Home » Around Virginia » Currently Reading:

Wolf Responds To DOT IG Report on MWAA

May 17, 2012 by Contributor filed under Around Virginia No Comments
Frank_wolf

Below is a letter sent by Mr. Wolf to Secretary LaHood today in response to the DOT IG’s interim report on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) board of directors. Also included is a letter sent to Jenner and Block’s managing partner which is referenced in Wolf’s letter.

Dear Secretary LaHood:

I am deeply troubled by the findings released today in the interim report from the department’s Inspector General (IG) on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (WMAA) Board of Directors. I requested this audit last year and am sure you agree that the report raises significant concerns about the current board’s policies and procedures, including contracting practices, ethics and transparency. This demands immediate action.

Most egregious are the IG’s findings about MWAA’s contracting practices. The report notes that in many cases MWAA failed to even abide by its own established contracting procedures, which already fall short of industry standards. Particularly concerning are the number of sole source contracts issued. As you know, MWAA is required by law to fully compete any contract over $200,000, with limited exceptions. Yet the IG’s report states that “[d]uring the period of our review, MWAA awarded five sole source contracts that were over $200,000, but did not fall under any of MWAA’s categorical exemptions. These contract awards, which amount to $6 million, did not have Board approval.” Not only did MWAA abuse the exemptions permitted under federal law, they issued numerous contracts that failed to meet even these basic standards.

The report points out that while MWAA’s Contracting Manual says some exemptions are allowed, but “comprise only a small portion of MWAA’s contracts and their dollar value,” the IG found that the use of exemptions “has amounted to 40 percent of the Authority’s $589 million in contract awards during the period of our review.”

The IG’s report also shows that conflicts of interest between members of the board and contractors were ignored. The report details how “… one Board member’s recommendation led MWAA to initiate a $100,000 contract with a law firm despite the fact that an immediate family member worked for the firm.” The report goes on to say that “while this family relationship had been previously disclosed, the Board member did not refrain from participating in matters related to the firm when the issue arose (per MWAA policy), and MWAA awarded the contract to the recommended firm. At minimum this created the appearance of a conflict of interest that may have been avoided had the Board member exercised better judgment and fully followed MWAA’s ethical procedures.”

This particular contract was initiated to procure a legal opinion by the law firm Jenner & Block for the express purpose of advising the board on how it could avoid complying with a bipartisan law passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. Amazingly, the report shows that the contract was requested on November 18, 2011, the same day the president signed the bill into law. It also is worth noting that the report reveals that the law firm submitted its “completed legal opinion to MWAA before the noncompetitive contact [was] documented and officially signed.” Enclosed is a letter I sent today to Jenner & Block’s managing partner asking the firm to return the money it received for the opinion.

The report also details the lack of proper standards for the recusal of board members. The report states that MWAA’s ethics practices “are vague regarding when and how Board members should recuse themselves when a conflict of interest arises.” The report cites an instance where two board members recused themselves from a particular issue. One member left the meeting while the other stayed. While the report said the board member who stayed did not participate in the decision or vote, “he had been instrumental in drafting the materials that were up for a vote, and had a clear interest in the outcome of the vote because of his relationship with the organizations that would potentially benefit from the proposal passing.” This simply cannot stand.

The interim report also addresses MWAA’s lack of transparency, specifically noting the board’s excessive use of closed executive sessions. MWAA routinely uses these closed sessions to discuss important business that the public has a right to know. The report cites two examples that are particularly egregious. In one instance, the report notes that, “MWAA’s recent revisions to its bylaws were conducted in a closed executive session – even though the revisions included enhancements to transparency.” Later, the report states “…MWAA’s Board holds its audit committee meetings exclusively in close executive sessions.” Discussing transparency and the results of audits in closed session is counter intuitive and shows remarkable hubris.

The report further details how MWAA’s board members abuse the public trust, charging expensive flights and meals to the authority. The report cites one voucher reviewed which “contained meal expenses for some Board members and their guests for a trip to Hawaii for a conference. The cost for three dinners totaled approximately $4,800.” What is even more troubling is the fact that, “[W]hile MWAA’s travel policy states that Directors should make every effort to secure the most cost effective means of travel, there are no specified guidelines to limit travel costs for these kinds of trips.” If the board does not issue adequate guidelines, extravagant expenses like this will continue to occur.

I am also troubled by what the IG says is one set of standards for authority staff and another – seemingly lower – for the board. Equally troubling is that the IG has “identified some concerns related to nepotism at MWAA; our work is ongoing in this area.” I am pleased the IG is continuing to look into this.

One issue that is not addressed in the report – but has been confirmed by the IG – is deeply troubling: the financial settlement with Nathaniel Ford, the former San Francisco, California transit official who was originally considered for the CEO position. Why is MWAA paying an individual who never worked a single day for the authority? I am told MWAA refuses to tell the IG’s team the details of the settlement, claiming a confidentiality agreement. This is not something that should be hidden from the IG or the public.

I know how important these airports are to the success of the region. Dulles, in particular, is the economic engine of northern Virginia. Sadly, the current board has not capitalized on past successes and instead is now completely dysfunctional. Contributing to this dysfunction is the that some public officials charged with appointing MWAA board members fail to do so in a timely fashion, permitting board members to continue to serve years after their terms expire. These concerns led me to introduce legislative changes to the board, since signed into law, including the provision stating that a board member may not serve past the end of their term. Disturbingly, these are the very changes that MWAA paid $100,000 to avoid.

Based on our conversation this morning, I support your desire to place a top member of your staff immediately at MWAA to report directly to you in an effort to address the concerns detailed in the IG report. As you know, I introduced legislation last month to create a permanent IG for MWAA that would have complete access to all board actions, including executive sessions. Your staff member must be able to attend executive sessions.

Mr. Secretary, I applaud the steps we discussed and share your belief that immediately establishing an IG at MWAA will help ensure that the abuses detailed in the interim report never happen again. If the IG determines that it is necessary to “clean house” in order to implement the recommendations of the audit team, so be it. The responsibilities of the MWAA board are so important to the region that no necessary effort needed to restore public trust should be omitted.

I know how much you care about the two airports run by the authority and understand how important they are to the Washington Metropolitan area and the nation. I also appreciate the countless hours you and your staff have invested in the successful completion of Dulles rail. Your personal involvement has been critical to the project.

I also want to tell you how much I appreciate the outstanding work of Inspector General Calvin Scovel and his team. I am well aware of the time, energy and effort that have gone into the interim report and know there is a great deal more work to do. I look forward to the IG’s final report later this year.

Best wishes.

Frank Wolf

Comment on this article


By commenting, you agree to abide by our Terms of Service.

Current Print Issue:

Sign up for our email newsletter:

Find us on Facebook:

Sustainable Planet

The Noisy Economist

25 Jul 2015

noerpel150

“[W]hereas classisists [economists] turned the spotlight on change, flow, process and dynamics, the neoclassicists [economists] spend their time analyzing states of rest, balance, equilibrium.” – Yanis Varoufakis [1] Updating the evolving global surface temperature anomaly monthly for the Loudoun County …

(Be the first to comment)

Ask Dr. Mike

Help for Shark Phobia

8 Jul 2015

Michael_Pic

Dr. Mike, We go to the Outer Banks every summer as a family, but our seven-year-old daughter is now freaked out by the reported shark attacks at the Outer Banks. Thanks to her older siblings teasing her about sharks, she …

(Be the first to comment)

Just Like Nothing (Else) on Earth

Mount Zion Church

1 Jul 2015

timjon

– By Tim Jon So: You’ve never given the American Civil War a great deal of thought, much less walked the grounds of Gettysburg or some of the other, major battleground sites located in our region; you may not be …

(Be the first to comment)

Brandon Park

3 Jun 2015

timjon

Considering its location – amidst the swirl of transportation axes, commercial and industrial scenery, residential neighborhoods, and the shadow of the busy downtown section of Leesburg, I was surprised to have this quiet little oasis of (mostly) green to myself …

(Be the first to comment)

Sushi's Corner

March Sushi

4 Mar 2015

pot of gold

Hello everyone, this is Hokie Cat from Fields of Athenry Farm. Sushi is in big trouble as we speak and is residing in doggy dungeon. I am here to fill you in on what took place. My brother Mountie loves …

(Be the first to comment)

Virginia Gardening

Planting an Allergy-Free Garden

5 May 2015

donnawilliamson

By Donna Williamson Tom Ogren has a long-time interest in allergy-inducing plants. He has written several books on the topic and in February released his latest The Allergy Fighting Garden. He explains why plants can stir up allergies and has …

(Be the first to comment)

Samuel Moore-Sobel

Saving The Art Of Letter Writing

1 Jul 2015

moore-sobelnewmug

– By Samuel Moore-Sobel This year a woman in France received a letter in the mail. What made her experience unique was that the letter had been written on January 27, 1877, and was intended for her great-grandfather. Steve Insekeep, …

(Be the first to comment)

Amy V. Smith's Money Talks

The Marital Agreement

2 Jul 2015

Smith0035

– By Amy & Dan Smith In Virginia, as in most states, a marital agreement can be entered into before or after marriage. It can cover a variety of topics but commonly addresses issues pertaining to the disposition of property …

(Be the first to comment)

Student News

8th Grade Writers Honored At Blue Ridge Middle School

2 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Sixty-seven Blue Ridge Middle School eighth graders have been honored for their writing during the 2014-2015 school year. Many students had their writing selected for publication by Creative Communication, a program for student writers, while others won county-wide writing contests. …

(Be the first to comment)

Ben Kellogg Achieves Eagle Scout

1 Jul 2015

benkellog

Benjamin Robert Kellogg achieved the rank of Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor conducted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Purcellville on March 29. Friends, family and troop leaders attended the celebration, including his parents, Robert and Deirdre Kellogg. …

(Be the first to comment)

Blue Ridge Middle Places 11th In National Science League

1 Jul 2015

blueridgemiddleschool

Blue Ridge National Science Day Declared Tuesday, June 10 has been officially been declared Blue Ridge National Science Day. At a recent Purcellville Town Council Meeting, Mayor Kwasi Fraser and members of the town council signed a proclamation designating this …

(Be the first to comment)

Tags

21st Street... 2012 Election... 2015 Election... Aldie... Aldie Elementary School... Amy V. Smith... Andrea Gaines... Andrew McKnight... Appalachian Trail... Armed robbery... Ashburn... Ask Dr. Mike... Attorney General Cuccinelli... Autumn Hill... Babe Ruth World Series... Ball Property... BAR... Barbara Comstock... Barns of Rose Hill... Behind the Scenes... Benjamin Packard... Berklee College... Bethany Anne Decker... Bill Druhan... Bluemont... Bluemont Concert Series... Bluemont Fair... Blue Ridge Middle School... Bob Lazaro... BRMS... Business... Butterfly Gourmet... Campaigns... Carl Fischer... Caroline Greer... Carver Center... Catoctin Creek... Catoctin Creek Apartments... Catoctin Creek Distilling Co.... Chairman Scott York... Charlie Clark... Christian Sierra... Christkindlmarkt... Column... Columns... Committees at a Glance... Crooked Run... Dave LaRock... Dave Williams... David La Rock... Dear Editor... Delegate Joe T. May... Development... Dine With Us... Donna Williamson... Doug McCollum... Down Syndrome Association... Dulles Greenway... Dulles Rail... Dulles Toll Road... Ebola... Editorial... Environment... Equestrian... Events... Faith... Farm and garden... Fields of Athenry... Fourth of July... Franklin Park... Franklin Park Arts... Frank Wolf... Furnace Mountain Band... Gabriella Miller... George Allen... GLBR... Gold Award... Gold Cup... Good Shepherd Alliance... Gov. McDonnell... Governor McAuliffe... GSA... Halloween... Halloween block party... Hamilton... Hamilton Day... Hamilton Elementary School... Hampden-Sydney College... Hannah Hager... Hannah James... Harris Teeter... Hill High Store... Hillsboro... Hillsboro Elementary School... Hillsboro Farmers Market... Hirst Road... HUBZone... Humane Society... Hunt Country Gourmet... Hurricane Sandy... Ida Lee... Inova... James Madison University... Janet Clarke... Jim Burton... JMU... Joe May... John Chapman... John Flannery... Joshua's Hands... Jr.... Karen Jimmerson... Keith Melton... Kelli Grim... Kitchen Science Kids... Kwasi Fraser... Ladies Board of Inova Loudoun Hospital... Ladies Board Rummage Sale... Lansdowne... Latanger N. Gray... LCHS... LCPL... LCSO... Leadership Loudoun... Leah Enright... Leesburg... Lincoln... Lincoln Elementary School... LINK... Loudoun BOS... Loudoun Country Day School... Loudoun County... Loudoun County Animal Services... Loudoun County BOS... Loudoun County Fair... Loudoun County Fairgrounds... Loudoun County Fire and Rescue... Loudoun County Government Reform Commission... Loudoun County Master Gardeners... Loudoun County Sheriff... Loudoun County Treasurer... Loudoun Interfaith Relief... Loudoun Lyric Opera... Loudoun Master Gardeners... Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy... Loudoun Youth Volleyball... Lovettsville... Lucketts... LVHS... Lyme Disease... Malcolm Baldwin... Mark Dewey... Mark Gunderman... Mark Nelis... Mark Warner... Mary Baldwin College... Mary Daniel... Mary M. Bathory Vidaver... Mary Rose Lunde... Mayor Kwasi Fraser... Mayor of Purcellville... Meredith McMath... Metro... Middleburg... Middleburg Academy... Middleburg Film Festival... Mitt Romney... monarch butterflies... Morven Park... Mosby Heritage Area Association... Music... MWAA... Nichol's Hardware... NoVa West Lacrosse... Oatlands... Odyssey of the Mind... Old Dominion Valley... Open Burning Ban... Opinion... Patrick Henry College... Police Blotter... Polka Dots... Potomac Falls High School... President Obama... Public Safety... PUGAMP... Purcellville... Purcellville Board of Architectural Review... Purcellville Business Association... Purcellville Crossroads... Purcellville First Friday... Purcellville Library... Purcellville Planning Commission... Purcellville Police... Purcellville Police Blotter... Purcellville Town Council... Question 1... Randolph_Macon Academy... Real estate... Rep. Frank Wolf... Rob Jones... Round Hill... Round Hill Arts Center... Sadie's Race... Salamander Resort... Sam Brown... Samuel Moore-Sobel... Sarah Nearis... Schools... SCR... Senator Richard H. Black... Shenandoah University... Sheriff Chapman... Silver Line... Southern Collector Road... South Riding... Sports... St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church... St. James United Church of Christ... Sterling... Sterling Costco shooting... Stop Hunger Now... Supervisor Delgaudio... Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio... sushi... Sushi's Corner... Sustainable Corner... Sustainable Loudoun... Tally Ho... The Little Mermaid... Thomas Balch Library... Tilley-Kline Entertainment complex... Tim Jon... Tim Kaine... Tony Noerpel... Town Council... Toys for tots... Transportation... Tree of Life... ULLL... University of Mary Washington... Upperville... Veterans... View... View from the Ridge... Village at Leesburg... Vineyards... Vineyard Square... Virginia Gardening... Virginia Gold Cup... Waterford... Waterford Fair... Watermelon Park... Wild Loudoun... Woodgrove... Woodgrove High School... Wounded Warrior... Your Money... Zoning

Events

July 2015
M T W T F S S
29

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Summer Expressions: an exhibit of abstract paintings by artist Rebeca Roman and ceramics by potter Steven Shiraishi

30

Summer Expressions: an exhibit of abstract paintings by artist Rebeca Roman and ceramics by potter Steven Shiraishi

1

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

2

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

3

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Moonlight Zip Tours in Middleburg Virginia

4

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

5

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

6 7

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

8

Garden Party

9

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

10

Garden Party

11

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Garden Party

Willie White returns to North Gate Vineyard

12

Garden Party

13

Barns of Rose Hill Presents Lúnasa

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

14 15

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

16 17

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Friday Night Jazz with Maddy Curtis and Caleb Nei

18 19

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Two Pound Sterling Live at North Gate Vineyard

20 21

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

22 23

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

24

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

Culinary Garden Summer Music Series

25

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Kipyn Martin Live at North Gate VIneyard

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.

Event: Art Gallery Reception for Featured Artists – wood turner Harriet Maloney and photographer J Riley Stewart

The Gifts Within

26
27

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

28 29

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

30 31

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Friday Night Live with Emma Rowley & Saffron Gourmet Food Truck

1

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Book Signing: 'Beyond Jefferson's Vines' by Richard Leahy

Notaviva Vineyards - Bluegrass Jam - FREE event

Spinners

2

Afghan Treasures Trunk Show

Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale Returns with Bargains for Everyone

Chef Sebastian Oveysi's Saffon Gourmet Food Truck at North Gate VIneyard

Recent Comments

View From the Ridge

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Purcellville

5 May 2015

blueridge2

Mark Your Calendar, They’ve Asked for Our Input So Let’s Give It To Them By Steady and Nobull The Purcellville Planning Commission has tentatively scheduled a series of public input sessions June 4, 11 and 18 at 7:00 p.m. at town hall for the proposed sweeping zoning changes. These major …

(Be the first to comment)

Editorial

How Did We Get Here And How Do We Get Out?? A Summary Of Purcellville’s Sewer Debt And Strategic Solutions

1 Jul 2015

kwasifraser

– By Kwasi Fraser, Mayor of Purcellville Many of our fellow citizens are baffled by the proposed increase in our already high water and sewer rates, and not just about the increase that was proposed for the Fiscal Year 2016 but also about the proposed increases over the next nine years. This quote from one of our citizens to a …

(Be the first to comment)

Lifestyle

Artist’s Profile: Michele Sommers, Mural Artist – The Beauty Of Life, Evolving Over Time

2 Jul 2015

artist3

– By Andrea Gaines Two things defy reason when it comes to mural artist and painter Michele Sommers. The first is her irrepressibly humble attitude towards her talent. The second is the absolute divinity of her work. I knew that in writing about her in this way she would be thinking, Oh … come on … I’m not THAT good! …

(1 comment)

Kicking Off Farm To Fork With Music

1 Jul 2015

farmtofork

Kicking off this year’s Farm-to-Fork Loudoun project is the second annual Farm, Fork & Art, with music added: a special concert from home grown, award winning folk and Americana singer-songwriter Andrew McKnight. Farm, Fork, Art & Music begins at 6 p.m. sharp at the unique Trinity House Cafe located at 101 E. Market St. in Leesburg on Wednesday, July 22, …

(Be the first to comment)

Hillsboro Celebrates Independence Day July 3

1 Jul 2015

hillsborojuly3

Bring your friends and family to Hillsboro’s Old Stone School on Friday, July 3 for the annual Independence Day Celebration. The celebration will be preceded by the second of four seasonal outdoor markets which will open on July 3 at 4 p.m., and the Independence Day festivities begin at 6 p.m. at the Old Stone School located at 37098 Charles …

(Be the first to comment)

Wild Loudoun

Ancient Oaks – The Great Providers

1 Jul 2015

wildloudoun

– By Andrea Gaines She feeds the birds. She shelters the mammal. She cools the air, provides us with shade and conserves the water and soil. She is the mighty old oak, an ecosystem unto herself. All except the smallest living things function as an ecosystem of sorts – whether harboring the bacteria and microscopic plants that break down organic …

(Be the first to comment)

Around Virginia

Governor Signs Senator Black’s Campus Sexual Assault Bill

governorsigns

On Thursday, May 28, Sen. Richard Black traveled to Richmond for the bill signing ceremony of his bill, Senate Bill 712, the Campus Sexual Assault Bill. Black’s law will change the way that Virginia’s colleges and universities handle sexual assault cases.  “When I heard about the Hannah Graham case, I …

(Be the first to comment)

McAuliffe Announces Movie To Film in Virginia

McAuliffe

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia has been selected as the filming location for “Loving,” a motion picture based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia married couple who, in 1958, were arrested for violating a state law at the time prohibiting interracial marriage. The couple …

(Be the first to comment)

Bipartisan Legislation Hopes To Reduce Wasteful Spending

blueridge2

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have teamed up on a bipartisan proposal to empower federal workers to identify and cut down on unnecessary federal spending. The Bonuses for Cost-Cutters Act of 2015 would build on existing law by expanding a program that allows U.S. government …

(Be the first to comment)

Sports

Upper Loudoun Little League Pre-Game Ceremony

1 Jul 2015

ULLLpic5

– By Carri Michon The Majors championship game for Upper Loudoun Little League dawned with prospects of stormy weather. Nonetheless, a nice crowd assembled for the pre-game ceremonies in the light rain. Following the announcment of the AL Royals and the NL Pirates teams, the ULLL Hometown Heroes scholarship given …

(Be the first to comment)

WLVBC Ignite Takes 2nd at Tournament

13 May 2015

Ignite Takes Silver at Spring Fling resized

Western Loudoun Volleyball Club U15 Team Ignite placed second at the NVVA 15’s Spring Fling Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, May 10 at Belmont Ridge Middle School in Leesburg. Ignite met the host team, NVVA 15 Fairfax Black, in the finals. “I’m proud of each player for pushing hard through 10 …

(Be the first to comment)

This Month in History

July, 1776: Loudoun’s Revolution Within A Revolution

1 Jul 2015

thismonthhistory

– By Andrea Gaines Loudoun County was heavily invested in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Loudouner Francis Lightfoot Lee was one of 56 delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence. More Loudouners served in General George Washington’s army than any other county in Virginia, and the county’s enormous …

(Be the first to comment)

Mary Rose Lunde

Locks Of Hope Easy, Helpful

1 Jul 2015

Lunde new

– By Mary Rose Lunde I’m not the first one who has written about and done what I am about to describe, and I hope I’m not the last. It’s not an action that seems heroic, but it does make a difference. The best part is that no one is …

(Be the first to comment)

Sarah's Closet

Go Pink … As Pink As You Like

1 Jul 2015

sarahcloset3

– By Sarah Nearis Look at these sweet and summery pink blouses and tops. Don’t you want to try one on? Some women are afraid to wear pink, thinking it’s a bit too feminine. But, pink comes in such a wide variety of shades – from soft mauves to fuchsias …

(Be the first to comment)

Letters

Independence Won – Much Left To Be Done

1 Jul 2015

speak

With graduations behind us and summer vacations ahead, we have much to look forward to. My summer will be full of events and opportunities to …

(Be the first to comment)

Reflections for Father’s Day, a Child’s Constitutional Rights

15 Jun 2015

Bob Ohneiser

I’ve been a licensed attorney and a father since the late 80’s. Yet, I wonder about how many of our country’s legal theories – theories …

(Be the first to comment)

Minimum Wage: A Wrench in the Gears

3 Jun 2015

Dave_larock

By Delegate Dave LaRock You may have read in the news recently that the second-largest city in the United States, Los Angeles, voted to raise …

(3 comments)

Archives

  • +2015
  • +2014
  • +2013
  • +2012
  • +2011
  • +2010
  • +2009