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Wolf wants greater scrutiny of airports board

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Local,Virginia,Aubrey Whelan
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, or MWAA, spent the past year under fire from Virginia lawmakers and Northern Virginia officials over its handling of the $6 billion Dulles Metro Rail project, and a Virginia congressman is now pushing to subject the embattled authority to even greater scrutiny.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., introduced legislation that would create an inspector general position within the airports authority to monitor what he said were "increasing concerns" about the board's activities.

The new internal watchdog would help ensure that the board overseeing the Dulles Rail project is operating in an efficient and transparent fashion, he said.

Wolf, one of the authority's most vocal critics, pushed the authority to appoint an independent auditor to review its operations. When the authority refused, Wolf asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to investigate the authority's activities instead.

The Transportation Department is expected to release its findings in coming weeks, and Wolf said in a statement Monday that he believes that report will support his call for the creation of an inspector general within the authority.

Wolf cited a number of concerns with MWAA, including its decision to encourage the use of union labor on the second phase of the Dulles Rail project and the continued presence on the authority of members whose terms already expired.

In the face of those conflicts, Wolf tried to increase Virginia's influence on the airports authority with legislation that added two more members from the state. But the authority blocked the new members, saying they had to be approved by Maryland and District officials who sit on the authority.

"As we've gone through this process a number of concerns have been raised," Wolf spokesman Dan Scandling said Monday. "All signs point to the fact that additional oversight is going to be needed."

The inspector general position created by Wolf's bill would be appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, but MWAA would have to fund the position.

The authority said in a statement to The Washington Examiner that it is "reviewing the bill" and is "anxious" to discuss the matter with Wolf.

awhelan@washingtonexaminer.com

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