Coast Guard seeks to hire more contract managers

A provision in the Obama administration's 2010 budget request for the Homeland Security Department would give the Coast Guard money to hire another 100 contract managers, positions that would put the service within reach of a 1,000-person strong acquisition workforce-the number service leaders say they need to adequately manage the Coast Guard's complex, decades-long modernization program.

The new positions would be in critical oversight and contract management areas, including engineering, financial management, cost analysis, program management and operational testing and evaluation, said Rear Adm. Gary Blore, assistant commandant for acquisition.

"That's as much an investment in our future as are the capital assets," Blore said. "Those 100 people will be doing good things for the Coast Guard for decades."

The budget also would support the Coast Guard's ongoing plans to upgrade and replace its aging fleet of cutters and small boats, aircraft and communications equipment.

"We certainly appreciate the strong support that we got from the administration," Blore said. "We're at about roughly the same level we were at last year for acquisition," but given the enormous pressures on the federal treasury Coast Guard officials are very satisfied with the budget request.

The budget would pay for a fourth national security cutter, the centerpiece of the service's wide-ranging modernization program known as Deepwater. On Friday, the Coast Guard formally accepted the first national security cutter, the USCGC Bertolf, into the fleet. Ships two and three are now in production.

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