Coast Guard revises acquisition manual

The Coast Guard has revised its acquisition guidance to ensure that major construction projects get a formal design review before starting production, the agency has announced.

On Oct. 17, the Coast Guard completed a revision to its Major Systems Acquisition Manual to meet a requirement set by Congress, according to a news release dated Nov. 3. Lawmakers included language in the Homeland Security Department’s fiscal 2009 spending package to address concerns related to the Coast Guard’s $24 billion Deepwater program to acquire cutter ships, patrol boats and other replacement assets.

The service is requesting a refund from Deepwater contractors for eight 123-foot patrol boats that were structurally unsound. The vessels had been lengthened to extend their life but were weakened in the process.

Congress said that “no funding may be obligated for low rate initial production or initial production of any Integrated Deepwater Systems program asset until the Coast Guard revises its Major Systems Acquisition Manual procedures to require a formal design review prior to the authorization of low rate initial production or initial production.”

To meet that requirement, the acquisition manual now incorporates systems engineering best practices, including a requirement for project managers to document completion of the preliminary design review, critical design review and test readiness review showing agreement among the technical authorities, the Coast Guard said.
 
“The revised MSAM provides clearer guidance to Project Managers, incorporates lessons learned and best practices for major systems acquisition and continues the Coast Guard’s progress in strengthening its acquisition framework. It also aligns acquisition policy and procedure with organizational changes that have taken place within the Coast Guard, such as the renewed reliance on Coast Guard Technical Authorities,” the release stated.

The manual is now aligned with the Coast Guard’s Blueprint for Acquisition Reform, the service said .
Other modifications to the manual:
 
• Add overview of project manager authority and responsibility.
• Add Milestone 2A, which requires approval by the component acquisition executive before to commencing low rate initial production.
• Add linkages of acquisition process with budget and requirements.
• Overhaul the requirements generation process to align with new organizational efficiencies – with the assistant commandant for marine safety, security, and stewardship responsible for mission analysis and the assistant commandant for capability responsible for developing requirements.
• Institute an independent logistics assessment and logistics readiness review.
• Streamline the review and approval process for acquisition planning documents.
• Require approval of the test and evaluation management plan and test plans prior to commencing test and evaluation.
• Provide guidance for solicitation planning.
• Require project/program risk management plans..
• Require independent cost estimates.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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