The Build America Bureau (the "Bureau") is responsible for driving transportation infrastructure development projects in the United States. The Bureau streamlines credit opportunities and grants and provides access to the credit and grant programs with more speed and transparency, while also providing technical assistance and encouraging innovative best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and monitoring. To achieve this vision, the Bureau draws upon the full resources of U.S. DOT to best utilize the expertise of all the modes within the Department while promoting a culture of innovation and customer service. It serves as the single point of contact and coordination for states, municipalities, and project sponsors looking to leverage federal transportation expertise; apply for federal transportation credit programs; and explore ways to access private capital in public private partnerships.
The Bureau combines the Bureau, TIFIA and RRIF loan programs, Private Activity Bonds (PABs), and the INFRA grant program all under one roof within the Office of the Undersecretary for Transportation for Policy.
The Bureau addresses the procedural, permitting and financial barriers to increased infrastructure investment and development by:
- Intervening earlier in project lifecycles,
- Actively helping sponsors navigate and accelerate the often complex federal permitting and procedural requirements,
- Centralizing project coordination and
- Cultivating public private partnerships
The Bureau drives efficiencies and creates further financing optionality for projects in a shorter timeframe helping to accelerate the repair and development of critical US transportation infrastructure.
What are the Bureau's policy goals?
The Bureau has developed a strategy that identifies policy goals for taking full advantage of the TIFIA and RRIF programs, which are:
- Enhance the pipeline of eligible projects by providing proactive educational outreach and technical assistance to potential borrowers in utilizing the TIFIA and RRIF programs, and their capacity to fill market gaps by leveraging substantial local and private co-investment.
- Diversify the pipeline of eligible projects by geography (i.e., urban and rural, new States, etc.) size, and type (i.e., highway, transit, rail, port, etc.), to ensure an equitable distribution of program benefits.
These policy goals will be incorporated into an organizational, multi-year Strategic Plan with goals and objectives, and a timeline for its efforts that the Bureau is currently drafting.
What are the resources of the Build America Bureau?
There are three core components of the new Bureau:
- An Outreach and Project Development team, that will continue the Bureau work to educate project sponsors about how they can best combine DOT credit, funding programs, and innovative project delivery approaches such as public-private partnerships (P3), and then offer project-level technical assistance to get them ready to pursue it. Project sponsors are encouraged to reach out to the Bureau as early as possible in the project development process so the team can work with them on key requirements.
- A Credit Programs team that encompasses the TIFIA, RRIF, and PABs programs. See the following links for more information about each of the credit program components:
- TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act): https://www.transportation.gov/tifia
- RRIF (Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing: https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/programs-services/rrif
- PABs (Private Activity Bonds): https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/programs-services/pab
- The INFRA Grant Program team, which will administer the application process for INFRA grants. See https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/infragrants for more information about this program.
Council on Credit and Finance
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act established a new Council on Credit and Finance, chaired by the Deputy Secretary. The Council is charged with the review of Bureau program applications, making recommendations to the Secretary regarding projects seeking assistance from those programs, and reviewing approved projects on a regular basis. The Council on Credit and Finance builds on the Credit Council that DOT had previously established through administrative measures. The Council on Credit and Finance generally meets on a monthly basis. Agendas from prior meetings of the Council on Credit and Finance are available here.
Make the Build America Bureau Your First Stop
The U.S. Department of Transportation is encouraging projects to make the Build America Bureau their first stop when thinking about accessing federal credit programs, or if they are interested in pursuing other innovative finance strategies a public private partnership.