The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), held a hearing this morning to focus on options to improve current Coast Guard operations and implement efficiencies in Coast Guard programs.
Chairman LoBiondo held this morning's hearing in preparation for reauthorization legislation for Coast Guard appropriations, which expires on September 30, 2011.
"The crux of any good legislation is a strong foundation," said Chairman LoBiondo. "Our Subcommittee has held nine hearings over the first seven months of this Congress and we have identified several issues that need to be addressed. Today is an opportunity to revisit our most important priorities and ensure that we are well informed before we begin to legislate. As you all know, I am especially interested in issues including servicemember parity, challenges and delays in the Coast Guard's acquisition program, and ways to make it more effective. I also want to ensure we are spending taxpayers' dollars efficiently.
"Specifically, as I have raised before, I am very concerned that we have spent over $3 billion to build National Security Cutters over the last decade when the GAO recently found that they provide little additional capability over the 40 year old vessels they are replacing," LoBiondo continued. "I am also concerned the taxpayer is going to have to spend tens of millions more each year to support a new headquarters building for the Coast Guard. It appears this is being done just to satisfy the Secretary's desire to consolidate DHS agencies at the old mental hospital in Anacostia. Now we understand these costs may rise further as the appropriators have decided not to provide funding to move any additional agencies. "These issues, among others, will be addressed in the next authorization."
The panel also focused on the Marine Debris Research, Prevention, and Reduction Act (Public Law 109-449), which requires the Coast Guard to conduct outreach programs to boaters to increase awareness of problems associated with marine debris.