Take a second to imagine the worst construction project that you ever worked on. Chances are, it was either over budget or finished behind schedule. Now, imagine working on a project that is not only a year behind schedule, but $1 BILLION over budget. No, not $1 Million…$1 BILLION. With a big ole fat “B” right at the beginning of it. That’s a pretty good reason to name a project the “Biggest Construction Failure Ever.”
That’s exactly the deficit that the Department of Veterans Affairs has gotten themselves into by once again proving that they are unfit to handle large construction projects. The new medical center in Denver, Colorado was originally supposed to cost $328 million dollars in 2005 and then ballooned to $880 million after lobbyists convinced Congress to throw more money at it, and now, 10 years later, has reached astronomical heights at a cost of $1.73 billion dollars. There’s that “B” again. This complex was supposed to serve roughly 400,000 former military service members and their families, but this ongoing delay undoubtedly has them questioning if they will ever get to use the facility.
The “Government Accountability Office”, which appears to be the excuse giving parent to VA's annoying child, cited several reasons as to what was behind the inflating cost of the project. Stating "changes to veterans' health care needs, site-acquisition issues, and a decision in Denver to change plans from a medical center shared with a local medical university to a standalone VA medical center." So basically they decided to do a renovation, to an addition, to a building under construction. Once you spend $500mil on a building that isn’t complete and has changed three times you don’t really have a choice but to finish it. The recent Congress approved $100 million for three more weeks of work, won’t even finish the project. And the kicker is, after almost $2 billion dollars in spending for this project, you wouldn’t even bat an eye at it. It looks like Cold War-era drab. Currently, the VA is running an impressive 30 months behind schedule, on average, for each of its construction projects. If this is how the VA runs construction can you imagine how they treat our Vets?
The VA later laid out a short-term plan to avoid the aforementioned shutdown. In a memo release by the VA they stated that in order to prevent the shutdown Colorado Veterans will have to do without a planned community living center and a post-traumatic stress disorder residential clinic. Secretary of the VA McDonald said that these moves were not “the best decision for Colorado veterans," but were "the only option available" under a Congressional mandate to cut costs. And as if that were not unbelievable enough; McDonald asked for additional $100’s of millions from congress on top of the other $100 million asked for last week. The loss of these two buildings further accentuates the failure of this project. PTSD is a disorder that does not and traditionally has not received enough attention from our military or Government. So it is a shame that once again this vital facility is cut due to Government incompetence. As for a Community Living Center it sounds important and is probably much needed, but, as with many things, it will be up to charities and non-profits to pick up the slack.
This situation, as well as past situations involving the VA, have prompted Republican Rep., Jeff Miller, of Florida to introduce a bill that would take the VA out of the business of constructing medical facilities that cost more than $100 million. If we’re being honest, $100 million dollars is still probably too much for them to handle. According to The Hill, that bill was added to the National Defense Authorization Act as an amendment and recently passed with a vote of 71-25. All projects over that threshold will now be overseen by the Army Corps of Engineers.
After conducting a thorough review, the Army Corps of Engineers concluded that gross mismanagement of the project’s Integrated Design and Construction methodology was the main contributing factor to the delays and project overruns. The VA had actually never used that project delivery system on any of their projects previously. In the Corps official report, which can be viewed here, the group also blamed the fact that the project executive was some 2,000 miles away, which did not allow for proper oversight; the lack of “disciplined governance,” which allowed for a constant change of scope with little to no regard for cost or time impact; and lack of proper staffing and resources in the local Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
We want to hear from you: what do you think of this project failure?
Construction companies rely on two main assets to get their jobs done every day: their people and their equipment. Without either component, you will not be able to serve your customers well. You wouldn't think of sending your people to a site without proper insurance coverage and safety gear, yet if you are operating your fleet without fleet tracking, then you are putting those valuable vehicles at risk. Here are some ways that fleet management systems protect your assets, and therefore your business, from serious financial loss.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created a lot of jobsite safety rules since its creation in 1971. Some of those rules have become outdated, due to a variety of reasons, or have caused unnecessary confusion for companies due to wording. Earlier this month, OSHA proposed 18 revisions to existing rules, with many affecting the construction industry.
2016 has been a big year for OSHA, as the organization has raised the cost of fines for safety violations for the first time since 1990. Made, effective in August, fines were raised 78%, making the cost of a serious violation $12,471. The construction industry is by far the most affected by OSHA regulations, as it accounted for 43.3% of all citations, 52.92% of all inspections, and 44.16% of all penalties assessed from October 2015 to September 2016. Of all specific types of contractors, roofing contractors account for the largest quantity of citations (6,924), following by framing contractors (3,810), and masonry contractors (2,501).
It’s not often that a gigantic pack of construction vehicles are seen on the same site together, been when they do, it’s pretty memorizing. Some of our favorite construction videos of all time involve more machines than you would think could fit in one space, like this 10 hour demolition of a Canadian Overpass or this video of 116 excavators working side-by-side in China. Very few jobsites have the luxury of throwing a bunch of machines and labor on a project, but, if performed correctly, it can get a job done pretty quickly.
2016 has been filled with controversial law changes affecting contractors, like the first increase in OSHA fines in 27 years, OSHA’s new injury reporting rule, and new overtime pay rules. Industry groups have submitted comments hoping to ease the pain on contractors, but have not had any success overturning any of them. The next challenge facing contractors started with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order signed in July 31.
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Bosch, one of the construction industry's trusted tool manufacturers, has just announced an exciting new sweepstakes, giving you a chance to win $50,000 towards a new RAM truck or van. It is all part of a newly announced "Stand By Your Work" sweepstakes, which runs now through November 30th of this year.
Cranes are not only an extremely useful piece of equipment, but they’re also extremely dangerous if something goes wrong. Each year, there are several crane collapses and other crane related accidents that claim lives. Having said that, the last thing contractors need is for adrenaline seekers to start climbing and playing around on their cranes. The problem is, it’s already happening.
This 6-1/2” circular saw fits perfectly into the light duty category for circular saws. With the 4.0ah battery, 50 degree bevel, and 4000 rpm saw speed this model delivers performance comparable to many of the heavy duty saws on the market while still keeping a very reasonable price point.
We have a lot of safety rules in construction and it’s practically impossible to monitor your job site for compliance of every single rule. To complicate matters, many rules are based upon exposure limits, especially when airborne particles are involved. OSHA recently reduced the allowable exposure limit of silica dust, which is found in concrete, stone, and brick, before additional PPE or engineering controls are required. This rule change has caused a lot of grief among construction industry groups, who called the rule technologically infeasible, because what contractor is really set up to measure when 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air is actually reached?