Congressman Kevin McCarthy is demanding answers about yet another delay in construction of a new veterans clinic in Bakersfield.
In a letter sent Monday to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, the House minority leader expressed his "deep frustration" with "unacceptable delays" and requested to know by Friday a timeline for construction of the new facility.
The Californian reported over the weekend the Department of Veterans Affairs recently canceled a contract that had been awarded a year ago to construct and operate the new veterans clinic at a site in northwest Bakersfield.
"It is utterly unacceptable that our veterans have patiently spent years waiting for a clinic — which Congress authorized ten years ago — and are facing yet another delay because of the VA's mistakes," McCarthy said in a statement he released Monday.
VA spokesman Damian McGee told The Californian last week the VA is moving forward with a new expedited procurement process. The previous selection process apparently violated agency rules in not properly evaluating a proposal to renovate the current clinic by the company that currently operates the clinic in Bakersfield. The type of veterans clinic slated for Bakersfield are not owned by the federal government but are leased to private companies.
Congress authorized construction of 15 new facilities in 2010. The Bakersfield facility is the only one that remains stalled.
In a response to McCarthy's letter, Wilkie reiterated his commitment to building the clinic in Bakersfield and stressed the need to reform the "out of date and burdensome federal acquisition process that is responsible for so many construction delays that only harm our veterans and the public."