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The Introduction of a Bill to Ensure that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Complies with the Federal Acquisition Regulation

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce a bill to require the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to adopt the Federal Acquisition Regulations, the set of rules that govern all aspects of the acquisition process for virtually every federal executive branch agency. Significant failures in MWAA's contracting policies and practices point to a need for substantial reform in MWAA's acquisition process. However, despite being created by Congress, leasing federally owned land, and benefiting from significant federal taxpayer funds, MWAA is not subject to federal procurement laws or regulation. This oversight has left MWAA without ample guidance for its board members and employees. Many of the problems that have drawn criticism of MWAA could be eliminated if the Federal Acquisition Regulations were made applicable.

MWAA is an independent public body created by Congress under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986 (Airports Act), which authorized a compact between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the District of Columbia. MWAA, with 1,400 employees, leases and manages Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. In addition to managing airports, MWAA is responsible for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, with an estimated cost of $5.8 billion, including $977 million in federal funds.

A recent Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General report, ``MWAA's Weak Policies and Procedures Have Led to Questionable Procurement Practices, Mismanagement, and a Lack of Overall Accountability'' (Report Number: AV-2013-006) (IG Report), found that ``MWAA's contracting policies and practices are insufficient to ensure compliance with the Airports Act and the lease agreement between DOT and MWAA.'' For example, the Airports Act and lease agreement require MWAA to award contracts over $200,000 competitively to the maximum extent practicable. However, the IG Report found that MWAA recently awarded two-thirds of its contracts exceeding $200,000 with limited competition. The IG Report also noted that MWAA awarded many contracts with no formal solicitation, and that MWAA's Contracting Manual does not require public notification of sole-source contracts over $200,000.

The lack of transparency and competition on MWAA contracts is inconsistent with continuing ownership of the airports by the federal government, MWAA's creation by Congress, and the significant federal taxpayer dollars for which MWAA is responsible. The IG Report's conclusion that current procurement procedures are inadequate requires a response that definitively settles the procurement issues surrounding MWAA. It makes no sense for MWAA to attempt to reinvent a new set of procurement procedures and ignore the very thorough and tested Federal Acquisition Regulations, which provides legal guidelines for every aspect of procurement and that maximizes fairness and transparency.

I urge my colleagues to support the bill. I will seek passage before the end of the lame duck.

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