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#VAFail – Construction overspending is part of a pattern of mismanagement

Posted by Concerned Veterans for America on

The Veterans Affairs hospital in Clarksburg, West Virginia had a brilliant plan to fix a 600-spot shortage in their parking lot: spend almost $10 million to build 25 new parking spots. The hospital administration’s original proposal was to build 430 spots for $9.7 million. But after six years and $400,000 of planning costs, outside auditors finally cancelled the project when they discovered the hospital was planning to pay $388,000 per parking space.

The parking lot fiasco is just one example of what a scathing new report by the VA Inspector General calls a “pattern of inadequate planning prior to and during project design” at the Clarksburg hospital. The report says hospital administrators “did not effectively manage or oversee” construction projects at the hospital.

As a result, administrators were responsible for “inaccurate cost estimates, untimely performance of site surveys, and failure to ensure project designs were within funding limitations.”

Of the eight projects the report looked at, five had to be cancelled because of “inadequate planning and delayed project completion.” Even the three that were completed wound up costing “significantly more than planned.” The failed projects include:

  • The hospital planned to renovate part of the hospital for $360,000. After three years and over $1 million, administrators cancelled the project, leaving the space “partially demolished.” Instead of being used to treat veterans, the report says, the space is now used to store construction equipment.
  • Administrators planned to update the electrical systems at the hospital, but failed to perform the necessary site survey before drafting a plan, forcing them to make modifications that cost an extra $640,000. The report says conducting a site survey is standard practice that could have “eliminated the need for this modification.”
  • Plans to build “two to three” new buildings for residential rehabilitation were delayed nine months when it was discovered administrators underestimated the cost of construction by “at least 40 percent.” In the end, the hospital could only build one building.
  • Hospital administrators awarded a contract to design two new buildings even though the hospital “lacked funding to construct.” In the end, administrators spent over $1 million to design two buildings that will never be built.

In all, the report found the hospital spent $2.8 million in “unnecessary costs and delays in completing projects needed to serve veterans.” That’s money that could have been spent treating veterans, but instead was wasted thanks to mismanagement.

This isn’t a problem unique to Clarksburg. The same lack of oversight and accountability was on display with the construction of the VA hospital in Aurora, Colorado. The project wound up costing taxpayers $1.7 billion, almost five times the original estimate of $328 million. Former Florida Representative Jeff Miller, who chaired the House Veterans Affairs Committee, announced in 2015 that “nearly every major VA hospital-construction project is behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget.”

It’s time to ensure inept VA employees are held responsible for debacles like the Clarksburg medical center. Lawmakers need to pass the VA Accountability First Act. Our veterans deserve better than the pattern of mismanagement VA administrators have demonstrated.

The post #VAFail – Construction overspending is part of a pattern of mismanagement appeared first on Concerned Veterans for America.

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