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DHS OIG Finds that the Coast Guard’s IT Investments Risk Costly Failure Without Required Oversight

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Public Affairs (202) 254-4100

For Immediate Release

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According to a new Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report, the United States Coast Guard’s (Coast Guard) information technology (IT) investments lack required oversight. OIG analysts caution that weak controls and scarce oversight risk wasteful spending, missed milestones, and underachieving performance.

The report, “Coast Guard IT Investments Risk Failure Without Required Oversight,” focused on IT acquisition programs that cost less than $300 million, also referred to as non-major IT investments. The report depicts a muddled acquisition review culture which results in troubling practices, specifically: limited coordination among the Coast Guard directorates; insufficient internal controls to ensure non-major IT acquisitions are not overlooked; unreliable IT investment information; and insufficient guidance to properly identify and designate non-major IT acquisition investments.

The concern is compounded given that between fiscal years 2014 and 2016, the Coast Guard approved $1.8 billion of IT procurements, and it does not know if nearly 400 information systems are receiving proper acquisition oversight.  The Coast Guard faced similar challenges in the past. In 2015, OIG auditors found the Coast Guard spent nearly $68 million to unsuccessfully modernize its electronic health records systems.

OIG recommends the Deputy Commandant Mission Support conduct a comprehensive analysis of its acquisition and IT review processes; evaluate current IT investments to identify non-major acquisitions; ensure the authorizing directorates maintain an updated IT investment management system; and review IT acquisition and IT guidance.  Implementing the recommendations will allow the Coast Guard to leverage information that will assist its identification and designation process for non-major IT acquisition programs. The Coast Guard concurred with all four recommendations and has made corrective action plans.

“Adequate acquisition oversight is vital if the Coast Guard intends to safeguard its resources and taxpayer dollars,” said Inspector General John Roth.  “We are pleased that the Coast Guard has already taken positive initial steps and look forward to additional improvements.”

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Oversight Area