WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin says his department is seeking to close perhaps more than 1,100 VA facilities nationwide as it develops plans to allow more veterans to receive medical care in the private sector.
At a House hearing Wednesday, Shulkin said the VA had identified more than 430 vacant buildings and 735 that he described as underutilized, costing the federal government $25 million a year. He said the VA would work with Congress in prioritizing buildings for closure and was considering whether to follow a process the Pentagon had used in recent decades to decide which of its underused military bases to shutter, known as Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.
While President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint calls for a 6 percent increase in VA funding, Shulkin has made clear the government’s second-largest agency with nearly 370,000 employees will have to operate more efficiently and that budget increases should not be considered a given in future years.“Whether BRAC is a model that we should take a look, we’re beginning that discussion with members of Congress,” Shulkin told a House appropriations subcommittee.
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