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Ann K.
Democrat AZ 1

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  • VA Construction Assistance Act of 2014

    by Representative Ann Kirkpatrick

    Posted on 2014-09-16

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    KIRKPATRICK. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    I am pleased that we are bringing up a bill that I introduced, along with the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, Representative Coffman.

    This bill takes aim at two of the VA's most chronic problems: accountability and efficiency. It is also an attempt to make real reforms in the VA construction process.

    [[Page H7583]] This bill may not have all the answers, but it is a step forward in a discussion we must have on addressing the facility needs of the VA and ensuring that we are addressing the access requirements in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    We have seen time and again how VA has underperformed in the management of its multibillion-dollar construction budgets.

    Last year, the Government Accountability Office testified to the committee on a number of significant cost overruns and completion delays.

    There may be some disagreement on the metrics and the magnitude of VA shortcomings in this area--and I do wish to note that VA has made steps in the right direction--but in the end, we are faced with a very real issue that VA needs additional expertise with construction management and the acquisition of major medical facilities.

    I believe that asking the Army Corps of Engineers to provide the expertise they have to the VA is a step we should explore. I am hopeful that we will pass this bill today and continue the discussion with the members of this committee, the VA, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

    This legislation shows what we can do by working across the aisle. It would codify some of the GAO recommendations from 2013, as well as other industry best practices.

    H.R. 3593 would also provide technical assistance to the VA in the form of special project managers and design construction evaluations on, particularly, troubled major construction projects.

    While I recognize the Corps of Engineers and VA have some reservations with the bill, I believe we can work within the confines of the legislative language to ensure a positive outcome for all parties.

    I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3593 as part of our role as watchdogs on behalf of veterans and taxpayers.

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