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Public works are a broad category of
infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of fundamental facilities and systems that support the sustainable functionality of households and firms. Serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy An eco ...

infrastructure
projects, financed and constructed by the
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, Executive (government), ex ...

government
, for recreational, employment, and health and safety uses in the greater
community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target. "Level of analysis" is distinct from the term " unit of observation" in that the former refer ...

community
. They include public buildings ( municipal buildings,
school A school is an educational institution designed to provide learning spaces and learning environments for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is sometimes compulso ...

school
s,
hospital A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment with specialized medical and nursing staff and medical equipment. The best-known type of hospital is the general hospital, which typically has an emergency department to treat ...

hospital
s),
transport infrastructure Transport (commonly used in the U.K.), or transportation (used in the U.S.), is the Motion, movement of humans, animals and cargo, goods from one location to another. In other words, the action of transport is defined as a particular movement ...
(
road A road is a wide way leading from one place to another, typically one with a specially prepared surface which vehicles and bikes can use. Roads consist of one or two roadway A carriageway (British English British English (BrE) is the ...

road
s,
railroad Rail transport (also known as train transport) is a means of transferring passengers and goods on wheeled vehicles running on rails, which are located on tracks. In contrast to road transport, where the vehicles run on a prepared flat surface ...

railroad
s,
bridge A bridge is a structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to ...

bridge
s, pipelines,
canal Canals are waterways channels Channel, channels, channeling, etc., may refer to: Geography * Channel (geography), in physical geography, a landform consisting of the outline (banks) of the path of a narrow body of water. Australia * C ...

canal
s,
port The Porticciolo del Cedas port in Barcola The thumb is the first digit of the hand, next to the index finger. When a person is standing in the medical anatomical position (where the palm is facing to the front), the thumb is the outermost digit ...

port
s,
airport An airport is an aerodrome An aerodrome (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Engl ...

airport
s),
public spaces In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of such groupings. This is a different concept to the sociological concept of the ''Öffentlic ...
(
public square A town square (or square, plaza, public square, city square, urban square, or piazza) is an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town used for community gatherings. Related concepts are the civic center, the market squ ...
s,
park A park is an area of natural, semi-natural or planted space set aside for human enjoyment and recreation Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do something for recreation" is an essential element ...

park
s,
beach File:YBF 2010 - Bikini Bar perjantaina.jpg, A summer tourism at the Yyteri Beach in Pori, Finland. A beach is a landform alongside a body of water which consists of loose particles. The particles composing a beach are typically made from Ro ...

beach
es), public services (
water supply Water supply is the provision of water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of al ...
and
treatment Treatment may refer to: * Treatment (song), "Treatment" (song), a 2012 song by * Film treatment, a prose telling of a story intended to be turned into a screenplay * Medical treatment or therapy * Sewage treatment * Surface treatment or surface fi ...
, sewage treatment,
electrical grid An electrical grid is an interconnected network for electricity delivery Electricity delivery is the process that starts after generation of electricity in the power stationPower Station or The Power Station may refer to: * Power station, a ...
,
dam A dam is a barrier that stops or restricts the flow of surface water An example of surface water is Lake Kinney. Surface water is water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tast ...

dam
s), and other, usually long-term, physical
asset In financial accountancy, financial accounting, an asset is any resource owned or controlled by a business or an economic entity. It is anything (tangible or intangible) that can be used to produce positive economic value. Assets represent value ...
s and
facilities
facilities
. Though often interchangeable with
public infrastructure Public infrastructure is infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of fundamental facilities and systems that support the sustainable functionality of households and firms. Serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilitie ...
and
public capital Public capital is the aggregate body of government-owned assets that are used as a means for productivity.Aschauer, D. A. (1990). Why is infrastructure important? Conference Series roceedings Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Pp. 21-68. Such asse ...
, public works does not necessarily carry an economic component, thereby being a broader term. Public works has been encouraged since antiquity. For example, the Roman emperor
Nero Nero ( ; Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the fifth Roman emperor, ruling from 54 to 68. His infamous reign is usually associated with Tyrant, tyranny, extravagance, and debauchery.Kragelund, Patric ...

Nero
encouraged the construction of various infrastructure projects during widespread
deflation In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods ...

deflation
.


Overview

Public works is a multi-dimensional concept in
economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. ...

economics
and
politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or status. The branch of social science that stu ...

politics
, touching on multiple arenas including: recreation (parks, beaches, trails), aesthetics (trees, green space), economy (goods and people movement, energy), law (police and courts), and neighborhood (community centers, social services buildings). It represents any
constructed
constructed
object that augments a nation's physical infrastructure. Municipal infrastructure,
urban infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of fundamental facilities and systems that support the sustainable functionality of households and firms. Serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilities necessary for its economy to function. ...
, and rural development usually represent the same concept but imply either large cities or
developing nation Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Example of Older Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN from 2008 A developing country is a country with a less developed Industrial sector, i ...
s' concerns respectively. The terms
public infrastructure Public infrastructure is infrastructure Infrastructure is the set of fundamental facilities and systems that support the sustainable functionality of households and firms. Serving a country, city, or other area, including the services and facilitie ...
or
critical infrastructure Critical infrastructure (or critical national infrastructure (CNI) in the UK) is a term used by governments to describe assets that are essential for the functioning of a society and economy – the infrastructure. Most commonly associated with ...
are at times used interchangeably. However, critical infrastructure includes public works (dams, waste water systems, bridges, etc.) as well as facilities like hospitals, banks, and telecommunications systems and views them from a
national security National security or national defence is the security and Defence (military), defence of a sovereign state, nation state, including its Citizenship, citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government. Originally c ...
viewpoint and the impact on the community that the loss of such facilities would entail. Furthermore, the term public works has recently been expanded to include digital public infrastructure projects. For example, in the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., federal di ...

United States
, the first nationwide digital public works project is an effort to create an open source software platform for e-voting (created and managed by the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation). Reflecting increased concern with
sustainability Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for Earth's biosphere and human civilization to co-exist. For many, sustainability is d ...

sustainability
,
urban ecology Urban ecology is the scientific study of the relation of living organisms with each other and their surroundings in the context of an urban environment. The urban environment refers to environments dominated by population density, high-density re ...
and
quality of life Quality of life (QOL) is defined by the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a list of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public heal ...

quality of life
, efforts to move towards sustainable municipal infrastructure are common in
developed nation Image:Imf-advanced-un-least-developed-2008.svg, 450px, Classifications by the International Monetary Fund, IMF and the United Nations, UN in 2008.A developed country, industrialized country (or post-industrial country), more developed countr ...

developed nation
s, especially in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...

European Union
and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its Provinces and territories of Canada, ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocea ...

Canada
(where the FCM InfraGuide provides an officially mandated best practice exchange to move municipalities in that direction).


Public works programmes

A public employment programme or public works programme is the provision of employment by the creation of predominantly
public goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of good ...
at a prescribed wage for those unable to find alternative employment. This functions as a form of
social safety net The social safety net (SSN) consists of non-contributory assistance existing to improve lives of vulnerable families and individuals experiencing poverty and destitution. Examples of SSNs are previously-contributory social pensions, in-kind and foo ...
. Public works programmes are activities which entail the payment of a wage (in cash or in kind) by the state, or by an Agent (or cash-for work/CFW). One particular form of public works, that of offering a short-term period of employment, has come to dominate practice, particularly in regions such as
Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories in ...

Sub-Saharan Africa
. Applied in the short term, this is appropriate as a response to transient shocks and acute labour market crises. Investing in public works projects in order to stimulate the general economy has been a popular policy measure since the economic crisis of the 1930s. Spearheaded by U.S. Secretary of Labor
Frances Perkins Frances Perkins (born Fannie Coralie Perkins; April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965) was an American workers-rights advocate who served as the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the longest serving in that position. She made history as ...

Frances Perkins
, the first female Cabinet member in the United States, the
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinar ...
resulted in the creation of programs such as the
Civilian Conservation Corps The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a voluntary public work relief program Unemployment, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), is persons above a specified age (usually 15) not being in paid em ...

Civilian Conservation Corps
,
Public Works Administration Public Works Administration (''PWA''), part of the New Deal of 1933, was a large-scale public works construction agency in the United States headed by United States Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes. It was cre ...
, and the
Works Progress Administration The Works Progress Administration (WPA; renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was an American New Deal agency, employing millions of jobseekers (mostly men who were not formally educated) to carry out public works projects, includ ...
, among others, all of which created public goods through labor and infrastructure investments. More recent examples are the 2008–2009 Chinese economic stimulus program, the 2008 European Union stimulus plan, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


Utility of investment

While it is argued that capital investment in public works can be used to reduce unemployment, opponents of internal improvement programs argue that such projects should be undertaken by the private sector, not the public sector, because public works projects are often inefficient and costly to taxpayers. Further, some argue that public works, when used excessively by a government, are characteristic of socialism and other totalitarian or collectivist forms of government because of their 'tax and spend' policies and excessive bureaucracy. However, in the private sector, entrepreneurs bear their own losses and so private-sector firms are generally unwilling to undertake projects that could result in losses or would not develop a revenue stream. Governments will invest in public works because of the overall benefit to society when there is a lack of private sector benefit (a project that does generate revenue) or the risk is too great for a private company to accept on its own. According to research conducted at the Aalborg University, 86% of public works projects end up with cost overruns. Some unexpected findings of the research were the following: * Technically-difficult projects were not more likely to exceed the budget than less difficult projects. * Projects in which more people were directly and indirectly affected by the project turned out to be more susceptible to cost overruns. * Project managers generally did not learn from similar projects attempted in the past. Generally, contracts awarded by public tenders include a provision for unexpected expenses (cost overruns), which typically amount to 10% of the value of the contract. This money is spent during the course of the project only if the construction managers judge that it is necessary, and the expenditure must typically be justified in writing.


See also

*Contingencies fund *Infrastructure *Internal improvements *Public good (economics), Public good, an economic discussion *Madaket Ditch, one of the first public works projects *E-procurement


Individual programs

*Egyptian Public Works *
New Deal The New Deal was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations Regulation is the management of complex systems according to a set of rules and trends. In systems theory Systems theory is the interdisciplinar ...
*Opera Publica *
Public Works Administration Public Works Administration (''PWA''), part of the New Deal of 1933, was a large-scale public works construction agency in the United States headed by United States Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes. It was cre ...


External links


American Public Works Association
- Professional society


References



{{DEFAULTSORT:Public Works Civil engineering Fiscal policy Infrastructure, * Public economics Public works ministries Domestic policy