Rebuilding Coast Guard Infrastructure to Sustain and Enhance Mission Capability
Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Ranking Member Bob Gibbs (R-OH):
Thank you, Chair Carbajal, and thank you to our witnesses for being here today.
In the 19 years since it signed the Integrated Deepwater System contract, the Coast Guard has made great strides in recapitalizing its ocean-going cutters and aircraft. However, there is a long way left to go, particularly with the acquisition of the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC).
Unfortunately, the Coast Guard is not only facing the acquisition bill for the OPC and new polar and Great Lakes icebreakers, but also a mounting maintenance and recapitalization bill to repair and replace aging shoreside infrastructure and the cost of a nearly completely replacing the Coast Guard’s faltering IT infrastructure.
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses what processes the Coast Guard should implement to quantify its shoreside needs so that members of the Coast Guard and their families have safe places to work and live,
The Service is able to carry out its increasingly complex missions, and shoreside facilities have an acceptable level of resilience to survive natural disasters.
I am particularly interested in learning the annual level of investment that would be necessary to prevent the maintenance and recapitalization backlog from growing every year, and whether the Service has the data necessary to make such a calculation.
I would also like to dig into the relationship between the Unfunded Priority List (UPL), and the overall unfunded backlog. For instance, have items on the UPL undergone more rigorous review to determine their importance to mission capability and their readiness to move forward?
The Coast Guard Tech Revolution, as it is characterized by the Commandant, is in its infancy. I look forward to learning how the Service intends to piggyback off existing programs for which others have already paid development costs. The composite hull vessel which the Coast Guard did not build, the electronic health records, logistics information management and state-of-the-art ship to air to shore communication systems—none of which the Coast Guard ever implemented—prove that the Coast Guard does not have the resources or internal expertise to develop such systems on its own.
Finally, I look forward to learning how the Service plans to stay current once it implements its Tech Revolution. IT systems change so rapidly the Service must at the same time both plan for the future and catch up with the present.