VA calls for its own BRAC process to close outdated facilities
On Capitol Hill, there are few four-letter words that are quite as unspeakable as “BRAC” these days. Nonetheless, the Department of Veterans Affairs has come to the conclusion that it needs something similar to the Defense process for closing excess bases so that it can offload hundreds of crumbling buildings and bring its medical infrastructure more in line with what it takes to run a modern health system.
In contrast to DoD, VA’s problem is not mainly about a raw overabundance of unused real estate: Indeed, it’s asking for a $493 million increase in 2016 from its previous $1 billion construction budget in order to build new hospitals and clinics. Rather, the department says, too many of its existing facilities are in places where a lot of veterans used to live but don’t anymore, were built in a bygone era of different health care delivery models, or have crumbled so badly that they’re beyond the point of economical use.