AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– The new Veterans Administration Hospital is started to take shape in Aurora but some of the subcontractors working on that project say they haven’t been getting paid.
They claim the total owed equals $41 million for two years of work.
“Companies are on the brink of going bankrupt if they already haven’t. Jobs are being lost and the stress on families is unimaginable,” said Small Business Administration Greg Lopez.
The Department of Veterans Affairs and its prime contractor, Kiewit Turner, are pointing fingers at each other. Colorado’s entire congressional delegation and the Small Business Administration are involved.
Lopez said more than 30 subcontractors, some of the veteran-owned companies, have been stiffed $41 million by the VA and Kiewit Turner.
“And a lot of them have been waiting over a year to get paid,” said Lopez.
Lopez has been in talks with the two sides for months. Colorado’s entire Congressional delegation fired off a letter to the VA last month and demanded it outline how it intended to “remedy nonpayment issues.”
The VA responded stating that Kiewit is responsible for paying its subcontractors.
But Kiewit told CBS4 that it’s the VA that needed to work through a backlog of paperwork.
“There is confusion between Kiewit Turner and the VA as to what proper paperwork they should be submitting so the small businesses can get paid,” said Lopez. “This project is literally destroying my small business community.”
Lopez isn’t only the voice of small business, he’s a veteran.
“So this is a project very passionate to me. It’s only 15 percent complete and for us to have these issues now is appalling but I’m going to do everything I can to make sure small business gets paid,” said Lopez.
The subcontractors continue to build the hospital because they’re afraid if they walk away they will never get paid.
Lopez said no one would talk on camera about the situation because their contract with Kiewit included a clause prohibiting them from talking on camera.
Kiewit Turner released this statement, “Kiewit-Turner has been assured that the Department of Veterans Affairs understands the gravity of this situation and is working to resolve these issues. We have been and will continue to strongly advocate for our subcontractors with the SBA and VA as it works through the backlog of change orders. We remain committed to working with our subcontractors and the VA to build this important medical facility to serve our veterans.”