Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

City Controller Ron Galperin called on airport officials Monday to look into why more than half of the $593 million in construction projects awarded in the fiscal year 2014-15 received just one or two bids from contractors.

Los Angeles World Airports, which operates city-owned airports including Los Angeles International Airport, awarded 60 percent of its contract dollars after receiving just one or two bids, according to findings from the latest Industrial, Economic and Administrative Survey conducted by KH Consulting Group for the controller’s office.

The city has a goal of soliciting at least three bids per project, but projects that received one bid made up 30 percent, while those that received two were 28 percent of the projects, according to the audit.

Galperin said the airport agency “must scrutinize and reform its bidding process.”

“Otherwise, we have no way of knowing whether we are getting the best value for our money — which is what the competitive bidding process was created to ensure,” he said.

Auditors acknowledged that in some cases, there are not enough qualified bidders, but said the procurement process needs to be further studied to find out what could be done to drive up the number of bidders to make the process more competitive.

Galperin also said he was concerned LAWA might not be doing enough to address traffic congestion that is expected to result from major construction projects being planned for LAX, including the addition of a people remover and rental car facility.

The upgrades, expected to be completed by 2023, are part of a larger $8.5 billion modernization plan and would result in the demolition of parking structures, the closure of lanes, and construction vehicles needed to share space with cars driven by airport passengers.

“Traffic will get worse before it gets better,” Galperin said. “And any goodwill we’ve engendered with passengers will quickly go away if LAWA doesn’t adequately address the traffic and parking problems that its large- scale construction projects are going to create.”

Auditors recommended that LAWA put together a traffic engineering team that will focus its efforts on resolving traffic headaches at the airport, modeling it after an existing unit that manages traffic flow at New York airports.

LAWA Executive Director Deborah Flint responded that the audit’s recommendations, some of which have already been implemented, offer a “blueprint” for how the airport agency should proceed.

“We are placing more emphasis on performance metrics across the organization which will provide a path for an improved guest experience at Los Angeles International Airport,” Flint said.

— City News Service 

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