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Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

GAO issues recommendations for Coast Guard polar icebreakers

© US Coast Guard

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued recommendations regarding the U.S. Coast Guard’s and Navy’s plan to invest up to $9.8 billion to build and maintain three heavy polar icebreakers.

The ships would be used to conduct missions in the Arctic and Antarctic, and a contract will be awarded next year.

“The Coast Guard—a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—did not have a sound business case in March 2018, when it established the cost, schedule, and performance baselines for its heavy polar icebreaker acquisition program, because of risks in four key areas,” the GAO said.

The GAO found the Coast Guard set program baselines before conducting a preliminary design review and this puts the program at risk of having an unstable design, and it did not conduct a technology readiness assessment to determine the maturity of technologies before setting baselines. The report also found that the cost estimate did not quantify the range of possible costs over the life of the program, and the Coast Guard’s planned delivery dates are not realistic.

Recommendations include conducting a technology readiness assessment, updating the cost estimate, developing a program schedule through best practices, analyzing and determining appropriate schedule risks, and updating the program baselines before authorizing construction.