Coast Guard’s CFO weighs mission mandates,
program risks in uncertain budget climate
As the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for resources and chief
financial officer (CFO), Rear Adm. Keith A. Taylor is responsible for building a budget that allows the service to adapt to an ever-changing maritime environment.
A 1983 Coast Guard Academy graduate and former commander at
Air Station Miami, Taylor stepped into his position in March after serving for two years as the service’s deputy chief of staff. There, he
helped direct service-wide coordination, strategic planning, policy
development, financial actions and general management.
Taylor said he believes funding for all eight National Security Cutters
will happen “eventually” — three have been funded thus far — but the
service could experience a $100 million shortfall in the coming year if
oil prices spike like they did earlier this year. He said the service now
is crafting the fiscal 2010 budget.
Taylor discussed a wide range of budget-related issues facing the
Coast Guard, including future funding for unmanned aerial vehicles,
the Rescue 21 command, control and communications system, and
the feasibility of building a new icebreaker to bolster the service’s
presence in the Arctic region, with Assistant Editor John C. Marcario.
How critical is it that the Coast Guard gets the
full $9.35 billion requested from Congress in
the fiscal 2009 budget?
TAYLOR: It’s absolutely critical that we get all the funding that’s up there as part of the president’s request.
That budget was built based upon three key areas.
First off, it’s important to the recapitalization of the
service. We have aging cutters, aging aircraft. We’ve got
command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems that are
outdated. We need to improve and recapitalize those systems. We also need to enhance our capacity in our Marine
Safety Program, which is part of that budget request.
And, finally, there’s an increment in that budget
request that allows us to continue to build out our
maritime domain awareness and our intel awareness,
which is also very important.
The House Appropriations Committee (HAC) in
June wanted to cut $53.7 million from the Deepwater funding request for the fourth National
Security Cutter (NSC) in the fiscal 2009 budget.
Have you had discussions with committee members about why they want to do this and its
potential impact on service?
TAYLOR: Certainly we need every dollar that’s in that
request for the NSC to keep that production line going
and to make sure we can meet the requirements we
have. We have communicated that with HAC staff as
well as through the Department of Homeland Security,