House to Vote on Bill to Reform Deepwater Program

Monday, July 30, 2007
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Integrated Deepwater Program Reform Act, H.R. 2722. The legislation, authored by Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, would strengthen the management of the Coast Guard's Deepwater procurement program-which has been marred by failures in contractor performance and Coast Guard management.

Management of the Deepwater Program, a $24b, 25-year program through which the Coast Guard will replace or rehabilitate all of its cutters and aircraft, was awarded in 2002 through a performance-based contract to a private sector team comprised of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, now known as the Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS).

Several of the procurements in the program have experienced failures that have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars-including the failure of the effort to lengthen patrol boats and the failure of the initial designs of a new cutter and an unmanned aerial vehicle. Most recently, the Department of Homeland Security found potential hull problems with the National Security Cutter, the most expensive asset to be procured under Deepwater, which could prevent the ship from meeting contractual requirements.

H.R. 2722 would build on the important corrective actions already being implemented by Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen by putting in place a comprehensive package of reforms to strengthen the institutional capacity of the Coast Guard to manage Deepwater as well as future procurements.

Require the Coast Guard to make all technical decisions and require the use of full and open competition for the procurement of new assets. Set rigorous new standards for the testing and certification of all Deepwater assets, including the new National Security Cutter. Require the appointment of a civilian as the head of the acquisitions directorate. Require the Coast Guard to phase out the use of a private sector firm as lead systems integrator by October 1, 2011.

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