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Coast Guard Acquisitions: Enhanced Oversight of Testing Could Benefit National Security Cutter Program and Future DHS Acquisitions

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Technical Report

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Government Accountability Office Washington United States

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The Coast Guards flagship, 418-foot NSC was first commissioned in 2008. It completed initial testing, an event designed to test all critical systems that are necessary for successful operations, in the spring of 2014, after 7 of the 8 planned cutters were already under contract and 3 ships were operational. GAO has been reviewing the NSC as part of its broader Coast Guard acquisition reviews since 2001. This statement is primarily based on GAOs January 2016 report on the NSCs initial testing event GAO-16-148, and addresses issues related to 1 the results of the NSCs initial test event, 2 the Coast Guards plans for follow-on testing, and 3 the performance of the NSC during operations. The statement also includes GAOs observations on the Coast Guards acquisition approach for its Fast Response Cutter and Offshore Patrol Cutter programs. GAO reviewed these two programs in June 2014 GAO-14-450 and April 2015 GAO-15-171SP and also conducted selected updates on their acquisition status in January 2016. The statement also draws on GAOs prior work on commercial shipbuilding best practices.

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