Washington, DC - The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today announced it will hold a field hearing regarding the regional VA medical center in Aurora on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner requested the field hearing and site visit with the support of Colorado's House delegation.
The hearing will be held in the City Council Chambers at the Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E Alameda Pkwy, Aurora, Colorado.
"This hearing in Denver will help our colleagues better understand the issues and the urgent need to find a solution that will lead to this project's completion," Bennet said. "The regional medical facility needs to be completed for our veterans, and it must be done in a way that best protects taxpayers. There are no easy answers. We must explore reasonable and real funding sources to ensure we complete the project in a way that doesn't harm the VA's overall mission. The VA has still failed to include a plan that contains more accountability and transparency for this project and other major construction projects moving forward. Those responsible for the mismanagement need to be held accountable for their negligence."
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 text of the letter Bennet and Gardner sent requesting the hearing:
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.
Michael F. Bennet
United States Senator
United States Senator
# # #