House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Phil Roe, M.D., R-Tenn., has called for a “top-to-bottom review of all Veterans Health Administration capital assets” following a hearing that highlighted the implications of the VA continuing to carry excess properties.
At the hearing, GAO released the latest in a series of reports on excess property, stating that the department is maintaining 430 vacant or mostly vacant buildings that are on average more than 60 years old, plus another 784 that are underused.
One issue with disposing of them, it added, is that many of them have designated historic status, meaning it is more difficult if not prohibited to demolish them.
GAO also said that both of the capital planning processes that VA uses to align its facilities to veterans’ needs have limitations including subjective narratives, long timeframes, and restricted access to information–and that “although VA acknowledges many of these limitations, it has taken little action in response.”
“The average VA medical facility building is five times older than the average building in a not-for-profit hospital system in this country and was designed and built to meet very different healthcare needs and delivery models than we see today,” Roe said.