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Highlights

Search and rescue--one of the United States Coast Guard's (USCG) oldest missions and highest priorities--involves minimizing loss of life, injury, and property damage by aiding people and boats in distress. In September 2002, USCG contracted to replace its search and rescue communications system--installed in the 1970s--with a new system known as Rescue 21. However, the acquisition and initial implementation of Rescue 21 has resulted in significant cost overruns and schedule delays. GAO's objectives in reviewing the Rescue 21 program were to (1) assess the reasons for the significant cost overruns and implementation delays; (2) evaluate the viability of the revised cost and schedule estimates; and (3) evaluate the impact of the implementation delays.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
United States Coast Guard 1. To more effectively manage the remaining development and deployment of Rescue 21, the Commandant of USCG should ensure that USCG executive-level management oversees the project's progress toward cost and schedule milestones and management of risks.
Closed - Implemented
The House Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Fisheries and the Coast Guard requested that GAO review the management and effectiveness of the Coast Guard's efforts to modernize its national distress and response system, referred to as Rescue 21. GAO found that executive oversight of the Rescue 21 effort was not adequate and recommended that the Commandant of the Coast Guard ensure that USCG executive-level management oversee the project's progress toward cost and schedule milestones and management of risk. The Coast Guard concurred with this recommendation and has established multiple reviews that involve executive management for both USCG and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and that report progress toward the cost and schedule baselines laid out in the DHS Acquisition Program Baseline (APB) of April 2006. These new oversight initiatives include quarterly executive governance meetings and bi-weekly teleconferences between executives at USCG and the Vice President at the prime contractor for Rescue 21 that focus on the achievement of Rescue 21 deployment goals and establishment of a new executive oversight body, including DHS and Coast Guard executives, that meet regularly to discuss Rescue 21 progress. This group met for the first time June 19 and again August 23.
United States Coast Guard 2. To more effectively manage the remaining development and deployment of Rescue 21, the Commandant of USCG should ensure that USCG executive-level management establishes a milestone to complete Rescue 21's integrated baseline review, to include all renegotiated contract items.
Closed - Implemented
The House Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Fisheries and the Coast Guard requested that GAO review the management and effectiveness of the Coast Guard's efforts to modernize its national distress and response system, referred to as Rescue 21. GAO found that a significant number of items in the acquisition would have to be renegotiated with the prime contractor as a result of delays in the development and deployment of the new system. The current cost estimate did not take these items into account. Therefore, GAO recommended that the Coast Guard establish a milestone for completing an Integrated Baseline Review (IBR) to include all renegotiated Rescue 21 items. By May of 2008, the IBR was completed for all Full Rate Production sites and cost and schedule revisions resulting from the IBR were approved by DHS.
United States Coast Guard 3. To more effectively manage the remaining development and deployment of Rescue 21, the Commandant of USCG should ensure that USCG executive-level management uses the results of this baseline review to complete a revised cost and schedule estimate.
Closed - Implemented
The House Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security and Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Fisheries and the Coast Guard requested that GAO review the management and effectiveness of the Coast Guard's efforts to modernize its national distress and response system, referred to as Rescue 21. GAO found that a significant number of items in the acquisition would have to be renegotiated with the prime contractor as a result of delays in the development and deployment of the new system. The current cost estimate did not take these items into account. Therefore, GAO recommended that, once the IBR is completed, the Coast Guard use the information from the IBR to complete a revised cost and schedule estimate. The Coast Guard concurred with this recommendation and completed IBRs for all Full Rate Production sites. As a result of this, it submitted a revised cost and schedule estimate (acquisition program baseline) to the Department, which approved the new estimate.

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