DOT reorganizing, creating new posts to support Trump's infrastructure plan

Dive Brief:

  • Department of Transportation officials announced Tuesday that they will reorganize the agency to better support President Donald Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure initiative and Federal Aviation Administration agenda, according to The Hill.
  • As part of the change, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will staff the positions of senior adviser for FAA modernization (Michael Britt), senior adviser on infrastructure (James Ray, principal at KPMG), acting chief of staff (Geoffrey Burr) and counselor to the deputy secretary (Matt Kopko), with an eye toward furthering the president's key campaign promise to modernize and repair the nation's outdated roads, ports, bridges and airports.
  • This move indicates an imminent push for infrastructure legislation on the part of the Trump administration. Earlier this year, some insiders predicted that Trump would hold off on infrastructure in favor of other issues like tax reform, healthcare and trade.

Dive Insight:

Burr, along with Davis-Bacon critic Nathan Mehrens, took over as de facto DOL heads in the wake of Andrew Puzder's withdrawal for consideration as Labor Secretary.

Burr's role at the Department of Labor drew some trade union fire earlier this year. Although Trump has courted organized labor, his placement of the former construction lobbyist and previous vice president for government affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors in a top position had some questioning the president's loyalties.

The appointees will have their work cut out for them, as the estimated cost of bringing airports and infrastructure into compliance is in the trillions, much more than what is covered in Trump's proposals. A recent Airports Council International—North America report found that it would take at least $100 billion to modernize and repair just the country's airports.

As for U.S infrastructure, an American Society of Civil Engineers report released earlier this year said it would take $4.6 trillion by 2025 to make the necessary improvements, $1 trillion more since the ASCE last report in 2013.  

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Filed Under: Infrastructure Legal/Regulation
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