Deepwater funding, support insufficient, DHS' IG says

The Coast Guard has not done enough to ensure the success of its 20-year, $20 billion Deepwater fleet improvement program, including wielding insufficient control over contractor decisions, according to a recent report from the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general.

In particular, the IG report states, a lack of discipline in the change management associated with Deepwater provides little assurance that the program’s requirements remain effective in meeting the goals of upgrading the Coast Guard’s command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.

Furthermore, although the program's contractor has established information technology testing procedures, it hasn't followed them consistently enough to ensure that the C4ISR systems can perform effectively.

"Insufficient C4ISR funding has restricted accomplishing the system-of-systems objectives that are considered fundamental to Deepwater asset interoperability," the report states.

Congress cut funding for Deepwater in fiscal 2006. Money for the systems engineering and integration activities that support the program has also decreased since the program began in 2002 -- from 20 percent of the overall budget in fiscal 2002 to 4 percent in fiscal 2006.

According to the International Council on Systems Engineering, the IG said, such expenditures should be 10 percent to 15 percent of a program's budget.

The Coast Guard concurred with the IG's findings and recommendations for improving the program, though officials noted that the contractor met the funded contractual requirements in most cases. Nevertheless, they said they will work to identify ways of increasing support for the program within the available funding.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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