- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

One of the companies seeking the multimillion taxicab concession at Washington Dulles International Airport wants an investigation into the bidding process.

An attorney for S.M. Farouq Massoud, chief executive of Falls Church-based Dulles Airport Taxi Inc., said yesterday that the company is seeking a review by federal, D.C. or Virginia officials into the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s contracting process.

“It certainly seems from our perspective that there have been some irregularities,” said Harold Brazil, attorney for Mr. Massoud.

A spokeswoman for the airports authority said there were no contract improprieties.

Airports spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said the business administration committee for the authority’s 13-member board of directors yesterday recommended that the contract go to Dulles Airport Taxi Inc. She said the airport authority’s full 13-member board of directors will likely take up the concession next month.

Miss Hamilton said the committee’s recommendation yesterday came after two contracting panels for the authority each gave Dulles Taxi Systems Inc. — the incumbent contractor and a competitor of Mr. Massoud’s — the highest rating among bidders.

Miss Hamilton said the authority could not discuss specific details of any of the bids because the final contract still has not been awarded.

“Over the years, we’ve used this contract to increasingly improve our cab service,” she said.

Dulles Taxi Systems has held the contract since 2000, Miss Hamilton said. Mr. Massoud’s company operated the Dulles taxi concession through the 1990s.

The contract gives exclusive rights to operate the authority’s Washington Flyer Taxi service, overseeing hundreds of vehicles that provide transportation to and from Dulles, which has no rail service.

The contract calls for the taxi operator to pay the authority at least $850,000 per year or 20 percent of annual gross receipts, whichever is greater. In 2003 to ‘04, the authority received $915,416 from concessions revenue, contract records show.

Mr. Brazil, a former D.C. Council member, said there are questions about whether a contracting review panel last year originally recommended Mr. Massoud’s company to get the taxi deal.

Mr. Brazil said Mr. Massoud’s company had received favorable reviews from an earlier contract panel. However, he said the airport’s administration later formed a new panel, which called for Dulles Taxi Systems to keep the contract instead of awarding it to Mr. Massoud’s company, Dulles Airport Taxi.

“We’ve urged that there be an investigation into this,” Mr. Brazil said. “We’d like some outside body, whether the state of Virginia or the D.C. Inspector General or the GAO (Government Accountability Office) to make sense of this and find out if it was done properly.”

Miss Hamilton disputes Mr. Brazil’s criticism.

“Two separate panels gave the higher score to Dulles Taxi Systems,” she said. “I don’t know where he got his information, it’s incorrect.”

Phone messages for Mr. Massoud and for Dulles Taxi Systems were not returned by deadline yesterday.

This isn’t the first time controversy has erupted over the taxi concessions contract. Mr. Massoud sued the airports authority after losing the contract in 2000.

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