Sunday, May 12, 2013

GAO Blames VA For Hospital Construction Delays And Overruns

GAO testimony to a House subcommittee last week demonstrated that Veterans Administration supervision of its own major construction projects is dysfunctional and fails to meet construction industry standards for construction management. As a result, according to the GAO  auditors who appeared at the hearing, VA medical center construction projects average three years behind schedule and $366 million over budget. Projects in Las Vegas, Denver, New Orleans and Orlando were the subject of the GAO review.

According to the Congressional testimony, the primary cause of the problem is VA's inability to deal with design changes in a timely manner, resulting in multiple demobilizations and remobilizations on each project, while contractors await, often for many months, VA decisions on proposed expansions or revisions of the projects. In some instances, significant mid-stream changes in dimensions of the latest imaging and other high tech medical equipment have meant on the fly revisions to room dimensions and floor load specifications. Many of the problems resulted from VA's determination to begin construction before finalizing the decisions about facility size and purpose.

During the hearing, several Congressmen questioned the award of significant compensation bonuses to VA administrators charged by GAO with responsibility for the delays and cost overruns. Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp said in questioning VA Acquisition, Logistics and Construction head Glenn Haggstrom that Haggstrom's pay should have been docked instead of augmented because of all the decision making delays.

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