Coast Guard: Better Information Needed Before Deciding on Facility Closings
United States General Accounting Office Washington United States
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The factors used by the Coast Guard to select VTSS for closure were chosen primarily to resolve its immediate problem of reducing operating expenses and gave little consideration to the effectiveness of each of the VTSS in enhancing safety. Although cost-effectiveness information is required by Coast Guard policies, it was not used, was seriously out of date, or was not maintained. Because the Coast Guard did not consider such information, it does not know if it made the correct decision in closing the New York and New Orleans VTSS , two of the three largest in terms of vessel activity. Without current and complete information regarding VTS effectiveness, the safety value of VTSS cannot be clearly demonstrated. Although the National Transportation Safety Board NTSB believes VTSS are important in enhancing safety, Coast Guard Chief of Staff officials believe that VTSS are not as important as when they were initially developed because of technology and communication improvements. The Coast Guard position, however, appears inconsistent with its 1987 plans to require vessel participation at New York and New Orleans as a means to enhance vessel traffic safety at these locations. The Coast Guard understated the annual personnel cost savings from closing the two VTSS by about 228,000, and overstated such savings from decommissioning the Wind icebreakers by about 445,000. The Congress has requested the Administration to further study the nations icebreaker requirements. The Coast Guard believes it needs two icebreakers to replace the 40-year-old Winds. If new icebreakers are procured, future annual savings from decommissioning the Winds will be eliminated.
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