Earlier this year, VA engaged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to evaluate four major construction projects to identify program weaknesses and opportunities for improvement in the management and execution of the program.
The USACE identified a fundamental need for VA to undergo a “transformative change in organizational process” to be effective at controlling cost and schedule growth in the major construction program. VA agrees with this assessment and has issued new policy that identifies roles and responsibilities for the development of needs, requirements and control of design and construction.
One of the highest profile projects reviewed by the USACE is the Denver Replacement Medical Center. Over the past year, the considerable cost overruns and delays associated with building the center have cast doubt on the prospect of completing the project and raised difficult questions about the future of VA’s construction program.
The department’s main priority regarding the Denver project is to complete the facility without further delay, and to do that while delivering the best possible value to taxpayers given the difficult circumstances. Our collective commitment to completing this project has never wavered, and current VA medical facilities and programs in the area continue to ensure that Veterans and their families continue to be served.
VA has instituted a process to assure that any change to the scope and/or budget of major construction projects are justified and approved as required to safely and effectively deliver health care before any resources are committed to executing the requirement change. As USACE highlights, this fundamental change in culture and process will better allow VA to deliver projects on time and within budget.
USACE provided a diagnostic summary of four major construction projects, which serves as a summary of all the evaluations conducted. USACE also included recommendations to correct the weaknesses and improve the way VA does major construction projects. VA agrees with USACE findings and will initiate the recommendations included in the report’s diagnostic summary.
Read the full reports from the USACE here:
- North Las Vegas Medical Center
- Denver-Aurora Medical Center
- Orlando Medical Center
- New Orleans Medical Center
While VA implements the various recommendations made by USACE, it is important to point out that the department has not waited for these reports to take action, but has instead made significant process improvements over the last two years to enhance our ability to execute and manage major construction projects. These improvements include:
- Incorporated medical equipment planners and established an Integrated Planning Process,
- Increased the speed of the construction modification process with additional contracting staff,
- Formalized the project management planning process to include a formal Project Management Plan,
- Created Integrated Master Schedules for our projects to assure we remain focused on delivering the project in a timely manner,
- Established the Project Review Board to increase management oversight of project execution, and;
- Developing projects to the schematic or 35 percent stage before establishing a budget or schedule.
VA believes the improvements already implemented, the improvements identified by USACE, the “transformative change in organizational process,” and the use of USACE as our construction agent on large complex medical projects will allow VA to deliver major medical projects that best serve our Veterans, and are high quality, on time and on budget. By accomplishing this, VA will provide facilities that are good for Veterans and good for taxpayers.
Sloan D. Gibson was nominated by President Obama to serve as the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and he was confirmed by the Senate on Feb. 11, 2014. Mr. Gibson also served as Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs from May 30 to July 30, 2014. Read his full biography on va.gov.