Airport to withhold identity of selection team members on concessions contracts

By David Pendered

Atlanta has decided not to identify the persons who will serve on the selection team that will recommend which companies should be awarded a concesssions contract at the airport.

Paul Brown, the airport’s concessions director, said the names of “experienced airport managers” who are chosen to serve on the selection committee – and even the number who serve on the committee – will remain confidential until after their work is done.

The selection team will review proposals from companies that want a piece of the lucrative food and beverage concession business at the airport. The selection team will recommend which companies should win a contract that will last at least a decade.

“I’m not at liberty to say,” was about all that Brown said he could say about the selection team.

Hollie Manheimer, executive director of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation, said the city cannot withhold the identifying information.

“There is nothing in the open records law that would shield the release of the identity of a public agency committee’s members,” Manheimer wrote in an email.

“Both the open records and meetings laws have favor narrow exceptions to the rule of openness, and any exemption generally turns on a narrow issue of privacy, IE, something like a social security number,” Manheimer wrote.

Brown said the city’s Department of Procurement has been in charge of the selection process since the city released its requests for proposals in April. The procurement department is to choose a selection team from a list of airport officials the aviation department will submit, Brown said.

“We have a very strong grouping of very experienced managers at the Department of Aviation in many different aspects of what we do,” Brown said.

“All have experience with concessions, whether it is performance management or how we manage our properties at the airport,” Brown said.

Brown said the evaluators will be trained by the procurement department and an industry specialist – AirProjects, Inc.

AirProjects is based in Alexandria, Va. It is a consultant that specializes, according to its website, in producing, “original and inspired concession programs that are feasible and profitable for both our clients and their tenants.”

Brown said there was not a competitive bid for the training of the selection team. AirProjects had a preexisting contract with the airport that was expanded to include the training of the selection committee, Brown said.

AirProjects was registered as a disadvantaged business enterprise on Jan. 19 with the Georgia Department of Transportation, according to GDOT records.

Companies that receive federal dollars routinely register with state transportation departments, which serves as a clearinghouse for federal programs, Brown said in April at a conference about the concessions contracts.


David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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