DIA Is Having A Hard Time In Ways Besides The Renovation Project, According To A New Audit

September 19, 2019
DIA Denver International Airport Passengers ConstructionDIA Denver International Airport Passengers ConstructionHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Passengers and visitors to Denver International Airport find themselves navigating a lot of detours as they check in or pick up baggage Friday June 28 2019.

A city audit found that the Denver International Airport needs to better manage its finances after recurring errors led to lost time and revenue.

“Financial accountability is essential in an operation as big as Denver’s airport,” Denver Auditor Tim O’Brien said in a news release. “We found examples of significant revenue loss, inefficiency and inconsistent financial reporting.”

Airport leaders disagreed with the Auditor’s Office on how to make improvements, according to the office. DIA also plans to ask for a waiver for one of the rules it's supposed to follow. 

The audit comes as the airport’s massive renovation project has been stalled, after DIA’s decision to fire its contractor in August. DIA CEO Kim Day said earlier this month that work on the project should resume in early 2020.

The audit looked at DIA’s management of two grants and accounts receivable, both part of the airport’s Division of Finance. 

Accounts receivable is the money owed to an organization by customers for goods or services that have been delivered but haven’t been paid for. DIA’s customers are usually airlines or concessionaires who pay to rent facilities, landings and other services, according to the release. 

The audit showed workload imbalances and high staff turnover, which led to duplicated or inaccurate customer accounts, record-keeping errors and the loss of more than an estimated  $1 million a year in interest starting in 2018.

“For an organization as big as the airport, a million dollars might be easy to miss, but it’s not a small amount of money,” O’Brien said. “I appreciate that the Finance team is putting in every effort, but until they do a staff analysis and fix recurring problems in their financial systems, errors and missed revenue will be a recurring problem.”

Auditors found DIA’s staff spent a lot of time trying to fix accounting mistakes, preventing them from doing other work. The airport also stopped charging customers late fees or interest on overdue payments because they can’t track payment requirements, according to the release. 

The audit also showed that DIA is also not following city and federal rules for managing its grants and requested reimbursement from the Federal Aviation Administration for money spent before the grant was finalized. In every example auditors looked at, DIA asked to be reimbursed late and missed out on earning interest, according to the audit.