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Coast Guard faces cuts in 2014 budget

The Coast Guard has started a portfolio review of its capabilities, compared to its missions, in light of a shrinking budget, the agency's vice commandant told a congressional review panel.

“We will continue to instill a culture of efficiency so that every dollar is used to its best advantage,” Vice Adm. John Currier told the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on Coast Guard and maritime transportation. “We will ensure that our people remain semper paratus — always ready — and are properly equipped with reliable and capable assets to carry out our most pressing missions.”

The hearing, being conducted with the Office of Management and Budget and the Homeland Security Department, was an opportunity for the Coast Guard to establish, "given levels of funding, what we will be able to do and what we will not be able to do," said Currier.

He stressed to the committee that the Coast Guard will “continue to deploy command and control systems, such as Rescue 21, WatchKeeper and the Nationwide Automatic Identification System, to save lives and enhance maritime awareness in our ports and on the inland and coastal waterways.”

The hearing came after a sharp reduction in the White House fiscal 2014 proposed budget for the service and a five-year capital investment plan under which acquisition dollars would never total more than $1.2 billion annually and would more often hover close to $1 billion annually — sometimes below that figure.

Click here for a report by Fierce Homeland Security, an online news source that tracks the latest security developments in the U.S. government.

Click here for Currier’s written testimony and click here for a video of the entire committee hearing (1 hour, 41 minutes).