The Denver Post - GAO: Delays cost taxpayers $1.5 billion in VA hospital construction Read more: GAO: Delays Cost Taxpayers $1.5 billion in VA Hospital Construction
By Allison Sherry
Construction delays at Aurora's new Veterans Administration hospital cost the federal government almost $500 million more than budgeted, the General Accountability Office says in a report issued this week.
The VA is under fire for delays in construction projects across the country, including Aurora.
Nationwide, delays and contract glitches increased the costs of new hospitals and rehabilitation centers $1.5 billion more than the VA originally estimated in costs, the GAO found.
Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, who chairs the House Veteran Subcommittee for Oversight and Investigations, called the problems unacceptable.
"Providing veterans medical care is a core function of the VA," Coffman said. "When the VA does health care right, it can be second to none. However, the process VA employs to build its health care facilities is abysmal, and the result leads to delays for much needed care to veterans."
Construction of the 182-bed hospital at Anschutz Medical Campus is more than a year late in its estimated completion time.
It was budgeted to cost $328 million, and construction was to be completed by February 2014. Instead, it will cost $800 million and be finished in April 2015.
The day before Veteran's Day in 2011, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from Jefferson County, angrily threatened a protest at the stalled construction site in Aurora. At the zero hour, the White House figured out the contract glitch and promised to start construction.
"Not only is VA building facilities over budget and late, but it is also failing to pay the contractors for their work in a timely manner," Coffman said.
Several contractors have not been paid for their work at VA construction projects nationwide, including Aurora, the GAO and Coffman's office found.