Leaders behind a plan for a new Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Aurora, Colo., agreed to a grandiose design and ignored repeated, early warnings about the costs, driving it into financial failure, according to a report issued Wednesday.
The VA’s internal watchdog released findings from a yearlong investigation of the Aurora hospital, which has taken 20 years to develop and is expected to cost $1.7 billion – more than double the budget approved for the facility before breaking ground in 2009 and a huge leap from original estimates of $328 million.
Inspectors also discovered that one top official withheld information about the cost while testifying to Congress – leading some lawmakers to call for criminal charges.
“We identified major points of failure that encompass a series of questionable business decisions by VA senior officials,” the 82-page report, compiled by the VA inspector general, states. “The deficiencies … have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in increased project costs and prevented veterans from having the use of a new medical center at an earlier time.”