As the Acquisition Directorate marked its fifth anniversary last month, I offer these observations on some of the foundational achievements for what has been a highly successful transformation to date and take stock of our progress.
We completely overhauled our contracting structure, consolidating our chiefs of contracting offices from 48 to just six, which has markedly improved information flow and improved contracting standardization. Our contracting activity, which supports the entire Coast Guard, not only acquisition programs, has been recognized for its significant role in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) success. Today, Coast Guard contracting accounts for approximately 50 percent of DHS’s annual tally of 80,000 procurement transactions. The Coast Guard also represents 20-25 percent of the total dollars under contract for DHS.
Another key achievement has been the creation of professional acquisition career paths for both uniformed and civilian personnel in order to lay the foundation for future success. We have exponentially increased the breadth and depth of acquisition-related certifications and made acquisitions a desirable and talent-rich officer sub-specialty. Our acquisition workforce has expanded to include sponsor and technical authority personnel from other directorates certified and experienced to meet the complex demands of acquiring and delivering the up-to-date assets required by the Coast Guard’s operational forces.
We developed and matured the Major Systems Acquisition Manual and greatly improved the quality of acquisition products which has contributed to fielding assets which meet requirements and are well-supported. Governance processes have likewise matured both within projects and in managing asset portfolios. New cross-cutting entities were established including the Executive Oversight Council, the Systems Integration Team and Resource Councils to help allocate scarce resources to achieve the best effect.
Financial discipline has been greatly improved through development of internal controls and institution of a financial data mining system which produces accurate management reports to track commitments, obligations and expenditures, manage spend plans and ensure proper funds usage.
We have implemented best-practices, derived from both government and industry experience, to improve our business model and prepare us for integration with other directorates under the leadership of the Deputy Commandant for Mission Support. These include:
Using these and other foundational achievements, we have “delivered the goods.” We built and delivered three operational National Security Cutters and are underway with construction of the fourth and fifth, with long lead-time materiel purchased for the sixth.
In August we will have commissioned three of 58 Sentinel-class patrol boats, with nine more under construction. With the recent completion of Foreign Military Sales cases, we have delivered 73 Marine Protector-class 87-foot coastal patrol boats, closing one of the most successful projects in the history of Coast Guard shipbuilding.
We have completed Mission Effectiveness Projects for the 14 Reliance-class 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutters (WMEC) as well as 17 Island-class 110-foot patrol boats. And, in 2014, we are scheduled to finish MEP for 13 Famous-class 270-foot WMECs.
On Aug. 17, we delivered our 100th Response Boat-Medium, out of a total of 166 that have been ordered. We have let contracts for a new generation of small boats, including the Response Boat-Small, and cutter boats Over the Horizon-IV and Long Range Interceptor-II. These enhanced platforms will help recapitalize the Coast Guard’s shore and cutter-deployed boat forces.
In our aviation program, we have delivered 14 HC-144A Ocean Sentry maritime patrol aircraft, with a total of 17 on order. These aircraft have made a significant impact on Coast Guard lifesaving, maritime patrol and smuggler interdiction operations.
We delivered six new missionized HC-130J Hercules long-range surveillance aircraft, and upgraded the search radars on 23 legacy HC-130H aircraft. We are continuing the acquisition of incremental upgrades to these vital platforms, including avionics upgrades and replacing life-limited structural components.
We have upgraded the avionics in 29 MH-60T Jayhawk conversion aircraft and installed a new electro-optical infrared sensor system in 27 of the Coast Guard’s 42 H-60s. We have delivered 100 converted MH-65C Dolphin short range recovery helicopters, with a series of incremental upgrades including new engines, avionics and sensors, and airborne use of force equipment. We have converted 34 MH-65s to “Delta” models, with improved digital components to avoid obsolescence. The final segment – to install the same cockpit architecture as the MH-60T aircraft, as well as replace the automatic flight control system – is in progress.
Nearing completion of the prime contract, we have completed delivery of Rescue 21 to 30 sectors and two groups (now covering an estimated 41,871 miles of coastline). We are developing strategies to provide coverage to the remaining five sectors in Alaska and along the western rivers.
We have delivered the Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS) to 58 ports and 11 coastal areas, receiving approximately 50 million AIS messages each day, from 6,500 unique vessels. Segment 2, which will provide a more permanent solution and improve capability, has begun.
Our International Acquisition Programs Office has overseen a 10-fold average annual international sales increase, from $13 million four years ago, to more than $138 million today. We have delivered more than 295 assets, to date, and 55 assets are pending delivery worldwide.
These achievements have helped create a brighter future for Coast Guard acquisition. Current and past members of this directorate have worked hard to construct solid foundations upon which the Coast Guard’s next generation of acquirers and contracting professionals can build.
As we mark these achievements, it is important to note that our people are the foundation for the Acquisition Directorate’s success. Without the commitment, discipline and dedication to duty of our military, civilian and contractor workforce, the achievements of the last five years would not have been possible. I am honored to work with such talented professionals. The challenges for us, in the years to come, will be to maintain continuity, apply lessons learned, and build on the strength of this workforce to meet the complex demands of managing the Coast Guard’s recapitalization investment portfolio.
We find ourselves confronted by a number of challenges: Consolidating headquarters at St. Elizabeths; planning for lean budgets; developing acquisition strategies to support new mission requirements in the Arctic, including a new polar icebreaker; selecting the right new technologies for unmanned systems; and others. These can and will be met as opportunities for future success. As we face these challenges, it is crucial that we keep our vision in focus, that the Coast Guard will be a model of acquisition excellence in government. We have the skills and the experience to make this a reality.
Bravo Zulu on a job well done. Now let’s renew our commitment to the next five years of Coast Guard acquisition achievement.