Perlmutter Pushes for Immediate Signed Contract to Build VA Hospital

Party or Protest Event Scheduled for Nov. 21 

"Veterans throughout the Rocky Mountain Region were promised and are waiting for this hospital for more than a decade."

Lakewood, CO -- Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter expressed concern for the protracted contract negotiations between the Veterans Administration and contractors building the new VA Medical Center in Aurora, Kiewit/Turner, which are delaying construction of the new hospital which will serve Veterans throughout the Rocky Mountain Region.

 

Today, Perlmutter sent the attached letter (Pasted below as well) to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, stating: "Two years, two months, and eight days (808 days) have passed and there is still no contract for the construction of the medical center, nor is any construction underway.  This is a disservice to the veterans of the Rocky Mountain West....[t]housands of construction jobs remain on hold while the contractor and the VA drag their feet.... I do not know who is to blame, regardless, our veterans deserve much better."

 

Following a ceremonial groundbreaking attended by Sec. Shinseki on Aug. 22, 2009, the contract to begin excavation and construction for the new $800 million hospital was to be awarded in May 2011. Yet, seven months later, the contract is still not finalized.  The hospital is slated for completion in February 2014.

 

Over the last nine months, Perlmutter and staff engaged in several meetings and phone calls with officials from the VA to the contractors in an effort to get this project moving. 

 

"The bottom line is Veterans throughout the Rocky Mountain Region were promised and are waiting for this hospital for more than a decade," Perlmutter said.  "It is unacceptable for them to be in this position.  Veterans are angry at the delay, I am angry with the delay.  If the VA and the construction companies can't agree on the contract, then the contract needs to be rebid without delay and construction needs to start."

 

In the letter, Perlmutter says he and local Veterans' organizations have a "party or protest" scheduled near the construction site on Nov. 21.  "If the contract is signed and excavation/construction begins before the 21st, I anticipate a party.  If not, I expect a protest."

 

In May 2010, Perlmutter and the Colorado Congressional Delegation successfully ensured Congress authorized the full $800 million for construction of the hospital.  To date, approximately $100  million has been spent on site acquisition, infrastructure construction, existing building remodel, initial excavation, and design work.

 

Below is a timeline of key events/milestones:

 

Date

Event

August 22, 2009

Ceremonial Groundbreaking attended by VA Sec. Eric Shinseki, Rep. Perlmutter, and members of CO Congressional Delegation

March 2010

Dept. of Defense remodel of Clinic Building South (former University Physicians, Inc. (UPI) building) begins.

May 5, 2010

Full $800 million authorized by Congress

Throughout 2010

Integrated design work prepared by architects

Sept. 2, 2010

Kiewit/Turner contractors awarded joint construction contract

Jan, 28, 2011

Perlmutter convenes meeting with VA contracting officials, local VA officials, Kiewit/Turner, architects, Sens. Udall, Bennet and Rep. Coffman to tour mock up of hospital rooms and discuss construction delays and path forward.  Perlmutter assured a contract would be finalized in May 2011.

May 2011

Original date of finalized excavation and construction contract between VA and Kiewit Turner  (DEADLINE MISSED)

June 8, 2011

Rep. Perlmutter’s staff toured the Clinic Building South formerly known as the UPI building.  Staff was informed of further delays.

June 8, 2011 - July 2011

Perlmutter staff continues to monitor progress of the project between VA and Kiewit/Turner.  Informed contract to be finalized within weeks.

Late July 2011

Perlmutter staff inquires with VA officials about the project status.  Informed by VA officials that a contract was being finalized by VA legal department and completed by mid-August and awarded.

Mid August, 2011

Perlmutter's office informed by local VA officials that Kiewit/Turner asked for another delay.

Mid August, 2011 - Present

Perlmutter and staff engages in daily, weekly discussions with VA officials, Kiewit/Turner about status of project. 

November 2011

No Contract for Construction of VA Medical Center

Nov. 21, 2011

SCHEDULED: Party or Protest event near site for the new VA Medical Center.

 

 

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November 8, 2011

 

The Honorable Eric Shinseki

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Ave.  NW

Washington, DC  20420

 

Dear Secretary Shinseki:

 

August 22, 2009, together you and I attended the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new VA Medical Center at Fitzsimons in Aurora, Colorado.  Two years, two months, and eight days (808 days) have passed and there is still no contract for the construction of the medical center, nor is any construction underway.  This is a disservice to the veterans of the Rocky Mountain West.

 

I do not know who is to blame, regardless, our veterans deserve much better.

 

Congress appropriated $800 million for the project, which has bipartisan support.  If the contractor, Kiewit/Turner, is the holdup, I request you rebid the job immediately.  If the VA itself is the problem, please identify the individual or individuals responsible and take action to get this project underway.  If it is something else, let me know what it is and I will do my best to remove the obstacle. 

 

The VA Medical Center has been promised to the veterans of the Rocky Mountain West for at least a decade.  Moreover, thousands of construction jobs remain on hold while the contractor and the VA drag their feet. The Department of Defense began construction on its portion of the job months ago, and the design phase and the room mock-ups for the VA Medical Center are complete. Yet the VA and the contractor remain mired in protracted negotiations.  Any further delay is unacceptable.

 

A party or protest is scheduled near the construction site on November 21, 2011.  If the contract is signed and excavation/construction begins before the 21st, I anticipate a party.  If not, I expect a protest.

 

Mr. Secretary, I know you are a champion of veterans.  I also know you expected to see the VA Medical Center construction project well underway by now.  Please do what you can to bring contract negotiations to a close, and build the VA Medical Center.  Our veterans deserve no less.

 

Sincerely,

Ed Perlmutter

Member of Congress