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Congress Finally Takes Action on Mismanaged Veterans Affairs Projects; Door Opens for PLAs

Au-ruh-roh, Colorado

Au-ruh-roh, Colorado

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In response to a long-running string of mismanaged Veterans Affairs (VA) construction projects across the country, the House of Representatives has passed a bill which would require the Army Corps of Engineers or another federal agency to manage any VA project with a price tag over $100 million.  

In the past, we have highlighted the insane delays and cost ovveruns on VA sites in Florida and Colorado. We have argued that one method of controlling costs and sticking to timelines would be to use Project Labor Agreements (PLAs).  Though the new House bill does not prescribe PLA’s as part of its fix, it does open the door to the possibility of these types of agreements finally being able to come to the rescue.

In the case of the still unfinished facility in Aurora, Colorado, the final price is likely to be triple the original cost estimate. If it is completed as projected in 2018 it will have been four years behind schedule.  The final cost for the project, which likely forced the hand of Congress to act, is estimated to be $1.7 billion.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) serves as the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. He said the bill will “help rein in the incompetence that permeates VA’s construction efforts while enhancing accountability and efficiency.”  The bill will also tighten the purse strings on VA projects by requiring a 60-day notice requirement for planning and design funding.

The House bill also authorizes the expansion of a VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida and provides $561.4 million for five other VA projects.  The projects include the renovation of a hospital in Canandaigua, New York and four major medical projects in California: Long Beach, San Francisco, West Los Angeles and San Diego.

The Senate will take up the bill very soon.


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