Chairman Cummings Applauds Coast Guard's Move to Take Back the Helm of Deepwater Contract

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Washington, D.C.-U.S. Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, applauded the Coast Guard for the changes it announced today to the Deepwater Acquisition Program. "Today, the Coast Guard has moved decisively to take back the helm of the Deepwater contract and to right this floundering procurement program. "Deepwater has had problems since its inception stemming from failures both on the part of the Coast Guard to exercise effective managerial oversight and on the part of the contractors working on the program to make quality and the full satisfaction of contractual requirements their top priorities.

"Though Deepwater was designed as a mechanism to allow the private sector to identify and procure the most effective assets to meet the Coast Guard's mission needs, a poorly written contract led the Coast Guard to cede too much control over the development of the assets on which it will be dependent long after contractors have moved on to the next project. "Last week, Congressman James L. Oberstar (D-MN), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and I urged the Coast Guard to take systems integration functions back in house and begin contracting directly with ship and plane construction firms rather than paying middle men to manage these procurements. Today's announcement indicates that the Coast Guard has responded to our calls - and I am reassured by the decisive leadership that Admiral Thad Allen, the Coast Guard Commandant, has shown.

"In addition to managing systems integration and directly contracting for assets, the Coast Guard is going to shorten the new extension of the Deepwater contract from 43 months to 18 months in order to give Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, the principal contractors on Deepwater, a chance to get cost-overrun and asset quality issues under control. If these companies fail to get this job done, the federal government will have to find firms that will. "I am also very pleased that the Coast Guard has realized that it is a waste of taxpayers' resources to pour more money through the gaping cracks in the 123-foot patrol boats tied up in the Baltimore yard. It is past time to strip these ships for parts that can be used on the remaining 110-foot patrol boats currently undergoing rehabilitation.

"I believe that, when properly implemented, the steps that Admiral Allen has announced today will result in high quality ships and aircraft being delivered to the Coast Guard on time and within budget. "The security of our nation, the safety of those at sea, and the protection of our marine environments will depend for decades to come on the capacity of the assets produced under Deepwater. Further, the safety of the men and women of the Coast Guard will depend on compliance with all safety standards in the Deepwater contract. These stakes are simply too high for the Deepwater program to fail. "The Transportation Committee and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee will continue to vigorously oversee the Coast Guard's implementation of the Deepwater contract. We will also continue to require accountability both from the Coast Guard for its management decisions and from contractors for their performance in fulfillment of contractual provisions for which they are being paid billions of dollars. "Further, we will work to ensure that the Coast Guard develops and maintains the systems and personnel necessary to prevent the kinds of failures seen on Deepwater from ever reoccurring. Righting Deepwater must be only the first step toward developing within the Coast Guard the capacity to effectively manage asset acquisitions so that money is never again wasted on any ship or plane in the Coast Guard's fleet."

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