House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Identifies Issues with VA Major Construction Projects

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Construction of VA facilities is an inconsistent process that can be improved upon. Committee says delays will no longer be tolerated.

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On March 27, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing entitled, “From the Ground Up:  Assessing Ongoing Delays in VA Major Construction.”  The purpose of the hearing was to address delays in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) construction process, and identify why the completion of multiple facilities has been delayed several years past original completion dates. The committee focused on four medical facilities still under construction in Las Vegas, Denver, New Orleans, and Orlando (Fla.).

The president of Brasfield and Gorrie testified that the current construction of the Orlando facility is significantly behind schedule and well over budget. He said the lack of progress and the inability to remain on schedule was directly due to VA’s poor communication with Brasfield and Gorrie employees He cited inadequate information regarding architectural drawings for the facility as a primary reason for the project’s increasing budget and slow progress.

In direct contrast with that testimony, the president of Clark Construction Group said the construction of the Las Vegas facility is complete and it is scheduled to open this summer. The successful completion of the project was in part a result of their strong partnership and coordination with VA. Clark Construction Group is also working on the new facility in New Orleans. 

VA’s under secretary for Health, along with the executive director of the Office of Acquisitions, Logistics, and Construction, were witnesses on the second panel.  The under secretary said VA recently created a plan of action to address the problems of poor communication with contractors and delays that thwart construction schedules.  Accountability was also identified by the first panel as a point of frustration when working with VA to identify “next steps” for a project when problems occur that interrupt construction. VA informed the committee that the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction will be the single point of project accountability for contractors when issues arise at project construction sites.

The obvious differences in the testimony of the two contractors made it clear that construction of VA facilities is an inconsistent process that can be improved upon. The hearing also brought attention to the fact that too often VA construction projects are interrupted by delays that lead to extended schedules and increased budgets. VA and the contractors agreed that if VA and a contractor establish a relationship of good communication and explicitly defined agreements, the number of delays that prevent facilities from serving veterans, and increase construction costs, would be greatly decreased.

The hearing ended with the committee members stating that the delays in VA construction are unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated. The committee will hold follow-up hearings to identify administrative problems plaguing the VA construction process. Committee members also committed to visiting construction sites where years of construction have been ongoing.

PVA will continue to follow this important issue to ensure that, as VA conducts construction projects, the healthcare delivery and accessibility needs of our members are being met. 

This information appears in the April 15, 2012, issue of Washington Update, which provides a regular review of the activities of the two programs in PVA’s Government Relations Department—Advocacy and Legislation—and status reports on a wide variety of veteran and disability issues on Capitol Hill and within other federal departments and agencies. If you have questions about this material, contact PVA Government Relations, 800-424-8200.


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House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Identifies Issues with VA Major Construction Projects


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