Leading economic research institutes in the Netherlands wrote the guideline in response to the controversies surrounding major investment plans concerning infrastructure (e.g. Betuwelijn, Tweede Maasvlakte). The feeling was that the lack of consensus among economists about how to calculate their economic impacts contributed to the confusion.
The core of the OEEI guideline is the societal cost benefit analysis. In this type of analysis, for which a broad definition of welfare is used, the objective is to map and preferably monetarise all relevant costs and benefits of a project (both monetary and non-monetary). If the benefits outweigh the costs, the project is considered desirable from an economic perspective. Currently, the guideline is being used in practical projects and will be evaluated and improved in the year 2002.
The two aims of OEEI were:
- To develop a consensus and by doing so, harmonise the methodological framework of societal cost-benefit evaluations of big infrastructural projects;
- To develop an instrument of research to determine impacts of infrastructural projects and their contribution to prosperity.
The Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Economic Affairs initiated the research programme that consisted of nine sub-projects. Each project resulted in a publication. They were integrated into a Guideline about the Evaluation of Infrastructure.
The programme was funded by the two initiating ministries.