Coast Guard moves to strengthen acquisition

The Coast Guard's announcement this week that it will assume the role of lead systems integrator role for its troubled $24 billion Integrated Deepwater Systems acquisition is occurring as the agency moves forward with an 18-month strategy to consolidate and improve its acquisition functions.

The strategy, outlined in a 72-page "Blueprint for Acquisition Reform," describes a lack of organization and structure among many acquisition units within the Coast Guard.

Overall, acquisition lacks a standardized structure, process and accountability, the report states.

"Acquisition functions are currently accomplished by numerous staff elements without common process, procedure, experience, abilities or knowledge," the blueprint states. "The Coast Guard must institute positive change to enable the execution of traditional contracting, as well as execution through a government or commercial systems integrator."

In addition to its acquisitions directorate and the Deepwater program executive officer, other directorates conducting acquisitions include operations; human resources; engineering and logistics; telecommunications and information systems; assistant commandant for operations, and command, control, communications and information systems.

Under the plan, the Coast Guard will consolidate its Deepwater office and acquisitions directorate, along with elements of the command and control, resources, and research and development divisions. The schedule for the consolidation extends through the end of fiscal 2008.

"The Coast Guard has recognized that it will never have, nor does it require, the acquisition capabilities of the Department of Defense," the blueprint states. "It must, however, build internal competencies and establish the ability to partner externally with governmental and commercial entities to continue the efficient execution of asset-based systems acquisitions, while attaining the ability to effectively employ an external integrator when appropriate."

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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