Coast Guard Mission Needs and Resources Allocation
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
Summary of Subject Matter
Official Hearing Transcript
Additional Info on Mission Funding and Resource Hours and Performance Measures
GAO Report “Actions Needed to Improve Strategic Allocation of Assets and Determine Workforce Requirements” -- released June 14, 2016
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Hearing on “Coast Guard Mission Needs and Resource Allocation”
June 14, 2016
(Remarks as Prepared)
The Subcommittee is meeting this morning to review Coast Guard mission needs and a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewing how the Service allocates its resources.
Under section 2 of title 14, the Coast Guard is responsible for a wide range of missions, from search and rescue, ice breaking, and marine environmental protection, to port security and drug interdiction. The Coast Guard uses a strategic planning process which determines mission priorities based on risk and helps guide the Service in allocating resources among its statutory missions. GAO noted in its report that not all of the processes used by the Service to allocate its resources have been transparent.
As the Nation’s primary maritime response organization, the Coast Guard often must surge assets and personnel to respond to a hurricane, oil spill, or other national or international emergency. As the Service did in April 2010, it moved over 150 assets and 7,500 personnel to the Gulf Coast to lead response efforts to the DEEPWATER HORIZON oil spill.
The Coast Guard is also tasked with preventing maritime accidents, keeping our borders secure, and protecting our ports and waterways. In fiscal year 2015, the Service conducted over 12,000 safety, security, and environmental inspections of U.S. and foreign flagged vessels, and interdicted 6,000 undocumented migrants and 179 metric tons of illegal drugs.
The Coast Guard works hard to meet its missions and this subcommittee wants to ensure the Service retains its core competencies and acquires the assets needed for its response missions and day-to-day prevention work. However, it does seem at times that the Service presents a rose-colored glasses view of the capabilities and capacities of its assets. This subcommittee also needs to understand where current assets may be failing to support the Service’s ability to meet its mission demands, and how the Service then conducts risk assessments to move assets around to cover mission gaps, and when it may not be possible to cover those gaps and what missions are impacted.
The GAO report notes that for the most part, Coast Guard assets are not reaching the allocated resource hours the Service includes in its planning documents, and its field units are not uniformly tracking data to show what missions are being supported by the assets when in use. GAO also noted without manpower requirement analysis data, the Service cannot be assured it has the appropriate staff, possessing the right mix of skills and abilities, supporting its high priority mission activities.
There are a lot of moving parts to understand how the Coast Guard manages its resources. For those of us trying to support the Service, the various documents – Mission Needs Statement, Capital Investment Plan, Programs of Record – can be less than helpful in revealing how the information they provide flows into annual budget requests and influences overall decisions on asset use and acquisitions. We are your supporters. It should not be this difficult to unravel the needs of the Service or to understand how existing assets are performing. The Coast Guard updated its Mission Needs Statement in 2015 and I look forward to discussing how that Mission Needs Statement will be used to establish an achievable asset acquisition plan.
We have been at this, recapitalizing the Service’s assets, since the late 1990s, while the complexities of the world continue to grow. We need to make sure the Coast Guard is at its most capable, now more than ever.
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