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The new veterans' hospital complex being built at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.

The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs is making a strong case to be named the most embattled construction owner of 2014.

The department seems to be working hard at earning a designation as a Dept. of Construction Prevention.

With two big hospital projects in trouble, it seems to have a lock on first place.

And I'm not only talking about what has happened in Aurora, near Denver, Colo., where a Civilian Board of Contract Disputes judge has allowed prime contractor Kiewit-Turner to walk off the the job.

I'm talking about the Orlando hospital project, way late and over budget, and over which prime contractor Brasfield & Gorrie had filed a complaint after the department threatened to terminate Brasfield & Gorrie's contract.

A judge on that dispute, ENR's Scott Judy points out, sanctioned the department for what he says is the bad faith it has shown in the discovery phase of the dispute.

In an opinion filed last month, Judge Stephen Daniels has ordered the department to pay the contractor for its discovery-related costs. The judge also ruled that the contractor or a third party must be given access to the department's computer system so that Brasfield & Gorrie can gain access to electronically stored information needed to decide the complaint. 

The department has failed several times to produce documents needed for the case, Judge Daniels wrote. The department partly blamed a platform migration and an unexpected leave-of-absence by the system's administrator. Daniels noted that the department had missed numerous self-proclaimed deadlines for producing the electronically stored information.

Brasfield & Gorrie first requested documents in February, but by May the department said it was still collecting documents. On July 16th the parties finished six weeks of negotiating date ranges for production of the documents.

That still didn't get the job done.

"The VA has failed to meet every one of the deadlines it proposed, as well as, of course, every one of the deadlines the board established," Daniels wrote.

"The VA's response to B&G's discovery requests have been discourteous to B&G, has violated repeated promises made to B&G and the Board, and has disregarded Board orders."

In the past year or so, the department has issued at least two notices-to-cure against the contractor, citing 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."

But now with two big hospital projects in trouble, and its failure so ar to provide documents about what is going on in Orlando, whatever credibility the department could have salvaged on its big new hospital centers has collapsed like a two-dollar umbrella.

Except for the mounting overruns on the Vogtle nuclear powerplant project, these hospitals could together be the worst performance by an owner, private or public, in 2014.