OKC VA project $10.8 million over budget, years behind schedule

Source: https://m.newsok.com, March 23, 2018
By: Justin Wingerter

Two construction projects at the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center are $10.8 million overbudget, several years behind schedule and were once in violation of federal law due to engineering mismanagement and bitter disagreements between contractors, according to a federal report released Friday.

The VA inspector general report — the second in recent months to uncover problems at the hospital — reviewed construction of a new surgical intensive care unit, or SICU, and expansion of an operating room. The projects were conceived a dozen years ago but remain incomplete and indefinitely stalled.

Poor workmanship has wasted money, greatly delayed the projects and created safety concerns, according to the report. Unfinished construction on the hospital’s roof has been exposed to the elements and will have to be redone. Other problems “call into question the structural integrity of portions of the eighth floor.”

“The report today from the VA Office of the Inspector General is deeply troubling and disappointing, but not surprising,” said U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. “It is sadly yet another example of how poor leadership and a lack of accountability resulted in wasteful spending and a poor quality of care for our veterans.”

Two VA employees were fired as a result of the construction boondoggle, two more resigned before they could be fired and a fifth person retired while facing disciplinary action, according to Wade Vlosich, the hospital’s director since 2016, who requested the inspector general investigation.

“Many of the people who were involved in this no longer work here,” he said.

Shoddy work

As early as 2006, local VA officials began considering plans to create a new SICU and then expand the operating room into the former SICU space. The difficulty, at first, was keeping the project cost under $10 million. Doing so would allow the project to move ahead without congressional approval.

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