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Faulty Technical Specs Cost DIA $2.9 Million

DIA’s bid documents for the re-paving of Runway 17L-35R called for a concrete mix that DIA later agreed contributed to the cracking of 150 out of 700 runway panels, leading to a $2.9 million settlement with the contractor.  The project, costing $38.3 million, was also delayed by 38 days.

An audit of airside construction at DIA, defined as projects included in the airfield, including runways, taxiways and roadways, found that DIA needs better internal controls surrounding its project management and construction bidding process.

“Our audit examined only two airfield projects in depth, the 2016 Annual Airfield Pavement Rehabilitation and the Runway 17L-35R Complex Pavement and Lighting Rehabilitation.  In the runway project, 20% of the runway panels cracked and a third of those had to be completely replaced.  DIA’s specifications on paper did not translate to performance in the field, and DIA ended up settling with the contractor for almost $3 million.  Our auditors didn’t calculate the cost of having the runway closed an additional 38 days for the repairs.”

In the same project, auditors also found that project documents were missing or mislabeled.  “In the 2016 Annual Airfield Rehab project, more than half the project documents were missing,” Auditor O’Brien continued.  “We also found that the deadline for bids was inconsistent across project documents, and that bid receipt documentation was missing.”

To avoid problems with bid specifications in the future, DIA hired a technical writer as part of its Airport Infrastructure Management team and established a verification process with multiple reviewers.  Further, DIA has selected a document management software program and plans to update its Project Management Guide with procedures for standardized file management.

To conform to Executive Order 8, DIA will review procedures and bid documents to ensure alignment.  Staff will be briefed on the City’s document retention policy and periodic audits will be conducted to ensure compliance.  DIA expects to implement all of the Auditor’s recommendations by the end of September.

Read the full audit here.

"Audit: DIA's failure to review pavement specs led to cracking, costing extra $2.9 million" - Denver Post - July 20, 2017