In addition to improving its responsiveness to veterans' medical problems, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs needs to revamp its construction strategies and practices on big hospital projects and possibly hand off construction to public-private partnership concessionaires. Two hospital projects, in Aurora, Colo., and Orlando, Fla., show how the VA comes up short on large, complex new hospitals.
The Orlando project, on which the prime contractor is Brasfield & Gorrie, is over two years behind schedule and the contractor says it is owed $48.7 million. Kiewit-Turner, the prime contractor in Aurora, has asked to be released from its contract, saying the price of the hospital that it agreed to build for $604 million will cost hundreds of millions more. The VA has said the contractors must stick to the promised construction prices and in both cases the contractors have submitted appeals over defective designs, change orders and VA-caused delays to the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals.