Officials tasked with overseeing the Veterans Affairs Department’s hospital project in Aurora, Co., widely considered the biggest construction failure in the agency’s history, wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and years of effort by designing a lavish, sprawling medical complex, the VA’s watchdog said Wednesday. The Aurora clinic’s costs have ballooned from its $800 million budget in 2009 to $1.7 billion and counting. The inspector general pointed to gross mismanagement and overly ambitious, ever-changing design plans as causes of the bungle in its highly-anticipated review of the project. VA officials insisited on including custom glass, custom walls and wood, and custom floors, among other extravagent designs that ratcheted up the cost of the Colorado facility. The agency scrapped plans for a traditional hospital building in favor of blueprints that featured a complex cluster of narrow, individual buildings that would require more money and time to construct.
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