Hunter Statement from Hearing on Coast Guard Readiness & Asset Acquisitions Program
Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
Hearing on “Maintaining Coast Guard Readiness”
June 18, 2014
(Remarks as Prepared)
The Subcommittee is meeting today to review the Coast Guard’s major acquisition programs. After over a decade, the Coast Guard is finally taking delivery of critically needed new and improved assets. Unfortunately, just as the Service’s acquisition program is starting to see success, the President is yet again proposing a budget that could doom it to failure.
The President’s budget cuts funding needed to acquire critically needed replacement assets by 21 percent. This will further delay the delivery of new assets, increase acquisition costs for taxpayers, exacerbate growing capability gaps, and seriously degrade Coast Guard mission effectiveness.
As this Subcommittee has continually highlighted, the Coast Guard currently operates tens, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands of hours short of its operational targets. This means assets are not there for the Service to secure our ports, protect our environment, and ensure the safety of our waterways. A few weeks ago, the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Commanding Officer of the U.S. Southern Command testified before us that one of the largest reasons why drug interdiction rates have fallen to historic lows in recent years is due to the Coast Guard’s failing legacy assets.
The only way to reverse the decline in the Coast Guard’s mission performance is to make the necessary investments to acquire new and improved assets. Unfortunately, based on the last few budget requests, as well as the FY 2015 through 2019 Capital Investment Plan (CIP), it appears the President refuses to make those investments. According to the CIP, over the next five fiscal years, annual funding for Coast Guard acquisitions never exceeds $1.2 billion. That is approximately $1 billion less than the GAO and the former Commandant of the Coast Guard have testified is needed on an annual basis to keep the current acquisition program on schedule and on budget. As I have said for some time now, if the President is going to continue to send us budgets that fail to pay for the assets needed to meet Coast Guard mission needs, then it is time for him to review Coast Guard mission responsibilities.
Fortunately, it appears someone maybe listening. I understand the Coast Guard recently announced it intends to start a review of the Mission Need Statement guiding its current acquisition program. While this is good news, I have two concerns. First, the revised MNS needs to be budget conscious. This means the Administration either needs to identify what missions the Coast Guard will no longer do, or how they intend to pay for the increase in assets and capabilities needed to meet current and future missions. Second, it needs to happen quickly. The acquisition program is already so far behind schedule and over budget, we simply do not have years to wait for the Administration’s plan for the program’s future. This Subcommittee intends to move an authorization bill early next year. I would like to see something from the Coast Guard by then.
Click here for additional information from today’s hearing, including testimony, video, and background information.
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