VFW.org

HVAC IB Construction Testimony

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STATEMENT OF

ERIC A. HILLEMAN, DIRECTOR

NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE SERVICE

VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS

UNITED STATES SENATE

WITH RESPECT TO

 

VA’S BUDGET REQUEST FOR FISCAL YEAR 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. February 26, 2010

MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE:

On behalf of the 2.1 million men and women of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) and our Auxiliaries, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to testify today. The VFW works alongside the other members of the Independent Budget (IB) – AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans and Paralyzed Veterans of America – to produce a set of policy and budget recommendations that reflect what we believe would meet the needs of America’s veterans. The VFW is responsible for the construction portion of the IB, so I will limit my remarks to that portion of the budget.

VA’s infrastructure—particularly within its health-care system—is at a crossroads. The system is facing many challenges, including the average age of buildings (60 years) and significant funding needs for routine maintenance, upgrades, modernization and construction. VA is beginning a patient-centered reformation and transformation of the way it delivers care and new ways of managing its infrastructure plan based on needs of sick and disabled veterans in the 21st Century. Regardless of what the VA health care system of the future looks like, our focus must remain on a lasting and accessible VA health-care system that is dedicated to their unique needs and one that can provide high quality, timely care when and where they need it.

VA manages a wide portfolio of capital assets throughout the nation. According to its latest Capital Asset Plan, VA is responsible for 5,500 buildings and almost 34,000 acres of land. It is a vast network of facilities that requires significant time and attention from VA’s capital asset managers.

CARES – VA’s data-drive assessment of their current and future construction needs – gave VA a long-term roadmap and has helped guide its capital planning process over the past few fiscal 2

years. CARES showed a large number of significant construction priorities that would be necessary for VA to fulfill its obligation to this nation’s veterans and over the last several fiscal years, the administration and Congress have made significant inroads in funding these priorities. Since FY 2004, $4.9 billion has been allocated for these projects. Of these CARES-identified projects, VA has completely five and another 27 are currently under construction. It has been a huge, but necessary undertaking and VA has made slow, but steady progress on these critical projects.

 

The challenge for VA in the post-CARES era is that there are still numerous projects that need to be carried out, and the current backlog of partially funded projects that CARES has identified is large, too. This means that VA is going to continue to require significant appropriations for the major and minor construction accounts to live up to the promise of CARES. VA’s most recent Asset Management Plan provides an update of the state of CARES projects – including those only in the planning of acquisition process. Table 4-5: (page 7.4-49) shows a need of future appropriations to complete these projects of $3.25 billion. Project  

 

Future Funding Needed ($ In Thousands)  

 

Denver  

 

492,700  

 

San Juan  

 

122,920  

 

New Orleans  

 

370,000  

 

St. Louis  

 

364,700  

 

Palo Alto  

 

478,023  

 

Bay Pines  

 

80,170  

 

Seattle  

 

38,700  

 

Seattle  

 

193,830  

 

Dallas  

 

80,100  

 

*Louisville  

 

1,100,000  

 

TOTAL  

 

3,246,143  

 

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