Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority:

Contracting Practices Do Not Always Comply with Airport Lease Requirements

GAO-02-36: Published: Mar 1, 2002. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 2002.

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The Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986 transferred operating responsibility for Dulles and Reagan National Airports from the federal government to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), an independent, nonfederal, public entity. MWAA, which has a 50-year lease to run the two airports, has entered into a wide range of contracts for supplies, construction, and other services. Although MWAA issued guidance in 1993 for the awarding of contracts and concession franchises, GAO found that the guidance does not adequately reflect competitive contracting principles and is out of date in many respects. Moreover, MWAA does not use its guidance to award contracts for non-concession goods and services. MWAA did not obtain full and open competition for 15 of the 35 contracts GAO reviewed, raising concerns about whether MWAA obtained the best value for the goods and services provided. The failure to obtain full and open competition also raises concerns about whether MWAA has (1) deprived prospective contractors of the chance to compete for contracts and (2) fairly evaluated all of the contractors that have competed for procurements. Finally, by not following recognized competitive principles, MWAA could be giving the appearance of favoritism in its contracting decisions.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Congressional action was not subsequently needed since the Department of Transportation, as lessor, took action--as recommended in GAO's report--to help ensure that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) would satisfy its lease obligations.

    Matter: To help ensure that MWAA satisfies its obligations under the lease, Congress may wish to consider clarifying the 1986 act to specify that, as lessor, the Department of Transportation is responsible for ensuring that MWAA (1) fully complies with the contracting requirements imposed in the lease and (2) takes all steps needed to correct the problems that GAO identified.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Analyses by the Office of General Counsel indicate that the airport authority's revised contracting procedures require the authority to evaluate future contractor proposals in accordance with the factors and processes specified in its solicitations.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the MWAA future contracting activities comply with the requirements imposed in MWAA's lease with the federal government, the board of directors should take steps to ensure that MWAA's published procedures provide for, among other things, evaluating all future contractor proposals in accordance with the factors and processes specified in its solicitations.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Analyses by the Office of General Counsel indicate that the airport authority's revised contracting procedures require the authority to obtain and evaluate prices for the entirety of a known or anticipated procurement.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the MWAA future contracting activities comply with the requirements imposed in MWAA's lease with the federal government, the board of directors should take steps to ensure that MWAA's published procedures provide for, among other things, obtaining and evaluating prices for the entirety of its known or anticipated need for each procurement before selecting a successful contractor.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Analyses by the Office of General Counsel indicate that the airport authority's revised contracting procedures require the authority to ensure that its contract modifications are within the scope of work that it solicited and competed.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the MWAA future contracting activities comply with the requirements imposed in MWAA's lease with the federal government, the board of directors should take steps to ensure that MWAA's published procedures provide for, among other things, ensuring that contract modifications for additional goods and services are within the scope of work that MWAA solicited and competed.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  4. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: Analyses by the Office of General Counsel indicate that the airport authority's revised contracting procedures do not sufficiently address the need to ensure that all work ordered via the exercise of options or through other contract modifications is subject to full and open competition.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the MWAA future contracting activities comply with the requirements imposed in MWAA's lease with the federal government, the board of directors should take steps to ensure that MWAA's published procedures provide for, among other things, ensuring that all work (i.e. work where the total contract value is estimated to exceed $200,000) is subject to full and open competition, to the maximum extent practicable, including all work ordered through the exercise of options or through other contract modifications.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Analyses by the Office of General Counsel indicate that the airport authority's revised contracting procedures generally address the need for Board of Director approval of work that is awarded using less than full and open competition.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the MWAA future contracting activities comply with the requirements imposed in MWAA's lease with the federal government, the board of directors should take steps to ensure that MWAA's published procedures provide for, among other things, ensuring that any work (i.e. work whose total contract value is estimated to exceed $200,000) that is awarded using less than full and open competition is adequately justified and approved by MWAA's board of directors, as appropriate.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Analyses by the Office of General Counsel indicate that the airport authority's revised contracting procedures satisfy GAO's recommendation that the authority regularly update and consistently follow its published procedures.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the MWAA future contracting activities comply with the requirements imposed in MWAA's lease with the federal government, the board of directors should take steps to ensure that MWAA updates its published contracting procedures regularly and that MWAA consistently follows the published procedures.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As evidenced in its June 2002 draft contracting procedures, MWAA reevaluated its use of preestablished thresholds to exclude contractor proposals from award consideration. These procedures were finalized in January 2003.

    Recommendation: The board should reevaluate MWAA's use of preestablished thresholds to exclude contractor proposals from award consideration.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  8. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: GAO could not, on the basis of reviewing the airport authority's revised contracting procedures, determine whether periodic contracting reports will be required.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the board is well-informed, it should require periodic reports on (1) MWAA's actions to address GAO's audit findings and (2) the extent of MWAA's use of less than full and open competition.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Transportation took action to follow-up on MWAA's response to GAO's findings and recommendations.

    Recommendation: As signatory of MWAA's lease with the federal government, the secretary of transportation should take appropriate actions to follow up on MWAA's actions to address GAO's findings and recommendations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MWAA issued its draft contracting procedures for the public's review and comment in June 2002.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's (MWAA) future contracting activities comply with the requirements imposed in MWAA's lease with the federal government, the board of directors should take steps to ensure that MWAA publishes, for review and comment by the public, procedures for competitively awarding contracts in excess of $200,000 and all of its contracts for concession franchises and thereafter that MWAA publishes--and makes readily available to the public--a complete, adequate, and current set of its contracting procedures.

    Agency Affected: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

 

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