Hill and Boozman React to VA OIG Solar Panel Report
For more information, contact: Mike Siegel (Hill), (202) 225-2506; Patrick Creamer (Boozman) (202) 224-4843
Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its report on the VA Green Management Program Solar Panel Projects. The report was completed at the request of Senator John Boozman (AR) and Congressman French Hill (AR-02) following a 2015 news report that the Little Rock VA Medical Center tore down solar panels at the facility that had sat there for two years without ever being turned on.
The Little Rock VA solar panel project cost $8 million, and the VA OIG concluded:
“The Little Rock VA medical facility did not effectively plan the installation of a solar panel system. The system is not completed and is not generating solar power. The project experienced significant delays and additional contract costs due to disassembly of previously installed solar panel carport structures to accommodate a parking garage. As a result, the solar project is expected to be fully completed in January 2017, over 4 years beyond its original completion date, with unexpected costs of approximately $1.5 million.”
After VAOIG released its report, Congressman Hill and Senator Boozman released the following statements:
“The OIG report does little to instill confidence in VA’s ability to effectively manage construction projects. Whether it is a project as complex as hospital construction or one as simple as the proper installation of solar panels, VA continues to waste large amounts of taxpayer funds as a result of its own ineptitude. Senator Boozman and I asked the OIG to investigate both the Little Rock and similar projects in order to determine the efficacy of the solar projects nationwide. Now we know that it isn’t solely a Little Rock VA problem – that cost taxpayers an additional $1.5 million – but one that has a much larger geographic and fiscal scope than originally believed. We need to increase oversight into all VA construction activities to ensure these types of avoidable failures do not happen in the future,” Hill said.
“I commend the diligent work that the VAOIG’s office put into this report. The clear takeaway is that there is a lack of accountability and oversight at VA when it comes to the Green Management Program. This must change. VA’s refusal to accept the OIG’s recommendation that it conduct the proper assessments necessary to prevent future failures of this magnitude is unacceptable. Steps must be taken to ensure that resources meant to help our veterans are not squandered on wasteful projects. Congressman Hill and I are committed to ensuring that the poor management practices of the VA’s Solar Panel Projects are addressed,” Boozman said.