Hartsfield-Jackson’s new manager says contracting must be transparent

John Selden

John Selden

With the ongoing federal probe at Atlanta City Hall, the procurement process at Hartsfield-Jackson International must be as transparent as ever, said the man appointed as the general manager of the city-run airport.

"Procurement is about integrity," said John Selden, a former executive of New York's JFK Airport whose appointment as the next leader of Hartsfield-Jackson International will be voted on Monday by the Atlanta City Council. "The process has to be pure. It has to be transparent, and it cannot be tainted."

The federal probe has reached into airport contracting, including a 2016 subpoena seeking documents related to construction and concessions contracts at Hartsfield-Jackson.

Selden this week spoke to members of the city council’s transportation committee, which oversees the airport. The committee voted unanimously in favor of confirming his appointment as general manager.

In response to a question from city council member Amir Farokhi, Selden said contracting “has to be kept at an arm’s length, and no outside influence should be involved in the procurement process.”

“If you keep your distance from the procurements, look at the facts, look at the (request for proposals)… not be influenced” and pick the best company for the city, “that’s key to restoring the integrity of the process,” Selden said.

While Hartsfield-Jackson awards millions of dollars in contracts a year, airport contracting is also run through City Hall and its procurement department. The city's former chief procurement officer Adam Smith was sentenced to prison earlier this year.

Andre Dickens, chair of the city council transportation committee, said the first thing he discussed with Selden was integrity.

“We will maintain our code of ethics and run this airport as it should be,” Dickens said.

Selden said his goals include ensuring Hartsfield-Jackson remains the world's busiest airport and maintains its efficiency, which he said translates to airline profits and more airline service in Atlanta.