Only been six weeks after the issuance of “Dec. 14, 2015 Congressional Research Service report, Coast Guard Cutter Procurement: Background and Issues for Congress” there was already a 27 January, 2016 update, but this one is very different, because it incorporates the content of the FY2016 Appropriations Act which the President is expected to sign. Hopefully this marks a turning point in Coast Guard Procurement.
There is a nice summary of how the budget battle developed in Table 7. “Summary of Appropriations Action on FY2016” on page 28. The biggest part of the jump from request to Appropriation was $640M for a ninth Bertholf Class, but there were other increases in both the OPC and NSC programs.
- The NSC program went from a request for $91.4M to a final figure of $743.4M. A delta of $653M
- The OPC program from a request for $18.5M to $89.0M permitting the award of the OPC down select contract in FY2016.
- The FRC program began and ended as $340.0M (six more boats, a total of 38 funded through FY2016).
- The TOTAL for all three programs went from 4449.9M to $1,172.4M
It does look like we have some friends on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
There are some significant provisions in the bill, that should change the way the Coast Guard does business and reports to the Congress.
- There is a requirement for long range acquisition planning. They did not quite go to 30 years as the Navy has done, but to 20 years.(p.34 &37)
- There is a requirement to track operational ship days as opposed to Days Away From Homeport which may include maintenance as well as operations. (p. 37)
- There is a 10 year requirement to maintain a continuous ship presence in the Bering Sea and Arctic using ships at least as capable as the ones currently used. (p.30).
The Congress did seem to take the service to task for being slow in completing evaluation and implementation of the Crew Rotation Concept (CRC) and Unmanned Air Systems.
The Congressional Research Service also questions why the Coast Guard has not attempted to take advantage of the potential estimated 7% saving that typically result from Multiyear and/or Block Buy contracting. I have been wondering about this for some time myself, especially with regard to the Webber Class Fast Response Cutters which are a mature, proven program approved for full rate production. (p. 20)