FAA Lists Concerns in Witchita Airport Contract

The Federal Aviation Administration has sent Wichita a letter pointing out shortcomings in a draft contract with DMJM Aviation, the company city staff selected to manage the building of a new terminal at Mid-Continent Airport.

The letter, dated April 19, surfaced at a City Council meeting Tuesday where Mayor Carlos Mayans and other council members said they thought they were not being provided enough information by City Manager George Kolb.

Kolb did not return phone calls seeking comment Wednesday.

Airport director Tom Nolan said the staff is planning to discuss the contract with the council in a workshop Tuesday and bring it back for a vote within weeks after that.

As to the FAA's concerns, he said airport officials "feel very confident we will address all of them... those items will all be addressed in the final document." He said the city's response to the FAA letter will be part of the upcoming workshop.

The contract must have FAA approval if Wichita is to qualify for federal grants that make up a major part of the plans for financing the new $150 million terminal.

The FAA letter raised seven points where the agency is urging changes in the draft contract, which was sent to the federal agency before being reviewed by the council.

The letter said that one of the FAA's requirements is that the contract "should include (a) list of subconsultants and their responsibilities and (a) requirement that (the) Airport Authority approve replacement or addition of any additional subconsultants over the life of the contract."

Kolb previously said the city's plan was to select DMJM Aviation as the project manager and then allow the company to contract with subconsultants approved by the city.

URS Corp., the second-place finisher in the competition for the contract, has claimed that Wichita violated federal procurement guidelines when city officials tried to lure a financial subcontractor from URS' team to DMJM's.

URS claimed that action violated its rights to fairly compete for the job.

In a January letter, City Attorney Gary Rebenstorf assured URS that the city had broken off talks with the subcontractor and that no further talks would occur until after the program manager contract is finalized.

URS vice president Nat King said he wasn't surprised that the FAA wanted a list of subconsultants from Wichita.

"The (federal) Brooks Act dictates that the selection be based on qualifications," King said. "It doesn't surprise me that the FAA would include that in its letter because that's how it's typically done at airports."

Nolan said "the actual document will list the principal contractor and all the subs."

Kolb had said previously that he thinks the staff complied with all requirements of federal and city procurement procedures.

Among other issues cited in the letter:

The FAA recommended that the agreement name the DMJM Aviation employee who will act as the program manager and that a requirement be added so that a change in that position would require Airport Authority consent.

The FAA recommended that the contract clearly identify the city official responsible for authorizing work by the consultant.

The FAA required that a value engineering study be done on all projects of more than $10 million.