GAO: Coast Guard needs to revalidate modernization plans

The Coast Guard's 25-year modernization program, known as Deepwater, has exceeded cost and schedule baselines established in 2007 and might not meet performance targets, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

The Coast Guard launched Deepwater 14 years ago to modernize its rapidly aging fleets of aircraft and ships along with the technologies that provide service members with command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Because the service lacked a sufficient number of skilled contract managers, engineers and other key personnel capable of overseeing such a far-reaching program, it initially turned to a systems integrator to manage Deepwater. But repeated cost overruns, schedule delays and performance failures forced the Coast Guard to take over the program from Integrated Coast Guard Systems in 2007, five years after the contract was awarded. ICGS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.

In 2007, then-Commandant Adm. Thad Allen revamped the Deepwater program and the service's acquisition office to improve oversight. The Coast Guard also established new cost and schedule baselines for individual assets within the program.

"The asset-specific baselines that have been approved to date, while providing greater insight into asset-level capabilities, place the total cost of Deepwater at roughly $28 billion, or $3.8 billion over the $24.2 billion 2007 baseline," the report said.

"Costs could continue to grow as four assets currently lack revised cost baselines; among them is the largest cost driver in the Deepwater program, the offshore patrol cutter. The asset-level baselines also indicate that schedules for some assets are expected to be delayed by several years," GAO found.

The Coast Guard's preliminary assessments suggest some assets could experience further cost and schedule growth, GAO wrote.

When the Coast Guard took over the role of systems integrator in 2007, it planned to revalidate the quantities of assets needed to meet operational needs; determining the number and type of assets needed to meet mission demands is key to managing the acquisition and will determine final cost and performance of the program.

In 2008, service officials began a comprehensive fleet mix analysis, but it was conducted without regard for any budget constraints. The results of that analysis have never been released and Coast Guard officials told GAO auditors they don't intend to use them to produce recommendations for the program.

The service now is conducting a second, cost-constrained fleet mix analysis, limited to surface assets, which is expected to be completed in February 2011.

GAO recommended the Coast Guard complete an overall assessment that clarifies the quantities, mix and cost of all assets needed to meet its operational requirements, and that the report be submitted to Congress. The Homeland Security Department concurred with the recommendation.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.