Since I am in Denver investigating fraud, waste, and abuse this week, I wanted to give readers additional insight into the outlandish waste VA engages in when no one is looking.
Case in point is the recent exposure by Fox 31 in busing employees between facilities, a total of 176 yards, over five years while the new over-budget Aurora VA was built.
I can’t wait to check that out now that the facility finally opened at a staggering $1 billion above budget. How many underground bunkers did the deep state secretly build into that budget? I hope they came equipped with caviar and some top-shelf champagne.
Apparently, the five-year project involved specialty airport-transport buses that shuttled VA employees 176 yards:
The Problem Solvers’ latest discovery is a nearly five-year program which provided a fleet of employee-only shuttle buses to drive staff between the North and South doors of the facility during the construction phase.
A FOX31 investigative team spent significant time over the summer recording empty buses which drove in short circles.
At times, three airport-passenger-type shuttles ran on 12-hour schedules. Each bus had an assigned driver. Based on our observations, the shuttle vehicles idled with engines running the entire day. Operators would sit and wait for about half an hour in one of two roundabouts before swapping positions at a different door. If a passenger did arrive to be transported, that bus would drive the staff person to the opposing door, while an empty shuttle would drive the 176 yards to swap positions with the prior shuttle.
The VA spokesman provided the following explanation as to how the shuttling worked and why:
“Shuttle services began prior to construction of the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center. Building A (Clinic Building South) was the only building on the campus and an agreement between VA and USAF resulted in the Buckley AFB clinic being temporarily located on the 4th floor of Building A. The shuttle’s purpose was to ensure that Buckley AFB patients and VA employees had access to Building A during construction.”
When asked about cost, VA said they could not estimate the cost because there existed no line-item budget for the transportation program. This means, if VA wants to squirrel away money without oversight, they push the funds into something that lacks a line-item budget.
Luckily, Fox 31 investigated the matter to bring it into the light using a calculator and a little common sense:
The VA hired WG-6 employees to drive the shuttles. Based on pay scales, the average hourly wage for such employees is around $20 per hour.
FOX31 figured two full-time drivers worked approximately 1,462 days.
The VA said it “leased” the shuttles from General Services Administration over the final three years of the program at $768.30 a month per vehicle, plus $0.562 per mile.
Bottom line: the short bus route for VA employees cost at least $769,000 in tax funds.
Without an actual budget from the VA, the FOX31 Problem Solvers could not accurately or fairly calculate the cost of fuel, shuttle maintenance, mileage or the occasional use of a third shuttle and a third driver, so we did not include those. If added to the $769,000 known total, the cost of the transportation program could be several hundred thousand dollars more.
When it comes to the Aurora VA facility $1 billion over budget, you have to wonder how many other expenditures were unaccounted for and how many cronies or family members owned contracting companies that profited from the lack of oversight.