New report shows Dulles board's problems even worse

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Photo - The under-construction Dulles Rail line. (Examiner file photo)
The under-construction Dulles Rail line. (Examiner file photo)
Local,Virginia,Transportation,Liz Essley

A federal investigation into the authority overseeing the $6 billion Dulles Rail project, set for release next week, will show that nepotism at the agency is far more widespread than previously believed and that authority employees may have benefited personally from some of the contracts they awarded, The Washington Examiner has learned.

The final report from the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general will detail contracts that Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority staff steered toward certain companies and that later may have benefited authority employees, according to sources familiar with the inspector general's investigation.

The FBI also is investigating potential criminal activity in the agency's contracting practices, sources said. Officials of the authority confirmed late Wednesday that they had been subpoenaed by the FBI.

The Inspector General's Office said in an interim report released in May that the authority -- which oversees Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports and the $6 billion construction of Metro's Silver Line to Dulles -- awarded more than $220 million worth of contracts with limited competition.

Sources say this month's final report will offer fresh revelations about that contracting process and employees who participated in it.

The inspector general's report will also focus on nepotism at the authority -- which sources say is much more widespread than previously thought. Dozens of relatives of airports authority senior staff have been given jobs there, a top MWAA official told The Examiner -- two to three times the number given to relatives of board members.

A spokesman for the airports authority said he could not comment on the inspector general's report, since it has not yet been released publicly.

A swirl of controversy has surrounded the airports authority since the inspector general's interim report spelled out board members' lavish spending on food and trips to exotic locations. A series of Washington Examiner reports later detailed a number of contracts and jobs handed out to former board members, including a $180,000-a-year job given to a board member the day after she resigned for health reasons.

The ensuing outcry among local officials prompted the airports authority to cancel contracts with former board members in August and adopt new ethics and travel policies.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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