VA Officials Will Not Be Prosecuted for Cost Overruns

Jul 5, 2017

No one is to be held responsible for budget overruns for a VA hospital that will cost three times its original estimated amount

The Department of Justice, the U.S. Congress, and both the last Administration and the current one have addressed the Department of Veterans Affairs’ fiscal and managerial shortcomings.

Some progress has been made. Veterans visiting the VA report that their experiences are not quite so Orwellian and that once they get to see a caregiver the treatment is excellent.

Construction management is another story. Its performance in overseeing its building projects is still lackluster.

A recent Associated Press article by Dan Elliott, reprinted in ENR, suggests one of the reasons for the VA’s lamentable track record overseeing construction costs.

“The Justice Department has declined to prosecute two Veteran’s Affairs Department executives after lawmakers accused them of misleading Congress about massive cost overruns at a Denver-area VA hospital.”

Last year the House Committee on Veterans Affairs asked Glenn Haggstrom, then the top official in charge of construction projects, and Stella Fiotes, director of the VA’s Office of Construction and Facilities Management to testify concerning cost at the as yet unfinished Denver VA facility that that is now estimated to cost approximately three times more than earlier estimates to the tune of $1.7 billion.

The Justice Department has informed the Congressional committee there is “insufficient evidence to prosecute” the two VA officials for perjury related to the information they gave about the scope of the problems the Denver construction project was encountering.

Congressional leaders, especially U.S. Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado, are displeased.

The Justice Department is justifiably renowned for vigorously pursuing criminal cases. They also have a reputation for not pursuing cases where there is little likelihood of reaching a guilty verdict.

What this might suggests is that it may have been determined that the VA officials were not competent and did not know about the massive, ongoing cost overruns.

There is a possibility that no one will be held accountable for a $1 billion government boondoggle.

Sources

Justice Dept.: No perjury Prosecution for VA Officials Over Hospital Construction Cost Overrun, Dan Elliott, Associated Press as reprinted in ENR, July 6, 2017.