WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV), and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), today applauded final passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act (H.R. 3619). The comprehensive legislation authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard’s funding levels, improves management and oversight of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater fleet modernization program, and provides new tools to enhance the Coast Guard’s critical homeland security, marine safety, fisheries and environmental protection missions.
“The brave men and women of the Coast Guard are deployed every day to defend our maritime interests at home and abroad, safeguard our borders, protect our environment, and save lives in peril,” Chairman Rockefeller said. “But recently Congress has asked the Coast Guard to do more – and often with less. Their resources have been stretched and strained. This bipartisan bill will make sure the Coast Guard has the tools and resources they need to carry out their many missions.”
“The Coast Guard plays a crucial role in protecting our nation’s maritime network and is an integral part of our national security. This legislation keeps the Coast Guard fully operational, which is important for all Americans,” said Ranking Member Hutchison.
The Coast Guard Authorization Act now heads to the President to be signed into law. Key components of the bill include:
- Authorizing important new tools that will better enable the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to deal with oil pollution prevention and response, including: strengthened navigational measures in sensitive areas; improved authority for Coast Guard coordination with State prevention and response authorities; extension of responsibility for oil spills from single hull tank vessels to the actual owners of the oil; and new authority for the Coast Guard to track and report instances of human error—the most frequent cause of accidental spills.
- Providing long needed reforms to the Coast Guard’s major acquisitions processes and procedures by establishing a leadership structure, direct accountability, and clear roles and responsibilities with regard to major acquisitions throughout the Coast Guard’s chain of command.
- Prohibiting the Coast Guard’s use of a “lead systems integrator”—the mechanism by which private contractors working on the Deepwater program were essentially allowed to manage themselves and approve their own work. Use of lead systems integrators would be prohibited throughout the entire Coast Guard on the date of enactment, except in limited circumstances where it would be phased out by the end of 2012.
- Granting important new statutory authority for the Coast Guard to complete its sweeping organizational restructuring (referred to within the Coast Guard as “Modernization”), as well as a number of other key provisions related to the Coast Guard’s organizational, administrative and personnel needs.