oversight

Coast Guard: Challenges during the Transition to the Department of Homeland Security

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-04-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                             United States General Accounting Office

GAO                          Testimony
                             Before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard
                             and Maritime Transportation, Committee
                             on Transportation and Infrastructure,
                             House of Representatives
For Release on Delivery
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EST
Tuesday, April 1, 2003       COAST GUARD
                             Challenges during the
                             Transition to the
                             Department of Homeland
                             Security
                             Statement of JayEtta Z. Hecker, Director Physical
                             Infrastructure




GAO-03-594T
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                                                  April 2003


                                                  COAST GUARD

                                                  Challenges during the Transition to the
Highlights of GAO-03-594T, a testimony
before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard
                                                  Department of Homeland Security
and MaritimeTransportation, Committee
on Transportation and Infrastructure,
House of Representatives




The Coast Guard is one of 22                      Data on the most recent levels of effort for the Coast Guard’s various
agencies being placed in the new                  missions show clearly the dramatic shifts that have occurred among its
Department of Homeland Security                   missions since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Predictably, levels of effort
(DHS). With its key roles in the                  related to homeland security remain at much higher levels than before
nation’s ports, waterways, and                    September 11th. Other missions, such as search and rescue, have remained
coastlines, the Coast Guard is an
important part of enhanced
                                                  at essentially the same levels. In contrast, several other missions—most
homeland security efforts. But it                 notably fisheries enforcement and drug interdiction—dropped sharply after
also has important nonsecurity                    September 11th and remain substantially below historical levels. Continued
missions, such as search and                      homeland security and military demands make it unlikely that the agency, in
rescue, fisheries and environmental               the short run, can increase efforts in the missions that have declined.
protection, and drug and migrant                  Further, the fiscal year 2004 budget request contains little that would
interdiction. GAO has conducted a                 substantially alter the existing levels of effort among missions.
number of reviews of the Coast
Guard’s missions and was asked to                 The Coast Guard faces fundamental and daunting challenges during its
testify about the Coast Guard’s                   transition to the new department. Delays in the planned modernization of
most recent level of effort for its               cutters and other equipment, responsibility for new security-related tasks as
various missions and the major
operational and organizational
                                                  directed under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), and
challenges facing the agency during               mandatory responses to unexpected events, such as terrorist attacks or
its transition into the newly created             extended terror alerts, will have an impact on the Coast Guard’s ability to
DHS.                                              meet its new security-related responsibilities while rebuilding its capacity in
                                                  other missions. Also, as one of the agencies being merged into the new
                                                  department, the Coast Guard must deal with a myriad of organizational,
                                                  human capital, acquisition, and technology issues. The enormity of these
In order to monitor resource use                  challenges requires the development of a comprehensive blueprint or
and measure performance, GAO                      strategy that addresses how the Coast Guard should balance and monitor
recommended in November 2002                      resource use among its various missions in light of its new operating reality.
that the Coast Guard develop a
long-term blueprint or strategy
outlining how resources will be                   Number of Resource Hours Spent on Drug Interdiction, by Quarter, October 1997-December
                                                  2002.
distributed across missions, a time
frame for achieving this desired
balance, and a useful format for
reporting progress to the Congress.
The Coast Guard agreed with the
need for such a strategy and has
started to develop one.




www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-534T.

To view the full testimony, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.         Drug interdiction is one of several missions with levels of effort that are substantially below those
For more information, contact JayEtta Hecker      that existed prior to the September 11th attacks. The dotted line shows actual quarter-by-quarter
at (206) 512-2834 or heckerj@gao.gov.             totals; the thicker line is a regression line showing the general trend.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

I am pleased to be here today to discuss major operational and
organizational challenges facing the Coast Guard during this period of
transition into the newly created Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The creation of DHS represents one of the largest reorganizations and
consolidations of government agencies, personnel, programs, and
operations in recent history. Creating this new department means merging
22 agencies—with their disparate organizational structures, cultures, and
systems—into a cohesive working unit. For these and other reasons, we
have designated the implementation and transformation of DHS as a high-
risk area.1

As one of the agencies being merged into the new department, the Coast
Guard must deal with a myriad of organizational, human capital, process,
and technology challenges and, at the same time, carry out its expanding
mission responsibilities. But the Coast Guard, even as a separate entity,
was rapidly reinventing itself in many respects in the wake of the
September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. After the attacks, the Coast Guard’s
priorities and focus had to shift suddenly and dramatically toward
protecting the nation’s vast and sprawling network of ports and
waterways. Cutters, aircraft, boats, and personnel normally used for
traditional missions—such as drug and migrant interdiction, fisheries
enforcement, and marine environmental protection—were shifted to
homeland security functions, which previously consumed only a small part
of the agency’s operating resources. As we have recently reported,2 the
Coast Guard has begun restoring activity levels for many of its traditional
missions, but doing so is a work in process.

To help meet its increased homeland security responsibilities and restore
activity levels for its traditional missions, the Coast Guard has received
substantial budget increases over the last 2 years. This trend continued
with the President’s fiscal year 2004 budget request for the Coast Guard of
$6.8 billion—a 9.6 percent increase over the previous year. Still, despite


1
U.S. General Accounting Office, Major Management Challenges and Program Risks:
Department of Homeland Security, GAO-03-102 (Washington, D.C.: January 2003).
2
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Coast Guard: Strategy Needed for Setting and
Monitoring Levels of Effort for All Missions, GAO-03-155 (Washington, D.C.: November
2002); U.S. General Accounting Office, Coast Guard: Comprehensive Blueprint Needed to
Balance and Monitor Resource Use and Measure Performance for All Missions,
GAO-03-544T (Washington D.C.: March 2003).



Page 1                                                                  GAO-03-594T
    the large budget increases for the Coast Guard since September 11th, there
    is much congressional concern about how—and whether—the Coast
    Guard can continue to meet its responsibilities for all of its missions, given
    the increased emphasis on and additional resources required for homeland
    security.

    My testimony today, which is based on recently completed work,
    addresses two topics: (1) the most recent levels of effort for the Coast
    Guard’s various missions, and how these levels compare to those in the
    past; (2) the challenges the Coast Guard faces in balancing its resources
    among its missions and ensuring and maximizing its effectiveness in each
    of its missions. The scope and methodology of our review is described in
    the appendix.

    In summary:

•   The most recent levels of effort for the Coast Guard’s various missions—
    as measured by the use of multiple-mission resources such as cutters,
    patrol boats, and aircraft—show clearly the dramatic increase in the
    amount of time spent on homeland security following the September 11th
    attacks. In the months after the attacks, as the initial surge in homeland
    security activities was abating, activity in many other missions began
    returning to pre-September 11th levels, but some have not yet recovered.
    For example, the amount of resource hours currently being spent on
    search and rescue and maintaining aids to navigation are fairly consistent
    with traditional levels over the last 5 years. However, there have been
    substantial declines from traditional levels of time spent on two law
    enforcement missions—fisheries enforcement and drug interdiction. The
    fiscal year 2004 budget request for the Coast Guard, which includes a $592
    million increase over the 2003 budget, does not include initiatives that
    would substantially reverse these declines. The majority of this increase
    would cover pay increases for current or retired employees or continue
    certain programs already under way, such as upgrades to information
    technology. About $168.5 million of the increase would fund new
    initiatives, most of which relate either to homeland security or to search
    and rescue. As such, these initiatives do not represent substantial shifts in
    current levels of effort among missions. This situation is further
    exacerbated by the diversion of Coast Guard resources to respond to
    heightened terror alerts at home and military operations in the Middle
    East.

•   The Coast Guard faces fundamental challenges in being able to
    accomplish all of its new homeland security responsibilities, while
    rebuilding capacity in other missions to pre-September 11th levels. For

    Page 2                                                           GAO-03-594T
example, the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Project, a modernization effort for
cutters, patrol boats, and aircraft, has already experienced delays in the
delivery of key assets, jeopardizing the agency’s future ability to carry out
a number of missions at optimum levels. This situation could worsen
because the Coast Guard has tied successful completion of the project to
levels of funding that are beyond what has been available. Another
challenge involves the implementation of the Maritime Transportation
Security Act of 2002 (MTSA), which requires the Coast Guard to undertake
a variety of new homeland security tasks. Since an implementation
strategy has not yet been fully developed for MTSA, and funding to
accomplish implementation is not provided in the fiscal year 2004 budget
request, for the foreseeable future, the Coast Guard will need to absorb the
costs related to these tasks within its operating budget. Similarly, any
unexpected events—such as terrorist attacks or extended terror alerts—
could also result in using resources for homeland security purposes that
would normally be used for other missions. Further, the Coast Guard’s
expanded role in homeland security and its relocation in the newly created
DHS have changed many of its priorities and working parameters; its
adjustment to this new environment is a work in progress. Altogether,
these factors raise serious concerns about the Coast Guard’s ability to
meet traditional expectations across the broad range of all of its missions.3
In recent reports, 4 we have pointed to several steps that are needed in
such an environment. One is to continue finding ways to operate more
efficiently to maximize the existing resources available. Another is to
develop a comprehensive blueprint or strategy for accomplishing mission
responsibilities. This blueprint needs to recognize the new operating
reality created by the Coast Guard’s increasing homeland security role and
translate that reality into (1) realistic level-of-effort targets for all of its
missions, (2) a plan for achieving these targets with appropriate
performance measurements, and (3) a framework for monitoring and
reporting on levels of effort and performance in achieving mission goals so
that the agency and the Congress can better decide how limited dollars
can be spent.




3
 Some additional funding may be provided to address these challenges through the
proposed fiscal year 2003 supplemental budget. However, the impact of this potential
funding on these challenges is unknown.
4
 U.S. General Accounting Office, Coast Guard: Strategy Needed for Setting and
Monitoring Levels of Effort for All Missions, GAO-03-155 (Washington, D.C.: November
2002), and U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Challenges Facing the
Coast Guard as it Transitions to the New Department, GAO-03-467T (Washington, D.C.:
February 2003).



Page 3                                                                      GAO-03-594T
                                            The Coast Guard, which became a part of DHS on March 1, 2003, has a
Background                                  wide variety of both security and nonsecurity missions. (See table 1.) The
                                            Coast Guard’s equipment includes 141 cutters, approximately 1,400 small
                                            patrol and rescue boats, and about 200 aircraft. Coast Guard services are
                                            provided in a variety of locations, including ports, coastal areas, the open
                                            sea, and in other waterways like the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.
                                            The Coast Guard’s installations range from small boat stations providing
                                            search and rescue and other services to marine safety offices that
                                            coordinate security and other activities in the nation’s largest ports.

Table 1: Security and Nonsecurity Missions of the Coast Guard

 Mission areaa                            Activities and functions within each mission area
 Security missions
 Ports, waterways, and coastal security   Conducting harbor patrols, vulnerability assessments, intelligence gathering and analysis,
                                          and other activities to prevent terrorist attacks and minimize the damage from attacks that
                                          occur.
 Drug interdiction                        Deploying cutters and aircraft in high drug trafficking areas and gathering intelligence to
                                          reduce the flow of illegal drugs across maritime boundaries.
 Migrant interdiction                     Deploying cutters and aircraft to reduce the flow of undocumented migrants entering the
                                          United States by maritime routes.
 Defense readiness                        Participating with the Department of Defense (DOD) in global military operations;
                                          deploying cutters and other boats in and around harbors to protect DOD force
                                          mobilization operations.
 Nonsecurity missions
 Maritime safety                          Setting standards and conducting vessel inspections to better ensure the safety of
                                          passengers and crew aboard cruise ships, ferries, and other passenger vessels and
                                          commercial and fishing vessels; partnering with states and boating safety organizations to
                                          reduce recreational boating deaths.
 Search and rescue                        Operating small boat stations and national distress and response communication system;
                                          conducting search and rescue operations for mariners in distress.
 Living marine resources                  Protecting our nation’s fishing grounds from foreign encroachment; enforcing domestic
                                          fishing laws and regulations through inspections and fishery patrols.
 Environmental protection                 Preventing and responding to marine oil spills; preventing the illegal dumping of plastics
                                          and garbage into our nation’s waters.
 Aids to navigation                       Maintaining the extensive system of navigation aids in our waterways; monitoring marine
                                          traffic through traffic service centers.
 Ice operations                           Conducting polar operations to facilitate the movement of critical goods and personnel in
                                          support of scientific and national security activity; conducting domestic icebreaking
                                          operations to facilitate year-round commerce.
Source: U.S. Coast Guard.
                                            a
                                             The Coast Guard’s security and nonsecurity missions are delineated in the Homeland Security Act of
                                            2002 (P. L. 107-296, Nov. 25, 2002).


                                            As an organization that is also part of the armed services, the Coast Guard
                                            has both military and civilian positions. At the end of fiscal year 2002, the
                                            agency had over 42,000 full-time positions—about 36,000 military and
                                            about 6,600 civilians. The Coast Guard also has about 7,200 reservists who


                                            Page 4                                                                             GAO-03-594T
                          support the national military strategy and provide additional operational
                          support and surge capacity5 during emergencies, such as natural disasters.
                          In addition, about 36,000 volunteer auxiliary personnel assist in a wide
                          range of activities from search and rescue to boating safety education.

                          The events of September 11th caused the Coast Guard to direct its efforts
                          increasingly into maritime homeland security activities, highlighted by the
                          Coast Guard’s establishing a new program area: Ports, Waterways, and
                          Coastal Security (coastal security). Prior to September 11th, activities
                          related to this area represented less than 10 percent of the Coast Guard’s
                          operating budget, according to Coast Guard officials. In the fiscal year
                          2004 budget request, coastal security represents about one-quarter of the
                          Coast Guard’s planned operating budget. Other mission areas, most
                          notably drug interdiction, have declined substantially as a percentage of
                          the operating budget.


                          The emphasis the Coast Guard placed on security after September 11th
The Coast Guard’s         has had varying effects on its level of effort among all of its missions, as
Emphasis on Security      measured by the extent to which multiple-mission resources (cutters,
                          other boats, and aircraft) are used for a particular mission.6 The most
Continues to Affect       current available data show that some security-related missions, such as
Its Levels of Effort in   migrant interdiction and coastal security, have grown significantly since
                          September 11th. Other missions, such as search and rescue and aids to
Some Missions             navigation remained at essentially the same levels as they were before
                          September 11th. However, the level of effort for other missions, most
                          notably the interdiction of illegal drugs and fisheries enforcement, is
                          substantially below pre-September 11th levels.


Missions with Increased   Missions such as coastal security, and migrant interdiction have
Levels of Resources       experienced increased levels of effort. Coastal security has seen the most
                          dramatic increase from pre-September 11th levels. (See fig. 1.) For




                          5
                           During emergencies, such as the events of September 11th, Coast Guard reservists can be
                          activated or full-time agency personnel temporarily transferred to provide additional
                          support at Coast Guard field locations where such help is needed.
                          6
                           A 5-year time frame was used to depict trend data for all missions except coastal security.
                          For that mission, a 4-year time frame was used.



                          Page 5                                                                        GAO-03-594T
example, it went from 2,400 resource hours7 during the first quarter of
1999, peaked at 91,000 hours during the first quarter of fiscal year 2002
(immediately after September 11, 2001), and most recently stood at nearly
37,000 hours for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003. In figure 1, as well as
the other resource figures that follow, we have added a line developed by
using linear regression8 techniques to show the general trend for the
period. It is important to note that while such lines depict the trend in
resource hours to date, they should not be taken as a prediction of future
values. Other activity indicators, such as sea marshal9 boardings, also
demonstrate an increased level of emphasis. Before September 11th, such
boardings were not done; but there were over 550 boardings during the
first quarter of 2003. Similarly, vessel operational control actions10 have
risen by 85 percent since the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2001.




7
 The Coast Guard maintains information, on a mission-by-mission basis, about how cutters,
patrol boats, and aircraft are used. Each hour that these resources are used in a mission is
called a resource hour. Resource hours do not include such things as the time that the
resource stands idle or the time that is spent maintaining it.
8
 Linear regression estimates the coefficients of the linear equation, involving one or more
independent variables, that best predict the value of the dependent variable.
9
 Sea marshals are armed Coast Guard personnel who board selected vessels operating in
and around U.S. ports and harbors and take position on the ship’s bridge and other areas
determined to be necessary to vessel safety. These teams provide additional security to
ensure that only authorized personnel maintain control of the vessel at all times.
10
  Vessel operational control actions are efforts to control vessels and can include captain of
the port orders, administration orders, letters of deviation, and the designation of security
zones.



Page 6                                                                         GAO-03-594T
                         Figure 1: Number of Resource Hours Spent on Ports, Waterways, and Coastal
                         Security, by Quarter, October 1998 – December 2002




                         Note: GAO analysis of data from the Coast Guard’s Abstract of Operations includes resource hours
                         for cutters, boats, and aircraft. Figures shown are for the first quarter of fiscal year 1999 and 2003,
                         respectively. The dotted line shows actual quarter-by-quarter totals; the thicker line is a regression
                         line showing the general trend.


                         Given the emphasis on homeland security, it is not surprising that efforts
                         to interdict illegal immigrants have also increased. For example, during
                         the first quarter of 2003, the level of effort in this area was 28 percent
                         higher than it was for the comparable period in 1998.


Missions with a Steady   Some of the Coast Guard’s traditional missions, such as providing aids to
State of Resources       navigation and search and rescue, have been the least affected by the
                         increased emphasis on security. (See fig. 2.) While resource hours for both
                         of these missions have declined somewhat since the first quarter of fiscal
                         year 1998, the overall pattern of resource use over the past 5 years has
                         remained consistent. Although search and rescue boats and buoy tenders
                         were used to perform homeland security functions immediately after
                         September 11th, these activities did not materially affect the Coast Guard’s
                         ability to carry out its search and rescue or aids to navigation missions.


                         Page 7                                                                                   GAO-03-594T
Search and rescue boats were initially redeployed for harbor patrols after
the September 11th terrorist attacks; but the impact on the mission was
minimal because the deployments occurred during the off-season, with
respect to recreational boating.11 Similarly, some boats that normally serve
as buoy tenders—an aids to navigation function—were used for security
purposes instead; but they were among the first to be returned to their
former missions. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2003, the number of
resource hours spent on these missions was very close to the number
spent during the comparable quarter of fiscal year 1998.




11
 Search and rescue resources are subject to seasonal cycles, with more resources being
used during the summer months when boating is at its peak.



Page 8                                                                     GAO-03-594T
Figure 2: Number of Resource Hours Spent on Search and Rescue and Aids to
Navigation, by Quarter, October 1997-December 2002




Note: GAO analysis of data from the Coast Guard’s Abstract of Operations includes resource hours
for cutters, boats, and aircraft. Figures shown are for the first quarter of fiscal year 1998 and 2003,
respectively. The dotted line shows actual quarter-by-quarter totals; the thicker line is a regression
line showing the general trend.
Performance measurement data further demonstrates the relatively
minimal impact on these missions resulting from the Coast Guard’s


Page 9                                                                                   GAO-03-594T
                             emphasis on homeland security. For example, for search and rescue, the
                             Coast Guard was within about half a percentage point of meeting its target
                             for saving mariners in distress in 2002. Likewise, data show that with
                             respect to its aid to navigation mission, in 2002 the Coast Guard was about
                             1 percent from its goal of navigational aid availability. 12


Missions with a Decline in   A number of missions have experienced declines in resource hours from
Resource Hours               pre-September 11th levels, including drug interdiction, fisheries
                             enforcement (domestic and foreign), marine environmental protection,
                             and marine safety. In particular, drug enforcement and fisheries
                             enforcement have experienced significant declines. Compared with the
                             first quarter of 1998, resource hours for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003
                             represent declines of 60 percent for drug interdiction and 38 percent for
                             fisheries enforcement. (See fig. 3.) In fact, resource hours for these areas
                             were declining even before the events of September 11th; and while they
                             briefly rebounded in early 2002, they have since continued to decline. A
                             Coast Guard official said the recent decline in both drug enforcement and
                             fisheries can be attributed to the heightened security around July 4, 2002,
                             and the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, as well as the
                             deployment of resources for military operations. They said the decline will
                             likely not be reversed during the second quarter of 2003 because of the
                             diversion of Coast Guard cutters to the Middle East and the heightened
                             security alert that occurred in February and March 2003.




                             12
                               The Coast Guard had a goal to save at least 85 percent of all mariners in imminent danger;
                             they actually saved 84.4 percent. Similarly, the Coast Guard had a goal to have 99.7 percent
                             of navigational aids available and their actual availability was 98.4 percent.



                             Page 10                                                                      GAO-03-594T
Figure 3: Number of Resource Hours Spent on Drug Interdiction and Fisheries
Enforcement, by Quarter, October 1997-December 2002




Note: GAO analysis of data from the Coast Guard’s Abstract of Operations includes resource hours
for cutters, boats, and aircraft. Figures shown are for the first quarter of fiscal year 1998 and 2003,
respectively. The dotted line shows actual quarter-by-quarter totals; the thicker line is a regression
line showing the general trend.


The reduction in resource hours over the last several years in drug
enforcement is particularly telling. In the first quarter of 1998, the Coast


Page 11                                                                                  GAO-03-594T
Guard was expending nearly 34,000 resource hours on drug enforcement,
and as of first quarter of 2003, the resource hours had declined to almost
14,000 hours—a reduction of nearly two-thirds. Also, both the number of
boardings to identify illegal drugs and the amount of illegal drugs seized
declined from the first quarter of fiscal year 2000. The Coast Guard’s goal
of reducing the flow of illegal drugs based on the seizure rate for cocaine
has not been met since 1999. During our conversations with Coast Guard
officials, they explained that the Office of National Drug Control Policy set
this performance goal in 1997, and although they recognize that they are
obligated to meet these goals, they believe the goals should be revised.

Our review of the Coast Guard’s activity levels in domestic fishing shows
U.S. fishing vessel boardings and significant violations13 identified are both
down since 2000. Similarly, the Coast Guard interdicted only 19 percent as
many foreign vessels as it did in 2000.14 The reduced level of effort
dedicated to these two missions is likely linked to the Coast Guard’s
inability to meet its performance goals in these two areas. For instance, in
2002 the Coast Guard did not meet its goal of detecting foreign fishing
vessel incursions,15 and while there is no target for domestic fishing
violations, there were fewer boardings and fewer violations detected in
2002 than in 2000.16

Recently, the Coast Guard Commandant stated that the Coast Guard
intends to return the level of resources directed to law enforcement
missions (drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, and fisheries
enforcement) to 93 percent of pre-September 11th levels (using a baseline
of the 8 quarters prior to September 11, 2001) by the end of 2003 and 95
percent by the end of 2004. However, in the environment of heightened
security and the continued deployment of resources to the Middle East,
these goals will likely not be achieved, especially for drug interdiction and



13
 The Coast Guard defines significant violations as any or all of the following: (1) significant
damage or impact to the resource or the fisheries management plan, (2) significant
monetary advantage to the violator over the competition, or (3) a high regional interest of
emotional or political nature as determined by regional fisheries councils.
14
 Activity data for foreign fishing vessels is a comparison of fourth quarters in 2000 and
2002.
15
  In fiscal year 2002, the Coast Guard’s goal was to detect 250 foreign fishing vessel
incursions into U.S. fishing waters—only 202 were detected that year.
16
 According to Coast Guard officials, budget constraints that occurred in fiscal years 2000
and 2001 resulted in a 15 percent reduction in operating levels.



Page 12                                                                         GAO-03-594T
                              fisheries enforcement, which are currently far below previous activity
                              levels.


Fiscal Year 2004 Budget       The Coast Guard’s budget request for fiscal year 2004 does not contain
Request Will Not              initiatives or proposals that would substantially alter the current levels of
Substantially Alter Current   effort among missions. The request for $6.8 billion represents an increase
                              of about $592 million, or about 9.6 percent in nominal dollars, over the
Levels of Effort              enacted budget for fiscal year 2003.17 The majority of this increase covers
                              pay increases for current or retired employees or continues certain
                              programs already under way, such as upgrades to information technology.
                              About $168.5 million of the increase would fund new initiatives, most of
                              which relate either to homeland security or to search and rescue. As such,
                              these initiatives do not represent substantial shifts in current levels of
                              effort among missions.

                              However, the 2004 budget request does address a long-standing
                              congressional concern about the Coast Guard’s search and rescue mission.
                              The search and rescue initiative is part of a multiyear effort to address
                              shortcomings in search and rescue stations and command centers. In
                              September 2001, the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector
                              General reported that readiness at search and rescue stations was
                              deteriorating.18 For example, staff shortages at most stations required
                              crews to work an average of 84 hours per week, well above the standard
                              (68 hours) established to limit fatigue and stress among personnel. The
                              initiative seeks to provide appropriate staffing and training to meet the
                              standards of a 12-hour watch and a 68-hour work week. The Congress
                              appropriated $14.5 million in fiscal year 2002 and $21.7 million in fiscal
                              year 2003 for this initiative. The increased amount requested for fiscal year
                              2004 ($26.3 million) for search and rescue would pay for an additional 390
                              full-time search and rescue station personnel and for 28 additional
                              instructors at the Coast Guard’s motor lifeboat and boatswain’s mate
                              schools.




                              17
                                The $592 million requested increase breaks down as follows: $440 million of the $592
                              million requested increase is for operating expenses for the Coast Guard’s mission areas,
                              $20.8 million is for capital projects, and $131 million is for pay for retired personnel.
                              18
                               Audit of the Small Boat Station Search and Rescue Program. MH-2001-94 (Washington,
                              D.C.: Sept 14, 2001).



                              Page 13                                                                      GAO-03-594T
                         The Coast Guard faces fundamental challenges in balancing resource use
Significant Challenges   among its missions and accomplishing everything that has come to be
Raise Concerns about     expected of it. We have already described how the Coast Guard has not
                         been able, in its current environment, to both assimilate its new homeland
Coast Guard’s Ability    security responsibilities and restore levels of effort for all other missions.
to Accomplish Its        Several other challenges further threaten the Coast Guard’s ability to
                         balance these diverse missions. For example, the Coast Guard’s
Diverse Missions         Deepwater Project19 has already experienced delays in delivery of key
                         assets and could face additional delays if future funding falls behind what
                         the Coast Guard had planned. Such delays could also seriously jeopardize
                         the Coast Guard’s ability to carry out a number of security and nonsecurity
                         missions. Similarly, for the foreseeable future, the Coast Guard must
                         absorb the cost of implementing a variety of newly mandated homeland
                         security tasks by taking resources from ongoing activities. Funding for
                         these tasks are not provided in the fiscal year 2004 budget request. The
                         Coast Guard also faces the constant possibility that future terror alerts,
                         terrorist attacks, or military actions will likely require it to shift additional
                         resources to homeland security missions. Finally, the Coast Guard’s
                         transition to DHS brings additional challenges, particularly with respect to
                         establishing effective communication links and building partnerships both
                         within DHS and with external agencies.

                         Such challenges raise serious concerns about the Coast Guard’s ability to
                         accomplish all of its responsibilities and balance the level of effort among
                         all missions in an environment where it strives to be “all things to all
                         people,” and attempts to do so as one of many agencies in a cabinet
                         department whose primary mission is homeland security. In past work, we
                         have pointed to several steps that the Coast Guard needs to take in such
                         an environment. These include continuing to address opportunities for
                         operational efficiency, especially through more partnering and developing
                         a comprehensive blueprint or strategy for balancing and monitoring
                         resource use across all of its missions.




                         19
                          Begun in 1996, the Integrated Deepwater Project is a program to replace or modernize the
                         Coast Guard’s existing ships and aircraft, as well as make use of innovative technology
                         such as satellites and improved detection capabilities to carry out its varied mission
                         responsibilities.



                         Page 14                                                                    GAO-03-594T
Continued Funding            Under current funding plans, the Coast Guard faces significant potential
Shortfalls Could Delay the   delays and cost increases in its $17 billion Integrated Deepwater Project.
Deepwater Project and        This project is designed to modernize the Coast Guard’s entire fleet of
                             cutters, patrol boats, and aircraft over a 20-year period. Given the way the
Adversely Affect the Coast   Coast Guard elected to carry out this project, its success is heavily
Guard’s Mission              dependent on receiving full funding every year. So far, that funding has not
Capabilities                 materialized as planned. Delays in the project, which have already
                             occurred, could jeopardize the Coast Guard’s future ability to effectively
                             and efficiently carry out its missions, and its law enforcement activities—
                             that is, drug and migrant interdiction and fisheries enforcement—would
                             likely be affected the most, since they involve extensive use of deepwater
                             cutters and aircraft.

                             Under the project’s contracting approach, the responsibility for
                             Deepwater’s success lies with a single systems integrator20 and its
                             contractors for a period of 20 years or more. Under this approach, the
                             Coast Guard has started on a course potentially expensive to alter. It is
                             based on having a steady, predictable, annual funding stream of $500
                             million in 1998 dollars over the next 2 to 3 decades. Already the funding
                             provided for the project is less than the amount the Coast Guard planned
                             for. The fiscal year 2002 appropriation for the project was about $28
                             million below the planned level, and the fiscal year 2003 appropriated level
                             was about $90 million below the planning estimate. Further, the
                             President’s fiscal year 2004 budget request for the Coast Guard is not
                             consistent with the Coast Guard’s deepwater funding plan. If the requested
                             amount of $500 million for fiscal year 2004 is appropriated, it would
                             represent another shortfall of $83 million, making the cumulative shortfall
                             about $202 million in the project’s first 3 years, according to Coast Guard
                             data. If appropriations hold steady at $500 million (in nominal dollars)
                             through fiscal year 2008, the Coast Guard estimates that the cumulative
                             shortfall will reach $626 million.21

                             The shortfalls in the last 2 fiscal years (2002 and 2003) and their potential
                             persistence could have serious consequences. The main impact is that it



                             20
                               The prime contractor, known as the “systems integrator,” is responsible for ensuring that
                             each ship, aircraft, or other equipment is delivered on time and in accordance with agreed
                             to prices and in compliance with the Coast Guard’s system performance specifications.
                             21
                              The $28 million shortfall is expressed in 2002 dollars, the $90 million shortfall in 2003
                             dollars, and the $202 million shortfall in 2004 dollars. The $626 million dollar shortfall is
                             expressed in 2008 dollars.



                             Page 15                                                                           GAO-03-594T
would take longer and cost more in the long run to fully implement the
deepwater system. For example, due to funding shortfalls experienced to
date, the Coast Guard has delayed the introduction of the new maritime
patrol aircraft by 19 months and slowed the conversion and upgrade
program for its 110-foot patrol boats. According to the Coast Guard, if the
agency continues to receive funding at levels less than planned, new asset
introductions—and the associated retirement of costly, less capable Coast
Guard resources—will continue to be deferred.

The cost of these delays will be exacerbated by the accompanying need to
invest additional funds in maintaining current assets beyond their planned
retirement date because of the delayed introduction of replacement
capabilities and assets, according to the Coast Guard. For example,
delaying the maritime patrol aircraft will likely require some level of
incremental investment to continue safe operation of the current HU-25 jet
aircraft. Similarly, a significant delay in the scheduled replacement for the
existing 270-foot medium endurance cutter fleet could require an
unplanned and expensive renovation for this fleet.

System performance—and the Coast Guard’s capability to effectively carry
out its mission responsibilities—would also likely be impacted if funding
for the Deepwater Project does not keep pace with planning estimates. For
example, Coast Guard officials told us that conversions and upgrades for
its 110-foot patrol boats would extend its operating hours from about 1,800
to 2,500 per year. Once accomplished, this would extend the time these
boats could devote to both security and nonsecurity missions. As with the
maritime patrol aircraft, reductions in funding levels for the project have
slowed the conversions and upgrades for these vessels, which in turn, has
prevented enhancements in mission performance that newer vessels
would bring. Coast Guard officials also said that with significant,
continuing funding shortfalls delaying new asset introductions, at some
point, the Coast Guard would be forced to retire some cutters and
aircraft—even as demand for those assets continues to grow. For example,
in 2002, two major cutters and several aircraft were decommissioned
ahead of schedule due to their deteriorated condition and high
maintenance costs.




Page 16                                                          GAO-03-594T
Some New Homeland            The Coast Guard has also been tasked with a myriad of new homeland
Security Duties Are Not      security requirements, but funding to implement them is not provided in
Fully Factored into the      either the enacted fiscal year 2003 budget or the fiscal year 2004 budget
                             request. As a result, the Coast Guard will have to meet many of these
Coast Guard’s Distribution   requirements by pulling resources from other activities. Under the
of Resources                 Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA),22 signed into law in
                             November 2002, the Coast Guard must accomplish a number of security-
                             related tasks within a matter of months and sustain them over the long
                             term. For example, MTSA requires the Coast Guard to be the lead agency
                             in conducting security assessments, developing plans, and enforcing
                             specific security measures for ports, vessels, and facilities. In the near
                             term, the Coast Guard must prepare detailed vulnerability assessments of
                             vessels and facilities it identifies to be at high risk of terrorist attack. It
                             must also prepare a National Maritime Transportation Security Plan that
                             assigns duties among federal departments and agencies and specifies
                             coordination with state and local officials—an activity that will require
                             substantial work by Coast Guard officials at the port level. The Coast
                             Guard must also establish plans for responding to security incidents,
                             including notifying and coordinating with local, state, and federal
                             authorities.

                             Because the fiscal year 2004 budget request was prepared before MTSA
                             was enacted, it does not specifically devote funding to most of these port
                             security responsibilities. Coast Guard officials said that they will have to
                             absorb costs related to developing, reviewing, and approving plans,
                             including the costs of training staff to monitor compliance, within their
                             general budget.23 Coast Guard officials expect that the fiscal year 2005
                             budget request will contain funding to address all MTSA requirements. In
                             the meantime, officials said that the Coast Guard would have to perform
                             most of its new port security duties without additional appropriation, and
                             that the funds for these duties would come from its current operations
                             budget. The costs of these new responsibilities, as well as the extent to
                             which they will affect resources for other missions, are not known.




                             22
                              P. L. 107-295, Nov. 25, 2002.
                             23
                               The Coast Guard had already begun work on two aspects of the legislation; these aspects
                             are accounted for in the fiscal year 2004 budget request. These two items are requirements
                             to (1) create marine safety and security teams and (2) to dispatch armed officers as sea
                             marshals for some port security duties.



                             Page 17                                                                     GAO-03-594T
External Uncertainties       Security alerts, as well as actions needed in the event of an actual terrorist
Place Additional Strain on   attack, can also affect the extent to which the Coast Guard can devote
Resources                    resources to missions not directly related to homeland security. For
                             example, Coast Guard officials told us that in the days around September
                             11, 2002, when the Office of Homeland Security raised the national threat
                             level from “elevated” to “high risk,” the Coast Guard reassigned cutters
                             and patrol boats in response. In February 2003, when the Office of
                             Homeland Security again raised the national threat level to high risk, the
                             Coast Guard repositioned some of its assets involved in offshore law
                             enforcement missions, using aircraft patrols in place of some cutters that
                             were redeployed to respond to security-related needs elsewhere. While
                             these responses testify to the tremendous flexibility of a multi-mission
                             agency, they also highlight what we found in our analysis of activity-level
                             trends—when the Coast Guard responds to immediate security needs,
                             fewer resources are available for other missions.

                             The Coast Guard’s involvement in the military buildup for Operation
                             Enduring Freedom in the Middle East further illustrates how such
                             contingencies can affect the availability of resources for other missions.
                             As part of the buildup, the Coast Guard has deployed eight 110-foot boats,
                             two high-endurance cutters, four port security units, and one buoy tender
                             to the Persian Gulf. These resources have come from seven different Coast
                             Guard districts. For example, officials from the First District told us they
                             sent four 110-foot patrol boats and three crews to the Middle East. These
                             boats are multi-mission assets used for fisheries and law enforcement,
                             search and rescue and homeland security operations. In their absence,
                             officials reported, the First District is using other boats previously devoted
                             to other tasks. For instance, buoy tenders have taken on some search and
                             rescue functions, and buoy tenders and harbor tug/icebreakers are
                             escorting high-interest vessels. Officials told us that these assets do not
                             have capabilities equivalent to the patrol boats but have been able to
                             perform the assigned mission responsibilities to date.


Transition to Homeland       The creation of DHS is one of the largest, most complex restructurings
Security Poses Additional    ever undertaken, and the Coast Guard, as one of many agencies joining the
Challenges                   department, faces numerous challenges, including organizational, human
                             capital, acquisition, process and technology issues.24 One particularly


                             24
                              U.S. General Accounting Office, Homeland Security: Challenges Facing the Coast Guard
                             as it Transitions to the New Department, GAO-03-467T (Washington, D.C.: February
                             2003).



                             Page 18                                                                 GAO-03-594T
formidable challenge involves establishing effective communication links
and building partnerships both within DHS and with external
organizations. While most of the 22 agencies transferred to DHS report to
under secretaries for the department’s various directorates,25 the Coast
Guard remains a separate entity reporting directly to the Secretary of DHS.
According to Coast Guard officials, the Coast Guard has important
functions that will require coordination and communication with all of
these directorates, particularly the Border and Transportation Security
Directorate. For example, the Coast Guard plays a vital role with Customs,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Transportation Security
Administration, and other agencies that are organized in the Directorate of
Border and Transportation Security. Because the Coast Guard’s homeland
security activities require interface with these and a diverse set of other
agencies organized within several DHS directorates, communication,
coordination, and collaboration with these agencies is paramount to
achieve department-wide results.

Effective communication and coordination with agencies outside the
department is also critical to achieving the homeland security objectives,
and the Coast Guard must maintain numerous relationships with other
public and private sector organizations outside DHS. For example,
according to Coast Guard officials, the Coast Guard will remain an
important participant in the Department of Transportation’s (DOT)
strategic planning process, since the Coast Guard is a key agency in
helping to maintain the maritime transportation system. Also, the Coast
Guard maintains navigation systems used by DOT agencies such as the
Federal Aviation Administration. In the homeland security area,
coordination efforts will extend well beyond our borders to include
international agencies of various kinds. For example, the Coast Guard,
through its former parent agency, DOT, has been spearheading U.S
involvement in the International Maritime Organization. This is the
organization that, following the September 11th attacks, began
determining new international regulations needed to enhance ship and
port security. Also, our work assessing efforts to enhance our nation’s port
security has underscored the formidable challenges that exist in forging




25
 Most agencies within DHS are organized within one of the four directorates: Science and
Technology, Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, Border and
Transportation Security, and Emergency Preparedness and Response.



Page 19                                                                    GAO-03-594T
                               partnerships and coordination among the myriad of public and private
                               sector and international stakeholders.26


Several Types of Actions       In previous work, we have examined some of the implications of the Coast
Needed to Help Address         Guard’s new operating environment on the agency’s ability to fulfill its
Challenges                     various missions.27 This work, like our testimony today, has pointed to the
                               difficulty the Coast Guard faces in devoting additional resources to
                               nonsecurity missions, despite the additional funding and personnel the
                               agency has received. In particular, we have recommended that the
                               following actions be taken as a more candid acknowledgment of the
                               difficulty involved:

                           •   Opportunities for increased operational efficiency need to be explored.
                               Over the past decade, we and other outside organizations, along with the
                               Coast Guard, have studied Coast Guard operations to determine where
                               greater efficiencies might be found. These studies have produced a
                               number of recommendations, such as shifting some responsibilities to
                               other agencies. One particular area that has come to the forefront since
                               September 11th is the Coast Guard’s potential ability to partner with other
                               port stakeholders to help accomplish various security and nonsecurity
                               activities involved in port operations. Some effective partnerships have
                               been established, but the overall effort has been affected by variations in
                               local stakeholder networks and limited information-sharing among ports.

                           •   A comprehensive blueprint or strategy is needed for setting and
                               assessing levels of effort and mission performance. One important effort
                               that has received relatively little attention, while the Coast Guard has
                               understandably put its homeland security responsibilities in place, is the
                               development of a plan that proactively addresses how the Coast Guard
                               should manage its various missions in light of its new operating reality.
                               The Coast Guard’s adjustment to its new post-September 11th
                               environment is still largely in process, and sorting out how traditional


                               26
                                 U.S. General Accounting Office, Container Security: Current Efforts to Detect Nuclear
                               Materials, New Initiatives, and Challenges, GAO-03-297T (Washington, D.C.: November
                               2002), and U.S. General Accounting Office, Port Security: Nation faces Formidable
                               Challenges in Making New Initiatives Successful, GAO-02-993T (Washington, D.C.: August
                               2002).
                               27
                                U.S. General Accounting Office, Coast Guard: Budget and Management Challenges for
                               2003 and Beyond, GAO-02-588T (Washington, D.C.: March 2001), and U.S. General
                               Accounting Office, Coast Guard: Strategy Needed for Setting and Monitoring Levels of
                               Effort for All Missions, GAO-03-155 (Washington, D.C.: November 2002).



                               Page 20                                                                  GAO-03-594T
missions will be fully carried out alongside new security responsibilities
will likely take several years. But it is important to complete this plan and
address in it key elements and issues so that it is both comprehensive and
useful to decision makers who must make difficult policy and budget
choices. Without such a blueprint, the Coast Guard also runs the risk of
continuing to communicate that it will try to be “all things to all people”
when, in fact, it has little chance of actually being able to do so.
The Coast Guard has acknowledged the need to pursue such a planning
effort, and the Congress has directed it to do so. Coast Guard officials told
us that as part of the agency’s transition to DHS, they are updating the
agency’s strategic plan, including plans to distribute all resources in a way
that can sustain a return to previous levels of effort for traditional
missions. In addition, the Congress placed a requirement in MTSA for the
Coast Guard to submit a report identifying mission targets, and steps to
achieve them, for all Coast Guard missions for fiscal years 2003 to 2005.
However, this mandate is not specific about the elements that the Coast
Guard should address in the report.

To be meaningful, this mandate should be addressed with thoroughness
and rigor and in a manner consistent with our recent recommendations; it
requires a comprehensive blueprint that embodies the key steps and
critical practices of performance management. Specifically, in our
November 2002 report on the progress made by the Coast Guard in
restoring activity levels for its key missions, we recommended an
approach consisting of a long-term strategy outlining how the Coast Guard
sees its resources—cutters, boats, aircraft, and personnel—being
distributed across its various missions, a time frame for achieving this
desired balance, and reports with sufficient information to keep the
Congress apprised not only of how resources were being used, but what
was being accomplished. The Coast Guard agreed that a comprehensive
strategy was needed, and believes that it is beginning the process of
developing one. Table 2 provides a greater explanation of what this
approach or blueprint would entail.




Page 21                                                          GAO-03-594T
Table 2: Elements of an Approach for Setting and Assessing Levels of Effort and Mission Effectiveness

 Element                                                       Explanation
 Setting realistic targets for levels of effort in             Targets need to take into account the finite Deepwater and other resources
 each mission area                                             available in the near to medium term and the likely homeland security
                                                               scenarios, based on resource requirements needed to respond to various
                                                               potential terrorist threats and attacks
 Developing an action plan for achieving                       Action plan needs to include:
 targets                                                       • an analysis of the mix of resources needed and timetables required to
                                                                  achieve level-of-effort targets;
                                                               • strategies for partnering with other public and private sector organizations
                                                                  to accomplish mission activities;
                                                               • contingency plans for addressing responsibilities for all of its missions
                                                                  during prolonged “high alert” periods;
                                                               • new approaches and techniques, including the use of new technology, for
                                                                  achieving mission responsibilities; and
                                                               • identifying operational efficiencies that would free up funds for more
                                                                  mission-enhancing needs, such as keeping the Deepwater Project on
                                                                  schedule.
 Establishing realistic performance measures                   Includes two steps:
 for all missions                                              • completing performance measures for homeland security, and
                                                               • evaluating and revising, where necessary, performance measures, such as
                                                                  those for drug interdiction, for all missions.
 Collecting sufficiently complete, accurate, and               Includes data on:
 consistent performance data to measure effectiveness          • resources being applied to each mission (money, personnel, and capital
 in meeting performance targets                                   assets),
                                                               • output measures that describe what is being done with these resources
                                                                  (e.g., numbers of patrols and inspections conducted), and
                                                               • outcome data on the extent that program goals are being achieved.
Source: GAO.

                                                     The events of recent months heighten the need for such an approach.
                                                     During this time, the budgetary outlook has continued to worsen, further
                                                     emphasizing the need to look carefully at the results being produced by
                                                     the nation’s large investment in homeland security. The Coast Guard must
                                                     be fully accountable for investments in its homeland security missions and
                                                     able to demonstrate what these security expenditures are buying and their
                                                     value to the nation. At the same time, recent events also demonstrate the
                                                     extent to which highly unpredictable homeland security events, such as
                                                     heightened security alerts, continue to influence the amount of resources
                                                     available for performing other missions. The Coast Guard needs a plan
                                                     that will help the agency, the Congress, and the public understand and
                                                     effectively deal with trade-offs and their potential impacts in such
                                                     circumstances.




                                                     Page 22                                                                  GAO-03-594T
                  Mr. Chairman, this concludes my testimony today. I would be pleased to
                  respond to any questions that you or Members of the Subcommittee may
                  have at this time.


                  For information about this testimony, please contact JayEtta Z. Hecker,
Contacts and      Director, Physical Infrastructure, at (202) 512-2834, or heckerj@gao.gov, or
Acknowledgments   Margaret T. Wrightson, at (415) 904-2200, or wrightsonm@gao.gov.
                  Individuals making key contributions to this testimony include Steven
                  Calvo, Christopher M. Jones, Sharon Silas, Stan Stenersen, Eric Wenner,
                  and Randall Williamson.


                  To determine the most recent levels of effort for the Coast Guard’s various
Scope and         missions and how these levels compare to those in the past, we reviewed
Methodology       the data from the Coast Guard’s Abstract of Operations. These data,
                  reported by crews of cutters, boats, and aircraft, represent the hours that
                  these resources spent in each of the Coast Guard’s mission areas. We
                  reviewed these data to identify how resources were utilized across
                  missions both before and after September 11th, and to identify any trends
                  in resource utilization. In addition, we spoke with Coast Guard officials at
                  headquarters about the use of Coast Guard resources both before and
                  after September 11th.

                  To determine the implications of the proposed fiscal year 2004 budget
                  request for these various levels of effort, we reviewed the President’s fiscal
                  year 2004 budget request for the Coast Guard, as well as the enacted
                  budget for the Coast Guard for fiscal year 2003. We used the Department
                  of Commerce’s chain-weighted price index for gross domestic product to
                  adjust nominal dollar figures for the effect of inflation. In addition, we
                  spoke with Coast Guard officials within the Coast Guard’s Office of
                  Programs and Operations Directorate, the Marine Safety Directorate, and
                  the Integrated Deepwater Systems Program Office.

                  To identify the challenges the Coast Guard faces in balancing its resources
                  among its missions and ensuring and maximizing its effectiveness in each
                  of its missions, we reviewed our previous reports on performance
                  management and developing performance measures. We also reviewed
                  Coast Guard strategic documents and discussed them with staff in the
                  Coast Guard’s Program Management and Evaluation Division. In addition,
                  we met with officials from the Coast Guard’s DHS Transition team to
                  discuss strategic planning and transition issues.



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                  Page 23                                                          GAO-03-594T