Procurement and Infrastructure Costs

56 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2023

See all articles by Zachary D. Liscow

Zachary D. Liscow

Yale University - Law School

William Nober

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Students

Cailin Slattery

University of California, Berkeley

Date Written: July 27, 2023


Infrastructure costs in the United States are high and rising. The procurement process is one potential cost driver. In this paper we conduct a survey of procurement practices across the 50 states. We survey both employees at each state department of transportation (DOT) and the road builders that win contracts to build and maintain roads. With this survey we are able to create a new dataset of procurement rules and practices across the U.S. and understand what actors on the ground think drive costs. We then assemble a new dataset of project-level infrastructure costs. We correlate the survey practices with our new, detailed data on costs. We find that two important inputs in the procurement process appear to particularly drive costs: (1) the capacity of the DOT procuring the project and (2) the lack of competition in the market for government construction contracts.

Keywords: infrastructure costs; procurement; bidding

JEL Classification: R42, L38, D44, H54, H57, L91, O18, K40, H83

Suggested Citation

Liscow, Zachary D. and Nober, William and Slattery, Cailin, Procurement and Infrastructure Costs (July 27, 2023). Yale Law & Economics Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Zachary D. Liscow (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

127 Wall St.
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

William Nober

Columbia University - Columbia Business School, Students ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Cailin Slattery

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

United States

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