Opening Statement of The Honorable Jeff Miller, Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives
Good morning, and welcome to today’s Full Committee hearing, “Building VA’s Future: Confronting Persistent Challenges in VA Major Construction and Lease Programs.”
Today’s hearing is the fifth oversight hearing this Committee has conducted in the last three years concerning serious issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA’s) real property capital asset program - particularly the many failures and deficiencies that have plagued VA’s major medical facility construction and leasing initiatives and led to significant cost increases and substantial delays in many important medical center projects.
Though the Department claims to be aware of the many problems plaguing its construction and capital asset programs and taking initial steps to correct many of the issues we have identified, cause for serious concern remains.
In a report released earlier this year on VA construction, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that, though VA has made some improvements, VA’s major medical facility projects continue to experience cost increases and schedule delays similar to those that GAO had identified in 2009.
Similarly alarming, the VA Inspector General is going to testify this morning that they have seen a persistent “pattern of ineffective VA capital planning and asset management” over the past several years.
As I have said before, today’s plans and projects are tomorrow’s hospitals and clinics, and - whether it is by building the new, renovating the old, or leasing the existing – our allegiance must always be to the veterans who rely on VA to provide the benefits and services they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
We cannot continue to keep them waiting.