Report: Mismanagement rampant at airports authority

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“For example, MWAA’s recent revisions to its bylaws were discussed in a closed executive session - even though the revisions included enhancements to transparency,” Mr. Scovel wrote.

John “Jack” Potter, president and CEO of the airports authority, said MWAA is committed to confronting every concern the inspector general identified.

“We will do whatever is necessary to revise and strengthen our policies and procedures to ensure transparency and accountability,” he said.

A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has sparred with the board over its decision to favor contractors bidding on Phase 2 of Dulles rail that employ a union-friendly labor agreement, said the report seems to validate many of the administration’s grave concerns with the authority’s governance and decision-making.

“This is why Governor McDonnell has been calling for substantial reforms and additional representation from Virginia to influence decisions by this entity,” spokesman Jeff Caldwell said in a statement.

Federal involvement

A federal provision introduced by Mr. Wolf has granted Virginia increased representation on the board, but MWAA has cited an outside legal opinion saying that Virginia and the District must sign off on the changes before the law can take effect.

Mr. Wolf took issue with the report’s finding that a senior MWAA official awarded a sole-source $100,000 contract to the law firm Jenner & Block, which issued the outside legal opinion, and wrote a letter to managing partner Michael B. Desanctis asking the firm to return the money.

“While your firm was likely not privy to the circumstances surrounding the contract, it nevertheless was awarded in a way that runs counter to MWAA’s own procurement practices,” Mr. Wolf wrote. “Regardless of the conclusions of your firm’s opinion, MWAA should not have issued the contract in the way that it did.”

Indeed, MWAA’s procurement and contracts manager was not even aware of the award until the inspector general asked about it, and the contract wasn’t signed until three weeks after the firm’s work was finished.

The authority’s projections for future Dulles Toll Road revenues - which are supplying the bulk of the money for Phase 2 of the rail-to-Dulles project - appear reasonable, Mr. Scovel wrote.

At the request of Mr. Wolf and Mr. Latham, his office is also conducting an audit specifically focusing on Phase 2 of the project. A report on whether the authority has sufficient policies in place to complete Phase 1 of the Silver Line on time and on budget is scheduled to be released in the coming weeks.

Mr. Wolf introduced legislation last month to create a permanent inspector general for the airports authority, who would have access to all of the board’s actions, including executive sessions.

“If the IG determines that it is necessary to ‘clean house’ in order to implement the recommendations of the audit team, so be it,” Mr. Wolf wrote. “The responsibilities of the MWAA board are so important to the region that no necessary effort needed to restore public trust should be omitted.”

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