By Stephen L Caldwell; United States. Government Accountability Office
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Extra resources for Coast Guard : efforts to identify Arctic requirements are ongoing, but more communication about Agency planning efforts would be beneficial : report to congressional requesters
The Coast Guard is planning additional Arctic operating location activities for the summer of 2010. According to Coast Guard officials, the 2010 activities will include daily small boat operations in Kotzebue; medical, veterinary, and water safety outreach to 10 remote communities; and HC130 maritime boundary line patrols. 36 In addition, the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy will work closely with a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker on a science mission in August and September. The Coast Guard had also planned to have the Polar Sea icebreaker retrieve science buoys and deliver medical personnel to four villages, but the ship’s scheduled 2010 Arctic patrol has been cancelled due to engine problems.
37 While Arctic domain awareness flights contribute to the Coast Guard’s awareness of vessel traffic in the Arctic, the agency is also in the process of acquiring more AIS real-time vessel traffic data in the Arctic. According to officials at the Marine Exchange of Alaska, a nonprofit which sells AIS data to the Coast Guard, AIS may provide cheaper and more comprehensive vessel tracking data than Arctic domain awareness flights. However, Coast Guard officials told us that AIS is not a panacea as (1) only vessels weighing over 300 tons are required to have AIS on board and (2) vessels that do not want to be detected are unlikely to comply with the AIS requirement or may spoof another ship’s AIS signal.
The Coast Guard has assessed its environment by reviewing the agreements and policies, domestic and international, that impact the agency’s requirements in the Arctic, taking stock of other nations’ activities and interests in the region, and analyzing the “drivers” or potential sources of change in the Arctic. In addition, the agency’s Arctic overflights and temporary operations improve the agency’s Arctic domain 39 The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 is the primary legislative framework through which agencies are required to set strategic goals, measure performance, and report on the degree to which goals were met.