Incomplete Denver VA hospital costs explode

| April 25, 2014


The Washington Times reports that a Veterans’ Affairs project to build a new hospital in Denver to treat veterans there is an example of everything that is wrong with government projects;

The budget for the facility was first estimated at $328 million in 2004, but now that has more than doubled to $800 million in 2012 — with the potential for even more increases still.

And the time frame has grown along with the cost, pushed back more than a year to where completion currently stands at May 2015.

“VA’s primary contractor on the project has expressed concerns that the project will ultimately cost more to complete and that a completion date of May 2015 is no longer realistic based on schedule delays,” said Lorelei St. James, the director for physical infrastructure issues for the Government Accountability Office.

Although it may be the best example of incompetence, it doesn’t stand alone;

The troubles at the Denver project are not unique. In 2013, the GAO estimated that the VA’s four largest construction projects — in Colorado and three other sites — were each on average $366 million over budget and 35 months behind schedule.

Glenn Haggstrom, the VA official in charge of the department’s construction, said the agency has been improving how it handles large building projects.

The VA has been “handling” building projects since forever, and they’re just now getting around to improving how they handle the projects? But it takes them all of these taxpayer dollars to refine their practices. If this isn’t indicative of my contention over the last five years that there is no leadership at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, I don’t know what would convince you. They’re killing patients, inept at building facilities, buried under claims, but they throw lavish parties, pay lavish bonuses, clapping themselves on their backs for their gross incompetence.

Fire Shinseki, and hire someone who will kick these boobs’ asses and get back to the business of serving veterans instead of the bureaucrats.

Category: Veterans' Affairs Department

Comments (13)

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  1. LebbenB says:

    That kiss-ass Shinseki needs to be fired and jailed for the damage he has done or allowed to be done on his watch. His is the ultimate betrayal – A veteran that doesn’t care about veterans.

  2. MGySgtRet. says:

    You can fire Shinseki but nobody is kicking anyones ass as long as liberals run the show. They believe that only they know what is best for veterans (and the rest of America quite frankly).

    Cost overruns are just the price of doing business I guess. Competent management of the taxpayers money is not an issue. It is easy to spend the hell out of money when it is not yours. I wonder if the unions are involved in the building of these facilities.

    From top to bottom, the VA is a shit show. And it is going to get worse. Wars are ending, photo ops for politicians are not going to be as important so veterans and veterans issues are going to be put on the back burner.

    We are fixing to go through another rough period. And the really sad thing to me is, the goddamn VA will not do its due diligence to get rid of the posers and frauds that clog the system and deny real vets the care they rate.

  3. Pinto Nag says:

    Here’s a thought. If building costs exceed the estimate by “X” amount, the contractor(s) absorb the cost. In other words, if they d*ck around long enough, they end up working for free.

    I’ve seen this used before, and it works.

    • MGySgtRet. says:

      Pinto Nag, I would like to know who the hell the contractor’s for these jobs are, if they are politically connected and if they got sweetheart deals that do not penalize them for wasting money. I suspect they have bent the government over a barrel contractually and the VA has to just take it in the shorts.

      • David says:

        I must work in a funny industry – you bid a job, and if there no changes, you live and die by what you bid. I quote tooling at $250K and it comes in at $300K – I get a $50K reaming by those I work for. AND we suck it up.

  4. BOILING MAD CPO says:

    If the VA is anything like my last command, cost over runs will continue with nobody being held accountable. Let me tell you a little story.

    I am a retired Chief Yeoman, for the other services, that title indicates that I handle administrative duties, write speeches, memos, etc. I liked that job, but was also handed collateral duties such as Career Counselor, Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Senior Enlisted Advisor, and Command Chief Petty Officer (we did not have any E8/E9 attached), so I was kept pretty busy.

    My CO wanted the drill hall air conditioned, so who did he put in charge of the project, the Command Chief Petty Officer (ME). At that time, I had ZERO talent in the construction field or contracts specifications, especially the 400 page or so regulations that the US Navy felt were needed.

    I dutifully got the required 3 estimates, went with what I considered the best choice and than let the civilians take over. As Sgt. Schultz often said “I know nothing”.

    Luckily I retired as a CPO, the place never did get air conditioning, the CO was relieved for other infractions and life went on.

    End of story. BZ

  5. BOILING MAD CPO says:

    The above story kind of got away from me as my wife announced she was going to the Casino to invest part of my retirement package.

    I meant to also add that upon retirement I started a home repair and remodeling business and was quite successful. All of this because of the air conditioning fiasco. BZ

  6. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    The VA has the same problem as every other government agency handling construction projects, they don’t have any ability to control costs or delays. Most of which tend to be self inflicted when you distill them down…

    Take a look at any major construction project in the US and you can see exactly how efficient the government is with its’ contracting procedures.

    With the VA however it’s more the incompetent it rises to the level of disgraceful as we are mistreating the very men and women we tasked with defending our national interests at home and abroad. People that we as a nation made promises to as a contractual component of their honorable service. These people have performed their honorable service, apparently the appreciation of a grateful nation isn’t worth jack these days because the first people we renege our promises to are our military.

    • Pinto Nag says:

      Off topic…VOV, you may want to answer Sparks on the “Boot” thread. He’s concerned he offended you.

  7. larry grant says:

    Having 20+ years of construction management, design management, and project management in a well known Government agency, the cost overruns experienced by the VA in hospital construction is the norm in both the public and private sector when dealing with this sector of the industry. The changes are driven by codes that are updated and changed constantly over the period of design and construction. I have a few years in a hospital program and saw the effects of code changes first hand. For example, a medical gas system changed material requirements resulting in a cost increase of nearly $20 Million. The bulk of the cost was due to construction delays. Often overhead cost for field staff, which is a bona fide cost that must be paid daily can run as much as $20K a day. It boils down to a cost impact analysis – is it cheaper to stop the contractor’s progress, or let him proceed with the current specs and pay the rework cost once a modification is in pace. Almost always it is cheaper to delay/suspend the work.