MWAA: Reiley to Leave Advisory Position

Former board member will leave in October; MWAA also announces travel, transparency changes.

Mame Reiley, adviser to the chief executive of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) will leave her post at the beginning of October, MWAA officials announced and The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The move was one of several actions the board announced Wednesday as part of an effort to salvage an image recently marred by reports of lavish travel,  and contracting practices.

Reiley was a longtime member of the board before resigning last February for health reasons. She was reportedly paid $180,000 for her advisory role.

Reiley, a Virginia Democrat representative to the board, was a proponent of Metro's Silver Line rail to Dulles project.

Her hiring as an adviser was controversial, though. Read about that in this Washington Post story.

At a meeting Wednesday, the board also adopted a comprehensive new travel policy. MWAA officials said in a statement this was "the latest step in an ongoing effort to restore the confidence of top federal, state and local officials who have criticized many of the Authority’s decisions and governance practices."

MWAA's travel policies had been under scrutiny lately after board member Dennie Martire was ousted over lavish travel spending.

The new policy, reflecting "best practices" of the airport industry and the federal government, provides specific rules and approval processes for business-related travel and expenses for the board as well as the 1,400 MWAA employees who operate Reagan National and Dulles International Airports and the Dulles Toll Road and manage construction of the Silver Line.

“As we meet here today, my fellow board members and I are acutely aware that a bright light of scrutiny has been focused on this organization,” MWAA chairman Michael A. Curto told a specially called meeting of the directors. “Our sponsoring bodies have questioned whether we are doing all that we can do to ensure the professionalism, integrity and cost effectiveness of MWAA.”

Curto, who became chairman in January, emphasized that he and his colleagues on the board and in senior management have been working to improve the authority’s policies and governance procedures since early in the year.

“As I started my tenure as chairman, I laid out three priorities for the organization: increased cooperation with our partners, especially the Commonwealth of Virginia, greater transparency for management and board operations, and the timely and cost-effective completion of the rail project," he said. "While it is true that the Authority has made its share of mistakes, and there are a number of issues that have yet to be adequately addressed, I think our harshest critics would also acknowledge that we have made significant progress on those key objectives."

Curto said the group in February revised the Authority’s bylaws to clarify rules for executive sessions at board meetings and to make additional board meeting information available on the Authority’s website.

In May, MWAA established an Internal Control Group to review compliance with Authority policies and procedures and also began requesting a review of the contracts relating to retention of former board members and accelerated ongoing review of the Authority’s disclosure and ethics policies.

MWAA also suspended all international travel by board members while the new travel policy was being formulated.

In July, the board instituted a new Freedom of Information policy and appointed a Freedom of Information officer “to assure timely and transparent responses to requests by the public for information on Authority business.”

Curto also said the Authority “will continue to collaborate” with a new federal accountability officer appointed by Secretary LaHood “to revise the Authority’s ethics policies, contracting and procurement guidelines, administrative procedures and human resources and hiring policies.”

President and CEO Jack Potter also reported that MWAA is closing out all “sole source” professional services contracts that had been exempted from competitive bidding. Several of those contracts involved former members of the authority’s board.

In addition to approving the new travel policy, board members at Wednesday’s meeting discussed proposed revisions to ethics policies for directors and employees, received updates on legal matters and heard a briefing on proposed facility upgrades at Reagan National Airport.

At the next board meeting, set for Sept. 19, directors plan further work on ethics policies.

Bob Bruhns September 06, 2012 at 05:01 AM
The MWAA Board is by no means cost-effective. It handed us a price for the Silver Line that is about 1.8 times what it should be. Board members have been all over the world at MWAA's expense, and yet they never went to Fairfield Connecticut, where a comparable Metro rail station, completed in December 2011, cost about 42% of the price they are charging Fairfax County for the Rt 28 station. We have seen that government projects are overpriced. http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/15972/are-contractors-wasting-public-money-we-dont-know/ Examine the Silver Line story, and you can see how this is done. First, they hide the prices. Then, they jack the prices up. And then, they point to the bloated prices as the standard cost. And then, they jack the prices up some more. The MWAA Board is very embarrassed, and probably has reason to be very worried, because their little world of secrecy has been blown wide open. I once said that there would come a time when our leaders, and MWAA, and WMATA, etc, would be reduced to claiming that their 'incompetence' is not a prosecutable offense. Looks like that time may be coming quickly. http://restonweb.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5732&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=30 (It's in the fifth paragraph of the fifth post on that page.) Let's take this project away from this incompetent board of political hacks, and get some people who know what they are doing, to get the costs of Phase II down to earth.
Dave Webster September 06, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Michael, she actually wasn't fired without pay. According to the Washington Post, Reiley’s last day at the authority will be Oct. 1. She will receive medical benefits and a year’s salary as part of her severance agreement.
Navid Roshan September 07, 2012 at 01:40 PM
joe brewer October 01, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Jack Potter say the blame is all his fine resind the 180k severance and benefits and kindly resign from the position you hold.
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