Washington, DC - The U.S. Senate has adopted an amendment offered by Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner to give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority to manage major construction projects for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 designates the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the construction agent on all VA projects over $100 million.
"Given its complete mismanagement of the project in Aurora and of several other facilities across the country, it's time to put an end to the VA's construction authority," Bennet said. "This is a major reform to the VA's construction management system - one that we hope will save taxpayer dollars and help more efficiently deliver the quality medical facilities our veterans have earned and deserve. It is an important step toward accountability that will help us put in place a plan to complete the medical facility in Aurora for veterans in Colorado and across the Rocky Mountain region."
"Through their incompetence, delays, and complete lack of accountability, the VA has proven that it is unfit to manage its own major construction." Gardner said. "It's time to get the VA out of the construction business, and get the responsibility for completing these critical projects into the hands of more competent agencies. I'm proud to support this amendment, and similar language is also included in the larger VA reform bill I've offered in the Senate. Veterans deserve our best."
Earlier this month, Bennet and Gardner secured a bipartisan amendment to the NDAA that instructs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the administration and oversight of VA contracts for the design and construction of major medical facility projects, including the Aurora project. The senators have also worked alongside other members of the delegation to learn more about what happened, including hosting a field hearing of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in Aurora.
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