The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched a project that it says will, for the first time, measure the performance of the nation's infrastructure and its impact on the nation's economy.
The chamber, the nation's biggest business trade group, will create so-called performance indexes, both on a national level and state by state, to measure what the group considers the four core sectors of U.S. infrastructure: transportation, energy, broadband, and water. Each sector will have its own index, with the results of each to be released periodically. There will also be a larger, blended index that will be released annually, with the first scheduled for early 2011.
The goal of the project is to identify the issues in each sector that are important to the chamber's members and then measure how effectively, over time, the sectors have performed to address those issues and if they are keeping pace with the growth in overall gross domestic product (GDP), according to Janet Kavinoky, who is spearheading the project as the chamber's director, transportation infrastructure, and executive director of the chamber's Americans for Transportation Mobility campaign.
While there has been no shortage of commentary on the inadequacies of the nation's infrastructure, the chamber's project is the first to apply an analytical formula to determine how well or poorly each sector is performing, Kavinoky said.
Kavinoky said the project is unique in that it will be the first effort to define and systematically measure infrastructure performance from the perspective of the business community's needs. It will also be the first time a quantitative yardstick has been applied to correlate the performance of each sub-sector to GDP growth, she said.
"We will try to show, in a specific way, how [each sub-sector] is important to the economy and to the business community," Kavinoky said in an interview with DC VELOCITY.
Kavinoky said her team has completed the project's "exploratory" phase, which included reaching out to the chamber's members and identifying their chief concerns with the nation's infrastructure. The next step, which will take several months, will be to leverage public data sources to measure and analyze how well each sector of the infrastructure is performing to meet the business community's concerns, she said.
The chamber, which has 3 million members, has budgeted $1 million to fund the project. The transportation sub-index is expected to be the first to be completed and will serve as the project's prototype, according to Kavinoky. It is scheduled for release around mid-summer, she said.