Final Contract Awarded to Finish Colorado VA Hospital by ’18

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Federal Construction Contracts: When Can the Contractor Legally Walk?.

DENVER (AP) — The federal government awarded a final construction contract Friday to complete an over-budget veterans medical center outside Denver by January 2018. WASHINGTON — The team in charge of building a new VA hospital in Aurora announced Friday that they had reached a deal on a contract to finish the troubled facility; the cost of which has skyrocketed to an estimated $1.675 billion.

Even after the VA medical center in Aurora is finally built and ready to open — which VA officials say will happen by the end of 2017 — the $1.67 billion project might still be remembered as one of the most ill-fated federal construction contracts in recent decades. Department of Veterans Affairs spawned a highly publicized case over breach of contract that, while not exactly breaking ground in case law, has since reminded federal contractors of the importance of the right to stop work. Investigators blamed the overruns on multiple design changes and a decision by VA officials to use a complicated contract process they didn’t fully understand. According to Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.233-1(i), which appears in nearly every federal contract, the contractor must “proceed diligently with performance of (the) contract, pending final resolution of any request for relief, claim, appeal, or action arising under the contract, and comply with any decision of the Contracting Officer.” But the contractor is freed of the work continuance obligation if the U.S. government is found to have materially breached its own contract. Coffman and the other members of the Colorado delegation have sharply criticized the VA while pushing Congress to approve the money to complete the medical center.

If it can build the Aurora facility for less than $571 million, it will take home a bigger profit. “I’m glad we’re at this point now — that the Army Corps of Engineers is taking over the project. The VA has said the top executives on the project at the time of the mistakes have retired or been transferred or demoted, but members of Congress have been demanding that those responsible be fired.

At one point, the VA was shooting to finish it by February 2014, according to a 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office. “I obviously wish it would be a lot sooner,” Coffman said. Coffman said he was disappointed to learn Friday that the VA might not release the results of one of its internal investigations into what went wrong until next year. VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson said this summer that the report was done, but the agency did not plan to release it until a second inquiry by the VA’s Office of Inspector General was ready.

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