Audit: Maryland Aviation Administration skipped bid process on $1.7M projects

An audit of the Maryland Aviation Administration released Monday found the agency, which oversees Baltimore Washington International Marshall Airport, skipped the proper bidding process for $1.7 million in projects and a concessions vendor spent marketing funds supporting political campaigns.

Commissioned by the General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Audits to examine the administration’s finances from July 1, 2015, through Dec. 16, 2018, the report found the administration did not properly advertise $1.1 million for competitive bidding related to parking garage renovations linked to a vendor’s expansion of valet parking services.


“Rather, the parking services vendor separately provided MAA with a $1.1 million proposal for the renovations, which primarily included construction of a 480-square-foot lobby within the parking facilities,” the audit reads.

In addition, auditors found the agency also purchased $588,000 in customer service robots from a specific vendor without sending the project out to bid.

The robots themselves were also not functional when purchased, the audit found, sitting idle in a room for months from November 2018 through June 2019 because of “network issues and integration issues with other MAA systems.”

“MAA management advised us that an unknown amount of additional cost would be incurred in order for the robots to function, and it did not consider if the robot vendor would be liable for the additional costs,” the audit reads.

In an email, spokesman Jonathan Dean wrote that the administration “appreciates the oversight and has addressed the issues raised during the audit process.”

The administration “has made improvements to system and processes in order to protect the public and ensure high-quality airport services for its customers," he wrote.

From 2016 through 2018, the vendor overseeing the marketing funds spent $552,000 “that did not meet the stated purpose of the fund or were questionable, including political-related contributions," the audit found.

The audit also found that $111,000 of the marketing fund — which was made up of rent money collected from private on-site airport vendors — went toward “local and State politicians and campaign fundraising events,” but does not detail which campaigns the funds supported.

An additional $50,000 of the fund was spent on the vendor’s lobbyist and the remaining $391,000 was spent on “sponsorships for golf tournaments and donations to charities or nonprofits,” the audit reads.

Auditors found the administration also failed to properly upload all competitive contracts to the online eMaryland Marketplace and lacked proper procedures “to ensure that proper deposit verifications were performed.”

The audit found the administration did not send an initial record of collected checks to the employee who was responsible for independently verifying that checks were properly deposited, but to two employees who were responsible for “preparing the bank deposit and recording the deposit in the State’s accounting records.”

Auditors wrote their findings constituted “significant deficiencies in the design or operation of internal control that could adversely affect MAA’s ability to maintain reliable financial records, operate effectively and efficiently, and/or comply with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.”

The administration wrote in response to the noncompetitive contracts that, as of June 2019, it has agreed to stop “the use of revenue contracts for capital expenditures and/or equipment purchases and related expenses."

In addition, the administration wrote that it will now require monthly reports of expenditures out of the marketing fund and directed the vendor overseeing the fund to reimburse it “for any expenditures that are inconsistent with the stated purpose of the fund.”


Auditors wrote that the fund totaled $18.4 million in 2018.

The administration also wrote that its Cashier’s Office “has started making an additional copy of the incoming checks and provides that copy directly to the employee responsible for verifying the deposits” as of September.