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Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010

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There are a lot of thoughts and themes there and, yes, it does have a DoD slant, but it's not cohensive. The key question is what is it trying to accomplish? There's also nothing new. For example, here's an excerpt on employee recognition.

-`Sec. 563. Recognition of Coast Guard personnel for excellence in acquisition

`(a) In General- Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of the Coast Guard Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011, the Commandant shall commence implementation of a program to recognize excellent performance by individuals and teams comprised of officers, members, and employees of the Coast Guard that contributed to the long-term success of a Coast Guard acquisition project or program.

`(B) Elements- The program shall include--

`(1) specific award categories, criteria, and eligibility and manners of recognition;

`(2) procedures for the nomination by personnel of the Coast Guard of individuals and teams comprised of officers, members, and employees of the Coast Guard for recognition under the program; and

`(3) procedures for the evaluation of nominations for recognition under the program by one or more panels of individuals from the Government, academia, and the private sector who have such expertise and are appointed in such manner as the Commandant shall establish for the purposes of this program.

`? Award of Cash Bonuses- As part of the program required by subsection (a), the Commandant, subject to the availability of appropriations, may award to any civilian employee recognized pursuant to the program a cash bonus to the extent that the performance of such individual so recognized warrants the award of such bonus.

It sounds nice but an HR person can tell you the authority for this kind of recognition already exists.

The bottom line is what is all this trying to accomplish?The Coast Guard acquisition process already works well. Sure,they had some problems with Deepwater and that was mostly related to not have enough people to monitor and woork with the contractors. This just seems like a bunch of people in Congress had some ideas and everyone tossed theirs into a basket and out came this.

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Guest Vern Edwards

The law is about everyone waking up one morning and deciding that Deepwater was not going well and that the Coast Guard did not know what it was doing, which the Coast Guard readily admitted. It reflects Congress's belief that when anything goes wrong they can fix it by passing a law, which is demonstrably untrue.

Our form of government is a source of unending frustration to people in the government. The Executive is supposed to act on the laws passed by Congress, which makes Congress think that when the Executive doesn't do things as well as it should it can force the issue by passing another law. People would be surprised to know how many acquisition laws were regulations before they were laws, and that Congress made the regulation a law because it did not think that the Executive was complying with its own regulations as it should. The classic example is Public Law 87-653 (1962), what we now call the Truth in Negotiations Act. Those provisions were in the Armed Services Procurement Regulation at least two years before Congress enacted the statute.

Laws rarely solve problems. They are more likely to create new problems. The real solution to acquisition problems is a first-rate acquisition workforce. Of course, Congress has passed several laws calling for just such a thing. I'm sure that we can forward to more such laws. Whether we ever get such a workforce is another matter entirely.

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