This is the third part of a detailed look at the “Annual Review of the United States Coast Guard’s Mission Performance (FY 2009)” from the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security. The report is available in Acrobat PDF format from DHS. (I’ll refer to it as the DHS IG report.)
Here, we are going to look at what I consider the informative and important part of the report, that was buried in Appendices C and D. My earlier commentary, parts 1 and 2 are here and here.
Much of Appendices C and D is lifted from the United States Coast Guard Fiscal Year 2009 Performance Report which is also available as a pdf (couldn’t get a link to work, but it’s on google). (I’ll refer to it as the CG report.) This document does a much better job of explaining the categories and the performance measures than the DHS IG report but only goes back to 2004. It does, however, also include the targets for FY 2010. It would probably be better if the IG had just put a cover sheet on the CG report and forwarded it.
Both reports provide the essential same results but their are some differences, which I will note.
24 measured are applied to the eleven Coast Guard missions. For FY 2009, the Coast Guard met 8 of 11 performance measures for its 6 non-DHS missions, and 6 of 13 performance measures for its 5 homeland security missions.
—THE GOOD NEWS—
“Non-Homeland Security” missions did well. Standards were high and even when targets were not met, we came close.
SAR: Percentage of people in imminent danger saved in the maritime environment. Target 76% Actual 77.3%
(I find the math used in this section hard to follow and somewhat questionable–there was a reported improvement over FY 2008, but deaths went up 20%, while total number in danger changed very little (see CG report p15,16))
Aids to Navigation:
- Federal short-range aids to navigation availability. Target 97.5% Actual 98.0%
- Five-year average number of collisions, allisions, and groundings. Target 1871 Actual 1878. This was very close to the target and the target is 390 fewer incidents than the target in 2001. I have no idea where they come up with this target, because it moves around getting lower from 2001 to 2007 and then going back up again.
Ice Operations: Number of days critical waterways are closed due to ice. Target 2 avg. and 8 severe. Actual 0. (Note there is no criteria for Polar Operations.) Success in this criteria is strongly influenced by weather.
Living Marine Resources: Percentage of Coast Guard boardings at sea in which no violations are detected when domestic fisheries regulations apply. Target 97% Actual 96.7%, a miss, but close enough to be insignificant.
Marine Safety: (None of these standards were in place until FY2008)
- Five-year average number of commercial mariner deaths and injuries. Target <529 Actual 475.
- Five-year average number of commercial passenger deaths and injuries. Target <251 Actual 228.
- Five-year average number of recreational boating deaths and injuries. Target <4,248 Actual 4,038
Marine Environmental Protection: (Here too, these standards did not apply until FY2008)
- Five Year average number of chemical discharge incidents per 100 million short tons shipped. Target <25.9 Actual 17.8.
- Five year average number of oil spills per 100 million short tons shipped. Target <13.5 Actual. 11.8.
- Percentage of oil removed otherwise mitigated as compared to the amount of oil released for reported spills of 100 gallons or more. Target 16%. Actual No data. this measure is to be replaced because it was found to be impractical.
—THE BAD NEWS—
Homeland Security missions did not fare so well. In general, even when targets were met, the targets were low.
Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security:
- Critical infrastructure required visit rate. Target 100% Actual 74% (CG report says Actual 100%)
- Percentage of risk reduction of maritime security risk resulting from Coast Guard efforts to prevent a weapon of mass destruction from entering the United States via maritime means. Target 3% Actual 17%.
- Percent of reduction of all maritime security risk subject to Coast Guard influence. Target 21% Actual 31% (Why is the target being lowered to 19% for 2010?)
- Percentage of reduction of maritime security risk resulting from Coast Guard efforts to prevent a terrorist entering the United States vial maritime means. Target 21% Actual 42%.
- Number of Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) spot checks. Target 94,500 Actual 39,100
- Risk reduction due to consequence management. Target 6% Actual 9%
- High Capacity passenger vessel required escort rate. Target 100% Actual 53%.
Drug Interdiction (This standard was not applied until FY2009): Removal rate for cocaine from noncommercial vessels in a maritime transit zone. Target 15.7% Actual 15%. (Probably reasonably accurate and probably about as good as we can hope for, but not good enough to truly discourage the smugglers.)
Undocumented Migrant Interdiction:
- Percentage of undocumented migrants who attempt to enter the US via maritime routes “that are interdicted” Target 69.9% Actual 84.4%
- (In the CG report there was a second measure: Percent of Undocumented Migrants who attempt to enter the US via maritime routes interdicted by the Coast Guard. Target 50% Actual 37.5%. Could it be the first isn’t really a CG performance measure. And why does this standard go down in 2010?)
Defense Readiness: These three measures are to be replaced next year.
- Defense readiness of patrol boats. Target 100% Actual 94%
- Defense Readiness of Port Security Units. Target 100% Actual 19.8%
- Percentage of time that Coast Guard assets included in the Combatant Commander Operational Plans are ready at a Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) rating of 2 or better. Target 100% Actual 44%
- (CG report has an additional measure. Defense Readiness of High Endurance Cutters Target 100% Actual 20.7 This shows a consistent decline from 98.5% on FY2004)
Other Law Enforcement (Foreign Fisheries Enforcement):
- Number of incursions into the U. S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Target <195 Actual 112
- The CG report has a second performance measure, Interdiction rate of foreign vessels detected violating the U. S. EEZ. Target 9% Actual 14.3%
Some of the things we did not see measured, that we might want to get a handle on:
- Safety Inspections and Training for crews of foreign flag oil rigs operating in our EEZ. (Why do we let foreign flag rigs drill in our EEZ anyway?)
- Ice Operations: We need to have separate out Polar operations. Right now it is getting lost in measures of domestic icebreaking.
- Percent sorties and return to port by major USN units such as CVNs, SSBNs, big deck amphibs escorted
- Percent of ships carrying “Certain Dangerous Cargoes (CDCs) escorted
- Percent of high interest vessels boarded
- Percent maritime container traffic checked
- Effectiveness of the Maritime Domain Awareness systems.
We really need to consider Domain Awareness for vessels under 300 tons too. Even sailboats can bring in some nasty weapons.
The Department needs to see that their future is in disaster preparedness from whatever cause. Hopefully the terror threat will fade. They need to see, that the “non-DHS missions” complementary DHS missions. When we have a disaster, we need to do SAR and restore Aids to Navigation. Icebreaking may be necessary to get access to a disaster or to prevent one, and environmental disasters are still disasters.
The Coast Guard needs to embrace the DHS missions and recognize that the greater capability, that we really do need to do these missions, also means greater capability to do traditional missions. That Long Rang Identification and Tracking (LRIT) will help SAR is just one example. More boats, more aircraft, more command, control, communications, information, and reconnaissance systems translate to doing all our missions better. To get those assets, we need to make our case, and it can only be made on the basis of DHS missions.
Congress needs to recognize that we are an Armed Service. They don’t expect to see a product out of the Air Force every year. It’s buying insurance. Most of the time, there is no product. Counter terrorism missions are dealing with statistically unlikely, but high impact events. Congress and DHS have a hard time dealing with a multi-purpose organization. From year to year they don’t know what we will be doing because we don’t know either. Mariel Boatlift, Katrina, Haiti, Deepwater Horizon, what’s next? We don’t know!
When it comes time to decide the Coast Guard budget, I would suggest Congress take a different approach. Consider return on investment. If you like the return you are getting from the Coast Guard now, invest more. Don’t say, “Agency ‘X’ isn’t working, we need to put more money into that.” “The Coast Guard, is doing a good job with their current budget so we don’t need to give them any more.” I don’t quote scripture very often. I’m not religious, but there is some wisdom there. Check out the story of the “good and faithful servant” Mathew 25:14-30.