The House Committee on Veterans Affairs is considering the Asset and Infrastructure Review Act of 2017, which would give the VA authority to assess and realign its facilities and cut wasteful resources. This legislation would be an important step to making the VA more efficient at providing health care.
In 2017, the Government Accountability Office found 168 VA buildings need to be closed. All together, these buildings add up to 4,955,946 square feet.
The GAO’s report, “VA Should Improve Its Efforts to Align Facilities with Veterans’ Needs,” explains that while the veteran population and its needs have changed, the VA has not.
A decrease and a shift in the veteran population, impact the agency’s ability to fully align its real property portfolio with veterans’ needs. For example, VA’s VetPop2014 projected a 14 percent decrease in the overall veteran population by 2024. It also projected a geographic shift with veterans continuing to migrate from the Northeast and Midwest areas of the United States to areas in the south and west.
“Bureaucracy is slow and inefficient” is almost a truism, and the VA is a prime example of the way government doesn’t adapt very well to change. That is why the Asset and Infrastructure Review Act is so badly needed. The VA should be able to get rid of unneeded buildings and concentrate resources in areas of the country where they are most needed to take care of veterans.
While Congress should ultimately pass choice reform so veterans can see private medical providers outside the VA, passing the Asset and Infrastructure Review Act would be an important step to improving the VA’s ability to care for our nation’s heroes.
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