Bennet Requests Field Hearing on Aurora VA Hospital

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, along with Senator Cory Gardner, is requesting the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hold a field hearing in Denver to examine the ongoing management and financial issues that have delayed the construction of the new VA hospital in Aurora.

"Colorado's veterans deserve better than the mismanagement of the construction of the VA hospital in Aurora," Bennet said. "A Veterans Affairs Committee hearing in Denver would help our colleagues better understand the issues and the urgent need to find a solution that will lead to this project's completion. Our veterans have waited long enough, and we will do everything needed to hold the VA accountable."

Construction of the hospital was briefly halted following a ruling against the VA by the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals that allowed Kiewit Turner to end its contract to build the hospital. Shortly after, a temporary agreement was struck between the VA and Kiewit Turner to resume construction. However, new cost estimates show that additional resources will be needed to complete construction.

Click here to read the letter or read the full text below:

Chairman Isakson and Ranking Member Blumenthal:

We write to request that the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee organize a site visit and field hearing at the Eastern Colorado Health Care System Replacement Facility (Denver Replacement Facility). The visit will provide an opportunity for the Committee to see first-hand the extensive management and financial issues that continue to plague this project. The Denver Replacement Facility project and similar replacement projects in other states are vital to future care for veterans and, as such, require careful analysis before the VA undertakes construction on this scale in the future.

As you know, the Denver Replacement Facility has encountered significant construction delays, cost overruns, and payment issues. In December 2014, the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals found that the VA failed to meet its contractual obligations and designed a project that would cost more than $1 billion, a $400 million overrun from the original contract price. The Board also found that the VA did not have sufficient funds to pay for the construction, had no plans to request additional resources, and owed the contractor, Kiewit-Turner, $157 million for past costs. While a short-term agreement between the VA and Kiewit-Turner has been reached that has allowed for construction to resume, agreement on a solution that allows for the satisfactory completion of the facility has not been reached.

We hope the Committee examines the issues at the Denver Replacement Facility to develop a fuller understanding of the project's ongoing challenges and to help us identify a long-term solution to complete the work. Our delegation continues to work in a collaborative and bi-cameral manner on this issue and is unified behind the goal of finding a way forward that is acceptable to taxpayers and that provides the 700,000 veterans in the Rocky Mountain Region the world-class facility they deserve.

We thank you for your consideration and for your work on behalf of veterans everywhere.

Sincerely,

Michael F. Bennet
United States Senator

Cory Gardner
United States Senator

# # #