VA deputy secretary apologizes for Aurora hospital project

With the construction plastic flapping in the wind behind him, Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson apologized Thursday for the $1.73 billion budget-busting VA hospital project in Aurora, Colo., and tried to reassure Colorado veterans the hospital will be finished in two years, according to the Denver Post.

"I apologize to veterans and to American taxpayers for the delays and the added costs," he said during his speech.

Multiple factors, such as a lack of clear communication and early involvement of medical equipment planners could have contributed to the inflated project costs, Mr. Gibson noted. The biggest failure was probably presenting the incomplete hospital design to a contractor that hadn't been involved in its creation, as the VA ceded project management to the Army Corps of Engineers in January.

In late March, VA Construction Chief Glenn Haggstrom retired.

Mr. Gibson was vague about when he first realized the cost of the VA hospital project was significantly exceeding the $600 million construction budget, pointing out that when he entered his role 14 months ago he was also facing other issues on the job.  

According to the report, Mr. Gibson said he does not like the proposal from Rep. Mike Coffman to finance the Aurora VA hospital's completion with agency employee bonuses, pointing out at that custodians, nurses, physicians and administrators can qualify for that money.

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