In late July, the VA’s resident engineer for the project, Bart Bruchok, told Rep. John Mica (R) that the project could be completed by summer 2013. At the hearing, Bruchok testified that VA arrived at that estimated completion date with the input of an outside firm, HDR Architecture, using Brasfield & Gorrie’s “original logic” for the project. The VA estimates the project’s completion at 60%; B&G officials testified they felt it was closer to 45%.
“We firmly believe the summer of 2013 is achievable,” said Bruchok.
But the original plan for the project has changed significantly, countered Gorrie, who said the company’s current estimate for completion is instead November 2014—or about two years past the project's original target of October 2012. Pressed by the politicians, Gorrie said completion by November 2013 could be possible, but would require “a ton of effort.”
Regarding the VA's estimated completion date, Gorrie testified: "For months, the VA has mentioned completion dates in the summer of 2013; but to date they have not been willing to disclose the detailed logic they are using to reach that conclusion. From preliminary reports, we know their analysis is not apples-to-apples with ours and does not include the most current information, including major (design) changes."
Completing the project by fall 2013 would first require pending approval of the tentative agreement, followed by timely completion of the project’s design, which remains ongoing due to continuing VA-initiated changes related to medical equipment and subsequent contractor change orders, Gorrie added.
Calling the project “the furthest thing from normal” that Brasfield & Gorrie has ever encountered, Gorrie testified that at present, the contractor has more than $30 million in unresolved change orders. Additionally, he stated that the VA recently withheld $2 million from the contractor’s scheduled monthly payment “without discussion.”
“We’re out of a lot of money,” he said. “We would love to get a return on our investment, and we’re open to any possibility.”
Gorrie testified that the project could end up requiring a significant amount of additional funding to complete. But VA officials stated they hope the project can be completed without additional funding. Agency officials said that they have already transferred roughly $50 million from the Orlando project to other VA contracts because they felt the overall project was under budget.