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Author: TriSec    Date: 03/21/2015 12:44:07

Good Morning.

Spring can suck my dick.

Anyway...I was skimming around my usual haunts bookmarking stories for Ask A Vet, I happened to run across 2 stories recently that actually warranted their own 'bonus' blog.

I'll start with this morning's Cost of War for a reference point. Indeed, we find it passing through:

$ 1, 612, 555, 700, 000 .00

This is the military, and the government, so you'd probably expect that a fairly high percentage of that cost is due to bad contracting, corruption, cost overruns, and a whole host of other things that always seem to happen when the Pentagon is involved. Some of that may actually be destined for our veterans, but even getting a modest increase in that cost is like getting blood from a stone. So when a project actually does happen, there's usually a close eye on it from a lot of places. So when it goes wrong, we have politicians lining up to denounce it.

DENVER -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Tuesday that it will cost $1.73 billion to build a VA hospital in the Denver suburb of Aurora -- more than five times its initial $328 million price tag.

The new cost estimate, which VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson revealed to Colorado lawmakers during an afternoon phone call, is the latest development in the project that has been in the works for more than a decade and has suffered huge cost overruns and delays, according to The Denver Post.

The contractor, Kiewit-Turner, stopped construction in December after a federal appeals board said the VA breached its agreement by insisting on a design that could not be built for the then-$600 million budget.

Work resumed under an interim contract after the VA enlisted the Army Corps of Engineers as project advisers.

"The VA couldn't lead starving troops to a chow hall when it comes to managing a construction project," U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican from Aurora, said Tuesday. "The VA's mismanagement of this project is beyond belief and brings into question the competence of their leadership at every level."

Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran, said he has introduced legislation to increase the $880 million cap on the hospital. The bill also would bar the VA from managing the project and allow the Corps of Engineers to finish the hospital.

VA officials said the new figure is based on research provided by the Corps of Engineers.

"The estimate includes the cost of construction, contingencies, and Army Corps of Engineers costs, as well as VA's cost to close out the original contract and continue construction until the Army Corps of Engineers assumes construction management duties," Gibson wrote in a letter to Congress.

The VA has said it would investigate possible misconduct or mismanagement in the project and has asked the Corps of Engineers to review the VA's overall handling of big projects.

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller -- a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs -- called the Aurora project "the biggest construction failure in VA history."

He vowed that Congress would not authorize any more money for the project until the VA figures out a way to finish the hospital without interrupting current services to veterans. "The department owns this mess, and it's not fair to force taxpayers to bail out the bungling bureaucrats who created it," he said.

But remember that figure - 1.73 billion. our Cost of War site breaks out the numbers into many categories. My favorite whipping post, "The Flying Turd", has sucked more than that out of our economy, to the tune of $11.08 billion and rising. But that's not what caught my eye. I had the thought as I was reading the VA story...where are the complaints when a war project runs over? There's an aircraft in our inventory that we've been flying since the 1950s, and it's worked almost exactly as it was designed for all that time. Lovingly maintained, these planes could easily fly for another 50 years. But that doesn't make any contractors any money, does it? It's the venerable KC-135 tanker. There's been a project afoot to replace them since 2007, and maybe 8 years in a prototype might be ready to fly soon.

Boeing's tanker program is delayed again, with the tanker's first flight pushed out by as much as two months.

That flight had earlier been projected to happen in April. But at a conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the Air Force's program director for the KC-46A Pegasus tanker said he's "not comfortable" saying the tanker will make that schedule, according to a report in Defense News.

"I feel more comfortable saying second quarter," which extends to the end of June, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson told the audience,Defense News reported.

Boeing committed to submit a detailed revised tanker program schedule to the Air Force last month, but its specifics are not public.

Air Force spokesman Daryl Mayer confirmed via e-mail the new "second quarter" timeline.

A prototype tanker airframe -- a modified 767 commercial aircraft without the refueling systems to make it a tanker -- flew in late December, six months behind Boeing's original schedule.

The now-delayed first flight of a true tanker is the next big milestone.

The contract calls for Boeing to receive $51 billion for delivering 179 tankers to the Air Force, with the first 18 tankers ready to deploy in 2017.

In the program's initial development phase, the jetmaker is responsible for cost overruns above a contract ceiling of $4.9 billion.

In December, the Air Force reported that its latest projection for the cost of the tanker's development had swelled to $1.5 billion above that contract ceiling.

It's really that last sentence that's jumped out at me. A VA hospital runs over budget by 1.7 billion and a noisy Republican calls it "the biggest construction failure in VA history." A military contract for one specific aircraft runs over by almost the same amount, and the silence is deafening.

1 comments (Latest Comment: 03/22/2015 12:58:15 by BobR)
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