Report assesses interagency operations centers

In February 2012 the Government Accountability Office released a report assessing the implementation and management of Interagency Operations Centers (IOCs), which were intended to facilitate maritime information sharing between the Coast Guard and international and domestic port partners. The report, GAO-12-202, also assessed the WatchKeeper information-sharing system. GAO-12-202 is the result of congressional requests to determine the progress made in establishing IOCs, which were a response to the Security and Accountability For Every Port (SAFE Port) Act of 2006, and to determine whether the WatchKeeper system was being fully utilized.

The report addresses three issues: (1) the extent to which the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard have implemented IOCs; (2) the extent to which port partners use WatchKeeper and the Coast Guard has facilitated WatchKeeper use to enhance IOC capabilities; and (3) the extent to which the Coast Guard has adhered to established guidance in defining WatchKeeper requirements and its associated cost and schedule.

GAO-12-202 reveals that while significant progress has been made, the IOCs are not completely established and the WatchKeeper system is not being fully utilized by port partners. Although the SAFE Port Act required IOCs be instituted at high-priority ports by 2009, several factors led to the delay of IOC establishment. For instance, the Coast Guard was not appropriated funds to stand up the IOCs until 14 months after the SAFE Port Act was enacted. The evolving definition of the IOC also led to the delay. The report also reveals that more than 80% of port partners did not utilize the WatchKeeper system, citing that it did not contribute to their missions. The report includes suggestions for collecting data on how port partners access and use the WatchKeeper system, developing a process to incorporate port partner input into the system, and revising the cost estimate and schedule associated with the WatchKeeper system.

For more information about GAO-12-202, please follow the link below.
GAO-12-202, Maritime Security: Coast Guard Needs to Improve Use and Management of Interagency Operations Centers

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