Late Breaking News
Putting Issue in Context
Glenn D. Haggstrom, principal executive director of VA’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction, told lawmakers the cost overruns and delays should be put in context. Among the contributors to cost overruns and delays is the scope of the projects, which often expanded from their original plans.
“Many of these projects started out as nothing more than large healthcare centers when we started the requirements definition process. Those matured sometimes into full-fledged inpatient medical facilities based on emerging needs,” he said in defense of VA’s efforts.
He also pointed out that progress is taking place in ongoing construction projects. The new VA medical center in Orlando, which had been the topic of a congressional hearing last year because of delays in construction, is now about 80% complete, he noted.
The completion date of this facility, however, is debated. While VA considers the completion date to be July 2013, the general contractor disagrees with this date and has estimated it will be in spring of 2014, nearly a year later.
Haggstrom also said the agency is reviewing GAO’s most recent report and plans to take “immediate actions to implement their recommendations.”
Sen. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) asked whether large medical centers of the type under construction will be needed in the future, given the use of telemedicine.
“Dr. Petzel, who heads VHA, is clearly looking at the various ways of delivery and not necessarily sticking to infrastructure or bricks and mortar, if you will, in terms of care for our veterans,” Haggstrom said. “Telemedicine, home telehealth, inhome health care — all of those type of things I know are on the VHA’s plate in order to do better delivery and provide better care for our veterans.”
Also testifying was Raymond Kelley, Veterans of Foreign Wars’ director of Legislative Services, who argued that veterans are aware of original timelines and affected by delays.
“When that doesn’t come through, they start getting very, very anxious,” he said.