Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Congressional Hearing Details Orlando VA Hospital Construction Delays

Witnesses from the Veterans’ Administration and its contractor Brasfield & Gorrie sparred at a House Committee on Veterans’ Affiars hearing April 10 over the delays of up to a year and cost increases of up to $120 million for construction of a new VA hospital in Orlando, Florida. The contractor for the 314 bed facility, which now could cost as much as $2.5 million per bed, blamed VA designers for the delays and ballooning construction costs, citing an increase from 4,532 design drawings to more than 10,000, and the need for more than 3,200 requests for information from Brasfield & Gorrie to the federal government designers.

“As a result of the lack of completed design for the hospital, it was impossible to construct the hospital efficiently,” said Brasfield & Gorrie Chairman Miller Gorrie at the hearing. Gorrie pointed out that, though the project was supposed to be finished this coming October, the last drawings from the designers were only delivered last week. The poor planning meant Brasfield & Gorrie had to cut its workforce on site from 1,000 to 500 while it waited for finished designs.

Glenn Haggstrom, executive director of VA’s office of acquisitions, accepted some of the blame for the delays and cost increases, confessing that the agency took too long selecting medical equipment for the facility, forcing delays in determining room sizes needed to house it. VA official Robert Petzel echoed Haggstrom’s testimony: “Errors in the initial design along with procuring and integrating specialized medical equipment into the existing design, both VA responsibilities, affected the contractor’s schedule,” he admitted.

House members’ responses were predictably agitated. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Fla) summed up the committee’s sentiments: “I am not a happy camper” she said. “That is unacceptable.”

blog comments powered by Disqus