Managers of the U.S. Coast Guard's $24b fleet-overhaul program appeared to cover up a Navy engineering report that highlighted design flaws in a new cutter under
scrutiny by government investigators, according to reports by the Free Internet Press.
U.S. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-California), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the December 2005 report included bottom-line warnings in red ink on a pair of briefing slides that concluded the national security cutter
, as it is known, would not last the required 30 years.
The warnings were deleted in a copy of the report given by Coast Guard officials to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) auditors and altered in an edited version included in a wider briefing on the $1 billion-a-year fleet-replacement program, known as Deepwater, to the Coast Guard's commanding officer at the time, said Waxman.
The accusations, under investigation but partly disputed by the Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, came as Waxman's oversight panel focused on two giant DHS contracts that give unusual leeway to private firms. The companies have been given the authority to plan, design and deliver an overhaul of the Coast Guard's ships, aircraft and systems, and, separately, to build a "virtual fence" at U.S. borders using a blend of surveillance technology and physical barriers.
Waxman challenged the deals, saying they gave contractors too much power and taxpayers too little oversight. As of December, he said, 65 of 98 people hired by DHS to oversee the border project, known as SBInet, were themselves contract employees. So were 76 of the 135 tracking Deepwater, reflecting a dearth of government specialists, he said.
Source: Free Internet Press