In what seems to be a yet another debacle by the Veterans Affairs, and an inability for Congress to act, the Veterans of Aurora, Colorado are the ones paying the price. The VA mismanagement of this project has cost more than money. The new Aurora VA facility, was originally estimated to cost $328 million, is roughly $700 million over budget, and is not close to being completed. Not only is the completion of the Veterans facility that is so badly needed there threatened, but it was actually suggested that money be taken from a fund set up to compensate those Veterans who have been subject to medical malpractice due to substandard treatment: which included long waits for appointments, and delays in diagnosis. This “robbing Peter to pay Paul” denies Veterans compensation that they deserve. The VA is making a choice between good health care that it is obligated to provide, and compensation to Veterans harmed by the VA. Veterans are the ones paying the price for the Veterans Affairs’ budgetary problems.
According to Stella Fiotes, the executive director at the Office of Construction and Facilities Management for the VA, “ I don’t think this was disciplined or data-driven.” This only after VA officials admitted publicly that the process was poorly run. The Department of Veterans Affairs, and the officials involved needed to spend a bit more time planning rather than trying to make up for and solve problems that they themselves may have inadvertently created.
As early as 2006, U.S. House of Representatives report recommended that the project should be halted because of the out of control costs that were surmounting. While some costs increased due to things like steel and labor costs rising after hurricane Katrina, the delay in actual building, which did not begin until 2008, was part of the problem. Arguments with the main contractor Kiewit-Turner regarding changes, which seem to be piling up, did not help either. The Aurora VA is currently proposed to have a cost of 1.5 billion dollars and rising, with funding always seemingly ready to be cut, and workers walking of the site.
In short, this is just another example of why our Veterans do not have access to good and speedy health care. Between bureaucrats, politicians, and just bad planning, Veterans are the ones suffering here.