July 30, 2009
House passes Coast Guard acquisition reform bill
The House has unanimously passed H.R.1665, the Coast Guard Acquisition Reform Act of 2009.
The legislation was introduced by Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, to build on Coast Guard acquisition reform efforts that followed widely publicized problems with the Deepwater acquisition.
"The Coast Guard Acquisition Reform Act," noted Congressman Cummings, "takes lessons learned from previous misuse of taxpayer funds to institutionalize the processes and procedures that will help the Coast Guard meet the standards that must accompany the expenditure of every single tax dollar."
The consequences stemming from the Coast Guard's lack of a standardized acquisition process became clear in the failures of early procurements under the Deepwater program. Because the Coast Guard had no proven process to guide the formulation of asset requirements, designs, and acquisition strategies and was unable to hold its contractors accountable for their performance, the program wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen responded to criticisms of the service's acquisition management capacities, by creating a new Acquisition Directorate and a "Blueprint for Acquisition Reform."
While the Coast Guard has taken these positive steps to restructure its acquisition management systems, noted a statement by Congressman Cummings, there are still challenges remaining in the implementation of these new systems. H.R. 1665 would address these challenges by strengthening specific acquisition processes.
The bill will:
Prohibit the Coast Guard from using a private sector lead systems integrator
Require the appointment of a Chief Acquisition Officer who must be a Level III Program Manager with at least 10 years of professional experience in acquisition management
Require the development of independent life-cycle cost estimates and testing and evaluation plans for the largest acquisition programs.
"While I applaud the measures that Admiral Allen has taken to establish the management systems necessary to improve the Coast Guard's acquisition process, even the best systems in the world are of no use if they aren't followed," Congressman Cummings said. "This legislation helps to ensure that the Coast Guard establishes an effective and efficient acquisition process that will be implemented long after the current leadership has left."