GUAM AIRPORT AGENCY UNDER U.S. SCRUTINY

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Has history of mismanaging government money

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, August 12, 2009) – The Guam International Airport Authority is among the four federal grant recipients that a government watchdog has placed on the list of entities "that have a history of mismanaging government money."

Also on the watch list are Owensboro-Daviess County, Ky, Pitkin County, Colo., and the Puerto Rico Port Authority.

According to an Associated Press report, Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel plans to examine the Federal Aviation Administration’s process for selecting programs for the US$1.1 billion in grant money under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

GIAA public information officer Rolenda Faasuamalie confirmed that the airport authority is a recipient of US$4.8 million in economic stimulus funding that has been earmarked for the rehabilitation of Runway 6L/24R.

She said GIAA just recently received over US$8.5 million in FAA grants and over US$5.2 million in FAA discretionary funding.

Scovel said the Obama administration used economic stimulus money to pay for 50 airport projects that didn’t meet the grant criteria and approved projects at four airports with a history of mismanaging federal grants, "raising doubts about their ability to ensure [stimulus] funds are effectively administered."

However, she said, "The airport is unaware of any instance or situation of mismanagement of grants."

g the projects that Scovel said didn’t meet the FAA’s minimum score was US$14 million that went to Akiachak, Alaska, a town of 659 residents, to replace its airfield. The town has a seaplane and is only 14 nautical miles from the state’s fourth busiest airport.

Nearly US$15 million went to another Alaska town, Ouzinkie that has 167 residents, to replace its gravel runway. The town has a float-plane landing area in its harbor. Barges also provide cargo delivery from Kodiak, 10 miles away.

Other projects Scovel said didn’t meet FAA’s threshold were US$4.8 billion for a new taxiway in Findlay, Ohio; US$2.2 million for a runway extension at Wilbur Airport in Washington, US$2 million for an apron at Warrensburg-Skyhaven Airport in Missouri, and US$909,806 to design a new runway at a small airport near Dover, Del. He said those airports don’t provide commercial passenger service and have limited flight operations.

"According to FAA, the Dover project was chosen because it was the state’s only project that was ‘ready to go,’" Scovel said in a letter to the department.

DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari said the grants criticized by Scovel were part of an effort to help small airports meet safety standards. Porcari said Scovel’s description of the projects as imprudent was "an overstatement." (With AP)

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