News briefs

GAO blasts Deepwater's staffing

Despite the Coast Guard's efforts to bring the Deepwater modernization program under control, a shortfall of adequately trained oversight employees puts the $24 billion program at risk of failure, states a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

Since its inception in 2002, Deepwater has raised concerns about the Coast Guard's ability to oversee and manage it, especially because of the program's weak cost controls and lack of contractor accountability, GAO said.

GSA idea could erode fed authority

A proposal from the General Services Administration to give contract oversight to private companies could erode the federal government's role, said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

In a June 14 letter to GSA Administrator Lurita Doan, Waxman said the agency's proposal would give acquisition-support contractors important oversight responsibilities, such as writing statements of work, evaluating bid proposals, reviewing offers and drafting task orders. A contractor could be performing oversight services while working on the program with the agency, he said.

Senate panel would up DHS budget

The $37.6 billion fiscal 2008 spending package that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved for the Homeland Security Department would increase money for ports and mass transit, maintain Deepwater support and fully fund SBInet.

The committee-approved budget is $2.2 billion more than the White House request, said Sen. Robert Byrd, (D-W.Va.), the committee chairman.

GAO: Give DHS more clout

The Homeland Security Department's chief procurement officer needs more authority to perform proper oversight, said a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

DHS' CPO has improved reviewing of nine component acquisition offices and added seven employees to help with the process. But most of DHS' nine acquisition offices failed to perform 2006 annual reviews, and the CPO failed to check on them, GAO said.

FAA to lean on GPS

The Global Positioning System will play an increasingly important role in the Federal Aviation Administration's plan for revamping and expanding the antiquated U.S. air traffic control system, airline industry leaders say.

FAA's new program will rely on Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast technology, which uses transponders aboard aircraft and GPS satellites to determine an aircraft's position with greater accuracy than the old system can.

PSC urges more contractor control

The Professional Services Council has recommended that the Defense Department withhold three new categories of information to members of the public seeking the data through Freedom of Information Act requests.

A DOD notice in the Federal Register sought public comment regarding FOIA access to its Federal Document Management System's Central Contractor Registration database.

Of 194 CCR data categories, 44 should be exempt from disclosure under FOIA, the department said. The council would add to the list: contractors and government entity codes, the average number of employees and annual revenue.

USCG alters Deepwater course

The Coast Guard is preparing to award a revised contract for its $24 billion Deepwater modernization program starting June 25 with significant alterations from the original contract, said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen.

The new award creates a relationship with the existing prime contractor, Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.

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