Coast Guard takes helm of Deepwater

Lockheed, Northrop team sees role diminished

The Coast Guard will take over the role of lead systems integrator from a Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman team for the $24 billion Deepwater acquisition program. The agency wants to enhance management and oversight, Coast Guard Commander Admiral Thad Allen said today.

The lead systems integrator role since 2002 has been held by a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. The multi-year acquisition program aims to modernize Coast Guard vessels and systems.

Allen, who took command of the Coast Guard a year ago, said the massive Deepwater program has relied too much on federal contractors.

"We've relied too much on contractors to do the work of government as a result of tightening budgets, a dearth of contracting expertise in the federal government, and a loss of focus on critical governmental roles and responsibilities in the management and oversight of acquisition programs," Allen said at a news conference today.

"Both industry and government have failed to accurately predict and control costs. We must improve," he said.

Under the new strategy, the Coast Guard will assume the lead role as systems integrator for all Deepwater assets, as well as other major acquisitions, Allen said. He did not provide a schedule for the change, but said he was adding Coast Guard staff as part of the fiscal 2008 budget request.

Other steps to improve Deepwater announced by Allen include:
  • The Coast Guard will permanently decommission the eight 123-foot patrol boats converted under the Deepwater program due to extensive structural problems.
  • The Coast Guard will take charge of managing life cycle logistics functions within the Deepwater program under a an improved logistics architecture with the new mission support organization.
  • The Coast Guard will expand the role of the American Bureau of Shipping, or other third-parties as appropriate, to evaluate whether Deepwater assets are properly designed and constructed.
  • The Coast Guard will work collaboratively with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to resolve issues regarding the national security cutters.
  • The Coast Guard may continue some Deepwater asset production with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Allen plans to meet quarterly with industry until all Deepwater program issues are fully adjudicated and resolved. The next meeting is to be held within a month.

Allen said he met with Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Officer Robert Stevens and Northrop Grumman CEO Ronald Sugar in January to review Deepwater, and some improvements have been made since then. He said the three executives reached agreement on the actions he announced today.

Allen said he also is making far-reaching changes to acquisition at the Coast Guard. By the end of 2010, there will be a new mission support organization in the Coast Guard that provides "seamless support," he said.

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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