IG: Coast Guard must safely navigate Deepwater's rocky shoals

The Coast Guard is stumbling in its procurement of IT systems for the $20 billion Integrated Deepwater Systems program, according to a new report today from Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard Skinner.

Among the chief problems are unclear contract requirements, inadequate training and guidance for using new equipment, and a lack of mechanisms for certifying effectiveness of the new systems, the report said.

The audit covers the Coast Guard's efforts to design and implement command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems as part of the Deepwater modernization program. Under Deepwater, aircrafts and cutters will replace aging equipment over a 20-year schedule.

In 2002, the Coast Guard awarded Deepwater to Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp., with a base period ending in 2011.

The Government Accountability Office has criticized Deepwater's management in the past. However, GAO reported in April that the Coast Guard was making progress regarding management concerns about Deepwater.

The IG's audit states that the Coast Guard still faces challenges in effective implementation of the Deepwater C41SR systems. A lack of defined requirements is still a problem, the report said.

Although Coast Guard officials are involved in defining the IT requirements, "they have limited influence over contractor decisions toward meeting those requirements," the report said. "A lack of discipline in requirements change-management processes provides little assurance that the requirements remain up to date or effective in meeting program goals."

Furthermore, "certification and accreditation of Deepwater C41SR equipment has been difficult to achieve, placing systems security and operations at risk," the report said.

Although testing procedures for the new equipment are in place, the contractor has not followed them consistently, the report concluded.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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