Share

Watchdog: Accountability

Delays, spiraling costs weigh down openings of new Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics

By |
Watchdog,Veterans Affairs,Health Care,Kelly Cohen,Accountability,GAO,Veterans

Only two of 41 construction projects for new outpatient facilities for the Department of Veterans Affairs were on schedule as of earlier this year.

As of January, 39 of 41 projects reviewed by the Government Accountability Office to convert leased space for VA outpatient care were not only facing growing delays, but growing costs as well.

The contract value of these facilities? Nearly $2.5 billion.

The average delay was 3.3 years. The delays ranged from six months to 13 years, according to the GAO report.

Changing project requirements, such as a redesign or project site, caused the issues, GAO reported.

In Jacksonville, Fla., for example, the planned size of an outpatient clinic increased by 29 percent, leading to a delay as officials had to find a new location.

After analyzing the 31 projects with complete cost data, GAO found total first-year costs had increased from $153.4 million to $172.2 million.

Rent for those projects also went up by nearly $35 million, GAO found — an issue that doesn't bode well for future rent costs.

Though VA has taken steps to improve its leasing-management practices, staff needs more guidance, the report recommended.

"Without current guidance, stakeholders may have difficulty knowing with whom to coordinate, and projects could continue to experience delays and cost increases resulting from late-stage design changes," the report stated.

In March, the Washington Examiner reported major VA medical facility construction projects are, on average, 35 months late and $360 million over budget.

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Kelly Cohen

Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner