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VA pays six figures for never-used guard shacks

Posted at 10:00 PM, Feb 28, 2016

This is a story nearly two years in the making thanks to bureaucracy and red tape. In 2013, Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears made a promise to stay on top of how our tax dollars were being spent at our local VA hospital. 

In a "You Paid for It" update, we asked the VA to answer where tax dollars were going. The answer is that you paid almost $325,000 for security sheds that have never been used.

In the fall of 2013, we began reporting on cost-overruns and construction delays at the then-new VA hospital in North Las Vegas. 

It was still under construction and about $260 million over budget.  

While veterans were waiting months for care and years to get their claims approved, we looked at how the VA was spending more than $115,000 on things like decorative bubble walls.

Here's a quote from our November 2013 report: "Some of the stuff they built here will probably never even be used, like this guard shack. After it was constructed, they realized they didn't want to delay people who are coming to seek medical care. So it sits empty and unmanned -- only to be used, officials say, in the case of a security emergency."

A look inside shows one of the shacks being used for storage. There are plastic-wrapped gun holsters and rifle cases and duffel bags of protective equipment in case of a hazardous materials incident.

When we first asked how much the guard booths cost taxpayers, the VA told us they didn't have the records. They referred us to their Office of Construction and Facilities Management.

It took that office almost two years to give us some heavily blacked-out documents showing a $108,000 price tag for the one booth at the hospital's Pecos entrance.

There are three entrances with identical unused guard booths, totaling nearly $325,000. 

The VA says they never had any plans to man the booths 24/7. They say they're part of a federally-mandated protection strategy to control access if the facility has to go on high security alert.