Audit: Albuquerque Sunport overpaid contractor for renovations

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An audit of the Albuquerque International Sunport’s most recent renovation project shows the city didn’t do a great job at managing how much the improvements cost.

For the Sunport’s terminal renovation project, which started in 2017, the city paid Flintco LLC nearly $30 million as the primary contractor to make several improvements to the Level 1 baggage and arrivals areas. On Level 2, they added new ticket counters, self-check-in ticket kiosks, and new signage.

The architecture firm, SMPC Architects, oversaw all the construction. However, a report from the city’s Office of Internal Audit said aviation staff “over-relied on” the architect consultant and didn’t do enough to monitor construction progress and charges.

Ultimately, the project cost $3 million more and was delayed for over two years.

Furthermore, the audit said the city didn’t require the contractor to get bids on work orders from subcontractors. The city even paid the contractor nearly $190,000 for a change order submission – when it didn’t have to.

The auditor said the city may also be able to recoup some of the money because of contractor delays noted in the contract. They could potentially get upwards of $753,000 in damages back.

The audit recommends that aviation work with the city attorney to get some of the money back – and to incorporate project management controls into its formal policies on future projects.

Currently, the Sunport is up for another $84 million renovation. It is expected to begin in the fall and take three years to complete.

The city responded to the report, saying the aviation department is working to recover the funds recommended by the auditor.

A Sunport spokesperson sent the following statement:

“The Sunport’s terminal building is aging and this was a complicated project. The next project will employ a different method of contracting that will address issues faced in past projects. For the upcoming renovation, the Aviation Department will utilize a CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) to head up the project. The CMAR process will enable effective management of project costs and improved communication and project management. We’ve already established a schedule for regular internal audits and a method for project management tracking to be carried out throughout the project. Additionally, we will utilize a dual approval process for payments in conjunction with the Department of Municipal Development.”