Status of Selected Aspects of the Coast Guard's Deepwater Program

GAO-08-270R Published: Mar 11, 2008. Publicly Released: Mar 11, 2008.
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The Coast Guard is in the midst of the largest acquisition program in its history--one that has experienced serious performance and management problems. The Deepwater program is intended to replace or modernize the Coast Guard's fleet of vessels, aircraft, and information management capabilities in order to carry out its missions along our coastlines and farther out at sea. Deepwater incorporates acquisition of 15 major classes of new or upgraded assets--5 major classes each of vessels and aircraft, and 5 other projects, including command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. To carry out this acquisition, the Coast Guard contracted with a system integrator, Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS). Since 2001, we have reviewed the Deepwater program and have informed Congress, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Coast Guard of the risks and uncertainties inherent with such a large acquisition. In March 2004, we made recommendations to the Coast Guard to address three broad areas of concern: improving program management, strengthening contractor accountability, and promoting cost control through greater competition among potential subcontractors. In April 2006 and June 2007, we issued follow-on reports describing efforts the Coast Guard had taken to address the recommendations. Congress asked us to determine (1) how decisions are made regarding whether to purchase assets under the contract with ICGS or directly with another vendor; (2) the costs and performance trade-offs, if any, associated with the Coast Guard's acquisition strategy for the Fast Response Cutter (FRC); (3) cost, schedule, and performance issues associated with changes to the National Security Cutter (NSC); and (4) actions the Coast Guard has taken to address the open recommendations from our March 2004 report.

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