Hartsfield-Jackson to restart concessions contracting

Hartsfield-Jackson International will restart its concessions contracting process in coming weeks, following its decision to toss out proposals for a batch of new restaurants at the airport.

City of Atlanta chief procurement officer Adam Smith told Atlanta city council members Wednesday that he made the decision to cancel the contracting process after finding 40 percent of the proposals submitted had not properly filled out E-Verify documents required by the state to ensure newly hired employees are eligible to work in the United States. Other proposals also had errors, Smith said, leaving seven that were properly completed.

It’s not the first time the city has made such a move. In 2011, the city canceled a massive contracting process to revamp restaurants throughout Hartsfield-Jackson and prepare for the 2012 opening of the international terminal, and at that time as well it pointed to errors in E-Verify forms as the reason. It turned out that two of the companies that later won contracts — Delaware North and Paradies Atlanta — had made errors in the first round of proposals that would have disqualified them had the city not canceled and restarted the process.

City council transportation committee chair Felicia Moore said cancelling a contracting process wastes time and resources of the city and the businesses that compete for the contracts.

“The seven firms that did everything right are essentially being punished because other people didn’t do what they were supposed to do,” Moore said. “If someone can’t fill out this form, then they can’t follow instructions. Is that someone we really want?”

Moore said she intends to introduce legislation to direct the city not to accept proposals without the proper form for illegal immigration enforcement, so “this will not be a reason, rationale, excuse… whatever you want to call it, to cancel the solicitation.”

Smith countered that “we’re not using this as an excuse to hide anything.” He said he wants “robust competition” for airport concessions, and the errors on the forms “drastically reduced the pool” of eligible firms.

Smith said he plans to invite state officials to a meeting for companies interested in the airport concessions contracts to train them on filling out the forms.

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