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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) maintains partnerships, or affiliations, with university medical schools to obtain medical services for veterans and provide training for medical residents. In 2002, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)--which is affiliated with VA's medical facility in Charleston--proposed that VA and MUSC enter into a joint venture for a new VA facility as part of MUSC's plan to expand its medical campus. Under the proposal, MUSC and VA would jointly construct and operate a new medical center in Charleston. In 2004, the Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission, an independent body charged with assessing VA's capital asset requirements, issued its recommendations on the realignment and modernization of VA's capital assets. Although the Commission did not recommend a replacement facility for Charleston, it did recommend, among other things, that VA promptly evaluate MUSC's proposal. This testimony discusses GAO's preliminary findings on the (1) current condition of the Charleston facility, (2) extent to which VA and MUSC collaborated on the joint venture proposal, and (3) issues for VA to consider when exploring the opportunity to participate in the joint venture. VA concurred with GAO's preliminary findings.

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