VA Health Care:

Laundry Service Operations and Costs

HEHS-00-16: Published: Dec 21, 1999. Publicly Released: Dec 21, 1999.

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Stephen P. Backhus
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Veteran Affairs' (VA) laundry support services, focusing on: (1) the type and volume of laundry service VA provides; (2) how VA provides laundry services; (3) the cost VA incurs; and (4) the revenue VA generates from selling laundry services.

GAO noted that: (1) VA's 210 Health Care Delivery Locations (HCDL) generated nearly 159 million pounds of laundry in fiscal year (FY) 1998; (2) most of VA's laundry services involved the routine cleaning of textiles, although some also included specialized work, such as laundering operating room textiles and uniforms and making textile repairs; (3) the amount of laundry that HCDLs used varied greatly among locations, ranging from 116 pounds at a small outpatient clinic to nearly 3 million pounds at a large health care facility; (4) 68 VA-owned and VA-operated laundries processed 91 percent (145 million pounds) of VA HCDLs' total laundry poundage; (5) laundries varied in the amount of pounds processed, with the larger facilities serving multiple HCDLs; (6) private vendors operating VA-owned laundries or vendor-owned laundries processed about 9 percent (14 million pounds) of VA's laundry poundage; (7) in FY 1998, VA spent about $78 million on laundry services; (8) of this cost, 89 percent was for VA-operated laundries that employed a total of 1,462 full-time-equivalent employees; (9) the other 11 percent was for services that vendor-operated laundries provided; (10) VA's average total cost per pound to process laundry was 50 cents, but VA's unit costs varied from 23 cents to $1.04 per pound; (11) since 1982, VA also incurred modernization costs totalling nearly $256 million for its laundries; (12) 36 VA laundries also sold laundry service to 74 non-VA customers, primarily other public agencies; (13) VA laundries processed almost 11 million pounds for non-VA organizations in FY 1998, generating nearly $4 million in gross revenue while incurring costs of about $3.7 million; (14) more than half of the non-VA customers were federal facilities such as Department of Defense installations and federal prisons; and (15) the others were state and local, private nonprofit, and private for-profit organizations.

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