every dollar that a rural community puts in, they get back about a $1.70. So it's a pretty good benefit for rural America for roads and bridges being built across their communities. Host: And we also saw last year the number of states that took it upon themselves to increase their own state gas tax that state after state, you know, did something to improve the amount of revenue that was coming in to their own coffers. And no one seemed to pay that political price that everybody expected, that, that idea that boogeyman of saying, if you raise the gas tax, you're going to lose an election. At least the state level never actually materialized. Right? Chairman Shuster: I was going to add, I think that number's up to about 35. Yeah. Have done it. And then the real test case was California. Two years ago, I guess was two years ago. Was it less than a year, I guess was a year ago they had it on the ballot and they rejected repealing the gas tax, something like 57 to 43. So, you know, people understand, they want the roads and bridges to be uncongested and they don't want to bust their tires, break a tire, damage their vehicles. So I think people get it if you, if you pitch it in the right way. Secretary Slater: Yeah. You know, I, I agree with the Chairman on this. And I, I would say, I was thinking about actually Kentucky, Arkansas, some of the other Southern states in particular where Southern governors, you know, have stepped forward to move these measures. Secretary Slater: I was pleased to hear about the reference to California. I mean, I think it makes the case that it's happening across the country. I would offer this in defense of the of the Biden administration in this regard. I think what the president is attempting to do is to sort of rebalance things. And he recognizes that there has been this inequity in the system where frankly, the burden of progress is placed on the shoulders all too often of those who can, you know, either least pay or have the hardest time paying. And I think what he's trying to do here is to say, look, we're not going to raise the tax burden of anyone making less than 400,000 as a couple. That's, that's pretty significant. And so he did not want to raise the gasoline tax for that purpose. Secretary Slater: Did not want to go with vehicle miles traveled for that purpose. And I think where he finds himself at this point, it probably is a policy. That is a good one. Now I don't think that it closes the door always to an increase in use of fees. I think it probably such it up where it, at a time in the future, it'll be a lot fairer to maybe do some of that. And I see that, that time coming, but I can see why the president would want to, at this point have significant lines in the sand about what he would and would not want to see. And then, you know, frankly keep his powder drive when it comes to negotiating at an end point where, you know, you have to find closure on these things. And so I think that's a pretty good position to take. Secretary Slater: I will note this too, that Jeff you're right, that during the early days of the Clinton Administration, the gasoline tax was raised but the president would note that he made the case that it should be raised to deal with the deficit to put our economic house in order in balance. And then four years later was actually when we had the resources transferred from the general fund to the highway fund. So as to take advantage of that 4.3% increase in the gasoline tax. So it was done in a two-step kind of fashion. And it may be that with the passage of time, we may get to a point where we can support more funding for infrastructure through user fees. I agree with that. But I also think we should test any number of other options too. And I know the chairman agrees with this because we've talked about things like an infrastructure bank. We've talked about other public private financing techniques. I mean, putting it all on the table and then selecting those that best fit the moment is the proper course, I believe. Host: It seems like today with the amount of innovative financing available that there are a lot more opportunities to break away from the paradigm of just a simple, you know, either a lockbox highway trust fund, or just all always pulling from the general fund to instead look at other options - P3's whether it's capture or that investment, the reinvestment of potential, you know, I forget exactly what was called chairman, but it was something that you were talking about when you were chairman. It was, it was when, when we bring somebody in to buy something or to lease out an airport.... Chairman Shuster: Asset recycling. Host: Yeah, exactly. How a P3 or asset recycling, something like that. In your conversations with people in government in and out, is that something which seems to be gaining some traction? Chairman Shuster: I think you're always going to have to have some kind of governmental component, whether it's a fed state putting money into it, because these deals we're seeing around the beltway here in Washington, DC, I think the Virginia invested about 20% of the money into it to get a cost down where they wouldn't have enormous tolls on those, on those hot lanes or fast lanes. But so I think there's always that component that will always be there, but I think yes, looking at things like an infrastructure bank and because we look at an infrastructure bank and we've been pushing this during this bill, they almost had a piece. It was a very scaled back version of, there was a infrastructure finance financing agency was small and they, they finally pulled it out the end, unfortunately, but I think, you know, folks in your community the ACEC they deal with these TIFIA and RIFF programs. Chairman Shuster: And every time I talked to a contractor engineer, they tell me it takes 14 to 16 months to get through this process and it's painful and it's cost a lot of money. And so I think having a true infrastructure bank based on the federal home loan bank, it's a real bank, it's independent chartered by the federal government. They're going to be, they can make loans in 90 to 120 days. And if it's a good project or not, and it's only going to be a component of the, just like a P3 is a component of the financing package. So I think it's time for us to really look at these other ideas, asset recycling where it makes sense. And again, as the Secretary said, what comes next is probably a vehicle miles traveled, but we've got all kinds of barriers and hurdles because folks don't want somebody tracking them. But as far as my son, when he was in his early twenties, he held up his iPhone and said, they're tracking every moment of the day. Host: You're being tracked one way or another. Secretary Slater: And Jeff, Jeff, can I just say this, I should have mentioned earlier that even when we increased the gasoline tax and the chairman's father was actually in the Congress along with a former secretary and Congressman Norman Mineta. I mean Jim Oberstar, I mean, just a wonderful group of individuals on the House side. I mentioned the House because I want to put the heat on the House to do what the Senate has done that. But, but they also really gave us tools to create some of these innovative financing programs. The chairman mentioned the TIFIA program, the RIFF program, all of that came into being at that time. And again, it was because of a good piece of legislation that gave federal highways and federal transit and all the Department of Transportation and others, the Treasury the ability to, with the private sector to gain insights about how we might fashion programs that resulted in those programs. I think that there are likely to be some measures that can be used in this bill. Even though, you know, it may not be as clear now that will help us to tap some of those private sector dollars and the private sector ingenuity that you just have to have as a part of an effort like this. And I think ACEC can be a really big part of that of that effort going forward. Host: That's, that's a really good point. And thanks for bringing that up because that's something which, you know, our members need to be pretty strong advocates for this, and they need to take, take their own experience from the private sector, work, working with public sector clients and explaining how they can be more efficient. And that's one of the things we always talk about, qualification space selection. It's kind of that idea of saying that Secretary Slater: We are at the lowest price exactly. Qualification over, over cost. Host: Secretary Slater, let me, let me ask you as a former Secretary of the Department Transportation, right now, how would you, how would you rate the job that Secretary Buttigieg is doing on selling the agenda? Secretary Slater: Well, I don't think it could have been express better than in the post today. That was a, a love piece. Although I thought it was, was balanced as well, because it's all teed up. He still has to deliver it. And yet I've talked about that too. I said, you know, it's great to have a president. Who's talking about infrastructure is great to have, you know, the conduit team that you've got with Polly Totenberg and others there to help you make it happen. But at the end of the day, you gotta make it happen. And I thought what was very telling in the article today, and this is what I really want to underscore is the way that he's made himself available. I mean, to Republicans and Democrats this was actually, I thought set up in his hearing where there were so many members who, you know, they had their issues with him and they, you know, they would take him on, I mean, that's the responsibility I think of the Congress to test the administration. Secretary Slater: That's what our three branches of government separation of powers. That's what that's all about. But then almost invariably at the end of the round, you would have a member saying, and I hope that you will be able to come to mind my state. I know that the chairman has had that experience and, and, and to have a, a secretary or a member of the administration say that not only am I willing to do it, I look forward to doing it so that we together can be on the ground with your constituents, looking at challenges you face that's what really gets a member's attention. And that's what gains their respect, that rate. And throughout the article, you could just see just any number of people mentioned in that way. And you know, that they don't all have this, that they don't all agree on everything. Secretary Slater: And so I think that he is doing a tremendous job. I think that the article was correct in saying that there was always the likelihood that he would be in the president's cabinet or a member of his team where he selected because of the endorsement and the warm endorsement that he gave to Mr. Biden at a very critical time in his campaign. And then the president saying just off the cuff that he reminded him of his son. I mean, all of those things sort of lining up. And then it was noted that he had some interests, but, you know, the president gets a chance to choose. And he said, look, I think that you can best help me and help the country serving in this capacity. And I would say that that the former mayor Pete now, secretary Pete has not disappointed. I'm very, very pleased with the way he's gone about his work. And I think all of these relationships, they're going to pay dividends in the short term and the longterm, and they'll pay dividends for him or his team, and clearly for the the president as well. And so I'm, I'm very, very pleased Host: Chairman. You've worked with a number of secretaries. Where would you put him? Chairman Shuster: I, well, first I think the, you know, Secretary Slater is right on target saying, I think he's done a pretty good job. He's measured when he speaks to, you know, to the media. He's not, you know, throwing bombs out there, which I think is important, especially on an issue like transportation and infrastructure. I think, I think he's also, he's, he's obviously bright. I think we did. He demonstrate that in the debates, I was always impressed with them. Didn't always agree with where his policies were, but I smart he's young, hopefully that makes him want to think outside the box. It says to the secretary of Slater's point, you got to get it done, man. It's great. You got to having a bill here, but you're the guy that's going to have to make that department start to hum. Chairman Shuster: And I think too, that, and this is, I forget who said this - might have been Secretary Slater, or maybe Secretary Skinner said, this is the first time I can remember that the Secretary of Transportation was a presidential candidate. So he's got his own platform of followers. They're saying, Hey Secretary, Pete, you know, we love the guy we were with him when he was running for president. So I think that gives you a whole different platform to be able to get out there and go around the country, but to Secretary Slater's point, he's absolutely right. Going into members' districts, talking to members. I think I think what I've heard from a number of the, at least the moderate Republicans that said, he's great, great access to him, he would call them up. He would, you know, talk, talk through the issues, what they thought were important. So I think that's really important. I know the Secretary Slater did it. I know Ray LaHood did it. You know, through the years I named Sam Skinner, when he would have him out on a conference, he said, he sat down with a members' leadership of the House and the Senate different committees once a month and had breakfast with him. So he, you know, he stayed in touch with him. So I think that's important. Host: And I mean, if this does, if he does land this and like you said, you gets it done. He's going to be sitting on, I mean, Jeff Davis from Eno, kind of doing a rack up on Twitter. And it seems like he would have in competitive grant funding, almost the amount will be quadrupled over what is, what is, what has been in the past almost about 24 to $33 billion, depending on exactly what gets through appropriations. I mean, that's a massive war chest to sit on. That's a political weapon as well. Now I think you meet that point, you know, being a former candidate, he's young, he's got aspirations. I, you know, for the Secretary, I mean, how, how, what advice would you give to sit on that record amount of competitive grant funding? Secretary Slater: Well, I, I would say it a little differently. I would say Jeff, don't sit on it. Host: Yeah. Send it, spend it. Chairman Shuster: I would agree the secretary - right out the door. Secretary Slater: You know, all of the meetings up to this point where you go out and you say, oh man, this would be a great project to fund, that's one thing. When you can go back a little later with all of those resources and say, this is a great project to fund and we're going to fund it. That's a lot better. First of all, you basically say I'm here with the Congressman who is going to make an important now, because it's all about continuing to build those relationships. And I think that I think the secretary is going to really have a wonderful time with members of his team doing just that. And, and, and frankly, I think he'll be creating opportunities really for the president, the vice-president, you know, maybe even a secretary of grand home and others to do that same thing as well. Because the, the key is to not, you know, it's, it's not to sit on it and it's also not to gloat in it. I mean, it's all about really doing the business of the American people and getting everybody involved. And I, I think as a mayor, he's going to understand a former mayor. He's going to just understand that instinctively. Host: And Chairman, I mean, you were great at this. I mean, you made sure both as Chairman and then also back in the ninth district of making sure that everyone at every level of government was included in those announcements, because to underscore the fact that everybody from county commissioner all the way up to member of Congress had a part to play. Chairman Shuster: Well and that's the Secretary's point with the department that the Secretary of Transportation, he may not go down to that granular. When you're a member of the House, you need to go to the township supervisors, have them sit in there with you or whoever it is because it's you know, it, it helps it helps everybody out. And so I think this is, as the Secretary said, you get the stuff out the door. And I believe he's going to get it in places that need like rural Pennsylvania, if he does some good work in rural Pennsylvania, the next time around in elections. I mean, the Democrats win Philadelphia and Pittsburgh big, but if they can diminish how big they lose in the, in the center of the state than it, it's better for their candidates. And again, there's, there's good projects out there for everybody to be able to participate. Secretary Slater: Yeah. And Jeff before, before we go on, I just thought about this. I do think that that Senator Schumer should be given some credit here as well. And I think it was very significant that you had, you know, 19 Republicans, including the minority leader. And I just think you know Majority Leader Schumer and Minority leader McConnell. I just think that they, they deserve a lot of credit here. And I know when the chairman was in office, these were the kinds of victories that you really relish where it was not just the chairman, but it was the ranking member and, you know, the other members of the committee and leadership and really down to the last person coming on because of seniority coming on the committee. Secretary Slater: So I think that manifested itself on the, on the Senate side as well. And, and look, you've got that Brent Spence bridge in the Ohio Kentucky area on I-75 that's going to get some attention now, much needed attendance. And that's very important to the constituents in that region. Chairman Shuster: And it won't be lost on anybody that Rob Portman was the chief, negotiator. Secretary Slater: No doubt about it. Chairman Shuster: And he's from the Southwestern and Cincinnati area. Secretary Slater: We were honored at one point that he was a member of Squire Patton Boggs too. I think I should, we should say that, you know, years ago, Host: Well, I have two final questions. One, I want to ask the Chairman, because now we're looking at the house, we've got the INVEST Act. You made the point that, that it wasn't as bipartisan as previous bills have been at least on the vote total coming out. You know, there's, there's some argument being made about, okay, take the Senate bill up and just get it done. Your experience working across from Chairman DeFazio for a number of years. I mean, he's been very vocal on some areas of policy that are not in the bill, dealing with climate, also dealing with resiliency, do you see him letting leadership kind of move this forward or use without the opportunity to amend it. Or do you think he's going to want to have that formal conference, he's going to want to have the opportunity for the house to put his stamp on it? Chairman Shuster: Well, he's already, he's already given up on a conference because he realizes you go to conference and this thing will never get done. So I think it's going to come over. I think there's the potential for being a couple of amendments, but they're going to be very few and they've got to be something that's agreed to by the, basically the 69 senators that voted for it. So it can be things that, you know, are correcting things and maybe the Senate didn't do right. Because that always occurs, but I don't think you're going to see anything major. And I think the DeFazio, Chairman of DeFazio is going to now focus on getting more dollars to put in these different areas that he has that he, that he supports very much. And that'll be some of these things like resiliency. And, but again resiliency and some of the climate change policies, but he can't change the policy and budget reconciliation, but he can plus up plus up the money or pick the money from one to another, but he can't change policy. So I think he's going to be very focused on that. Host: And just a state of play question for you both to kind of round out the conversation. So right now the current state of play in the House Speaker Pelosi has floated a dear colleague letter, but essentially says that she wants to try to twin both the budget resolution to the infrastructure bill in the rules package, which means that voting on one is voting on both. That's gotten some pushback from moderate Democrats. How do you see this playing out? Do you think that it is going to be a twofer or do you think that you know, there's going to be an agreement to allow infrastructure to go first and then the budget reconciliation? I mean, how do you see the state of play in the House coming at the end of the month? Chairman Shuster: I think she's in a very tough spot. She's got her progressives, they're saying they're not voting for it unless they vote on the big package. And she's got her moderates saying, we're not going to vote on that big package, you need to pair it down. And by the way, we also want to vote on this thing. So I think she's in a really tough spot. She can't afford to lose more than what, three votes, four votes? So she's in a tough spot and I'm not sure how to work out. I don't think it's going to happen. Well, I know for sure it's not going to happen at the end of this month because they're just coming back in the House, to vote for the budget, which will pass. And then they they're coming back September 20th. But I think if she's got this fight to keep them paired some way somehow you know, one goes, first, one goes second kind of thing. Chairman Shuster: She'd probably be, I would bet on Nancy to get it done, but I don't think it's going to look the same you know, at the end of August as it does at the end of October. I mean for these two bills. The infrastructure is going to stay basically the same. It's how big the other package will be. Secretary Slater: Yeah. You know, I'd pick up on the comments of the Chairman in that regard. I think that if I were going to bet on anyone getting it done, I would bet on the Speaker. But that doesn't mean that you cannot acknowledge that it's going to be a heavy, heavy, heavy lift. I, you know, I just think that first of all, I, I just, I don't think we, and I think, I think she took note of this. Secretary Slater: I, I don't think you can just dismiss the significance of the bipartisan vote in the Senate and the size of that vote. I mean, that was, that was very significant. I didn't know that the numbers would be that high. I mean, I would, I was basically counting on 10, 11 maybe. Yeah. But that was it signaled that they would, because I think the highest we got with those who were sort of saying, well, maybe it was about 11. And so I think it bodes well for a number of things that are important to a number of people beyond infrastructure. I mean, I think you've got a criminal justice reform opportunity here. I think you might have something on voting. And I think that you know, the, the Speaker has all of that to navigate and to balance and to negotiate. Secretary Slater: And I just think she ultimately gets it done, but it'll be very, very difficult. I'd also like to say just in support of a Chairman DeFazio, I think he's done a tremendous job as well. I think that his effort was necessary, even though it was a little partisan. And I think, you know, it cut against what his natural tendency was. I mean, and that was to work with your Ranking Member to kind of work through, you know, the process in a way that is, you know, institutionally sound and, and frankly an effort, a way that he'd been a part of for so many years. But I think that what he recognized was that he had to really help the Speaker in speaking to the progressive wing of the party in a way that would keep it engaged. And you know, and I think engaged is probably the best way to say it and they are engaged. Secretary Slater: Now you've got this process going now where the various you know, parts of the party will express itself and she'll have to hear all of that, not dismiss any of it. And then carefully, you know, bind it all together with, I think the ultimate argument and that is don't let perfect get in the way of the good, I really think that it comes down to that and let us survive for another fight. And, you know, it's, it's acknowledged that some of that fight in the future will have her being supportive of others who will be at the helm. And I think she will say, look, stay with me. And you know, I've just tried to be as open as possible to make sure that all opinions are heard, all arguments are given an airing and I believe this is the best we can do. And I think that's what it ultimately is. That's what the final question is. And then the votes are counted and I don't think you take a breath until the last vote is cast, you know, so, and as, as the chairman said, it's a three vote - I mean, she's got three votes to [inaudible]. Host: Yeah. Well, it's going to be an interesting end of August. It's been an interesting August to begin with. I mean, so let's, let's get it done. Hopefully this can get this voted on and passed before the beginning of September. And, and that would be a great thing. So I really appreciate your time and your insight because you both been there you've worked on these issues. You have great insight that I know our audience of member firm executives loves to hear. So thank you for taking the time both of you. And of course, Rodney Slater former Secretary of Transportation is a partner at Squire Patton Boggs now. And of course, Chairman Bill Shuster, former Chairman of the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee, and representative of the of the ninth congressional district or the ninth as it were before redistricting - a Senior Policy Advisor at a Squire Patton Boggs as well. And again, this has been the government affairs update from American Council of Engineering Companies. Thanks for being with us. We'll going to see you next time.
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