Audit: Plans for new VA clinics years behind schedule

by: Justin Gray Updated:

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WASHINGTON - A new federal audit finds more problems at the scandal-plagued Department of Veterans Affairs. New information shows efforts to lease and open VA clinics are running years behind across the country.
 
Channel 2’s Justin Gray obtained the audit, which places the blame for that on management at the VA.
 
The new report from the Government Accountability Office shows that 39 of the 41 clinics it reviewed are delayed.

The lease agreements are behind schedule on average by more than three years.
 
The head of the Disabled American Veterans, Garry Augustine, told Gray that means clinics that could be serving veterans aren't open.
 
“The big issue is it impacts veterans’ health care and plays into what's going on today with the wait times,” Augustine said.
 
Gray found that a VA clinic in Atlanta is among the projects experiencing big delays.
 
A specialty care clinic that was supposed to open in 2012 is now projected to open in July 2015.
 
Florida Rep. John Mica says the delays are unacceptable.
 
“We just can't continue to pay more money, let a long lapse go before we finish these projects, when the private sector gets it done much faster,” Mica said.
 
The GAO puts the blame for the delays primarily on the shoulders of the VA, not on landlords or contractors.
 
“The delays were happening most frequently in the planning phase, and this is where we found VA was (changing) the scope of facilities, changing square footage,” said Lorelei St. James, with the GAO.
 
Government auditors say the VA is taking steps to improve its leasing program.
 
The GAO says the success of those changes depends on how fast and effectively the VA follows through with them.



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