Airport fueling firm challenges Hartsfield-Jackson contract award

An Atlanta airport fueling contractor is going to Fulton County Superior Court to challenge the city of Atlanta’s decision to award a Hartsfield-Jackson International fueling contract to a company it argues should have been disqualified.

Allied Aviation Fueling of Atlanta Inc. filed an appeal to the court this month, contending that the company chosen as the winner of an airport fueling contract did not properly disclose problems in its parent company's past and was not qualified to win the contract.

Allied Aviation has maintained and operated a city jet fuel storage facility at Hartsfield-Jackson since 2006, but was not selected to win the airport fueling contract when it was put up for bid last year.

Instead, the city chose Louis Berger Hawthorne Services Inc., and the Atlanta City Council voted last year to approve the five-year contract worth up to $2.7 million.

Allied Aviation contends Louis Berger "did not disclose numerous criminal and civil suits, pleas, indictments and penalties."

Among the issues are whether the company competing for the contract was the parent company or its fuel division, and whether the company was required to disclose legal issues that involved the parent company and affiliates.

The city argues that the “prior bad acts” did not involve Louis Berger Hawthorne Services, the fuels division of the Louis Berger Group, and says Louis Berger Hawthorne Services is the company that competed for the Atlanta airport contract.

In a filing to the Superior Court, Allied Aviation's attorney David Moore wrote: "The issues before this Court are of great consequence not only (to) the public traveling through (Hartsfield-Jackson), but now particularly at a time where contract procurement in Atlanta is (the) subject of criminal investigation, with imprisonment of the prior chief procurement officer for Atlanta and ongoing investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

Allied Aviation is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop the city from awarding the contract to Louis Berger, and a hearing is scheduled on that matter Wednesday.

Allied Aviation is asking the court to review the contract decision after the city denied a protest filed by Allied Aviation and a city procurement hearing officer affirmed the decision by the city to award the contract to Louis Berger.

WSP, an engineering professional services firm that acquired Louis Berger last year, declined to comment. The city said it does not comment on pending litigation.

In its protest and appeal, Allied Aviation argued that Louis Berger did not properly disclose a 2014 guilty plea by a former chairperson of Louis Berger Group Holdings to conspiring to defraud the U.S. Agency for International Development by billing on contracts, along with other litigation and sanctions.

The city of Atlanta’s appeals hearing officer, George Maynard, concluded that Louis Berger Hawthorne Services, which was acquired by Louis Berger Group in 2012, “was not a party to such matters, and none (of the prior bad acts) involved any aviation fueling services or the city of Atlanta or the state of Georgia.”

The decision to award the fueling contract to Louis Berger last June was made while city contracting was run by interim chief procurement officer Susan Garrett. Allied Aviation’s protest was denied last October by the city’s current chief procurement officer David Wilson.