DENVER (AP) – Members of Congress are warning that construction of the Denver area’s new Veterans Affairs hospital could stop again unless the department shows it is taking steps to get the project back on track.
In a letter Tuesday from leaders of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, the representatives requested a detailed analysis of the project’s costs, updates on efforts to hold people accountable for cost overruns and delays and information about how shifting money from elsewhere in the agency’s budget might cause delays at other construction projects.
Congress originally backed spending $800 million on the 184-bed hospital being built in suburban Aurora and the VA has told members of the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee that is needs about $200 to $240 million from other VA projects to continue construction. According to the letter, work is scheduled to stop again on March 29 without additional funding.
In a statement, the chairman of the House committee, Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, said it would be irresponsible to provide any more money for construction without some accountability.
“We are committed to ensuring all veterans receive the best health care possible. But in order for that to happen, VA must put forth a plan to solve its construction challenges once and for all. That hasn’t happened yet,” he said.
Work on the hospital was halted in December after a federal appeals board said the VA breached its contract with builder Kiewit-Turner by insisting on a design that couldn’t be built for $600 million. Work resumed under an interim contract after the VA enlisted the Army Corps of Engineers as project advisers.
The VA has said it would investigate possible misconduct or mismanagement in the project and also asked the Corps of Engineers to review the VA’s overall handling of big projects.
Committee members asked the VA to respond to their requests by Monday.
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