For years, Coloradans have endured shame and embarrassment over the enormous cost overruns and the continued delayed opening of the new veterans hospital in Aurora. Comprehensive investigative reports from The Denver Post and documented findings of shortcomings by federal watchdogs have offered details meant to explain the many lapses that swelled the hospital’s expected cost by more than $1 billion. But at the gut-level understanding that many understandably rely on, we would guess that readers see the construction project as simply another crown jewel among examples of government incompetence at its finest.

Such a boiled-down assessment might help explain the latest outrage. Turns out one of the key players in the debacle has been quietly promoted. As recently reported by The Post’s Mark K. Matthews, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs named Stella Fiotes to serve as its acting head of the divisions that — wait for it — handles acquisition, logistics and construction.

Congressman Mike Coffman, whose district includes the new hospital, is rightly demanding answers. As director of the VA’s Office of Construction and Facilities Management, Fiotes oversaw the construction of the new Aurora facility, which is expected to finally open next year after a four-year delay. Back in 2014, in testimony to Congress, Fiotes maintained that the hospital could be built within its expected $800 million budget, an assertion in question, given that the project’s cost already had grown from $604 million. Coffman later argued that Fiotes’ performance that day amounts to perjury, as evidence now shows comments about what became the $1.7 billion price tag were untrue.

Read more at The Denver Post.

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