European PPP Center


What does the PPP Unit do?

It is the PPP Unit's job to pool, develop and disseminate knowledge and expertise in the area of public-private partnerships, both within Rijkswaterstaat (the implementing body of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management) and the Ministy of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. The PPP Unit participates in various Rijkswaterstaat projects and maintains close ties with the private sector, other public authorities (including at national level) and international bodies.

PPP in the Netherlands

A PPP is a business venture in which private sector companies and the government cooperate to complete a project. The Dutch government wants to provide a service to the public, e.g. availability of the road. In a PPP construction the government makes greater and more systematic use of the creativity found in the public sector to solve traffic and transport problems.

PPPs are sometimes preferred over other organisational forms because they either save the government a great deal of money, result in a higher quality products, or both. In the Netherlands, however, PPPs only carry out projects involving roads and buildings at this time.

The advantages of PPPs

Public-private partnerships can offer advantages to both the government and industry:

  • The fact that the private sector is involved in projects at an earlier stage, means that the government can take optimum advantage of the knowledge, intelligence and creativity found in the private sector, thus leading to better solutions.
  • The private sector has the opportunity to contribute intelligent ideas and to improve their operational processes. This promotes innovation, which in turn benefits the government.
  • PPPs allow for improved risk diversification. The risks are assigned to parties that are in the best position to manage them, thus releasing the government from the obligation to bear the full burden.
  • PPP projects are completed within time and budget, mostly even completed earlier. This because delivery in time and within budget is one of the main drivers within the contract.

PPPs under DBFM contracts

The PPP Unit consultants at Rijkswaterstaat are involved primarily in the preparation, tendering and execution phases of large-scale infrastructure projects. In practice, these activities are governed by a DBFM (Design, Build, Finance, Maintain) contract with a duration of 20 to 30 years. The PPP Unit consultants participate in the project team, dealing mainly with the legal and financial aspects of contracts.

The consultants are experts in matters involving finance and economics and legal aspects, and also provide advice on the implementation of area development in Rijkswaterstaat infrastructure projects.


The following are a few examples of projects involving the PPP Unit:

  • Construction and reconstruction of the Second Coen Tunnel (DBFM).
  • Construction and reconstruction of the A15 Maasvlakte-Vaanplein motorway (DBFM).
  • Reconstruction of the A2 Hooggelegen (alliance).
  • Motorway reconstruction: A12 Utrecht-Veenendaal.
  • Motorway reconstruction: Utrecht ring road.
  • Participation in the Mainportcorridor Zuid project: a project to integrate the area development of and improve the access to the Rotterdam-Antwerp route.
  • The administrative agreement on the Public Contract for Road Pricing.
  • Acquiring knowledge from the Highway Agency United Kingdom's M25 project (DBFM).
  • Acquiring knowledge about concession in France.

International PPP Unit activities

The Knowledge Pool has access to an international knowledge network (including parties in France and the UK) and participates in various international networks:

  • One PPP Unit consultant is stationed in France to gain knowledge about concessions and all related matters.
  • Representing all European PPP units, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is a UN organisation, which aims to foster knowledge exchange between the countries and businesses.
  • Rijkswaterstaat/the PPP Unit is one of the parties in charge of organising the International Public Procurement Conference 2008, the theme of which is international knowledge exchange with regard to all aspects of purchasing and contracting out work.
  • Partners for Roads is an initiative of Rijkswaterstaat in the field of road infrastructure concerning the mutual exchange of know-how, expertise and experience between Central-European countries (pre-accession states) and the Netherlands, as well as among themselves.

When is a PPP appropriate?

You may ask yourself how it is decided whether a contract should be cast in a PPP or some other organisational form. The PPP Unit assists Rijkswaterstaat and the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management in answering this question. One part of the process involves the use of mandatory procedures and decisions for PPP projects.

Procedures and decisions for PPP projects

The procedures and decisions are carried out during different phases of the decision-making process of projects costing over 112.5 million euros, as these will potentially be carried out by PPPs. The purpose of the procedures and decisions is to help determine whether Rijkswaterstaat will achieve added value by bringing in the private sector and employing a PPP for ongoing and new projects.

Three groups of procedures and decisions for PPP projecs are used at three different junctures in a project:

  • Market scan - The market scan is a study into the potential added value of including the private sector in a project at an early stage. It provides information about which parties should be involved and how this should be done. The market scan must be carried out during the preliminary phase of all projects within the scope of the long-term plan for infrastructure, space and transport (MIRT).
  • PPC - The Public Private Comparator enables the comparison of various organisational forms (public vs. public-private). The results of each PPC and the purchasing strategy (contractual form) chosen are reported to the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament. The PPC is required for all MIRT projects costing over 112.5 million euros.
  • PSC - The Public Sector Comparator is used when DBFM contracts are awarded and enables the comparison of costs and risks of PPP and public (i.e. traditional) projects.

Acquiring and sharing knowledge

The PPP Unit maintains close ties with PPP project teams, businesses and other public authorities (including at national level) and is therefore in an ideal position to both acquire and share knowledge.

The PPP Unit organises workshops, training courses and simulations regularly, offering employees an opportunity to learn how to work with DBFM contracts. In cooperation with the Rijkswaterstaat training centre, the PPP Unit can also provide customised courses.

Every March, the PPP Unit holds a PPP theme day to bring together the private sector from a wide range of sectors, public authorities and knowledge institutes.

Workshops are held an speeches are given by leaders in the various sectors.


The PPP Unit coordinates a group of coaches, consisting of employees from various Rijkswaterstaat departments who have experience with procedures and decisions for PPP projects and can contribute their know-how in this area to other projects.

For more information on PPPs at Rijkswaterstaat, click here.

Source: Rijkswaterstaat ( information brochure.

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