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Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TERRY. Madam Chair, this is to request a dollar in and a dollar out to be used in that process for the inspector general to look into the VA Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction, which is a subdivision of the Office of Construction and Facilities Management of the VA. This is the organization that builds and remodels new clinics and hospitals.

What I have discovered, because of experiences in Omaha, Nebraska, regarding a proposed new facility to replace a very obsolete and decayed facility, is that the Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction of the Office of Construction and Facilities Management hires the engineering firms to do what turns out to be a skeleton request for proposal or bids.

They go out and then they start adding a bunch of stuff on there, because I don't know if it's because they're afraid to put all of the stuff they want in a bid because then it will look really big and too expensive. So what happens then, because they do that, there are literally two pages of projects that are needed for veterans.

But because of their practices and procedures, I don't know if it's purposeful or just competency issues, but the reality then is because of the cost overruns of these additions and the way that they're doing, it is perhaps increasing the price of the project by 25 percent, 50 percent, even accusations at the Orlando facility of doubling to almost a billion dollar hospital. What that does is it takes money away from future projects to complete the ones that they have miscalculated, again, either purposefully or unintentionally, but it's occurring.

What happens is they start canceling future projects or pushing them out even further. And by doing that what it means is that facilities that are decaying, need replacement, are continuing to be used, and really place the veterans' health in jeopardy. I will guarantee you that if some of these facilities are not replaced in the near future, there will be veterans who die because of the structural and infrastructure problems within these buildings.

So something has to change and an inspection and IG review has to be done to get the VA on the right course to do these in an affordable way without having to raid future funds from other projects.

So with that, Madam Chairman, I have one question, if I can ask the chairman, my friend from Texas.

I understand you're willing to accept this amendment?

Mr. CULBERSON. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. TERRY. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.

Mr. CULBERSON. We will accept the gentleman's amendment. He raised an important point for the committee's consideration.

Mr. TERRY. I appreciate that very much.

With that assurance, I yield back the balance of my time.


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