VA Health Care:

Effects of Facility Realignment on Construction Needs Are Unknown

HEHS-96-19: Published: Nov 17, 1995. Publicly Released: Nov 17, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional staff request, GAO provided information on nine proposed Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) construction projects, focusing on: (1) the projects' benefits to veterans; (2) VA efforts to realign all of its facilities into new service networks; and (3) the potential effects of funding delays an VA contract award dates and costs.

GAO found that: (1) the nine proposed construction projects would primarily enhance VA inpatient care capacity within designated target areas; (2) the two new medical centers would improve veterans' access to quality care and attract new users; (3) the seven renovation projects at existing medical centers would benefit users by correcting fire and safety deficiencies and improving patient environment; (4) the medical centers undergoing renovation need an additional $308 million to correct all of their deficiencies; (5) VA has not considered all available alternatives to the construction projects, partially because planned realignment criteria have not been finalized; (6) the construction of new and renovated facilities will likely limit future VA realignment decisions, since the facilities have an expected useful life of 25 years or more; and (7) delaying funding until fiscal year (FY) 1997 is likely to have a minimal affect on VA contract award dates and costs, but longer delays could significantly increase costs and award date slippage.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress delayed or reduced funding for seven of the nine major construction projects in VA's FY 1996 budget. Full funding was provided to renovate the other two projects, the Boston, Massachusetts, and Reno, Nevada, facilities. Instead of $154.7 million requested for a new medical center at Brevard, Florida, and $188.5 million to complete the joint VA/Air Force project at Travis Air Force Base near Fairfield, California, Congress included only $7.8 million and $25 million, respectively, for outpatient clinics. Congress also denied funding of $80.1 million requested for five other major projects.

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider delaying funding for all major VA construction projects until VA has completed its criteria for assessing alternatives to such projects and applied the criteria to projects that it proposes for congressional authorization and funding. If it wants to avoid significant delays of construction awards for projects that are ultimately justified under pending VA assessment criteria, Congress may wish to make design funds available in FY 1996 for the proposed projects.


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