Cummings: Authorization will improve Coast Guard acquisitions

The following is the text of a press release issued by U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.:
(WASHINGTON) — Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, was pleased today with the passage of H.Res. 1665, concurring in Senate amendments to H.R. 3619, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010.
The bill authorizes slightly more than $10 billion in annual funding for the United States Coast Guard, and will make several major changes to the service.
Cummings chaired four hearings on the Deepwater acquisition program and participated in multiple hearings of the full Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to consider Coast Guard acquisitions. Coast Guard procurement was heavily examined, including circumstances leading to initial failures in Deepwater procurements. Included among these was the failure of the effort to lengthen the 110-foot patrol boats, and all of the significant acquisition management reforms the Coast Guard has implemented in recent years.

“I am very happy that the House has passed an effective bill that will help the Coast Guard,†said Cummings. “One of the biggest issues the Coast Guard faces right now is ensuring capable management of its acquisition process. During the hearings I have chaired on the subject, we learned what needed to be done to help the Coast Guard to operate efficiently and effectively. I believe the reforms the service has already implemented as a result of the hearings have been forceful responses to the challenges the service has faced. I applaud the Coast Guard for addressing these issues head-on. Provisions in the Coast Guard Authorization will build on and strengthen these reforms.â€

H.R. 3619 will require appointment of a Chief Acquisition Officer. This officer can be a senior military officer or member of the senior executive service but must be a trained acquisition professional with the highest available acquisition certification.

The legislation will eliminate the use of private sector lead systems integrators and require the Coast Guard to develop tailored testing and evaluation programs and independent life-cycle cost estimates for its largest procurements.

H.R. 3619 will require the Coast Guard to complete a thorough mission needs analysis that identifies specific capability gaps as well as a preliminary affordability assessment before initiating a large acquisition and it will require the Coast Guard to consider trade-offs among cost, schedule, and performance when establishing operational requirements.

Finally, this legislation will apply strict cost and schedule breach standards to Coast Guard acquisitions.

Additionally, the legislation will reorganize the service’s senior leadership, strengthen our merchant marine, establish safety equipment and construction standards for certain fishing vessels, and strengthen the service’s homeland security missions.

“Though it is critical that the authorization passes, I am certainly disappointed that there were a number of provisions we had to drop from the House-passed bill in the final revisions,†said Cummings. “Included among the dropped legislation were provisions I authored to create a student loan program specifically for maritime workers and provisions that would have encouraged efforts to support diversity at the Coast Guard Academy.

“Despite the loss of these programs, H.R. 3619 is a long overdue authorization for the Coast Guard and I urge my colleagues in the Senate it to pass it as soon as possible.â€

By Professional Mariner Staff