The Gateway Process: Unlocking the Full Potential of Infrastructure Investment

Assessments are conducted at key stages of the project lifecycle. Photo credit: ADB.

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A series of reviews or "gateway" assessments by an independent agency helps ensure proper preparation and implementation of infrastructure projects.


In today's fast-paced global economy, developing countries are confronted with a multitude of daunting obstacles in their quest to establish essential infrastructure. However, the urgent imperative to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals and confront climate change and mitigate its consequences has exacerbated the gap, leaving a staggering annual shortfall of nearly $200 billion.[1]

Limited fiscal resources, inflationary pressures, mounting debt burdens, insufficient technical expertise, and fragile institutions consistently impede the effectiveness and efficiency of public investments aimed at meeting the pressing infrastructure demands. This challenge is not exclusive to developing nations; even the most advanced economies grapple with the timely completion and cost containment of major infrastructure projects. The International Monetary Fund estimates that, on average, the Asia–Pacific region experiences a staggering 32% shortfall in public investment efficiency, as evidenced by the disparities between a country's public capital stock and the accessibility and quality of its infrastructure assets.[2]

The Asian Development Bank is rising to meet these challenges under its new operating model by using its capabilities to scale up climate action, better support private sector development, and mobilize private financing. It is also working innovatively and collaboratively with clients to offer more tailored knowledge solutions. One such approach is embodied in the strategic “Gateway Process” described in the ADB publication Gateway Framework: A Governance Approach for Infrastructure Investment Sustainability.

The Gateway Process is a project management method for preparing and implementing infrastructure projects. It involves a series of reviews or "gateway" assessments by a reviewing agency independent of the agency responsible for designing and procuring major infrastructure projects. These reviews take place at key stages of the project lifecycle, with the aim of improving the quality, resiliency, and sustainability of infrastructure projects.

What are the phases of the Gateway Review Process?

Developed by the United Kingdom Office of Government Commerce in the early 2000s, the Gateway Review Process aims to give greater scrutiny and independent oversight to major projects throughout their lifecycle. There is evidence of Gateway Process effectiveness in preparing and implementing infrastructure projects. For example, a study by the UK National Audit Office found that Gateway Reviews had a positive impact on project outcomes. Projects that had undergone these reviews were more likely to be delivered on time and on budget than those that had not. A review of the effectiveness of the Gateway Process conducted by the UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority found that it had led to improvements in project delivery, stakeholder engagement, and risk management.

The “Gates” of a Gateway Process examine the following:

  • Project concept and feasibility in line with sector strategy including climate-related goals;
  • Business case to ensure the project is fiscally affordable and achievable;
  • Readiness for market to confirm budgetary support and that the implementation plan is realistic;
  • Tender decision to check that the procurement process complies with all requirements;
  • Readiness for service to ensure governance and reporting are in place to manage operations and service delivery; and
  • Benefits realization to check whether implementation is delivering service levels and benefits as intended by the project and understand lessons learned for future projects.

Figure 1: “Gates” of the Gateway Review Process

Source: Authors.

Since all projects are not of the same scale, incorporating Gateway Reviews into project investment management processes often involve tiered levels of scrutiny, so the resources applied are commensurate with projects’ benefits, costs, risks, and special strategic interest to the government.

Why is the Gateway Process important?

The most significant advantages of the Gateway Process include the following:

  • Optimized resource allocation. Developing and emerging markets often struggle with limited financial resources, making it crucial to use available funds judiciously. The process encourages comprehensive project evaluation, risk assessment, and financial planning. This ensures that the government allocates resources efficiently to projects that deliver the best value for money.
  • Efficient and effective planning and project preparation. Better-prepared projects are more likely to incentivize the involvement of private sector partners in public–private partnerships (PPPs) and attract private sector investment, reduce the burden on public budgets, and unlock new avenues for infrastructure development.
  • Improved project outcomes. It helps ensure that infrastructure projects are delivered on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards.
  • Reduced risk. By using a systematic approach to project delivery, it helps identify and mitigate risks early in the project lifecycle.
  • Stakeholder engagement. It is a structured framework for engaging stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle, which ensures that their concerns and interests are considered.
  • Better decision-making. A clear framework for decision-making, such as the Gateway Process, helps ensure that decisions are based on objective criteria rather than subjective opinions.
  • Increased transparency. It is a transparent framework for project delivery, making it easier for stakeholders to understand the progress of the project and the decisions being made.
What are examples of implementation?

Some countries have adopted complete multistage infrastructure Gateway Processes. These include the United Kingdom, Australia’s states, and New Zealand. Others, such as Nepal and the Philippines, have adopted single-Gate Processes, while countries, such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, and South Africa, have created specific Gateway Processes for PPPs.

In Australia, New South Wales first introduced a Gateway policy in 2004. The policy has since been updated, and the process has evolved. Today, the state uses a tiered approach that focuses on projects with the highest risks and on achieving value for money. Similar models are used in other Australian states, such as Victoria, and in New Zealand.

Indonesia’s Gateway Process aims to improve the creditworthiness and quality of PPPs for infrastructure projects. Created in 2009, the state-owned Indonesia Infrastructure Guarantee Fund operates as a “single window” to appraise PPPs seeking government guarantees and to provide consistency, clarity, and standardized procedures, as well as better management of fiscal risk in relation to government guarantees.


Investing in the Gateway Process yields significant benefits, such as avoiding costs associated with approving wrong projects, project delays, and budget overruns. Gateway Reviews are valuable for both traditionally procured infrastructure investments and those considered for PPP financing and delivery.

To be effective, however, the Gateway Process should be accompanied by broader reforms in public financial and investment management. It requires institutional capacity, ample resources, and transparent reporting to select the best projects and filter out poorly designed or financially unsustainable ones. Strong leadership is crucial to implement the Gateway Process and support project teams within line ministries and the reviewing agency.

While some countries in the Asia–Pacific region have adopted elements of gateway processes in the early stages of investment cycles, a comprehensive Gateway Process throughout the project cycle is often lacking. Countries with weaker institutions can initially apply the Gateway Process to early project development stages, ensuring alignment with national strategic priorities and technically, financially, and economically sound business cases.

[1] Asian Development Bank. 2018. Strategy 2030: Achieving a Prosperous, Inclusive, Resilient, and Sustainable Asia and the Pacific. Manila.

[2] E. Dabla-Norris et al. 2021. Fiscal Policies to Address Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific. Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.


H. Rahemtulla, M. Schur, and D. Bloomgarden. 2023. Gateway Framework: A Governance Approach for Infrastructure Investment Sustainability. Manila: Asian Development Bank.

Hanif Rahemtulla
Principal Public Management Specialist, Public Sector Management and Governance Sector Office, Sectors Group, Asian Development Bank

Since joining ADB in 2017, Hanif Rahemtulla’s focus is on leading and contributing to operational engagements in public investment management for better service delivery. Prior to ADB, he was the senior operations officer at the World Bank Group (2010–2017). He has supported operations in India, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Tajikistan, and Mongolia. He has a doctorate degree from University College London and is a postdoctoral fellow at Canada’s McGill University.

Michael Schur
Infrastructure Finance Specialist

Michael Schur has over 25 years of global experience as an infrastructure finance and investment specialist, and has chief executive experience in both the public and private sectors. He is currently an independent board member of a private concessions investment company and advisor to private and public sector clients. He has conducted risk assessments, project structuring, financial due diligence, and commercial negotiations on over 25 privately financed infrastructure projects in various countries, including Australia, Cambodia, and South Africa.

David Bloomgarden
Public Investment Management Specialist

David Bloomgarden is a public–private partnership (PPP) expert with over 30 years of global experience in policy, management, and project design and implementation. As a PPP Consultant, he has advised the World Bank (Global Infrastructure Facility) and the Asian Development Bank on infrastructure governance and development of knowledge products on quality infrastructure investments. Prior to his current role, he was the Chief of the Inclusive City Unit of the Inter-American Development Bank.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The Asian Development Bank is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. Its main instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue, loans, equity investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.

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