FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY APRIL 17, 2015
Contact: Amanda Maddox (Isakson), 202-224-7777
Josh Zembik (Blumenthal), 202-224-6452
Isakson, Blumenthal Call for Investigation of Outrageous Construction Costs at Colorado VA Hospital
Demand answers on project now $1 billion over budget
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, respectively, this week wrote to the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs requesting they commence an independent investigation into the Denver VA Hospital and its cost overruns and delays. The letter asks that the Inspector General’s office examine the entire construction process, from identifying facility design elements to contract and project management to project cost and schedule development.
On Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the VA announced that the latest cost estimates for the medical center project, developed in consultation with the Army Corps of Engineers, had reached $1.73 billion, more than $1 billion over the project’s original budget.
The senators also released the following statement after VA officials proposed using money from a one-time $5 billion fund to pay for the remaining costs of the Denver VA Hospital. Those funds were originally approved by Congress to address the issue of unacceptable patient wait-times in order to improve access to patient care within the VA by increasing clinician staffing and improving medical facilities.
“It is disappointing to learn that the VA is proposing to use funds from the Veterans’ Choice Act to pay for cost overruns at the Denver replacement medical center – construction cost overruns that were predominately caused by gross mismanagement and a lack of accountability within the VA. We are also very disappointed that it has taken this long for the VA to address this issue and by the VA’s lack of communication with the committee on this proposal. It is difficult for us to assess the merits of any proposal without being provided critical details, an analysis of alternatives, and necessary supplemental information.”
To address the VA’s mismanagement of this project, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs will visit the construction site and hold an oversight hearing on Friday, April 24, 2015, in Aurora, Colorado.
The full text of the letter can be downloaded as a PDF here.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 114th Congress.
Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate VA Committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the military as well as more than 750,000 veterans.