The State of New York has released a progress report on the 19 pro-bono public-private partnership (P3) projects undertaken to help the state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to this impressive list is the fact the private-sector participants all assisted at no cost. While I suspect it's unlikely this free work will continue forever, it certainly points to another model of P3 we could learn from.
'Classic' P3 agreements are tied to some sort of revenue stream, so the private-sector participants can see how they might be paid for their services. In the case of the COVID pandemic, private companies are showing they are civic-minded residents willing to contribute their time and talents to assist. Can we form future P3s to tackle similarly serious issues (homelessness, access to health care, hunger, and more) where private-sector participation is voluntary and at scale?
It is currently not at all uncommon for private-sector to offer community assistance for free, like free dental clinics, organizing a home-raising, and more. It's the scale that could be increased. The state of New York is obviously quite large - they're tackling a significant issue at scale. Could we do the same thing for other issues? I can see different communities forming a similar SWAT team approach to a perplexing issue for their specific communities, and trying to tackle it at scale. We now have a model for how to do it.
"The collaboration between tech industry leaders and our dedicated public employees helped New York meet the technical and operational demands of the response to the pandemic while also saving millions in taxpayer dollars," Governor Cuomo said. "Their assistance during these challenging times had a positive impact on millions of New Yorkers, and the continued support and services will be critical as we battle a public health emergency and build back our economy even stronger than before."