Airports Authority Approves Changes in Contracting Policies and Procedures

Published: March 20, 2013

Revised Manual Strengthens Procurement Practices;
Emphasizes Competitive Bidding Process


The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors approved sweeping revisions Wednesday to the organization’s Contracting Manual, which governs the purchasing of goods and services for Reagan National and Dulles International airports, the Dulles Toll Road and construction of the Silver Line Metrorail.

“This revised manual clarifies a very complex set of rules and procedures in a way that reflects the best practices of government and industry and emphasizes free and open competition in every aspect of contracting and procurement,” said Board Chairman Michael A. Curto.

The revised Contracting Manual was approved at the Board’s monthly meeting and was developed in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Department of Transportation. The policy changes address five major areas of procurement and contracting:

  • Types of Procurement: eliminates “categorical exceptions” to the competitive process and defines all procurements as either “full and open” or “other than full and open.”  For “other than full and open,” comprehensive written justification is required (such as only one source is available for special required goods)
  • Ethics in Procurement: incorporates updated Board and Employee Codes of Ethics, including a detailed definition of ‘Conflict of Interest,’ to assure fairness in the process of awarding contracts
  • Task Orders: incorporates best practices from the Federal Acquisition Regulation to enhance the process and controls regarding the distribution of tasks among multiple contractors
  • Change Orders: prohibits changes in a contract’s description of work to be performed that would exceed a contract’s original scope of work
  • Procurement Planning and Reporting: requires new Quarterly Reports for all procurements and contracts above $50,000 for the previous quarter and forecasts of contracting needs for future months

All employees who are directly involved in the procurement or contracting process are receiving training on the new Contracting Manual. The Airports Authority is moving forward on completing training by the end of the month.

“These new procedures will foster a more robust and efficient competitive process and assist employees as they continue to do high-quality work to serve the travelling public,” said Airports Authority President and CEO Jack Potter. “The successful revision of our contracting rules is another important step in increasing transparency and accountability at the Airports Authority.”

The Board of Directors also approved a new Business Expense Policy. The policy applies to the Board of Directors and employees and provides specific requirements and guidance related to reimbursable expenses.

The revised Contracting Manual, the new Business Expense Policy, and an additional appeal process approved for the Authority’s Freedom of Information Policy are part of an ongoing effort to address recommendations in a Nov. 1 audit report from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.  This effort, which also has included the adoption of new or revised policies on open meetings, travel, ethics and other procedures, is designed to strengthen the Authority’s governance and operations.

In other business, the Board also approved a foreign currency exchange and business services contract, and received a progress update on Phase 1 of the Silver Line Metrorail project, which is now 90 percent complete.  The next Board Meeting is scheduled for April 17.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority was established in 1987 by the governments of Virginia and the District of Columbia to manage and operate Washington’s Ronald Reagan National and Dulles International airports, which together serve more than 40 million passengers a year. The Airports Authority also operates and maintains the Dulles Airport Access Road and the Dulles Toll Road and manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail system into Loudoun County, Va. No taxpayer money is used to operate the toll road, which is funded by toll revenues, or the airports, which are funded through aircraft landing fees, rents and revenues from concessions. The Silver Line construction is funded by a combination of toll-road revenues, airport contributions and federal, state and local government appropriations. The Airports Authority is led by a 17- member board of directors appointed by the governors of Virginia, Maryland, the Mayor of Washington, D.C., and the president of the United States.