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Eleanor N.
Democrat DC 0

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  • Introduction of a Bill to Ensure That the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Complies With Federal Acquisition Regulation

    by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

    Posted on 2013-01-29

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    NORTON of the district of columbia in the house of representatives Tuesday, January 29, 2013 Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill to require the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to adopt the Federal Acquisition Regulations, which govern all aspects of the acquisition process for virtually every federal executive branch agency, and to adopt the federal anti-nepotism rules. Significant failures in MWAA's contracting and hiring policies and practices point to a need for substantial reform in MWAA's acquisition and hiring processes. Despite being created by Congress, leasing federally owned land, and benefiting from significant federal taxpayer funds, MWAA is not subject to federal procurement or anti-nepotism laws. This omission has left MWAA without ample guidance for its board members and employees. Many of the problems that have drawn criticism of MWAA could be eliminated if the Federal Acquisition Regulations and federal anti- nepotism regulations were made applicable to MWAA.

    MWAA is an independent public body created by Congress under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986 (Airports Act). MWAA, with 1,400 employees, leases Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport from the Federal Government. In addition to managing the airports, MWAA is responsible for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which has an estimated cost of $5.8 billion, including $977 million in federal funds.

    A recent Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General report, ``MWAA's Weak Policies and Procedures Have Led to Questionable Procurement Practices, Mismanagement, and a Lack of Overall Accountability'' (Report Number: AV-2013-006), or IG Report, found that ``MWAA's contracting policies and practices are insufficient to ensure compliance with the Airports Act and the lease agreement between DOT and MWAA.'' For example, the Airports Act and lease agreement require MWAA to award contracts over $200,000 competitively to the maximum extent practicable. However, the IG Report found that MWAA recently awarded two-thirds of its contracts exceeding $200,000 with limited competition. The IG Report also noted that MWAA awarded many contracts with no formal solicitation, and that MWAA's Contracting Manual does not require public notification of sole-source contracts over $200,000.

    A January 15, 2013, Washington Post article reported that at least 10 percent of MWAA employees have family members working there, including spouses, and children. The IG report also noted that MWAA lacks ``sufficient controls to detect and prevent nepotism.'' It is clear that changes are imperative and overdue.

    The lack of transparency and competition on MWAA's contracts and hiring are inconsistent with continuing ownership of the airports by the Federal Government, MWAA's creation by Congress, and the significant federal taxpayer [[Page E75]] dollars MWAA receives. The IG Report's conclusion that current procurement procedures and hiring policies are inadequate requires a response that definitively fixes these issues. It makes no sense for MWAA to attempt to reinvent a new set of procurement procedures and ignore the very thorough and tested Federal Acquisition Regulations, which provide legal guidelines for every aspect of procurement and maximize fairness and transparency of the federal anti-nepotism regulations.

    I urge my colleagues to support the bill.

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