Denver-area Veterans Affairs Hospital Tops $1.73 Billion

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Veterans Affairs

Benjamin KrauseAmerica is shocked at recent revelations that the Colorado Veterans Affairs facility currently being constructed will cost taxpayers $1.7 billion, five times initial estimates.

VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson recently came forward with the real numbers after years of duck and cover tactics used by previous VA leadership.

Congress is now calling for the heads of VA employees responsible for the overages.

“The VA couldn’t lead starving troops to a chow hall when it comes to managing a construction project,” U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, said Tuesday. “The VA’s mismanagement of this project is beyond belief and brings into question the competence of their leadership at every level.”

Coffman is a hardcore Congressman and Combat Veteran. I appreciate the hell out of the guy and his continual straight dish of problems and fixes about the agency.

VA indicates the new number of $1.7 billion is based on estimates from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The estimate includes the cost of construction, contingencies, and Army Corps of Engineers costs, as well as VA’s cost to close out the original contract and continue construction until the Army Corps of Engineers assumes construction management duties,” Gibson wrote in a letter to Congress.

Stars and Stripes provided some feedback on what VA’s Sloan Gibson claims it will do about the overages:

He vowed that Congress would not authorize any more money for the project until the VA figures out a way to finish the hospital without interrupting current services to veterans. “The department owns this mess, and it’s not fair to force taxpayers to bail out the bungling bureaucrats who created it,” he said.

Source: http://www.stripes.com/news/veterans/cost-of-new-denver-area-va-hospital-swells-fivefold-to-1-73-billion-1.335157

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22 Comments

  1. I’m not buying any of it. This is only a problem because the VA has once again been caught doing something that it knows is wrong. If this was first approved for an amount five times less ($328 million) than it is now, who approved the increases until it finally became this huge amount? I know the overage of the construction cast was brought up in a previous blog or two on this site; however, it continued to be built and the $$ had to come from somewhere.
    I do like U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s statement about the VA but I am still not buying that he is now so concerned. He most likely had to approve the increases that have happened hoping that the construction would be finished and the huge over budget project would not be brought to light. Once again the VA has messed up and nothing will be done. I hope that this VAMC will be a state of the art building and that the vets that use this facility get care that makes the rest of us want to go to that VAMC.

  2. By comparison, Just how much health care can be provided by private doctors offices and private hospitals for 1.73 billion dollars… already more immediately available, less wait time for Veterans; plus the savings of travel expenses and/or wear and tear on Veterans vehicles, etc. etc. etc. . Of a much smaller situation: Such brings to mind that of my inferred question to the Bath Hospital VA Bath NY. Yes, Of modern technology, of leaving an appointment, why can’t the doctor’s secretary “OF” (let’s say) making one’s next appointment, the secretary quickly puts a check mark in an appropriate box on one’s computer program record and travel pay for the appointment already attended would be processed. I was told by that office, to do such, two people would need to be fired. Just think, compensation and health care for more suffering Veterans…

  3. We seem to be missing “all the beef” of the details of WHY this construction project HAS gone SO over budget *repeatedly*!
    What I am asking are these types of questions: 1) Was the original site built upon an existing fault line or something and they had to start all over?, 2) Are not contracts pretty much set in stone financially once approved and whom are skimming off the top because something seems incredibly amiss here?, 3) Since the Army Corp of Engineers is Gov’t Agency with an incredibly great historical track record, am I correct to believe this astronomical overage is with Private Contractors milking the VA Budget?

    I mentioned the Corp of Engineers because I know in my State yesterday there’s a rather large lake that encompasses three counties and it requires a completely new damn to be constructed and yesterday, in today’s dollars, it was deemed no more/less than $100 Million to do so and is quite the engineering project. With that said, HOW THE HELL can a VAMC become FIVE TIMES OVER BUDGET IN FIRST PLACE?

    In all due respect of the Congressman, I refuse to believe that in his OWN STATE, that there were not caps put on this project with even the FIRST increase in expenditures, which lends me to believe that there’s MUCH MORE to this story than what’s at the surface and reason today’s story here about it is nothing but an empty shell of a story, “WHERE’s THE BEEF?”, because it seems like this is very much akin to those days the Gov’t. would have outrageous expenditures for say a ‘toilet seat on Air Force One costing $100,000., et al. So I am wondering if this story may be more along the lines of better reporting if one FOLLOWS THE MONEY TRAIL.

    All the above or ALL the construction contractors are HEAVILY ENJOYING Colorado’s legal cannabis laws and t he outrageous budget is from restaurant catering deliveries for all the munchies ensued:-)

    Ben, this story needs the ‘BEEF”…I am only reading TONS OF BUN…NO BEEF. How about some financial data to expound upon this money pit of the VA?

    Lastly, what was wrong with their OLD VA that required such a huge expenditure for a new one? Were better options available? Inquiring minds indeed wish to know.

  4. Same problems happened here in Orlando and Congress wated heads “a rollin” for massive overages. The new Orlando VA Hospital has yet to open which should happen later this year. The numbers/expenses have now been added up. It turns out they are now reporting that the project is “UNDER BUDGET” and Congress is all smiles and wanting a victory lap with the VA officials who have been managing the project.

  5. I wanted to add that with THAT kind of money, the VA could have resolved the ENTIRE Claims Backlog and more. I am wondering if this is a classic case of money being secretly diverted to something else entirely?
    The new Denver Airport also suffered huge over budget nightmares and then after it was all built, they cannot even properly utilize this massive underground baggage handling system because it does not work as intended.
    What are they smoking in Colorado? Oh…silly me, forget that question! 🙂

  6. 1.7 BILLION dollars, and vets waiting years , DECADES to get the care they paid for and were promised. Yet let a citizen mess up on their taxes, and the government hold them totally accountable, for every cent, with fines and interest.
    I am fed up with this nonsense called a Federal government, it has allowed itself to become the Soviet Union, by letting these Democrap Communists to infiltrate the staff of every agency. They only serve the Party, whose only interest is power.
    1.7 BILLION DOLLARS, is not chicken feed. They could have gave every citizen a million dollars at that point, and never missed it. Where did it all go? I want every damn penny accounted for, and the people responsible held financially responsible as well as criminally.
    We all know there are hundreds of people who now must be stinking rich from all this graft. ARREST THEM!

  7. And these are the PEOPLE in charge of our health care. I see now, how / why we are GETTIN’ THE SHAFT.

    • We are getting the Shaft because they are getting rich ,if you step back and look at everything From the top on down ,there getting all they can from us the 10 billion from Veterans choice card to 1.73 Billion for a VA Hospital ,if you really want to know how crooked they are look at the GAO office and see what they pay for rent on VA Facility’s where I live there are there Outpaitent clinics that have one Dr Brand new building they are paying over 1 million a year rent and that is one. There are there are 6 Outpaitent buildings and 2 hospitals that are not being utilized @ full capacity ,They all need to be fired and start from scratch ,it won’t be long anyway.Stay Strong and united my fellow Veterans there are over 21 million of us ,we are a force to be recognized ,if we stand together

  8. the whole system stink,s to high heaven,,,,,some one or group of them is making a mint from this system, i just wonder how many under the table deal,s are involved

  9. I personally think the VA is no words to describe,I am so sick of there rehearsed lies.I have personally been waiting 4 years to date for dependent pay,I provided them with everything they needed numerous times.I receive 30% for migraines and tension headaches, I also have a rating of 0% for blood pressure when I am on 4 blood pressure pills that does not work half of the time,I have a documented stroke.Va did the mri that confirmed it comes from hypertension,I could go on and on so much more,someone help me.As for the Mcdonald guy they talk a good game remains to be seen.

  10. Before we get all teary eyed over how great the Army Corps of Engineers is, remember they were supposed to rebuild the levees in New Orleans years before Katrina hit. They also drained the resevoir near Atlanta a few years ago which caused the drinking water shortage. Take anything they say or do with a grain of salt.

    • I retired as a manager from a federal agency. I was involved at the local level with projects as high as 5 million dollars. I worked on a daily basis with the contractor’s project manager, our agency’s engineering office, and our agency’s contracting officer. Only in extreme circumstances did our agency approve a change order and it was never for the amount that the contractor submitted. When the contractor would tell me that there were unforeseen costs, I told him that he should have figured that into his bid and that it was too bad. I’m getting the impression that the VA contracting office doesn’t know how to say NO to a contractor.

      I once had a contractor try to buy me lunch a couple of hours after I caught him using materials that were cheaper than what was spec’ed out on an electrical project. When I told him to rip the materials out and do it per the contract, he asked me if this was the first time that I had dealt with a contractor. I told him ‘no’ and that it might be the last project that he ever worked on as he was trying to bribe me with lunch to change my mind. He said, ‘if you don’t let a contractor cut corners every once in a while, then we won’t be able to bid on your projects because we can’t make any money.’ I reported him to the contracting office and to my knowledge, he was never used on another contract.

    • ^SPAM or the new Mickey Mouse Model of entitled, and highly difficult to fire Federal Workers. Either case, more than likely someone that has no idea what it’s like to walk in our boots.

  11. Where is this money coming from? How are we paying for this? Wilkes Barre VA did a complete overhaul to a remodel done less than 10 years ago. Why was this beautiful interior/exterior gutted!
    Bay Pines has an massive hospital getting built right next to the old one. What the hell is wrong with the one they have now?
    How about putting some in the area’s that Vets need to drive hours to a hospital.
    Va can’t get Medical staff for the buildings they have now! We need APROVED procedures and PROPER care, not new chairs and a remodel ever 10 years!!
    Anyone else know of other construction going on? Kind of reminds me of Halliburtin. Who is tied to these construction jobs?!
    Where the hell are our congressmen, DAV, American Legion?
    I know, collecting a big fat “look the other way” check!
    We need some major protests. Demand our own healthcare choice, so we’re not petrified to go bankrupt from an outside civilian emergency room hospital visit that VA refused to pay. ( Happens more than you think) How about going to a real Dr. without violations on thier license, that will fill out your social security paperwork. Instead of them telling you you need to find an outside Dr. to help you. (Got that jewel in writing).
    I could write a book on the mess at the VA!
    Start taking our donations to the Legion, DAV away. Lets see how fast they start jumping. I fired the them a long time ago. They “help” you with a claim that consists of one paragraph. No supporting evidence. Then I wonder why I was denied claim twice. Get a Lawyer!

  12. This is such a blunder beyond one could imagined.I hope that there will be criminal investigation to included FBI,DoD and Congress, and whatever else it takes to bring justice to this type of corruption. Our Military and Veterans who proudly served our country demand answers to all these questions.

  13. 03/21/2015

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    This is the end result of a societal breakdown, and having someone else come in, and repair the damage.

    When I had first heard of this hospital in trouble and the expense that has been laid out—I felt enraged. But I continued to look into the cost of hospitals being built around the country and found out that there are many more hospitals being built at a very high cost [cost per bed ratio].

    Mayo Clinic is around $5 Billion, this project is located in Rochester, Minn.

    The Medical Industry is big business—-
    http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/lists/12-things-to-know-about-mayo-clinic.html

    This is no place for penny pinching executives—and it is moving fast.

    I am surprised at the increase rate the total has climbed, $1 Billion to $1.73 Billion.

    If one would do the Math one would see that there is going to be plenty of cash made [Billed to the American Taxpayers]. McDonald has every incentive to get this job done fast.

    What I am concerned with is the latest news about Icahn & Koch(s) trying to privatize the VA, and the quality of the information—can the Americans trust the information being delivered to them through Gannett/ USA Today/The Arizona Republic?

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/03/19/veterans-affairs-hospital-montgomery/25015061/
    Alabama’s VA whistle-blowers say they’re being punished

    VA wait list on the rise
    The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System has two hospitals and six clinics in Alabama and Columbus, Ga. But the backlog for appointments now is higher than last year.

    Systemwide

    • January 2014: 1,072
    • May 2014: 337
    • November 2014: 959
    • March 2015: 1,300

    Non-VA outpatient backlog

    • July 2014: 1,200
    • March 2015: 4,000

    Source: Internal VA reports

    The Bad got Ugly and there is no Good in this mix.

    Over here in Phoenix, everyone is pretending to care.

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  14. Coffman a “hardcore congressman”? Not in my book! His sub-committee knew about VA’s construction contracting shenanigans long before this Denver construction contract was even signed. The contract was of the type specifically prohibited by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). It was a scheme concocted by elements of the US Corp of Engineers (so how’s that for Coffman putting the fox to guard the henhouse?). There was no scope (therefore, unlimited expansion of the project) and the most diabolical element of the scheme: NO PRICE TAG. So there you go…and you think the cost overrun is going to stop at $1.73Billion? You better think again, my fellow veterans and taxpayers. Coffman has been making all these noise about fighting for the veterans but I believe he is just paving the way for the VA to continue on its thieving ways – all part of the charade.

    How do I know all these details about the Denver (also New Orleans – same problems) contract? I was there as part of the contracting team of the VA’s Office of Construction and Facilities Management (CFM) and the one who alerted the US House VA Committee on the impending fiasco in New Orleans and Denver way back in 2010. As I expected I was fired by no other than the highest ranking official in all of VA procurement, the head of OAL&C Glenn Haggstrom himself.

  15. Still wondering how and why, like namnibor. The press is all over this, but are not asking the salient questions.

Comments are closed.