VA struggles with delays on veterans clinics

Not only does the Veterans Administration have troubles with the accuracy of data for how long veterans are waiting for their medical appointments, but a new report says the VA also regularly encounters delays and financial issues as the agency moves to expand medical facilities that provide patient care to veterans.

The review by the Government Accountability Office says a study of 41 outpatient lease projects worth $2.5 billion, suffered delays, "ranging from 6 months to 13.3 years, with an average delay of 3.3 years."

The project that took over 13 years to complete was a satellite outpatient clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, which was first authorized in November of 1997, but never finished until November 2012.

"20 of the 41 outpatient clinic projects were reviewed (49 percent) experienced delays due to difficulties in locating or securing a suitable site," the GAO report noted.

In many cases, those delays also led to higher costs for the VA, which was a familiar finding for the GAO.

"In April 2013, we found that costs substantially increased and schedules were delayed for VA's largest medical-center construction projects," this report noted.

"I'd remind you that we've got four VA hospitals that are under construction right now that are a trillion dollars over budget," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

Here was the list of 41 VA facilities and the length of delays:

Project Location Description Authorized Completion Delay
Jacksonville, FL Satellite outpatient clinic November 1997 November 2012 13 years
Greenville, NC Outpatient clinic November 2004 November 2013 6.5 years
Brandon, FL Outpatient clinic October 2008 December 2016 5.5 years
Grand Rapids, MI Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 November 2014 5.5 years
Wilmington, NC Outpatient clinic November 2004 December 2012 5.5 years
Corpus Christi, TX Outpatient clinic November 2004 September 2012 5.25 years
Bakersfield, CA Outpatient clinic October 2009 June 2017 5 years
Toledo, OH Outpatient clinic November 2004 June 2012 5 years
Savannah, GA Satellite outpatient clinic October 2008 February 2016 4.75 years
Crown Point, IN Outpatient clinic November 2004 August 2011 4.25 years
Eugene, OR Satellite outpatient clinic October 2008 July 2015 4 years
Austin, TX Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 February 2013 3.75 years
San Juan, PR Mental health clinic October 2010 June 2017 3.75 years
Tallahassee, FL Outpatient clinic October 2009 March 2016 3.75 years
Atlanta, GA Specialty care clinic October 2009 July 2015 3.25 years
Birmingham, AL Clinic and parking garage October 2009 September 2015 3.25 years
Colorado Springs, CO Outpatient clinic October 2009 August 2014  3.25 years
Huntsville, AL Outpatient clinic October 2009 September 2015 3.25 years
Anderson, SC Outpatient clinic October 2009 June 2015 3 years
Tampa, FL Primary care annex October 2008 May 2014 3 years
Las Vegas, NV Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 January 2012 2.75 years
Mesa, AZ Satellite outpatient clinic October 2008 April 2014 2.75 years
Parma, OH Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 January 2012 2.75 years
Evansville, IN Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 November 2011 2.5 years
Las Vegas, NV Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 December 2011 2.5 years
Mansfield, OH Satellite outpatient clinic October 2008 January 2014 2.5 years
Rochester, NY Outpatient clinic October 2011 June 2017 2.5 years
Mayaguez, PR Satellite outpatient clinic October 2008 October 2013 2.25 years
Las Vegas, NV Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 September 2011 2.25 years
Las Vegas, NV Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 September 2011 2.25 years
Mobile, AL Outpatient clinic October 2011 March 2017 2.25 years
San Jose, CA Outpatient clinic October 2011 March 2017 2.25 years
Baltimore, MD Satellite outpatient clinic December 2006 June 2011 2 years
Springfield, MO Outpatient clinic October 2011 February 2017 2 years
Green Bay, WI Outpatient clinic October 2008 March 2013 1.75 years
Greenville, SC Outpatient clinic October 2008 March 2013 1.75 years
McAllen, TX Outpatient clinic October 2009 August 2013 1.25 years
South Bend, IN Outpatient clinic October 2011 May 2016 1.25 years
Billings, MT Satellite outpatient clinic October 2010 February 2014 .5 years

Of the 41 projects reviewed by the GAO, only two were finished ahead of schedule, an outpatient clinic in Fort Wayne, Indiana and a community-based outpatient clinic in Salem, Oregon.

As for cost overruns, the GAO had detailed data on 31 of the 41 projects reviewed above - 15 of the 31 spent more money than originally envisioned in the first year, while 16 spent less, about a 50/50 split.

From worst to best:

Austin, TX - $13.6 million more
Jacksonville, FL - $5.9 million
Las Vegas, NV - $2.95 million
Green Bay, WI - $2.78 million
Eugene, OR - $2.77 million
Mayaguez, PR - $2.43 million
Greenville, NC - $2.37 million
Grand Rapids, MI - $2 million
Greenville, SC - $1.95 million
Atlanta, GA - $1.43 million
Tallahassee, FL - $1.37 million
Toledo, OH - $1.34 million
Crown Point, IN - $1.27 million
McAllen, TX - $362,975
Parma, OH - $222,541

Wilmington, NC - $9,300 less than projected
Salem, OR - $183,000 less
Mansfield, OH - $511,000 less
Birmingham, AL - $1.03 million less
Anderson, SC - $1.17 million less
Corpus Christi, TX - $1.27 million less
Huntsville, AL - $1.36 million less
Mesa, AZ - $2 million less
Evansville, IN - $2.11 million less
Fort Wayne, IN - $2.13 million less
Tampa, FL - $3.46 million less
Billings, MT - $3.57 million less
Colorado Springs, CO - $5.21 million less

Unfortunately, the cost overruns outweighed the projects that came in under budget, by $18.7 million.

You can read the report on the GAO website.