The regional body overseeing Washington area airport projects such as the subway extension to Dulles International Airport is a “poster child for corruption” that needs major management reforms, a House committee chairman said.
“This is a sad chapter for metropolitan Washington and advocates for good D.C. transportation,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said at a Friday hearing of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that reviewed a Nov. 1 Transportation Department inspector general report. “The IG found problems with hiring practices, a lack of competition for contracts and ethical violations.”
Mica mentioned contractors providing Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority employees with trips to golf tournaments, tickets to sporting events and concerts, and travel and accommodations amounting to nearly $5,000, as well as “preferential treatment to friends and relatives of board members.”
The board, which employs 1,400 and consists of political appointees made by the Maryland and Virginia governors and the District of Columbia mayor, has been in the news in recent months because of debates over the cost and scope of the Metro extension to Dulles and because of questionable salaries and travel expenses of some employees and board members.
Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III testified that “MWAA’s policies and practices have not provided the controls needed to ensure accountability, transparency and sound governance.” A lack of internal controls has created a culture that allows questionable contracting practices . . . including initiating work before contract award, awarding sole source and limited competition contracts without proper justification, and providing nonpublic information that gives potential contractors an unfair advantage in competition.”