When an owner looks at the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and sees the $1.2 trillion in infrastructure funding it provides, it may be overwhelming to understand how to access this funding. Owners want to understand the types of infrastructure funding available from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, how to best position themselves to receive funding, and what actions agencies or owners can take now.
Different Types of Infrastructure Funding Available
The BIL funding aims to create good-paying jobs, support disadvantaged and underserved communities, implement ideas of social equity and environmental justice ideas, and encourage projects that promote climate resilience and sustainability. The funding source and funding flow will differ based on the project type.
GRANTS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS
In the BIL, there are two types of funding - grants and cooperative agreements. Both types of funding transfer value from the federal government to state, local, and private organizations, but differ in how their implementation and the conditions applied to each funding source.
With cooperative agreements, the staff of the awarding agencies are substantially involved in the project, and expect to work side by side with the recipient agency.
Agencies or local governments who receive grant funding are expected to execute the infrastructure projects themselves, often with a state or the Department of Transportation in an oversight role.
There are two levels of grant funds distribution - discretionary and formula.
Discretionary grants are awarded to owners who specifically apply to receive the funding. As an agency or an infrastructure project owner, it is the owner's responsibility to apply for the available discretionary grants, or no funding will be received.
Formula or formulaic grants are distributed automatically based on population, or on some predetermined criteria. For example, all airports in the United States were provided infrastructure funds based on the size of the airport. The interactive map shows funds that have already been distributed in this manner.
Status of Infrastructure Funding from BIL
To follow the status of released funding, there is an interactive map available on the White House website that indicates funding status as of May 3, 2022. The majority of the funding has been released in the transportation sector with many bridge, road, and airport projects already funded. With the state fiscal year changing in June and obligations due by September for reporting purposes, the first quarter of the fiscal year is a critical period for releasing project funds and updates on where funds are being used.
Information on available grants and cooperative agreements can be found on grants.gov.
How Owners are Positioning Themselves to Navigate BIL Grants
While agencies and infrastructure owners are expecting increases in project volume, they also understand there is an unprecedented expectation of tracking and reporting required by the funding agencies. Funding agencies want to understand if new jobs are being created, if the infrastructure project has a positive socioeconomic impact, and how the funds were spent. Including this information in the grant application or bid in advance can put the owner in a better position for receiving funds.
“According to a recent study that was conducted by Dodge construction network, they found that 85% of owners are right now expecting increases in project volume.”
Chris Bell, Vice President of Industry Strategy of the Trimble Owner and Public Sector
Owners can proactively prepare themselves to navigate BIL grants by:
Being digitally prepared. Implementing an advanced digital construction management system allows owners to more effectively manage their increase in workload and the reporting and tracking requirements. In fact, there are specific infrastructure funds available to those who want to modernize their digital project management or asset management capabilities.
Taking initiative. Owners and agencies can create a wishlist of projects and priorities, along with including information the organization will need to successfully bid an infrastructure project.
Teaming up. Teaming up with your engineering or project management firm who are familiar with the funding agencies can also provide valuable insight to funding opportunities and bid strategy to develop the project narrative for the bid.
Knowing what’s going on in the local community. Partnering with local organizations or other owners who have an interest or stake in the project could be beneficial to receiving the grant.
Diving into the resources. Searching through the resources available can help answer some of the questions surrounding grants and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Watch the full webinar: Navigating Grants to Get the Funding You Need.