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Highlights

The Coast Guard has responsibility for protecting America's ports, waterways, and waterside facilities from terrorist attacks. At the same time, the Coast Guard remains responsible for many other missions important to the nation's interests, such as conducting search and rescue and protecting important fishing grounds. GAO's past work found that despite substantial budget increases, the Coast Guard's extensive homeland security responsibilities resulted in a reduction in the levels at which the agency's ship, boat, and aircraft resources were applied to non- homeland security programs. GAO was asked to update and expand this work by analyzing: the trends in resource usage, the trends in performance results, and the implications of these trends.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
United States Coast Guard 1. To provide the Coast Guard and the Congress with critical information necessary for an efficient and effective allocation of resources, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to develop a time frame for expeditiously proceeding with plans for implementing a system that will accurately account for resources expended in each of its program areas.
Closed - Implemented
In March 2004, GAO issued a report assessing the Coast Guard's efforts to balance its homeland security and non-homeland security missions, including the trends in resource usage, in performance results, as well as the implications of these trends for Coast Guard management and accountability. GAO recommended that the Coast Guard develop a time frame for expeditiously proceeding with plans for implementing a system that would accurately account for resources expended in each of its program areas. Since we issued these recommendations the Coast Guard has reported that it continues to improve the transparency and accuracy of its financial systems and data and as recently as 2007 had updated its Mission Cost Model. For example, the Coast Guard developed its Mission Cost Model (MCM) which the agency states accurately captures the costs of mission-direct activities and the allocation of mission-support costs as they are incurred.
United States Coast Guard 2. To provide the Coast Guard and the Congress with critical information necessary for an efficient and effective allocation of resources, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to ensure that the Coast Guard's strategic planning process and its associated documents include a strategy for (1) identifying intervening factors that may affect program performance and (2) systematically assessing the relationship between these factors, resources used, and results achieved.
Closed - Implemented
In March 2004, GAO issued a report assessing the Coast Guard's efforts to balance its homeland security and non-homeland security missions, including the trends in resource usage and performance results, as well as the implications of these trends for Coast Guard management and accountability. GAO recommended that the Coast Guard ensure that its strategic planning process and its associated documents include a strategy for (1) identifying intervening factors that may affect program performance, and (2) systematically assessing the relationship between these factors, resources used, and results achieved. Since we issued these recommendations, the Coast Guard has reported that it has implemented GAO's recommendation by establishing, in 2004, the National Maritime Strategic Risk Assessment (NMSRA)--a systematic process for continuous improvement for Coast Guard planning that identifies events that could prevent the Coast Guard from achieving its performance goals, identifies strategies and approaches to mitigate them, and estimates the impact that the proposed solutions will have on future maritime risks and Coast Guard readiness. For example, through its 2004 NMSRA, Coast Guard's program officials identified and proposed solutions to 21 strategic problems that they believed contribute substantially to future maritime risks and Coast Guard readiness. Since developing its first NMSRA in 2004, Coast Guard has performed the NMSRA on a biannual basis, with a second assessment conducted in 2006, and a third planned for 2008.

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