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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Coast Guard Deepwater Acquisition Programs: Background, Oversight Issues, and Options for Congress

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

The term Deepwater refers to a collection of more than a dozen Coast Guard acquisition programs for replacing and modernizing the service’s aging fleet of deepwater-capable ships and aircraft. Until April 2007, the Coast Guard pursued these programs as a single, integrated acquisition program that was known as the Integrated Deepwater System (IDS) program or Deepwater program for short. The now-separated Deepwater acquisition programs include plans for, among other things, 91 new cutters, 124 new small boats, and 247 new or modernized airplanes, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The year 2007 was a watershed year for Deepwater acquisition. The management and execution of what was then the single, integrated Deepwater program was strongly criticized by various observers. House and Senate committees held several oversight hearings on the program. Bills were introduced to restructure or reform the program in various ways. Coast Guard and industry officials acknowledged certain problems in the program’s management and execution and defended the program’s management and execution in other respects. The Coast Guard announced a number of reform actions that significantly altered the service’s approach to Deepwater acquisition (and to Coast Guard acquisition in general). Among these was the change from a single, integrated Deepwater acquisition program to a collection of separate Deepwater acquisition programs.

The Coast Guard’s management of Deepwater acquisition programs, including implementation of recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), is a topic of continuing congressional oversight. Additional oversight issues include cost growth in Deepwater acquisition programs and the execution of individual Deepwater acquisition efforts, particularly those for surface ships.

The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2011 budget requests $1,112.5 million in acquisition funding for Deepwater programs, including $101.0 million for aircraft, $856.0 million for surface ships and boats, and $155.5 million for other items.

Date of Report: October 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 51
Order Number: RL33753
Price: $29.95

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