The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) monitors all legislation affecting veterans, alerts VFW membership to key legislation under consideration and actively lobbies Congress and the administration on veterans issues. With VFW’s own priority goals in mind, combined with the support of 2 million members of VFW and its auxiliaries, our voice on “the Hill” cannot be ignored!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

VFW Testifies on VA Construction Problems

Yesterday morning, VFW National Legislative Director Ray Kelley testified before the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, discussing the VFW’s concerns about major VA construction projects. The morning’s oversight hearing focused on recent problems with construction delays on major VA health care facilities, which have resulted in significant cost overruns and affected the timely delivery of care to local veterans.

To view a list of witnesses from the morning’s oversight hearing, read their prepared remarks and view an archived webcast, click here.

In an effort to combat VA construction delays and cost overruns, the House Veterans Affairs Committee is proposing a series of reforms to VA’s construction practices through H.R. 3593, the VA Construction Assistance Act. These reforms include using medical equipment planners, developing project management plans, instituting peer review of such plans, developing metrics to monitor work change-orders, instituting design-build construction processes, and working directly with the Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate major construction projects.

In working with the subcommittee, the VFW has helped to identify many of the current flaws in VA’s major construction practices. In his remarks, Kelley reiterated the VFW’s concerns and voiced support for the proposed reforms.

“Veterans have expectations that medical facilities will be available when VA first states what the completion date will be,” Kelley said. “It is obvious by looking at the number of delays and cost overruns that the contracting and building procedures that VA currently uses are antiquated and are costing VA millions of dollars more for each project; and causing five-to-six year delays in much needed medical facilities.”

Kelley pointed to persistent problems with construction on new facilities in Denver, Orlando and New Orleans – each of which is years overdue. In Orlando, Kelley pointed out that improper planning and poor communication led to a portion of the facility being built, then subsequently demolished over medical equipment issues. This led to the suspension of other construction and ultimately cost VA more than $10 million.

The VFW believes that proper construction protocols are critical to delivering timely, cost-effective care to the veterans’ community. Your VFW will continue to work closely with the committee to ensure that the proposed construction reforms can be passed into law. Check back regularly for updates.

(Image: VFW National Legislative Director Ray Kelley testifies on VA construction issues before the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Photo by Brendon Gehrke.)

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