Coffman pushes bill to speed up VA Hospital project
DENVER — Congressman Mike Coffman Wednesday has brought forth a proposal that would speed the construction and rein in the cost of the new Veterans Affairs hospital project in Aurora, which is running $400 million over budget and very much in limbo.
The total cost of the project, initially budgeted around $600 million, could exceed $1 billion, according to the builder Kiewit-Turner, which told a federal board last year it had the right to stop work on the project until additional funding was secured.
It’s one of three major VA regional hospital projects under development that are bogged down by out-of-control cost estimates, blamed on bad designs and mismanagement; the others are located in New Orleans and Orlando.
“There is simply no excuse for the VA’s construction delays and cost overruns in building these hospitals, which are for taking care of our nation’s veterans,” said Coffman, R-Aurora, a Marine Corps veteran who served in the Iraq war.
House Resolution 3593, the “VA Construction Assistance Act of 2013”, will implement the reforms recommended by the Government Accountability Office, which included assigning medical equipment planners to the projects and streamlining the change-order process, according to Coffman’s office.
Coffman’s legislation, which has a Democratic co-sponsor, would also require a special project manager from the Army Corps of Engineers, independent from the VA, be appointed to oversee each VA hospital project to make sure that the recommendations are fully implemented in an efficient way.
Last year, the GAO testified that the three VA hospital projects are, on average, 35 months behind schedule.
“We owe it to our nation’s veterans to get these hospitals built and we owe it to the hard working taxpayers of this country to get them built in the most cost-effective manner possible,” Coffman said.