Long-simmering tensions between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and one of its largest contractors boiled over Friday when the agency warned Brasfield & Gorrie that it must speed up construction of Orlando's new VA Hospital or risk of losing its contract. The notice issued by the VA gives Brasfield & Gorrie no more than 10 days to develop a plan to increase the number of construction workers on the project, now estimated at 500 or fewer. The agency also wants Brasfield & Gorrie to get going on sections of the 1.2 million-square-foot facility not embroiled in disputes that already have delayed its completion date by several months to the summer of 2013, if not later. "We hope Brasfield & Gorrie acknowledges they have everything they need to complete the job ... and diligently pursue the work," said Bart Bruchok, senior resident engineer for the project. If not, he said, the VA ultimately could terminate the contract and seek another firm. The threat by VA officials, however, is only the latest volley in an ongoing dispute between the agency and Brasfield & Gorrie over the roughly $650 million project. VA officials at a congressional hearing this spring accepted much of the blame for delays, including hold-ups in delivering blueprints and ever-shifting plans. On 15 JUN, Brasfield & Gorrie officials reiterated that complaint and said the VA is still changing its mind. "We continue to receive waves of design changes and we were advised this week that more design changes are coming," noted Tracey Sibley, a company spokeswoman. "Regardless of the VA's continued efforts to deflect its responsibility, Brasfield & Gorrie never stopped working diligently."
[Source: Orlando Sentinel Mark K. Matthews article 15 Jun 2012 ++]