Is this contracting thing working yet?

The Center for Public Integrity reports another factor in the Deepwater Horizon response:

At least three Coast Guard aircraft and one cutter suffered serious mechanical problems that delayed, cut short or aborted rescue missions during the Gulf incident, the logs reveal. The Coast Guard averaged one problem for every seven rescue sorties it operated during the first three days of the oil spill crisis in April, according to logs obtained by the Center.

Just three months earlier, 10 of the 12 Coast Guard cutters dispatched to help evacuate victims of the Haiti earthquake encountered serious mechanical problems that affected their ability to conduct rescue missions, officials confirm. Two cutters were so impacted that they had to return to port for repairs, and aircraft were diverted from search and rescue to fly parts in for others, according to officials.It’s a situation that has been in the making for years, according to documents and interviews. The Coast Guard’s multibillion-dollar effort to modernize its fleet was mismanaged by the Coast Guard and contractors during the Bush administration, leaving it without much of the new equipment it paid for.


But the Coast Guard also has itself to blame for many of the problems, according to a Department of Homeland Security inspector general review and Government Accountability Office investigations.

Between 2002 and 2008, the Guard spent $1.8 billion on its Deepwater modernization project to build the next generation of its cutters, only to find many of the new ships were either unusable or required expensive repairs because of design defects.

For instance, it abandoned eight new 123-foot patrol cutters because of such problems as “deformation and cracks in the hull,” records show. That left the Guard to rely on boats that were decades old. It is now trying to recoup some of its money from Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a contractor that was formed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. specifically for the Deepwater project.

In the meantime we’ll just award Northrop Grumman with more contracts for really important tasks:

Northrop Grumman Corp. will provide operational support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s regional preparedness exercises under a 20-month, $5.5 million task order.

Under the terms of the task order, the company will support homeland security preparedness exercises in the 28 states and U.S. territories in FEMA regions VI through X, which includes the south central United States to the West Coast.

The company will design, develop, conduct, evaluate and provide operational support for the exercises.