Private sector business principles to embrace - and to avoid - in planning and managing our public sector assets

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There is an increasing demand from the public and from legislators to treat pavement management like a business - know what you have, know what it is worth, and invest strategically. The private and public sectors, however, differ fundamentally in their purposes: the private sector aims to make and grow profits, while the public sector aims to support and improve society - financial profits and losses versus wider costs and benefits such as environmental and social impacts. Conversely, the private sector has begun to evaluate and discover the positive impacts of environmental protection and social responsibility on its profit margins. The public and private sectors have much to learn from each other. This paper explores the management principles and tools used in the private sector that should be adopted in the pavement management sphere in order to better evaluate and communicate the impacts of our investments, with the aim of enhancing our economic, social and environmental sustainability. These principles include evaluating our entire portfolio against our goals - including assessing alternative service provision mechanisms - and redirecting our investments to more 'profitable' areas. In addition to adopting private sector principles, many of our public sector principles and tools, such as pavement performance modeling and whole of life costing, should continue to play a strong role and should be further developed. This paper discusses how new and existing principles can be brought together for more sustainable and robust investment decisions - and, importantly, how they can be used to better communicate investment needs to stakeholders.

Public sector - private sector differences, Effectiveness and efficiency
Robak, A. (2015, June). Private sector business principles to embrace - and to avoid - in planning and managing our public sector assets. Paper presented at the 9th International Conference on Managing Pavement Assets, Alexandria, VA. Presentation retrieved from