Coast Guard:

Actions Needed to Mitigate Deepwater Project Risks

GAO-01-659T: Published: May 3, 2001. Publicly Released: May 3, 2001.

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The Coast Guard is in the final stages of planning the largest procurement project in its history--the Deepwater Capability Replacement Project. This project will likely cost over $10 billion or more and take 20 years or more to complete. The Coast Guard has already spent about $116 million on the project's design and is asking for $338 million this year to begin the acquisition phase. This testimony discusses the major risks associated with the project. GAO found four major areas in which the project is vulnerable. They are (1) planning the project around annual funding levels far above what the administration has told the Coast Guard it can expect to receive, (2) keeping costs under control in the contract's later years, (3) ensuring that procedures and personnel are in place for managing and overseeing the contractor once the contract is awarded, and (4) minimizing potential problems with developing unproven technology. GAO also identified the following key areas that will need to be addressed. The Coast Guard needs (1) effective human capital practices, (2) a systems integrator to establish a management organization and systems necessary to manage the major subcontracts for deepwater equipment; (3) to establish a general policy on subcontractor relationships, (4) to ensure that its budget requests are consistent with Office or Management and Budget guidelines on full funding of useful segments, (5) to implement a subjective rating system to measure contractor performance and (6) to develop and implement a carefully thought-out contingency plan which identifies and analyzes the implication of potential actions should the systems integrator not perform as expected or walk away from the project. This testimony summarizes a May report (GAO-01-564).

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