VA takes blame for Aurora hospital cost overruns

March 20, 2015
Photo: Rep. Mike Coffman
House Veterans' Affairs Committee member Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., second from right,  gets into a heated exchange with Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald, during the committee’s hearing on Department of Veterans Affairs budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015.

That estimated price tag is now $1.73 billion. At a Congressional hearing Thursday, Dennis Milston, the VA’s director of construction and facilities, said the agency listened to designers of the hospital instead of its contractors.

“The VA owns this, we own this fiasco that we created," Milston said. "It’s nobody else’s fault, but I am going to tell you some other people that played a part in it.”

Milston, speaking in front of a House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee said the hospital’s designer delivered a plan that could not be constructed for the $600 million originally estimated. However, Colorado Republican subcommittee chairman Mike Coffman had another answer.

“I think there probably is an easier explanation," Coffman said. "Pure incompetence.”

Lawmakers on the subcommittee are in favor of stripping the VA of any future construction authority. An additional $930 million is needed from Congress to complete the Aurora hospital, but lawmakers have said they won’t provide additional funds until new leadership takes over construction.

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