Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Congressman Gerry E. Connolly (D-Va.) are among those scheduled to testify at a hearing Friday by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on a recent federal inspector general’s report that cited numerous issues with ethics, contracting and nepotism at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. The report also found instances in which staff members accepted gifts from contractors who did business with the authority.
On Wednesday, at their first public meeting since the report was released earlier this month, MWAA officials reiterated their commitment to restoring public trust in the authority, which is overseeing construction of the $5.6 billion Dulles Rail extension.
“Let me strongly emphasize – as I have throughout this process – that we take all the issues and concerns cited in these reports very seriously,” said Michael Curto, the board’s chairman. “Our primary focus in responding to the report is rebuilding public trust, assuring accountability and instituting best practices across the Airports Authority.”
The authority, which also oversees Dulles International and Reagan National airports and the Dulles Toll Road, has had a rocky few months, including reports of lavish travel by board members, no-bid contracts given to former board members and numerous irregularities in the way it awards contracts. This summer, Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) tried to remove a member of the board, resulting in a legal battle that threatened to cost the authority millions in legal fees.
MWAA’s 17-member board includes representatives from the federal government, the District, Maryland and Virginia.
Board Chairman Curto is also expected to testify, as is Calvin L. Scovel III, the Department of Transportation’s inspector general, who conducted the 16-month investigation.
“Friday’s hearing will examine the significant issues in all these areas uncovered by the DOT IG, the IG’s recommendations to address the issues uncovered, and the Inspector General’s remaining concerns with MWAA practices, policies and interim reforms, which have not been independently reviewed or fully implemented,” according to an advisory issued by the committee.