Vital signs: prognosis improving for VA hospital.

Author:Bissell, J.B.
Position:STATE of the STATE

The VA hospital will be completed. The question is, when and at what cost?

No matter how many doomsday reports flood local newspapers; no matter how many politicians cry foul; no matter how many Special Reports receive top billing on the 10 o'clock news--the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be completed.

"Kiewit-Turner is working diligently with Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a final path forward," says Tom Janssen, spokesperson for Kiewit-Turner (KT), the joint-venture contractor group heading up construction.

This path will materialize in spite of some major managerial missteps that, by most accounts, took place nearly five years in the past, at the beginning of the planning process. Sloan Gibson, deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs, told the House Veterans Affairs Committee on April 15 that he believed "the two most critical decisions leading to the current situation were made in 2010 and 2011."

These judgments played a crucial role in what has become the project's lightning rod issue: the price tag, which has seemingly ballooned from just a bit less than $600 million to the current estimate of $1.73 billion. The truth of the matter, though, is that KT made it clear from the start: The allotted $600 million would not be enough to bring the design plans KT was given by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fruition. So, it was agreed that blueprint alterations would be made in order to lower expenses. They just never were.

This all came to a climax in December 2014, when the United States Civilian Board of...

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