The best of both worlds

The best of both worlds: how oneTRANSPORT improves on established models of Public-Private Partnership


This paper examines the growth of Public-Private Partnerships in the United Kingdom, since the introduction of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) by the Major Administration in 1992. While acknowledging the successes of PFI, it explores the shortcomings of the model which has led to it becoming widely discredited as a method of procurement.

These problems are rooted in three fundamental imbalances:

  1. a financial incentive structure which hides the scale of long-term liabilities incurred by the public sector, and provides avenues for private companies to apparently profit disproportionately from the contracts;
  2. its failure to adequately involve the public sector in the project delivery stage, which has served to discourage meaningful partnership working between sectors; and
  3. insufficient knowledge transfer to public sector staff at grass roots in the fundamentals of management of PFI and misguided view that PFI transfers all risks.

The paper continues to a discussion of oneTRANSPORT, a more successful model of public-private partnership, which identifies the key structural departures from PFI contributing to improved cooperative working between sectors. These are revealed to be the existence of a third party funding body to hold all consortium partners to a single collaborative protocol, and the increased involvement of public organisations in project delivery from initial conception of projects, both of which ensure the better alignment of public and private interests.

To conclude, the paper examines recent legislative changes in the form of PF2, introduced by the Coalition government in December 2012, and reveals similarities between PF2 and oneTRANSPORT, which further emphasise the importance of the changes introduced in the latter project.