House committee approves bill to overhaul Deepwater

Memo on markup of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2007

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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved legislation that would overhaul the Coast Guard’s $24 billion Deepwater acquisition program. It also advanced a Coast Guard authorization bill that provides $917 million for Deepwater in fiscal 2008.

The Integrated Deepwater Program Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), would prohibit the use of a private lead systems integrator for Deepwater beginning two years from enactment, and also would require competition for every asset category. The panel passed it June 28 by voice vote, sending it to the House floor.

The bill, H.R. 2722, creates acquisition management systems within the Coast Guard so that the service itself can effectively manage the Deepwater program and be the lead systems integrator, according to the committee’s summary.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a similar Deepwater reform bill, S. 924, sponsored by Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general and the Government Accountability Office have criticized the Deepwater project in recent months. The Coast Guard decommissioned eight Deepwater cutters that did not meet performance standards and is seeking a refund. Coast Guard officials said in April they would take over as lead systems integrator, a role filled since 2002 by Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

The committee also approved H.R. 2830, the authorization bill for the Coast Guard for fiscal 2008. The authorization bill, which provides statutory authority for Coast Guard programs, gives more than $8.3 billion for the Coast Guard for fiscal 2008, including $917 million for Deepwater.

Alice Lipowicz writes for Washington Technology, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

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