Washington, D.C. (March 9, 2023) – The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is encouraged by the recent announcement from the Common Ground Alliance (CGA) of its “50 in 5” challenge and calls on CGA and industry participants to provide and commit to a plan with measurable goals and public accountability.

The “50 in 5” challenge was announced by CGA on February 28, 2023 after multiple years of rising excavation damage numbers in the United States. It seeks to reduce excavation damage to underground facilities including pipes, cables, and wires across the country by 50 percent over the next five years. The latest available data for 2021 suggests a record high number of excavation damage events, making this goal timely and imperative.

While commending CGA, Aii calls for CGA to commit to a clear and public roadmap for achieving this goal. For years, industry participants have made lofty goals and even called for systemic reforms, but damage numbers have continued to rise. Pointing to best practices likely will not be enough to see real improvements.

“CGA is a valuable organization and does incredible work,” said Benjamin Dierker, Executive Director of Aii. “As an observer and researcher of the damage prevention field, I believe this type of goal is long overdue, and we hope to provide a collegial yet critical challenge to CGA. We are calling for CGA to publish a roadmap and hold its members accountable to it.”

The issue of damage prevention is critical because every year in the United States, excavation incidents lead to estimated economic harm of over $30 billion, with other estimates asserting up to $100 billion in losses annually. With tens of billions of dollars being lost every year, this is a national crisis, not just a nuisance to utilities.

“The answer to reducing damages by approximately 67 percent has been right in front of us for years,” said Brigham McCown, Aii founder and chairman who served as the first acting administrator and first deputy administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). “Electronic White-Lining and Enhanced Positive Response (EPR) is that answer. Simple and straightforward, Aii reiterates its call for these programs to be implemented nationally as we’ve done for years. The current programs are simply insufficient and it’s time for the locate and excavation industries to embrace 21st century solutions.”

CGA identifies failure to notify 811, failure to pothole/maintain clearance, and failure of accurate and timely locator markings as responsible for 76 percent of all damages. The group then issues three focus areas to address these, which amount to adhering to existing best practices with some additional promotion of technology, such as electronic white-lining. This rudimentary roadmap leaves more to be desired. Aii also believes CGA must recognize that reforms to the system itself may be required to effectively promote behavior change.

Learn more about pathways to reduce excavation damage.

For media inquiries, please contact Aii media coordinator, Andrew Jefferis at



About the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure

The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization dedicated to identifying our nation’s infrastructure needs, creating awareness of those needs, and finding solutions to critical public policy challenges. Aii strives to promote proven, innovative technology and higher safety standards in a non-partisan manner to achieve excellence nationwide. The Alliance is a think tank consisting of two non-profits: the National Infrastructure Safety Foundation (NISF) 501(c)(4) and the Public Institute for Facility Safety (PIFS) 501(c)(3). (