WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Transportation Department Audit On MWAA Finds Violations

Play associated audio
An audit has revealed irregularities from the board tasked with overseeing two of the D.C. region's three airports.
An audit has revealed irregularities from the board tasked with overseeing two of the D.C. region's three airports.

A federal audit report released today by the Department of Transportation's Inspector General details $220 million contracts, at least two-thirds of contracts awarded by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, were awarded without full or open competition.

The agency that operates Dulles International and Reagan National airports and the $6 billion Silver Line rail project engaged in unethical hiring and questionable contracting practices that were enabled by a "culture of favoritism" and lacking internal checks, according to the audit.

The audit detailed questionable dealings at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority from January 2009 to June 2011. During that period, MWAA awarded 190 contracts that exceeded $200,000 but only 36 percent were awarded with full and open competition, the audit said. These contract awards failed to comply with MWAA's own contracting manual and were inconsistent with the intent of the Airports Act of 1986, the audit said.

"In some cases, senior officials abused MWAA's student program to hire employees who were not students, using personnel documentation that falsely showed student status. MWAA's lack of oversight also resulted in employees with known criminal convictions working at the Authority in sensitive and management positions for more than a year," the audit said. Read the audit in it entirety

While the audit did not name names, it named positions.  For instance, MWAA's Vice President for Human Resources hired two relatives to work at the agency and then denied it. The vice president, Arl Williams, resigned in advance of the audit's release.

In another case mentioned by auditors, a former board member, Mame Reilly, was hired by MWAA CEO Jack Potter to fill a vaguely defined position for an annual salary of $180,000.  Reilly stepped down after a public outcry but was paid a year's severance. Neither Reilly nor Potter was mentioned by name.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Potter and MWAA board chairman Michael Curto addressed the audit's findings, promising to work to regain the public's trust.

"We are gratified that the final report acknowledges the actions we have taken since the May Interim Report, as well as our ongoing initiatives, to bring greater transparency and accountability, efficiency, and integrity to our operations and governance," Curto said.

WAMU 88.5

Kate Mulgrew: "Born With Teeth" (Rebroadcast)

Kate Mulgrew, who stars as "Red" in the Netflix TV series "Orange Is The New Black", opens up in a new memoir about her complicated family and the baby she gave away for adoption as a young woman.


Swapping The Street For The Orchard, City Dwellers Take Their Pick Of Fruit

Urban foragers don't just pick their meals from the trash; many eat only the finest, freshest produce — picked from city trees. The League of Urban Canners harvests fruit from trees to make jam.

Reconsidering The Pilgrims, Piety And America's Founding Principles

Conservatives who want to emphasize America's Christian roots embrace the story of the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. But some historians say their role in the country's founding is overstated.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.