Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Congress-approved commission to begin BRAC-style review of VA facilities


WASHINGTON — A process will begin in 2022 to review Department of Veterans Affairs facilities across the country to determine which buildings to close and where to invest more resources.

The VA will submit its recommendations about the realignment of VA facilities in January, VA Secretary Denis McDonough said Wednesday during a Senate hearing. Those recommendations will go to a commission, which will spend the next year looking at the VA’s plan, conducting hearings, and submitting its own proposals to the White House.

“We’re on the verge of some very big decisions here,” McDonough said.

Congress approved the creation in 2018 of an Asset and Infrastructure Review Commission to work on the “modernization or realignment” of VA properties. As of Wednesday, the White House had selected seven of the nine commissioners, McDonough said.

The commissioners have not yet been named publicly. The law mandates the commission reflects the demographics of VA patients, and some commissioners must have expertise in either the VA health care system or federal capital asset planning and management. Three of the commissioners must be representatives from veterans service organizations.

If the asset-review commission determines a facility no longer meets the VA's needs, it's supposed to recommend how the facility could be reconfigured, repurposed, consolidated, realigned, exchanged, leased, replaced, sold or disposed, the law states.

The commission must send its recommendation to President Joe Biden by Jan. 31, 2023. Biden will then decide to reject the plan or forward it to Congress. Congress can either accept all of the recommendations or vote down the proposal.


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