Does the nation need to declare war on our infrastructure? You bet it does. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that we need to invest well over $2 trillion on our infrastructure, yet we consistently underfund its needs. Congress John Mica (R.-FL), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure told me in a recent radio interview, “No one has a clear vision.”

Mica went on to say that while the federal government must take the lead, "We need to partner with states and the private sector.” This means the construction industry and citizens alike need to hold the federal and state governments accountable--which includes not robbing dedicated funds to balance their budgets.

However, if we are going to embark on a "war" on the infrastructure, we need a clear vision and established priorities-–something that has been lacking for years.

Doug Woods, CEO of San Diego-based DPR Construction, forces everyone on his projects--including the owner--to sit down before the start of a project and define it and establish priorities. Well, rebuilding our infrastructure is no different; it’s merely a $2-trillion dollar project. (To listen to my interview with Woods, 
click here.)

However, to improve our chances for success in this critical battle, we would be
wise to follow the three critical rules established by Carl von Clausewitz in his Principles of War. “The first and most important rule to observe in order to accomplish these purposes is to use our entire forces with the utmost energy. Any moderation shown would leave us short of our aim.”

This means that we need to develop a national agenda that balances the value for all stakeholders – not only those with political clout due to campaign contributions. All decisions should be made in the best interest of the nation, not individual stakeholders. To achieve this it means YOU must become involved. This means participating in the debate at local, state and federal levels. If you can't get a seat at those tables, then at least become educated on the issues and vote to remove legislative people who aren’t doing the job.

Look at it this way: If your life was threatened, you would become involved. Well, our way of life is being threatened. It’s time to get involved. No excuses.

“The second rule is to concentrate our powers as much as possible against that section where the chief blows are to be delivered and to incur disadvantage elsewhere, so that our chances of success may increase at the decisive point.” In essence, Clausewitz’s quote means we must establish priorities and focus all our energy on the most important issues. We can’t do over $2 trillion dollars worth of work tomorrow. But if we invest today in the right projects, we will receive a payback that will help pay for the next round of improvements.

“The third rule is never to waste time. Unless important advantages are to be gained from hesitation, it is necessary to set to work at once.” Now is the time, we must stop kicking the problem down the crowded roadway. We must become involved and hold everyone accountable, and that includes ourselves. One place to start is vote people out of office this November--regardless of their political party affiliation--if they haven’t been placing the nation first.

At the same time, people need to stop complaining about how bad the government is – remember we elect them, so it’s our fault if they aren’t doing the job.
This is an idealist approach, I know. But my problem is I think if we're going to try to fix the problem,, why not try to not find the perfect solution? However, I’m realistic; if we don’t achieve perfection, that’s okay. The only thing that isn’t okay is not trying to do it right.

Ted Garrison is a construction industry expert and civil engineer with more than 25 years of construction experience. During the last 12 years, he has authored Strategic Planning for Contractors and co-authored five other books on marketing, sales, customer service and leadership. Garrison also is the host of the Internet radio program, New Construction Strategies,, where he conducts weekly interviews of experts within the construction industry. He can be reached at or you can follow him Twitter @TedGarrison.