CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 3593, the VA Construction Assistance Act of 2014, as amended. H.R. 3593 was introduced on November 21, 2013 by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and was referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The bill was marked up on September 10, 2014 and was ordered reported by voice vote.
H.R. 3593 expresses the sense of Congress that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) management of major medical center construction projects has been an abysmal failure, and that the VA should fully implement all recommendations made by the Comptroller General in its April 2013 report to improve construction procedures and practices.
H.R. 3593 requires the VA to implement certain construction reforms for major medical facilities, including use of a medical equipment planner, development and use of a project management plan, and subjection of the project to construction peer excellence review.
H.R. 3593 requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (Secretary) to appoint from the Army Corps of Engineers at least one special project manager with experience in managing construction projects that exceed $60 million to oversee covered projects until they are completed. The special project manager must oversee all construction-related operations at the project, advise the VA on any construction-related activity, and perform independent technical reviews and recommend to the VA best construction practices for the project. The special project manager is required to submit to Congress a plan for completion of the project, as well as periodic progress reports until the project is completed.
H.R. 3593 prohibits the appropriation of new funds for carrying out this Act.
 The bill defines “covered projects” as “each construction project that is a major medical facility project (as defined in section 8104(a)(3)(A) of title 38, United States Code) that—(1) was the subject of a report by the Comptroller General of the United States titled ‘Additional Actions Needed to Decrease Delays and Lower Costs of Major Medical-Facility Projects’; numbered GAO-13-302, and published in April 2013; and (2) has not been activated to accept patients as of the date of the enactment of this Act.”
In a report published in April of 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the VA’s management of major medical facility projects and issued recommendations. The GAO found that “[c]osts substantially increased and schedules were delayed for [VA’s] largest medical-center construction projects in Denver, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Orlando, Florida. As of November 2012, the cost increases for these projects ranged from 59 percent to 144 percent, with a total cost increase of nearly $1.5 billion and an average increase of approximately $366 million. The delays for these projects range[d] from 14 to 74 months, resulting in an average delay of 35 months per project.” The GAO recommended that the VA “(1) develop and implement agency guidance for assignment of medical equipment planners to major medical construction projects; (2) develop and disseminate procedures for communicating to contractors clearly defined roles and responsibilities of VA officials who manage major medical-facility projects, particularly the change-order process; and (3) issue and take steps to implement guidance on streamlining the change-order process.”
 As of April 2013, the VA was managing more than 50 major medical facility projects, “each costing at least $10 million, some in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” VA Construction: Additional Actions Needed to Decrease Delays and Lower Costs of Major Medical-Facility Projects, GAO-13-302 (Apr. 4, 2013) at Summary
According to CBO estimates, implementing H.R. 3593 would cost $3 million over the 2015-2019 period. The bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.