Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) on Thursday introduced a bill to tighten contracting rules at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which has recently come under fire for awarding millions in contracts without competitive bidding.
MWAA was the subject of a recent inspector general’s report that cited numerous issues related to contracting, hiring, ethics and transparency at the authority, which is responsible for building the $5.6 billion Dulles Rail extension. MWAA also manages Dulles International and Reagan National airports as well as the Dulles Toll Road. On Wednesday, MWAA’s board voted to raise fees on the toll road to help pay for construction of the rail line.
Norton’s bill would require that MWAA follow the same rules for contracting used by most executive branch federal agencies.
“MWAA’s lack of transparency and competition on contracts is troubling,” Norton said in a prepared statement. “The airports authority is responsible for a significant amount of taxpayer money, and their current procurement procedures are inadequate.”
Officials at the airports authority have pledged to fix issues related to the inspector general’s report as well as concerns raised by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D), Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) in a letter they sent to the authority in August.
MWAA officials are scheduled to appear before Congress on Friday at a hearing before the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Among those expected to testify are LaHood, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and MWAA Board Chairman Michael Curto.