Coffman, other Colo. reps, ask VA to pair with Army engineers for bloated VA project

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AURORA | Negotiations between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide oversight for a bogged down Aurora VA hospital may have broken down, U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman said Monday, and the Aurora congressman wants to know why.

Coffman sent a letter to the VA asking if the two sides were no longer seeking an agreement for the Army Corps of Engineers to provide oversight and management to the over-budget VA hospital in Aurora.

“I write today to express my concerns regarding reports indicating a potential breakdown of negotiations between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the replacement medical center in Aurora, Colorado,” Coffman wrote in the letter. “I am pleased that the VA initiated the discussion about bringing USACE into this vital major construction project. Additionally, I am pleased that USACE offered to implement their Design-Construction Evaluation (DCE) process, which has been successfully implemented by other agencies to help their projects find a path forward to completion.”

Coffman introduced federal legislation that would require the veterans agency to contract with the engineering corps for big projects. That bill is slated for a hearing in a U.S. House subcommittee.

According to VA spokesman Dan Warvi, the department is waiting to hear on congressional action before commenting on Coffman’s legislation,”

“Although the (memorandum of understanding) may be the subject of future legislation, as yet VA has not put forward any official views on H.R. 3593. It may be the subject of a future legislative hearing, but VA has not received formal notice of such a hearing,” Warvi wrote in a statement.

Three other Colorado representatives today — Rep. Ed Perlmutter and Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet — have also asked the VA to partner with the engineering corps for the project.