Even if they don’t win the contract to build the second phase of the Dulles Rail extension, the five firms selected Wednesday to bid on the project could each be eligible for a $1.5 million check from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
MWAA officials said it is common practice to offer a stipend to firms that bid on pieces of “mega projects,” like the $5.6 billion rail line.
“It’s considered to be the standard in industry,” said Eric Carey, contracting officer for the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project. “We need to offer a stipend in order to get competitive bids. Otherwise, we won’t get the response we want or won’t get competitive pricing.”
However, some experts familiar with federal contracting were surprised to learn of such a practice. “That is extraordinary,” said Steve Schooner, a professor at George Washington University and former associate administrator for procurement law and legislation at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy in the Office of Management and Budget.