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Feb
2014
10

Orlando VA Hospital Construction Continues to Flounder, Could Switch Hands, PLA Still Needed

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As we have written in the past, mismanagement stemming from the lack of a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) on the Veterans Affairs hospital job in Orlando has caused the project to teeter on the edge of tanking completely for some time.  Now, a plan to shift control of the project from the VA to the Army Corps of Engineers is meeting resistance from conservative congressman John Mica, who originally placed a December 2013 deadline on its construction.

Mica told WFTV Channel 9, “I’m not sure if shifting it from government agency to government agency is the answer.  Why should we be giving this to a government agency when the private sector and some construction management firms can very well handle a project much larger than those VA hospitals?”

It’s not so much which organization is in charge that determines the likelihood of the situation being rectified, it’s what kind of workers and contractors are on the job itself. The management firms selected have not been able to handle the magnitude of the project thus far, which is why it is a year behind schedule and $100 million over budget. A PLA — which unions have pushed for on several VA projects — would ensure much-needed credibility and experience for all those involved in addition to carrying Helmets to Hardhats provisions (as all PLAs do), which would guarantee the hiring of veterans. Veterans building quality facilities for veterans: What could be more encouraging? 

Sadly, the Army Corps of Engineers is not entirely PLA-friendly, so the switch from VA to Army Corps control is not a foolproof plan.

Jerry Pearce, a veteran who long championed the new facility, told WFTV that several of his fellow hospital proponents have died waiting for the construction to be completed.  “We really need to get this hospital done right away, as soon as possible,” he said.

As of 2012, the VA’s refusal to use PLA’s had caused 38 of their 55 projects to be behind schedule

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