Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Opening Statement of Hon. John Barrow, a Representative in Congress from the State of Georgia
Thank you Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Donnelly for holding this hearing. In order to fulfill our promises to veterans we need a productive and efficient Community Based Outreach Clinic construction planning process at VA.
In order to build the infrastructure our veterans need for the health care and services we promised them VA needs to fix their broken construction process. Fixing the contract practices at VA is a good place to begin fixing the construction process. If done correctly, this will increase transparency and get VA’s construction process on the right track. Increasing transparency is particularly important to me and veterans in my district.
For 2 years my office and my constituents have sought information regarding the status of construction for a CBOC to be built in Statesboro. The Statesboro area already has a large population of underserved veterans that VA predicts will increase by five percent in each of the next 3 years. Currently, this growing population of Veterans is forced to drive over an hour, either to Dublin or Savannah, to receive the primary care and mental health treatment they need.
Over this 2 year period my office and veterans from Statesboro have contacted the VISN in Atlanta and the Department of Veterans Affairs in DC. But we have only received conflicting and incomplete information from VA about where this project is in the approval process.
I thank the panelists for coming to testify before this committee today. Hopefully, by examining the business practices of VA we can learn about specific deficiencies in VA’s construction planning system. I want to identify pragmatic solutions to make the VA construction planning process more efficient and transparent, so that clear cut cases like the Statesboro CBOC can gain swift approval and serve our Veterans faster.