May 21, 2008
House panel probes USCG casualty investigation program
The U.S. Coast Guard's investigation of marine casualties came under scrutiny yesterday.
The focus of the hearing, held by the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation was a new report from the DHS Office of Inspector General: OIG-08-51 - United States Coast Guard's Management of the Marine Casualty Investigations Program.
Subcommittee Chairman Congressman Elijah Cummins said that, with the OIG report "we finally have quantifiable assessments of the Coast Guard's challenges in the casualty investigation program, and we have clear and disturbing conclusions: the Coast Guard's marine casualty investigations program is 'hindered by unqualified personnel,' by 'investigations conducted at inappropriate levels,' and by 'ineffective management of a substantial backlog of investigations needing review and closure.' "
Congressman Cummings said: "While I appreciate the efforts that the Commandant is taking to strengthen the program-- including the request of 276 new billets in marine safety-- I believe that the only way to ensure that the Coast Guard's marine safety program is staffed by qualified and experienced personnel will be by the enactment of legislation that codifies new processes and procedures to ensure that robust standards are in place and are met by the marine safety program. For that reason, I believe that the enactment of the Coast Guard Authorization Act, H.R. 2830, which passed the House of Representatives by a resounding 395 to 7, is absolutely critical."