The Coast Guard buys a lot of equipment and supplies, but how should all that work get done? To answer that question, the Coast Guard came up with a set of acquisition priorities. Rear Admiral Gary Blore is the Assistant Commandant for Acquisition, and is one of the men responsible for putting the plan into action.
He appeared on the Federal Drive Thursday morning with one of the Coast Guard’s acquisition success stories.
With the right imperative and the right government employees that we have here, we can speed it up some times. There is a direction finder that we use on our aircraft that we discovered about 18 months ago, it’s called Direction Finder 430, but it just about quintuples the range by which one our aircraft can close in on a distress signal. Where as before we had to close to five or six miles, now we’re picking up those distress signals at 60 and 70 miles. They’re a couple hundred thousand dollars a piece, and it’s a fairly complicated install, but we set out 18 months ago and said ‘this is an imperative. Literally lives can be lost if we don’t get this equipment installed.’ So, in 18 months we’ve installed that in about 80 of our aircraft.
Such success with updating equipment and technology hasn’t always been the case with the Coast Guard. They began a program called Deepwater to update their fleet of both ships and aircraft that triggered an investigation by the Justice Department. Blore says that the Coast Guard felt the project was too large for them to handle themselves. The Coast Guard used a commercial Lead Systems Integrator, which was a joint venture between Northop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
While there were many successes under that program, there were many programs that didn’t run as smoothly as we would like them to. We are public servants, we’re very aware that we are spending the tax payers dollar, and we felt that by reforming some of our acquisition process, and frankly bringing that Lead Systems Integrator in house, that we could do a more efficient job.
Blore says that they have already launched the first their national security cutters, with a second cutter to be delivered late this summer.