A Los Angeles City controller audit has found no wrongdoing by Los Angeles World Airports executive director Gina Marie Lindsey in the awarding of two contracts for projects related to the modernization of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
The audit released by City Controller Laura Chick Thursday, May 29th, found that Lindsey did not improperly influence the Board of Airport Commissioners to award a $25 million contract to DMJM for LAX capital improvement work and a $41 million contract to Fentress Architects for architectural services on the midfield satellite concourse.
The report was initiated after anonymous allegations surfaced that Lindsey may have pressured airport executives to award the contracts to the two firms. Denver-based Fentress had performed work at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport while Lindsey oversaw that airport.
Both the Airport Commission and City Council committees conducted public hearings related to the allegations.
After city-controller staff reviewed documents related to the contract process and interviewed various executives, it was determined that the executive director of the airports did not improperly push the contracts for the two firms, the controller report states.
“Based on responses provided by panel members during our interviews and our review of documents, we found no indication of undue pressure or influence during the selection process of either the PM Services or Architectural Services contracts,” Chick said in the audit.
While controller staff determined that the contract-awarding process adhered to the airports’ established procedures, Chick offered several recommendations to improve the selection process.
“Based on our observations during this review and the necessity for (Los Angeles World Airports) to exhibit the highest level of care in demonstrating a transparent and fair process in awarding lucrative contracts for critical infrastructure development at LAX, I recommend that LAWA management consider implementing additional procedures to strengthen the selection process,” Chick wrote.
Among the several recommendations by Chick to improve the selection process are to require written documentation on the decision criteria used, establish interview questions that are consistent for all candidates and ensure appropriate composition of evaluation of panel members. The controller also recommends that panel members be required to record their written comments.