VA Again Threatens To Terminate Contract at Orlando Hospital
A $300-million veterans hospital project in Orlando that has been dubbed a "multimillion-dollar debacle" for cost and schedule overruns faces the potential for further delay after Birmingham, Ala.-based Brasfield & Gorrie received its second threat of contract termination in January.
The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) would not make the second Notice to Cure publicly available, as it did for the first notice issued last June. But spokeswoman Josephine Schuda indicated the same issues were still plaguing the project, namely Brasfield & Gorrie's "failure to diligently pursue work, have sufficient workforce on-site to meet the extended contract completion date of summer 2013 and deficiency in the quality of work."
In response, the contractor would only confirm that it had responded to the cure notice.
The agency awarded to B&G a contract to build the 1.2-million-sq-ft, 134-bed facility in September 2010, with completion originally set for October 2012. The VA now says the "extended contract completion date" is Aug. 8, 2013.
Last year, the problems on the project—which centered on design changes related to electrical drawings and medical-equipment selection—degenerated into a public dispute between the parties. Last August, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs, convened a field hearing in Orlando to get some answers about the project he termed a "debacle."
During the hearing, VA resident engineer Bart Bruchok said the project was roughly 60% complete and called a summer 2013 completion "achievable." But B&G CEO Jim Gorrie argued the project was only about 45% complete and estimated final completion at November 2014, saying it would take a "ton of effort" to finish the project by as early as November 2013.
Currently, the VA estimates that "less than 30%" of the project remains to be built. But neither the VA nor B&G would state whether they now agree about the schedule.
The VA says terminating B&G would delay the project by at least six months. But Schuda says the VA wants to avoid that scenario and that its contracting office "anticipates ... a mitigation plan to ensure timely completion of the project."