Denver Plan Could Simplify Airport Purchasing

The city is moving forward with a plan to make Denver International Airport more competitive globally.

It would give DIA more flexibility to buy goods and services, and help the airport lure top-notch talent.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is meeting with various city departments to discuss the potential changes, and the mayor hopes to finalize proposals by the end of the month.

The initiatives are based on recommendations made by a Hickenlooper-appointed committee.

"We really want to create a more fluid, corporatelike environment around the airport," said Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock, who was on the DIA committee and is working closely with Hickenlooper on the initiatives. "The airport competes in a global market, and it needs to operate that way. That means being able to recruit the best employees and being able to buy equipment in a more effective manner."

Hancock said he doesn't expect much opposition to the proposed changes.

The city, rather than an independent airport authority, runs DIA, meaning the airport must follow city purchasing and hiring rules. The mayor's committee said that somewhat hinders DIA's ability to react to industry changes and compete with other airports.

One initiative under consideration would allow DIA to cut through bureaucratic red tape for certain procurement efforts. The proposal could involve streamlining the process of getting City Council approval for perfunctory contracts or other types of deals."The goal . . . is to identify improvements that would reduce processing times for procurement without compromising pricing or quality," said Lindy Eichenbaum Lent, the mayor's spokeswoman.

The other initiative would create specific job classifications - and salaries - for certain airport positions. That would separate some airport job descriptions from the more generic city classifications and pay scales, although they still would fall under the umbrella of the city's Career Service Authority.

"This will help us attract the right talent with the right expertise," said Chuck Cannon, a spokesman for DIA.

Hickenlooper created the committee in 2004 to examine the processes governing DIA and assess the airport's ability to adapt to new challenges. The group, which included economic development, airport, education and business officials, submitted its final recommendations last year.

The initiatives could involve administrative tweaks or City Council approval, depending on the exact proposals.

"For both of these there are a couple different ways to skin the cat in terms of how we might process them legally," said David Broadwell, an assistant city attorney.

INFOBOX

Boosting DIA's competitive edge

The mayor and other city leaders are crafting two initiatives that would:

* Streamline the process for buying certain services, equipment and goods, freeing up time, reducing costs and giving the airport flexibility to respond to industry changes.

* Allow for DIA-specific job classifications and pay scales for certain positions, aiding recruiting and hiring efforts.



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