U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman yesterday slammed the Department of Veterans Affairs for its incompetence and mismanagement of the new VA Hospital in Aurora after learning that the new estimate for the hospital is now $1.73 billion, based on estimates by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Citing a lack of leadership at the beleaguered VA, Coffman hilariously noted:

“The VA couldn’t lead starving troops to a chow hall when it comes to managing a construction project. The VA’s mismanagement of this project is beyond belief and brings into question the competence of their leadership at every level. However, as much as I’m angered by the mismanagement of this project, as a combat veteran serving in Congress I still have an obligation to see that this project is completed and that everything that can be done will be done to bring down the cost.”

What kind of mismanagement, you ask?  For starters, when the hospital was designed the VA forgot to include medical equipment planners.  Seems like that would be one of the first experts to call…when designing a hospital.  That meant that when the hospital attempted to install large equipment like MRI machines, significant changes had to be made to the design.  The other issue was that change orders took nearly a year to implement, according to the Aurora Sentinel.

Now that this issue has gained traction in the media and has become a symbol of government run amok, even the Democratic members of the Colorado delegation are trampling each other to lambaste the VA.  Let us remember that this issue was partially caused by Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who was MIA when the project fell apart, and that Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet was late to the party in calling for greater oversight of the project.

It’s well and good that everyone is now working together when it’s politically convenient, but where were these guys when Coffman was blowing the whistle last year?