The Coast Guard restructures its management of procurement programs
By DAVID W. MUNNS, Assistant Editor
A Tougher Stance
Asea change in the Coast Guard’s acquisition
management is on the horizon as the service’s
senior leaders respond to recent criticisms of
their omnibus multibillion dollar Deepwater program.
Spearheaded by Adm. Thad Allen, Coast Guard commandant, the service is unifying its acquisition strategies
and departments, incorporating best practices throughout the service. The changes are intended to toughen its
oversight of major programs and alter the relationship
between the Coast Guard and its principal contractors.
Previously, the Integrated Deepwater System was
run much as a separate department of the service with
its own acquisition strategy and processes.
This fundamental reorganization, expected to be completed by July, comes in the wake of Allen’s Nov. 30 decision to suspend operations of eight converted 123-foot
patrol boats. The overhaul and deployment of the boats,
which involved extensive renovations including extending the length from 110 feet, had been one of the chief
tangible accomplishments of the Deepwater program.
Allen and other officials view Deepwater as a key
element of their effort to unify acquisitions throughout
the service. The most immediate change is the transfer
of the Deepwater program executive officer, Rear Adm.
Gary T. Blore, to acquisitions director for all Coast Guard procurement
programs, including Deepwater. He
became chief of the Deepwater program in May 2006.
Rear Adm. Ronald J. Rábago, previously director of personnel management, was named in January to
In addition, the service will rely
heavily on task forces from the
Defense Department and the
Department of Homeland Security to
assess various aspects of Deepwater
as a means to ensure Coast Guard
management is independent of its
major contractors and receives good value for money.
“More effective oversight, sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars and timely delivery of much-needed
assets are the watchwords for Deepwater. We are pursuing all efforts with a great sense of urgency. Anything
less is unacceptable,” Allen said in a written statement
Deepwater — the largest procurement effort in the
Coast Guard’s history — is a $24 billion, 25-year initiative
begun in 2002 to purchase dozens of vessels and aircraft
along with the requisite intelligence, communications
and weapons systems. During its lifespan, the program
will acquire or rebuild more than 200 new ships and
boats, and nearly 250 aircraft and unmanned vehicles.
The suspension of patrol boat operations and
restructuring of Coast Guard acquisition programs was
prompted by the discovery in November of additional
problems with the vessels. Though deployed only a
year ago, the buckling of structural elements underneath a main engine aboard one of the eight boats led
to the examination of five additional vessels Nov. 16 by
the Coast Guard’s chief engineer, Rear Adm. Dale G.
Gabel. He found similar deformations, as well as other
maladies, on all five.
Allen mandates more reliance on internal experts, outside assessment teams.
■ To come: Arms-length relations with the top Deepwater integrator.
■ One team already is re-assessing purchase of the Eagle Eye
unmanned aircraft. A report is expected this month.
■ Procurement of the Fast Response Cutter B also is getting a
■ Blore: Using today’s management scheme, the service “would
not have gone forward” with the patrol boat project.