Coast Guard:

Reorganization Unlikely to Increase Resources or Overall Effectiveness

RCED-90-132: Published: Jul 12, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 15, 1990.

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John H. Anderson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the proposals for alternative organizational placement of the U.S. Coast Guard, focusing on: (1) the organizational alternatives in terms of their likely impact on the Coast Guard's essential character, multimission capabilities, and funding; and (2) the actions the Coast Guard has taken and will need to take to ensure optimal use of available resources.

GAO found that: (1) the Coast Guard's budget increased from $1.7 billion to $3.1 billion between fiscal year (FY) 1980 and FY 1989; (2) the Coast Guard's budget growth was attributable to substantial funding assistance from sources outside the transportation appropriation, most notably funds appropriated for national defense and drug interdiction; (3) while moving the Coast Guard or making it independent might enhance its effectiveness in certain functional areas, such steps are not likely to increase its available resources or enhance its overall effectiveness; and (4) the Coast Guard has yet to fully develop and implement a performance management system capable of determining how efficiently it uses resources and how well its programs are achieving their objectives.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In September 1992, the Coast Guard conducted training on measurement procedures. In December 1992, the Coast Guard developed an interim data bank on performance measurement. It developed measures of effectiveness and efficiency in September 1995.

    Recommendation: The Coast Guard has taken steps to develop performance measures to improve the use of available resources. However, because of weaknesses in the design of many of those measures and an absence of followup by management to ensure their refinement and implementation, the measures are not currently used in a significant way in the management of the Coast Guard's activities or in top-level decisionmaking. Accordingly, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Coast Guard to continue to improve its performance measures and use them in both the day-to-day management of programs and in higher-level decisionmaking for planning, programming, and budgeting. With a well-developed system of performance measures in place and serving as a foundation for an integrated planning, evaluation, and resource allocation system, the Coast Guard would be in a much better position both to ensure the most effective and efficient use of the limited resources at its disposal and to more accurately determine and persuasively argue its future resource requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation


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