Program on Innovation in Infrastructure

The Program on Innovation in Infrastructure is a major research program designed to shed light on significant policy challenges facing all level of governments with emphasis on research questions that occur at the nexus of traditional academic disciplines and conventional policy domains. The program is based on the belief that federal, state, and local policymakers urgently need rigorous empirical analysis of issues that cut across infrastructure systems including transportation, communications, and the energy grid.

Our research agenda bridges conventional specialties to understand four cross-cutting issues:

  • Privatization: its changing role in infrastructure provision and operation;
  • Performance Measurement: its emergence in project and budgetary evaluations, both before and after project selection;
  • Economic Efficiency: its growing use in project evaluation, particularly dependence on cost-benefit and related economic techniques to justify infrastructure projects; and
  • Intergenerational communities: the infrastructure needs and challenges in creating new and retrofitting existing communities to better serve the needs of residents of all ages.

Today, the United States faces major challenges in developing, maintaining, and financing physical infrastructure systems. Policy decisions about these choices will ripple across the economy and through the lives of families and business owners, with profound, long-term consequences for economic welfare, equity, environmental quality, and national security. The rigorous empirical research for which the Urban Institute is known can help shed new light on controversial policy choices.