DENVER — A former Veterans Affairs Department executive who was harshly criticized by Congress for massive cost overruns at a new Colorado VA medical center said he was never told the price had ballooned to more than $1.7 billion before he left the agency and does not know how it happened.
“I’m just astounded, quite frankly, I’m absolutely astounded,” Glenn Haggstrom told The Associated Press in a rare interview.
Haggstrom, who was the VA’s top construction official when the project nearly collapsed amid legal disputes and skyrocketing costs, said the last estimate he heard from the builder before he was removed from the project was about $890 million.
Haggstrom said had been made a scapegoat, and that responsibility for the failures was widespread within the agency. But he acknowledged that he had a role because he was director of the VA’s Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction.
“As the leader of that organization you do bear the responsibility,” said Haggstrom, who retired in March 2015 amid an internal VA investigation into the costs.
The medical center, under construction in the Denver suburb of Aurora, has been a monumental…
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