VA Construction:

Contract Award Delays

HEHS-97-107R: Published: Jun 16, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1997.

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Stephen P. Backhus
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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed contract award delays for major Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) construction projects to determine whether they had any impoundment implications.

GAO noted that: (1) VA's December 12, 1996 letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees identified 15 awards for 11 major construction projects, for which VA did not award a construction documents contract or a construction contract by September 30, 1996; (2) in addition, through GAO's review of VA's construction project status report, GAO identified two more awards that it believes VA should have reported as delayed: (a) a construction contract for site development at Palo Alto, CA and; (b) a construction documents contract for the renovation of building 11 in Waco, TX; (3) GAO believes that the contracting delays for these projects do not constitute impoundments of budget authority under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974; (4) in GAO's view, VA has shown no intent to refrain from using the funds appropriated; (5) instead, information VA provided indicated that legitimate programmatic considerations caused the contracting delays; (6) common reasons for delays, as cited by VA, included changes in project scope or design, funding of projects before VA had completed design work, and insufficient funds appropriated for the scope that VA planned; (7) VA made 5 of the 15 reported delayed awards after September 30, 1996: (a) construction documents contracts for the Albany National Cemetery and the Boston Ambulatory Care Addition; (b) a construction contract for the Honolulu Ambulatory Care Addition; and (c) a design/build contract for the Portland Research Addition; (8) VA expects to award the Mountain Home laundry and warehouse design/build contract in June 1997; and (9) of the two additional awards that GAO identified as being late, VA plans to award a construction documents contract to renovate Waco's Building 11 in August 1997 and a contract for site development at Palo Alto in March 1998.

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