DENVER -- Veterans Affairs executives in charge of four hospital projects currently over budget and years behind schedule were given bonuses, despite the administration admitting failures in their jobs.
FOX31 Denver asked for information about “performance awards” or bonuses since 2007. Documents we obtained showed executives in the VA were given $22 million dollars in bonuses over the last six years.
- PDF: Performance awards from 2007 to 2011
- PDF: Performance awards for 2012
- PDF: Performance awards for 2013
The new VA Medical Center being built in Aurora was supposed to open in 2015, but delays and legal battles with contractors Kiewit-Turner have now pushed the opening date to sometime in 2017, according the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In December a federal court ruled the VA breached its contract with Kiewit-Turner and the contractors walked off the job days before Christmas. A temporary agreement was reached shortly afterwards and workers are back building the new medical center.
The last Government Accountability Office report in 2013 found the Aurora facility is not the only one behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. Hospitals being built in New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL and Las Vegas, NV have faced the same problems. The Las Vegas facility opened up last year.
After years of fighting the congressional leaders the VA gave up and will now let the Army Corp of Engineers take over construction management of the hospital in Aurora.
But FOX31 Denver is discovering, despite years of problems managing the construction of these hospitals bonuses were still handed out to those in charge.
Glenn Haggstrom, the Director of Logistics and Construction, took home a nearly $64,000 in bonuses since 2007.
After the 2013 GAO report concerning the mismanagement of the four failed hospital project Haggstom was questioned by lawmakers in Washington D.C., about whether or not he deserved the bonuses.
“Congressman, those bonuses were not determined by myself. They were determined by my supervisors and senior leadership at the VA and with all due respect I would ask you to take it up with them,” he told Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas.
Sloan Gibson, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, told reporters at a December news conference that he didn’t know about bonuses being given out to top executives in charge of the Aurora hospital project. “Under the federal government, once a bonus has been paid and that performance appraisal period has concluded that is the property of that executive.” Gibson said.
Rep. Mike Coffman told us the system within the VA is corrupt and incompetent. “The VA is abuses the bonuses system probably more than any other agency of the federal government.”
He is pushing legislation to strip the VA of overseeing construction of all projects and making the Army Corp of Engineers in charge.
On Monday the VA announced the outcome of the Aurora hospital project was unacceptable. “By learning all we can from past mistakes and put in place corrective actions to improve future performance. Veterans and taxpayers also expect a thorough review be completed and those responsible are held accountable. With these objectives in mind, the following actions are being taken,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson also said the VA will ask the Corps to complete a detailed examination of the VA major construction program to improve management processes, structures, and controls in project oversight and delivery.
This decision comes days before Coffman planned on bring VA leadership to Capitol Hill to question them about the mismanagement of hospital projects across the US. Coffman also told us that he would question leaders about bonuses.
The VA will also be convening an Administrative Investigation Board to review all aspects of the Denver project to determine the facts that led to the current situation and gather evidence of any misconduct or mismanagement that contributed to this unacceptable outcome.