- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has completed an investigation into its mismanaged, over-budget hospital in Aurora, CO, and said it will not pursue further punitive measures as a result of delays and a $1 billion in cost overruns, according to the Denver Post.
- The VA investigation seems to limit finger-pointing for the botched project to three former VA employees — a project executive, a senior resident engineer and a senior contracting officer — and VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said there is no evidence to warrant action against any current employees.
- Critics of the VA Administrative Investigative Board’s handling of the inquiry said the release of their findings with no full report is an example of the agency’s lack of desire to achieve full accountability for missteps that almost completely derailed the project. The Aurora hospital is more than four years behind schedule, and costs have skyrocketed to $1.7 billion, more than three times the original price tag.
According to the Post, the VA’s investigative process has been taking hits from Congress since last year when the agency did not include any construction experts among the AIB’s investigators. The VA has also been under fire for keeping a lid on the investigation’s findings and for being less than cooperative in responding to press questions about it.
Last month, the U.S. House of representatives passed a bill that increases oversight of $100 million-plus VA projects, largely due to the problems on the hospital project in Aurora. If the agency engages in construction of a project over that $100 million mark, the Army Corps of Engineers, or other qualified federal agency, must manage it, and the VA must keep Congress up to date on its progress. The bill also imposes a 60-day funding notice requirement on any VA project.
Last November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded construction joint venture Kiewit-Turner, the original contractor on the Aurora hospital, $571 million so they could complete their work. This came after a September deal, in which Congress agreed to pay for the rest of the hospital’s construction, with the condition that the Army Corps of Engineers manage any large VA construction project.