Public-Private Partnership Unit: History
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Subjects: Economics

A Public-private partnership unit (PPP unit) is an organisation responsible for promoting, facilitating and/or assessing Public-private partnerships (PPP, P3, 3P) in their territory. PPP units can be government agencies, or semi-independent organizations created with full or part government support. Governments tend to create a PPP unit as a response to prior criticisms of the implementation of P3 projects in their country. In 2009, 50% of OECD countries had created a centralized PPP unit, and many more of these institutions exist in other countries.

  • public-private
  • partnership
  • oecd

1. Definition

There is no widely-accepted definition of what a PPP unit is. The World Bank defines a PPP Unit as an organization that “promotes or improves PPPs. It may manage the number and quality of PPPs by trying to attract more PPPs or trying to ensure that the PPPs meet specific quality criteria such as affordability, value for money, and appropriate risk transfer.”[1] Heather Whiteside describes them as "quasi-independent" institutional at "arm's length" from the government "created to promote, evaluate and develop P3 projects and policies." [2]

2. Overview

Different governments have encountered different institutional challenges in the PPP procurement process which justified the creation of a PPP Unit. Hence, these centralized PPP units need to address these issues by shaping their functions to suit their government's needs. The function, location (within government), and jurisdiction (i.e., who controls it) of dedicated PPP units may differ among countries, but generally, they include:

  • Policy guidance and advice on the content of national legislation. The guidance also includes defining which sectors are eligible for PPPs, as well as which PPP methods and schemes can be carried out.
  • Approving or rejecting proposed PPP projects (e.g., playing a gatekeeper role at any stage of the process, such as the initial planning or final approval stage).
  • Providing technical support to government organizations at the project identification, evaluation, procurement, or contract-management phase.
  • Capacity building (e.g., training of public-sector officials that are involved in PPP programs or interested in the PPP process).
  • Promoting PPPs within the private sector (e.g., PPP market development).[3]

The United Kingdom 's PPP units, the Treasury Task Force on PPP (1997) and later Partnerships UK (1998) were staffed with people linked with the City of London, accountancy and consultancy firms who had a vested interest in the success of PFI. This helped them override the public sector's opposition to expanding P3s. These institutions played a central role in establishing P3s as the "new normal" for public infrastructure procurements in the country. These institutions[4] In contrast, the Bangladesh Investment Facilitation Center (1999) suffered from a lack of formal or informal power, and so was involved in less than half of the 3P projects developed in the country.[1]

3. Effectiveness

A 2013 review[1] of research into the value of centralized PPP units (and not looking at the value of PPPs in general or any other type of PPP arrangement, as it was aimed at providing evidence needed to decide whether or not to set up a centralized PPP unit) found:

  • No quantitative evidence: There is very little quantitative evidence of the value of centralized PPP coordination units vis-à-vis ministries or government agencies individually procuring PPP projects. Most of the studies conducted on PPP units focus on their role and carry out only brief descriptive analyses of their value.
  • Limited authority: The majority of the PPP units reviewed in the literature do not play a particularly important role in approving or rejecting PPP programs or projects. While their advice is used in the decision-making process by other government bodies, the majority do not actually have any executive power to make such decisions themselves. Hence, when they have more authority, their value is seen to be higher.
  • PPP units differ by country and sector: Government failures, in regards to PPP units, vary by government. The requirements for PPPs also vary by country and sector, as do the risks involved (financial, social, etc.) for the country government. Hence, PPP units need to be tailored to solve these failures and properly assess risks and need to be located in the correct government departments, where they can command the most power. PPP units can play a number of important roles in the PPP process, but not all such units will play the same role, as their functions have been tailored to the individual country's needs. In some cases, limits on their authority have curtailed their effectiveness.
  • Implicit value: The lack of rigorous evidence does not prove that PPP units are not an important contributor to the success of a country's PPP program. The literature review does show that while there is no quantitative data to this effect, there are widespread perceptions about the importance of a well-functioning PPP unit for the success of a country's PPP program.

The author of the 2013 review[1] found no literature that rigorously evaluates the usefulness of PPP units. The literature does show that PPP units should be individually tailored to different government functions, address different government failures, and be appropriately positioned to support the country's PPP program. Where these conditions seem to have been met, there is a consensus that PPP units have played a positive role in national PPP programs.

4. Criticism

Centralized PPP units have been criticized for structuring their project assessments with a bias in favor of PPPs over traditional procurement methods, especially if Promoting PPPs as part of their mandate.[5] As P3 units are usually staffed with people linked with private financial, consultancy and accountancy firms who have a vested interest in the success of P3 policies, this creates an apparent conflict of interest.[2][4]

Some PPP units have been criticized for paying their executive staff well above the public sector's standard pay rate, which was deemed necessary for enticing people with financial experience to work for them.[2]

Some have questioned the usefulness of creating P3 units, as everything in their mandate could theoretically be accomplished by the government ministry responsible for public infrastructure.[1]

5. List of PPP Units

Country Territory PPP unit Duration
Australia New South Wales NSW Public-private partnerships  
Queensland Projects Queensland  
Template:Country data Victoria Victoria Partnerships Victoria 1999-present
Bangladesh National Infrastructure Investment Facilitation Center 1999-present
Public-Private Partnership Authority 2010-present
Belgium Flanders Flemish PPP Knowledge Center  
Wallonia Financial Information Cell  
Brazil Federal PPP Unit  
Template:Country data Bahia Bahia PPP Unit  
Template:Country data Espírito Santo Espírito Santo PPP Unit  
Template:Country data Minas Gerais Minas Gerais PPP Unit  
Template:Country data Pernambuco Pernambuco PPP Unit  
Template:Country data São Paulo São Paulo PPP Unit  
Template:Country data Rio Grande do Sul Rio Grande do Sul PPP Unit  
Canada Federal PPP Canada 2009-2018
British Columbia Partnerships BC 2002-present
New Brunswick Partnerships New Brunswick[2]  
Ontario Infrastructure Ontario 2005-present
Quebec Quebec Agency for Public-Private Partnerships[6] 2004-2009
Saskatchewan Saskbuilds 2012-present
China National Public-private partnerships Center  
Hong Kong Hong Kong Efficiency Unit  
Croatia National Agency for Public-Private Partnerships  
Czech Republic National PPP Association  
Denmark National Danish Business Authority  
Egypt National PPP Central Unit  
Estonia National Public Procurement Center  
France National Mission d'Appui aux Partenariats Public-Privés  
Germany Template:Country data Lower Saxony Lower Saxony PPP Task Force  
Template:Country data North Rhine-Westphalia North Rhine-Westphalia PPP Task Force  
Ghana National PPP Advisory Units  
Greece National Secret Secretariat for PPPs  
Honduras National Commission for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships  
Hungary National Hungary Central PPP Unit 2003-present
Ireland National Central PPP Policy Unit  
Israel National PPP Unit (Ministry of Finance)  
India Federal Department of Economic Affairs PPP Cell 2006-present
Andhra Pradesh Urban Finance and Infrastructure  
Assam Assam PPP  
Bihar Infrastructure Development Authority  
Karnataka Infrastructure Development Department  
Maharashtra Region Development Authority  
Odisha PPP Unit  
Punjab Infrastructure Development Board  
Uttarakhand PPP cell  
Indonesia Federal Indonesia Infrastructure Guarantee Fund  
PPP Directorate of Bappenas  
Italy National Project Finance technical unit  
Jamaica National National Investment Bank of Jamaica 1980-present
Japan National PFI Promotion Office  
Kazakhstan National Kazakhstan PPP Center  
Kenya National PPP Unit  
Kosovo National Partnership Kosovo  
Kuwait National Partnerships Technical Bureau  
Latvia National Central Finance and Contracting Agency  
Lebanon National Higher Council for Privatization and Partnerships  
Malawi National Public Private Partership Comission  
Malaysia National PPP Unit  
Mauritius National PPP Unit  
Mexico Federal + Regional Program for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships in Mexican States 2007-present
Namibia National PPP Unit  
Nigeria National Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Comission  
New Zealand National National Infrastructure Unit  
Pakistan Federal Private Power Infrastructure Board  
Infrastructure Project Development Facility  
Template:Country data Punjab Punjab PPP Cell  
Template:Country data Sindh Sindh PPP Unit  
Peru National ProInversion  
Philippines National Built Operate Transfer (BOT) centre 1999-present
Poland National Centrum PPP  
Portugal National Parpública 2003-present
Project Monitoring Technical Unit  
Russia Federal PPP Development Center  
Senegal National Agence nationale chargée de la promotion des investissements et des grands travaux  
Serbia National Commission for Public Private Partnerships  
South Africa Federal South African Treasury PPP Unit 2000-present
South Korea National Private Infrastructure Investment Management Centre 2005-present
Sri Lanka National Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, Board of Investment  
Uganda National PPP Unit (MoFPED)  
United Arab Emirates Dubai PPP Unit 2015-present
United Kingdom National Treasury Task Force for PPP 1997-1998
Partnerships UK 1998-2011
Local Partnerships 2009-present
Northern Ireland Strategic Investment Board  
Scotland Scottish Futures Trust 2008-present
United States Puerto Rico PPP Authority  
Uruguay National Public-Private Participation Unit  

Source: World Bank[7]

The content is sourced from:


  1. Alberto Lemma. "Literature Review: Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Centralised PPP Units". EPS PEAKS. 
  2. Whiteside, Heather (2016). Public-private partnerships in Canada. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing. ISBN 978-1-55266-896-2. OCLC 952801311. 
  3. World Bank (2007) "Public-Private Partnership Units: Lessons for their designs and use in infrastructure"
  4. Shaoul, Jean; Stafford, Anne; Stapleton, Pamela (2007). "Partnerships and the role of financial advisors: private control over public policy?" (in en). doi:10.1332/030557307781571678.;jsessionid=2kqnu9e47iptl.x-ic-live-02. 
  5. Siemiatycki, Matti (September 1, 2015). "Public-Private Partnerships in Canada: Reflections on twenty years of practice" (in en). Canadian Public Administration 58 (3): 343–362. doi:10.1111/capa.12119. ISSN 1754-7121.
  6. Cosette, Robert. "La nouvelle Agence des partenariats public-privé du Québec". 
  7. "PPP Units Around the World | Public private partnership". 
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