• P.O. Box 65900 Washington, D.C. 20035-5900
  • 202-257-5446
  • P.O. Box 65900 Washington, D.C. 20035-5900
  • 202-257-5446

March 29, 2016

Sgt. Shaft caricatureDear Sgt Shaft
What is has happened to the VA employees responsible for the huge cost overruns at the New Denver VA Medical Facility?

Carl L
Via the internet.

Dear Carl
The Veterans Affairs Department has no plans to punish any other employees over massive cost overruns at a VA medical center under construction outside Denver, the agency said Tuesday. The executives who made the decisions that caused the price to swell to $1.7 billion have already left the department, the VA said in announcing the long-awaited results of an internal review. The VA said last year that three other executives were transferred or demoted.

A separate investigation by the VA’s inspector general is still underway. The decision angered members of Congress who have demanded for months that the executives responsible be fired.

“There’s going to be a billion dollars wasted on this hospital that could have gone to veterans’ health care,” said GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, whose district includes the site. The facility’s final cost will be nearly three times the amount estimated in 2014. It’s expected to be finished in January 2018.

When Congress reluctantly approved additional spending in September to complete the hospital, it stripped the VA of the authority to manage large construction projects in the future and turned it over to the Army Corps of Engineers.

VA officials have repeatedly said federal personnel rules controlled what action they could take against executives. They also said they had no legal authority to stop employees from retiring amid the internal review. Coffman said the department should have at least tried.

“I think they use that system, the personnel system, to hide behind when it’s convenient to do so,” he said.

Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican, also condemned the decision. Bennet called it an abdication of responsibility.

“It’s incomprehensible that the VA concluded no further personnel action was necessary to hold these individuals accountable,” he said.

Gardner said the VA’s decision makes it appear that “federal employment comes with a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

The 184-bed medical center in Aurora will replace an old, overcrowded hospital in Denver.  The new facility is a collection of a dozen large buildings connected by a long, soaring, glass-walled corridor. It is near the University of Colorado Hospital and Children’s Hospital Colorado.


Shaft Notes
Chairman Miller released the below statement following VA’s announcement that no employees will be seriously disciplined for the biggest construction failure in VA history as well as a separate $400,000 relocation scandal.“Nearly every day we are reminded that accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs is almost non-existent. Today’s announcement from VA that no one will be seriously disciplined for wasting more than $1 billion on a failed construction project and that a few executives might receive a weak slap on the wrist or a temporary written warning for a relocation scandal that cost taxpayers more than $400,000 is more proof of this sad fact. One thing is clear: this dysfunctional status quo will never change until we eliminate arcane civil service rules that put the job security of VA bureaucrats ahead of the veterans they are charged with serving. The House acted to do just that last summer with passage of the VA Accountability Act, which would give the VA secretary the authority to swiftly fire or demote any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct while protecting whistleblowers and limiting the agency’s ability to place misbehaving employees on paid leave. If the Senate doesn’t follow suit with similar legislation to do the same thing, it is illogical to think VA’s many problems will ever be fixed.” Rep. Jeff Miller, Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs


Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), an original cosponsor of the Women Airforce Service Pilot Arlington Inurnment Restoration Act (H.R. 4336), released the following statement after the legislation passed unanimously in the House today:

“Today we honored the more than 1,100 women who voluntarily served our nation in a time of great need during WWII. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) flew 60 million miles in 78 different types of aircraft, including the B-26 and B-29 bombers, and flew missions like ferrying airplanes, training combat pilots, and towing airborne targets to free up their male counterparts for combat. These women blazed the trail for women in uniform, and it’s time we give them the honor they have earned and deserve—to lay in final rest among so many of our nation’s great heroes at Arlington Cemetery. Today’s unanimous passage of H.R. 4336 is progress, and I look forward to continuing to work to get this legislation signed in to law.”

In 1977, Congress passed legislation retroactively granting active duty status to Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) for the purposes of all laws administered by the VA, and in 2009, Congress awarded the WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal. Arlington National Cemetery approved in 2002 active duty designees, including WASP pilots, for military honors and inurrments. However, in March 2015, then-Secretary of the Army John McHugh reversed this decision. H.R. 4336, introduced by Rep. Martha McSally (AZ-02) earlier this year, would restore the rights of the WASPs to have their ashes inurned at Arlington National Cemetery.

Tags CLOUD

#Vote4Vets1st80-hour pay periodA National Home for Disabled Volunteer SoldiersAbuse of AuthorityAccess Stand DownActive DutyAcute Kidney InjuryAdaptive Sports GrantsAddictionaddiction treatmentAdvanced Practice Registered NursesAdvanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN)Advisory Committee on Minority VeteransAdvisory Committee on Women VeteransAdvocacy ProgramAFGEAgent OrangeAir ForceAir Force ReserveAKIALPALSAlyce DixonAmerican Federation of Government EmployeesAmerican Gold Star MothersAmerican LegionAmerican Nurses AssociationAmerican PlatoonAmir M. HekmatiAMVETSAnemiaanti religiousAppeals ModernizationAPRNArlington CemeteryArlington National CemeteryArmed Forces ExpeditionaryArmed RobberyArmed Services CommitteeArmyArmy & Air Force Exchange ServiceArmy Exchange ServiceArmy Women's FoundationASAEAsbestosAssistant Secretary for Information and TechnlologyAssisted Living ProgramAtomic Veterans Healthcare Parity ActATSDRAudiology Awareness MonthbenefitsbenzenebillBilrakisblindBlindedblindnessBoard of Veterans AppealsBoosting Rates of American Veterans Employment ActBowen Military Test Groupbrain cancerbrain healthbrain injurybrain related injuriesBrain TrustBRAVE ActBronze StarBudget FlexibilityBurialCamp Hometown HeroesCamp LeJeuneCancerCaregiver ServicesCarlton SherwoodCasey TreesCatch-22CAWPCDCCenter for Investigative ReportingCenter for Women VeteransChamplain CollegeCHAMPVAChange DirectionChattanoogachemical weaponCherokeeCHIP IN for Vets ActChoice ActChoice ProgramChoice Program billingChristianityCivil Service CommissionCivil Service RulesClaimCoast Guardcolon cancerCombat Related Special Compensationcombat-relatedCommisaryCommunities Helping Invest through Property and Improvements Needed for Veterans ActComp and Pen ExaminationsCompensation ClaimsComprehensive Addiction and Recovery ActConcealed CarryConcurrent receiptConcurrent Retirement Disability PaycongressCongressional Awards Receptioncontaminated drinking waterCorrupt EmployeesCost OverrunsCOVER ActCRDPCreditable Servicecrisis interventionCrisis LineCRSCCVC ProgramCWVDAVDBE ProgramDC VA Medical CenterDD214DEERSDefense Commissary AgencyDefense Employer Support Freedom AwardDenver VA Medical CenterDepartment of DefenseDepartment of JusticeDepartment of LaborDepartment of Veteran Affairs Regional OfficeDepartment of Veterans AffairsDepartment of Veterans AffarisDependency Indemnity CompensationDepressionDesert ShieldDesert StormdiabetesdiabeticDICDignified Interment of Our Veterans ActDioxinDioxin exposuredisabilityDisabledDisabled American VeteransDisabled VeteransDisadvantaged Business Enterprise ProgramDischargeDMZDODDOLDomestic ViolenceDr. Carolyn M. ClancyE-SERBeBenefitsEducationEnewetak AtollenlistedESPNFairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment ActFamily Medcial Leave Actfederal civil service systemFederal WayFemale Veteran Suicide Prevention ActFisher HouseFlag DayFleet Reserve OrganizationFlorida Department of Veterans Affairsforced to retireFort McClellan Health Registry ActFourth Estate AwardFRAFry ScholarshipFt. BelvoirFully Developed Claims ProgramFY17 National Defense Authorization ActFY2016 Defense Authorization ActG.I. BillGAOGeneral Assembly Military and Veteran CaucusGeneral Joseph F. DunfordGI BillGI Bill Fairness ActGiven an HourGold Star Families Voices ActGrant and Per DiemGrow the ArmyGuideStarGulf War RegistryGulf War VeteransGus BilirakisH.R. 1994H.R. 4063H.R. 83Harm Reduction CoalitionHASCHawaiiHead TraumaHealth and Human Serviceshealth carehealth care insurancehealth care planhealth insuranceHealth NethealthcareHealthNetHearing lossHeath IT InitiativeHelp A HeroHepatitisherbicideherbicidesHire More Heroes ActHomeless VeteranHomeless VeteranshomelessnessHonorably DischargedHonoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012HospitalHouse Armed Services CommitteeHouse Committee on Veterans affairsHouse Veteran Affairs CommitteeHouse Veterans Affairs CommitteeHUD VASHIBM Corporationidentity theftIGIllegal TerminationInactive ID CardInfantryman badgeInspector GeneralinterredIranISILISISJapanese AmericansJason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety ActJewish War Veterans of the U.S.Joint Chiefs of StaffKaiserKiewit-TurnerKoreaLadies Auxiliary VFWLake Baldwin Veterans Affairs Outpatient ClinicLawyers for HeroesLeanIn.orglegislationlendingLeukemiaLibrary of Congress’ Veterans History Projectlive in infamyloss of limbLymphomaMarineMarine CorpsMarine Corps Amphibious Warfare SchoolMarshall IslandsMedal for ServiceMedalsmedicaidmedical careMedicaremental healthMerchant MarineMerchant MarinersMerit Systems Protection BoardmesotheliomaMilitarymilitary commissary programMilitary IDMilitary MedalsMilitary Officers Association of AmericaMilitary Order of the Purple Heartmilitary retireesMilitary spousesMillion Veteran Programmisuse of government travel cardsMLAMOAAMOAA Military Family InitiativeMOAA Military Family National Service AwardMOPMSPBmTBIMyelomaMyVAMyVA initiativeNational Brain BankNational CemeteryNational Defense Authorization ActNational Department of Veterans Affairs ArchivesNational GuardNational Personnel Records CenterNational Press ClubNational Veterans Golden Age GamesNational Veterans Wheelchair GamesNative AmericanNavyNDAANeuropathyNight of HeroesNIMHNo Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered ActNVSBEOak Ridge BoysOCSOffice of Construction and Facilities ManagementOffice of General CounselOfficer Candidate SchoolOIGOne MindOperation Ranch HandOpioidopioid addictionOpioid ManagementOpioidsOPMOverdose Education and Naloxone Distribution programpain managementPaitentsLikeMeParalyzed VeteransParalyzed Veterans of AmericaParkinson's DiseasePathways to InnoVAtionPeace Prize MedalPearl HarborPenFed FoundationPensionPentagon Federal Credit Union FoundationperchloroethylenePersian GulfPhilly POPSPhoenix VA Health Care SystemPicnicpolytraumaPolytrauma Rehabilitation CentersPolytrauma System of CarePosttraumatic Stress DisorderPrayerPrescription DrugsPreventing Veteran Suicideprimary careProblem EmployeesPROMISE ActProvider AgreementsPTSDPuerto Rico VAPulitzer PrizePurple HeartPurple Heart MedalPVAradioactive falloutRegistered Sex Offenderrelocation incentives programResourcesResponsible Opioid Management and Incorporating Scientific ExpertiseretiredROTCSallie MaeSAVE Benefits ActSBPscandalScholarshipSclerodermaScripTalkScripttalkSecretary of Veterans AffairsSecretary Sloan GibsonSeismic Safety and Construction Authorization ActSemper FiSenate Armed Services CommitteeSenate Committee on Veterans’ AffairsSenate Veterans' Affairs CommitteeSeniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits ActsequestersequestrationService AnimalsServicememberServicemembersSgt. Shaftslap on the wristSmall BusinessSocial SecuritySoldierSpina Bifidaspinal cord injurySports ClipsSSASSIAStudent Veterans of AmericasuicdesuicideSuicide PreventionSuicide Prevention Fact SheetSuicide Prevention Office and Mental Health ServicessuicidesSummer of ServiceSurvivor Benefit PlanSVASyriaTBITehranTelehealthThanksUSA.orgThe Fairness to Veterans for Infrastructure Investment ActThe Home Depot FoundationThe Joint CommissionThe Military CoalitionTinnitusTIPTomah VA Medical CenterToxic Exposure ResearchTransition in PlaceTransitional HousingTraumatic Brain InjuryTri-WestTricareTricare for LifeTricare PrimetrichloroethyleneTriWestU.S. Attorney’s OfficeU.S. Department of Veterans AffairsU.S. House Veterans Affairs CommitteeUFUnder Secretary for HealthunemploymentUnionUniversity of FloridaUS ArmyUS Department of DefenseUS Savings BondsUSA Addiction Treatment PartnershipUSERRAUSMCUSNUSS Weiss APD 135VAVA AccountabilityVA Accountability ActVA BacklogVA BenefitsVA BudgetVA Caregiver Support ProgramVA Caribbean Health Care SystemVA claims backlogVA Compensation programVA crisis lineVA DenverVA DependencyVA disability compensationVA emergency roomVA EmployeeVA Health CareVA HealthcareVA home loanVA Inspector GeneralVA Medical CenterVA Medical CentersVA officialsVA OIGVA PharmacyVA Puget Sound Health Care SystemVA Regional OfficeVA Under Secretary for HealthVA’s National ArchivesVACAAvaccinationsVBAVEP ProgramVetVET ActVet Connect Act of 2016VeteranVeteran Appointment Request AppVeteran BenefitsVeteran Enrollment Rework ProjectVeteran Farm TrainingVeteran suicideVeteran suicide ratesVeteran SuidiceVeteran's PreferenceVeteran’s Choice fundveteransVeterans AdministrationVeterans AffairsVeterans Affairs CommitteeVeterans Affairs Medical CenterVeterans Benefits AdministrationVeterans ChoiceVeterans Choice ActVeterans Choice ProgramVeterans Crisis LineVeterans Dayveterans EditVeterans EmploymentVeterans First ActVeterans Health AdministrationVeterans Homeless ProgramsVeterans of Foreign WarsVeterans of Foreign Wars Memorial BuildingVeterans Service OrganizationsVFWVFW AuxiliaryVFW-SVA Legislative FellowshipVHAVHA facilitiesVHA Office of Public HealthVietnamVietnam veteranVietnam VeteransVietnam Veterans MemorialVietnam Veterans of AmericaVietnam Warvinyl chlorideVirtual Lifetime Electronic RecordVision Rehabilitation ClinicVISN & MCD CompensationVISTvisually impairedVLERVolunteerVSOWalgreensWashington DC Veterans Medical CenterWashington State UniversityWASPswater supply at Camp LejeuneWatsonWheelchair AthleteWheelchair GameswhistleblowersWomen Airforce Service PilotsWomen VeteransWomen Veterans Call CenterWomen Veterans CommitteeWomen's Army Corpswomen's healthWomen’s History MonthWomen’s Integrated Treatment and Recovery ProgramWorld War IWorld War IIwounded militaryWounded WarriorsWWIIWWPYMCA