CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 7, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 5099, Communities Helping Invest through Property and Improvements Needed for Veterans Act of 2016 or the CHIP IN for Vets Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5099 was introduced on April 28, 2016, by Rep. Brad Ashford (D-NE) and was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, which ordered the bill reported by voice vote on September 21, 2016.
H.R. 5099 authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out a pilot program on partnership agreements to construct new facilities. The VA may accept up to five donations from specific non-federal entities of either, real property that includes a constructed facility or that is to be used as the site of a facility constructed by the entity, and a facility to be constructed by the entity on real property of the VA. The donation may be accepted only if the property is a property for which funds have been appropriated for a VA facility project, or is identified both as meeting a VA need as part of its long-term capital planning process and as the location for a VA facility project that is included in the Strategic Capital Investment.
The VA is one of the Federal government’s largest real property holders with responsibility for capital assets including hundreds of VA medical facilities and administrative offices. The Independent Assessment of the Health Care Delivery Systems and Management Processes of VA found that the average Veterans Health Administration building was fifty years old, five times older than the average non-profit hospital system building.1 Given that, maintaining and updating VA capital assets is increasingly complex and costly. Currently, VA identifies capital needs through the Strategic Capital Investment Planning (SCIP) process. The SCIP process identifies capital needs and prioritizes construction projects based on those needs. Projects are then included in the department’s annual budget submission. A major medical facility construction project over $10 million or major medical facility lease averaging more than $1 million in rent annually must be authorized by law.
In recent years, VA’s construction and leasing programs have been fraught with mismanagement and failure culminating in persistent delays and cost overruns. In April 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that, ‘‘VA was managing the construction of 50 major medical-facility projects costing between $10 million and hundreds of millions of dollars.’’ For the largest construction projects, cost increases ranged from 66 percent to 427 percent and delays ranged from 14 to 86 months when compared to the projects’ original estimates. According to VA, the Department has identified upwards of twenty-five to thirty locations where donations from private entities could assist the Department in acquiring a needed facility.
An official Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates implementing the legislation would increase direct spending by an insignificant amount, so pay-as-you-go procedures apply. CBO further estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.