Hartsfield-Jackson to discuss concessions contracting at industry day

Atlanta officials are preparing to rebid airport concessions contracts after a long hiatus prompted by a federal investigation into corruption at City Hall.

Hartsfield-Jackson International will hold a Concessions RFP Industry Day on Tuesday at the Georgia International Convention Center. The event is for companies interested in concessions contracts.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in December that she planned to rebid airport concessions contracts. The contracting process for new airport shops, started in 2017, has been on hold for more than a year because of the corruption investigation.

The city's former chief procurement officer was sentenced in 2018 to prison for his role in a cash-for-contracts scandal. Then, last week, longtime city contractor Jeff Jafari was indicted on bribery and other charges.

And recently, citing the federal probe and the indictments it has netted, legislators have pushed for a state takeover of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The state Senate voted last week in favor of a bill that would create a state authority to run the Atlanta airport. The measure now goes to the House for consideration.

Bottoms said last year she wanted to address questions about the integrity of the city’s procurement process before the city took action on the concessions contracts worth millions of dollars in revenue.

The city has been working on reforms in contracting, including the opening of an independent procurement review office.

Because of the changes, Bottoms has said she is more comfortable than she’s ever been with the process.

Atlanta’s auditor’s office released a report in February saying it had found several “areas of concern” in the airport retail concessions solicitations for bids in 2017.

In one case, a company’s proposal was moved forward for evaluation, even though the company had not submitted all the documentation, according to the auditor’s office. That could be “a red flag of bid manipulation,” the auditor’s report determined, though the city’s procurement department said the needed information had been provided by the company in other documents.

The report also said there were possibly instances when competition was suppressed, and that there were instances when the person evaluating a bid had a potential ethical conflict because of a failure to disclose a financial interest.

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