The Washington Post

MWAA may get permanent federal oversight

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) is pushing a measure to create a permanent inspector general to oversee operations of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

An effort to create a permanent inspector general to oversee operations at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority may be closer to reality.

Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf’s (R) office said the measure has been included in the fiscal  2014 transportation appropriations bill, which was approved by the appropriations committee on Thursday.

“I’m pleased with the progress MWAA has made in implementing the recommendations of the IG report, but the creation of a permanent IG will prevent future missteps and abuses by MWAA,” Wolf said.

Since 2010, Wolf has pushed for more oversight of MWAA, which manages Reagan National and Dulles International airports as well as the Dulles Toll Road. In addition, the airports authority is overseeing construction of the $5.6 billion Silver Line rail project, which will link Dulles Airport with the Metro system. The first phase of the rail project is slated to be completed at the end of the year.

But MWAA has been beset by a series of ethical and contracting scandals. In February 2011, Wolf asked the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general to conduct a review of MWAA’s operations.  The final report, completed in November 2012, was scathing. Among the findings: MWAA officials had hired friends and family to jobs at the authority and had accepted gifts from contractors doing business with MWAA.

MWAA officials have worked hard to remake their image, passing strict ethics rules and reforming its contracting process by rewriting rules that limiting the number of sole-source contracts that are awarded.

In July 2012, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood appointed an interim inspector general to oversee operations at the authority. Wolf’s legislation would make the inspector general a permanent fixture at MWAA.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.



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