After Denver hospital debacle, VA should leave building to the pros

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From my latest commentary on

The VA is not a construction agency. Its mission is to meet the needs of the men and women that have defended our nation. Nothing about building buildings is implicit in that. Calling on…private-sector experts to design, build and manage the care that veterans receive is one potential answer to both providing better facilities, and busting a silo that’s generated horror stories for years.

But say Congress decides the function of managing the building of a veterans’ health care facility is inherently governmental and should be done inside the federal government. Why does it have to be the VA that does it?

The track record seems to indicate the [VA’s Office of Construction and Facilities Management] isn’t up to the job, to the tune of quadruple the original price tag in Denver, and a vendor who decided (for a while, at least) it didn’t want the government’s money. Other government agencies, such as the Defense Department (example: Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) and the Department of Health and Human Services (the national jewel that is the National Institutes of Health), have a much better track record of actually getting the work done than VA.

Read the full commentary here.

(Photo: artist’s rendering of the VA hospital under construction in Denver, CO, courtesy Department of Veterans Affairs)