WAMU 88.5 : News

Airports Authority Leadership Says It's Cleaning Up Its Act

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The MWAA oversees the management and operations of both Reagan National Airport and Dulless International Airport.
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The MWAA oversees the management and operations of both Reagan National Airport and Dulless International Airport.

The leadership of the agency running the largest public transit project in the country says it is making progress toward cleaning up its contracting and hiring practices after a federal audit exposed shady dealings.

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority chief executive Jack Potter wants it to be known his agency is adopting new travel, ethics, contracting and hiring policies, and training all its employees to follow them, after an audit by the federal Department of Transportation's Inspector General described a culture of nepotism inside its halls.

"To date, we've trained over 1,400 of our employees, we have ten to go," Potter says.

In a presentation to the MWAA board of directors, Potter said the new rules will leave no doubt about what's acceptable behavior at MWAA.

"One of the concerns I have is we have to tell our employees what the term nepotism means," Potter says. "I'll be very frank with you. We did not have a database saying who was related to who."

MWAA finds itself under intense public scrutiny, because it is managing the $6 billion Metro rail project to Dulles Airport and beyond into Loudon County, and is currently applying for a federal loan through the Department of Transportation to help finance its construction. Potter says he's still confident that loan will come through.

"We'll be in a much better position if we get the loan and I'm looking at it very positively," Potter says.

Additional federal dollars would possibly bring down projected toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road, which are currently set to finance 50 percent of the Silver Line's cost. A spokesman for Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says no decisions have been made yet about MWAA's loan application.

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