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The September 11th attacks decidedly changed the Coast Guard's priorities and markedly increased its scope of activities. Homeland security, a long-standing but relatively small part of the Coast Guard's duties, took center stage. Still, the Coast Guard remains responsible for many other missions important to the nation's interests, such as helping stem the flow of drugs and illegal migration, protecting important fishing grounds, and responding to marine pollution. For the past several years, the Coast Guard has received substantial increases in its budget to accommodate its increased responsibilities. GAO was asked to review the Coast Guard's most recent level of effort on its various missions and compare them to past levels, analyze the implications of the proposed 2004 budget for these levels of effort, and discuss the challenges the Coast Guard faces in balancing and maximizing the effectiveness of all its missions.

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