As the Coast Guard replaces its aging ships, aircraft and systems, the service’s vice commandant has called for significant change in the acquisition process — not just for his service, but the other branches as well.
"There are some basic elements in acquisition that must be addressed, and it’s going to take significant courage in the part of not only government, but industry,” Vice Adm. John Currier said Monday, the first day of the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space symposium outside Washington, D.C. Currier was serving on a service chiefs’ panel alongside Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert and Marine Commandant Gen. Jim Amos.
Currier said the current budget situation has created a “compelling need to act” in assessing the acquisition process. Currier foresaw a fight in getting the system changed, saying that current processes are ingrained and institutionalized.
“We are going to have to break some china to change this,” he said. “It's going to take a lot of courage, its going to take a rethinking of how we buy things.”
The service is investing about $30 billion in acquisition projects, including acquiring new aircraft, vessels and systems.
“I look at acquisition as a system that was built, probably since the Civil War, based on abuses,” Currier told the audience. “Until we come up with a streamlined system that doesn't just look at a major systems acquisition, that breaks the threshold and becomes ‘Project X' but looks at each [program] in isolation for the real reforms, the real areas of cost and the real world areas of risk ... and we have the ability to go to Congress and get stable, predictable funding, then I don't think we are going to succeed at this.”