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Moncrief asks for D/FW internal audit

D/FW AIRPORT -- Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief is asking for an internal audit of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport travel policy and administrative costs, including the use of credit cards and company cars.

Moncrief's request Thursday follows a series of stories broadcast on KTVT/Channel 11 regarding spending by the airport's top executives and board members in which they flew first-class and stayed in high-class hotels.

Moncrief requested that D/FW Chairwoman Lillie Biggins name a select committee to investigate whether any card and/or board policy abuse had occurred. Also, the committee would compare D/FW costs to other U.S. airports. The investigation would be done in conjunction with the airport's audit department.

"I think this would send that signal of transparency," Moncrief said. "It's what the public expects and deserves."

Biggins said she would appoint the committee.

"We welcome that review," D/FW CEO Jeff Fegan said.

The Channel 11 series alleged that board executives and some board members, including Moncrief, were "living the lives of star athletes and celebrities with your cash" in representing the airport -- sometimes in violation of board policy that restricts the class of travel allowed for certain business trips.

An audit by the airport subsequently showed that no abuse had occurred, but recommended that the airport improve its documentation to encourage transparency and to make sure no misunderstandings occurred.

On Tuesday, it seemed like the issue had largely passed. During a long discussion of the matter, most board members were very supportive of the airport's efforts to attract new carriers to the airport -- including practices that sometimes took them on faraway, expensive trips.

The most outspoken board member, however, was Bernice Washington, who said the lack of actual abuse was secondary to the fact that the public believed the television reports are true.

"The people are [expletive] -- fair or not," Washington said.

As a result, she asked questions about Fegan's salary, executive pay structure, employee car allowances and other issues raised by the Channel 11 story. It was subsequently explained to her that the board she sits on sets Fegan's salary and his review would be coming up in December.

However, on Thursday morning, Moncrief echoed many of Washington's sentiments.

"Perception is truth," Moncrief said, adding that just because an audit had found no abuse of the policy didn't mean the policy was a good one.

There was no schedule discussed for when the select committee or audit team would report back to the board with its findings.

But the issue now has legs.

BRYON OKADA, 817-685-3956