House Panelists Complain Coast Guard Again Tardy With Investment Plan

The Coast Guard was five months late last year with its capital investment outlook, making it difficult for Congress carry out its budgeting and policy functions, and is overdue again for delivering the Capital Investment Plan (CIP), leaders on a House committee that oversees the Coast Guard said on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, the Coast Guard submits the CIP late every year, precluding its use to properly inform appropriations and authorization legislation,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Administration, said in his opening statement at a hearing to examine implementation of Coast Guard programs. “When a CIP is finally delivered, its profile often does not align with the needs of the service as reported by the commandant and other senior leaders.”Capitol at night---cropped---MS photo

A summary of the hearing subject matter, published by the subcommittee on March 2, says that between fiscal years 2013 and 2018, Congress appropriated $2 billion more for acquisitions programs than the Coast Guard requested to meet emerging needs and current missions. It also says that there is $7.6 billion in funding the service plans to request between fiscal years 2018 and 2022 that is based on outdated estimates.

For example, the subcommittee memo says that life cycle cost estimates in the latest CIP for the National Security Cutter (NSC), are from September 2014, even though Congress appropriated funding for a ninth NSC in 2015 and long-lead funding for a 10th ship in 2017.

Rear Adm. Linda Fagan, the Coast Guard’s deputy commandant for Operations Policy and Capability, acknowledged to Hunter that the CIP for the FY ’19 budget request is late and that the service is working with a “sense of urgency” to provide it to Congress. The “good news,” she said, is that life-cycle cost estimates for some programs that the subcommittee is concerned, including the NSC, will “be updated and revised.” Fagan added that she’s “hopeful” the CIP for FY ’19 will be “delivered shortly.”

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), ranking member on the panel, summed up the panel’s frustration at the outset of his questioning, saying, “we’re given information about what the Coast Guard wants and its significantly different from what we anticipate the Coast Guard needs.”

Fagan, in response to a question by Hunter regarding investment planning and a lack of metrics to measure investments with mission needs, said the service uses a “repeatable, recurring predictable” operational planning process “that allows us to make resourcing decisions and resource allocations against the 11 statutory missions. It’s a key part of iterating and continuing to improve.”

Hunter closed the hearing saying the Coast Guard needs to provide its full investment plans so that Congress “can fight” for the service.  He said the behind the scenes deal making that results in funding add-ons for the Coast Guard’s capital needs can’t always be counted on.

Hunter also wasn’t happy with the lack of specifics from Fagan during the hearing.

“We accomplished a lot of venting here and that’s about it I think,” Hunter said.

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