How is the Coast Guard Meeting Its Mission Goals?
Today, the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing on the U.S. Coast Guard's mission execution.
Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) made the following opening statement:
The Subcommittee is meeting this morning to examine why the Coast Guard cannot meet its mission performance targets and whether those targets are truly achievable, as well as to review mission requirements and the capabilities the Service plans to acquire.
As the Coast Guard’s own data shows, the Service is not meeting its mission performance targets. In fiscal year 2012, the Coast Guard met less than half of its mission performance measures. Over the last five fiscal years, the Service never scored better than 61 percent. Other metrics of mission performance paint an equally bleak picture. For instance, the Coast Guard has reported that since fiscal year 2005, the total number of flight hours for aircraft and underway hours for cutters has declined by more than 14 percent.
The reduction in these and other metrics that judge mission performance are largely attributable to the fact that the Coast Guard’s fleets of aircraft and vessels are no longer reliable. Most Coast Guard assets have surpassed their service lives and become increasingly prone to failures. Simply put, the Service cannot perform its missions when its aircraft and cutters are not working.
For years, this Subcommittee has advocated for more funding for the Coast Guard’s recapitalization program in an effort to acquire new and more capable assets. The thinking was if we could complete the recapitalization’s program of record in a timely manner, we could restore capability and ensure mission success. The truth of the matter is, in this budget environment, there’s simply not enough money to complete the program of record. Both the Commandant and the GAO have noted that at least $2 billion annually would be needed to build the program of record on schedule, but the President’s fiscal year 2014 budget only requests $909 million for Coast Guard acquisitions, a 41 percent cut over fiscal year 2013. Projected future funding for the Coast Guard acquisitions also falls significantly short of what is required. The Service reports that it does not plan to spend more than $1.1 billion on acquisitions in any of the next five fiscal years.
The Coast Guard has taken some steps to reduce costs. For instance, it has reduced planned capability for the Offshore Patrol Cutter and worked with Congress on the potential transfer of aircraft from the Air Force.
However, even if sufficient funding was in place, the program of record does not provide the capability necessary to meet mission performance targets. Building the program of record still leaves the Coast Guard tens of thousands hours short of what is needed to meet its post September 11th mission requirements.
The time has obviously come for the Coast Guard to conduct a thorough review of its program of record and for the Service, the administration, and Congress to make some hard decisions about how to rebalance capabilities and mission requirements. I thank Vice Admiral Currier for being here today and for his service and leadership. I look forward to his insights on how to resolve this situation.
Vice Admiral John P. Currier, Vice Commandant, United States Coast Guard was a witness. Read his written testimony here.