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GAO Warns of Cost, Schedule Risks to Coast Guard’s Icebreaker Shipbuilding Program

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The Government Accountability Office has said that the U.S. Coast Guard’s plan to develop three new icebreaker ships runs the risk of exceeding projected costs and breaching production timetables.

In a report published Tuesday, the GAO pointed out that USCG establish acquisition baselines—which include schedule, cost and performance indicators—for the Heavy Polar Icebreaker Program even before conducting a preliminary design review, which, according to the HPIB framework, will be done after the shipbuilding contract is awarded in 2019.

The government audit agency warned that failing to conduct a design review first “puts the Coast Guard at risk of breaching its established baselines and having to revise them later in the acquisition process, after a contract has been signed and significant resources have already been committed to the program.”

Although the USCG’s plan does conform to the Department of Homeland Security’s acquisition policy, the GAO noted that it had previously called on the DHS to require the conduct of technical reviews like preliminary design reviews prior to the approval of a program’s baselines.

The watchdog also recommended that the DHS require the Coast Guard to revise the HPIB program baselines after the design review is completed and before ship construction begins.