In the Dock

Key Coast Guard and Navy shipbuilding programs are failing to deliver.

January was a bad month for the sea services' modernization programs. Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard L. Skinner issued a scathing report on the Coast Guard's management of its National Security Cutter acquisition program, declaring that design defects will reduce the ship's service life and increase maintenance costs. Even worse, the IG showed that Coast Guard leaders knew about the problems but chose to stick to the production schedule instead of first solving them.

As a result, the first cutter will need to undergo expensive retrofitting. At the Pentagon, the Navy suspended work on the third Littoral Combat Ship, fired the program manager and reassigned the admiral in charge of shipbuilding programs after an audit showed LCS' costs could nearly double to $400 million.

"We have some programmatic problems both here and in the Navy where apparently all sorts of money can get wasted, ships can get delayed, things can get screwed up and no one's responsible," said Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., at a Jan. 30 hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's panel on the Coast Guard and maritime transportation. "Everyone says it's somebody else's problem while the taxpayers are stuck with the bill."

The Coast Guard's National Security Cutter program is part of a much broader, 25-year plan estimated to cost more than $24 billion, known as Deepwater, which aims to recapitalize the service's watercraft, aircraft and communications assets. It is being managed by a joint venture of defense contractors Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. and has come under fire in recent months for both technical and financial reasons. In November, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen suspended operation of patrol boats that had been revamped under the program when their hulls cracked during deployments. The problems are so severe that it's not yet clear if they can be made seaworthy, Allen told lawmakers at the hearing.

Both the IG and auditors at the Government Accountability Office concluded the Coast Guard has failed to adequately oversee and manage the contract and the contractors.

Lockheed Martin also is responsible for building the Littoral Combat Ship for which the Navy issued the stop-work order. Two other Littoral Combat Ships are being built by General Dynamics Corp. under the contract, and that version also is experiencing significant cost overruns, according to a March 1 report in The Washington Post.

In February, Taylor convened a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the LCS problems. "I am really troubled with the whole design and build concept, not just in this program but with two Coast Guard programs that are equally screwed up," Taylor said. Both the Navy and the Coast Guard are reviewing their shipbuilding programs and reorganizing their oversight workforces.

Allen has proposed a more radical revamping of Coast Guard operations and organizational structure, likely to be implemented in 2008. "Our command and control structures, our support systems and our business practices have in some cases failed to keep pace with our rapid growth and the expansion of our responsibilities," he told more than 40,000 Coast Guard members in a Feb. 13 address in Washington.

Allen said a new deputy commandant for mission support would oversee the design, acquisition and construction of new ships. Until now, these functions have been managed separately, and that, Allen believes, accounts for many of the problems with Deepwater. A new mission support organization will establish a single point of accountability, he said.

"I have made a personal commitment to be a commandant of change, transition and transformation. I did not ask for this job to maintain the status quo," Allen said.

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

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

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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