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May 31, 2013

Improper Oversight of CBP Helicopter Conversion Has Led to Delays, Higher Costs

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the below statement in response to a Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) report on the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) acquisition and conversion of its H-60 helicopters, entitled "DHS' H-60 Helicopter Programs" (OIG-13-89). Within DHS, the helicopters are used by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) primarily for law enforcement and rescue operations.

The IG found that the USCG properly managed its acquisition and conversion of H-60 helicopters, but CBP did not. The IG found that improper program oversight by CBP resulted in higher costs and delays that will prevent some helicopters from becoming operational on schedule. According to the report, delays have already limited CBP's operation of its H-60s, and CBP anticipates that it may not be able to fly up to nine of its H-60s beginning in 2014. However, the IG concluded that if DHS requires the remaining CBP H-60 conversions and modifications to be conducted at the USCG Aviation Logistics Center, DHS could save about $126 million and have CBP H-60s able to fly 7 years sooner than anticipated. The IG recommended that DHS complete the remaining conversions at the USCG facility. However, DHS did not agree with the OIG's cost-saving recommendation. Instead, DHS will conduct a "cost-benefit analysis" to determine whether Coast Guard should conduct the conversions.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on the report:

"I am shocked by DHS' decision. These helicopters play a major role in border security and I urge the Secretary to reconsider the decision to conduct a cost-benefit analysis instead of pursuing a path that will lead to $126 million in savings. In addition to the monetary savings, compliance with the OIG's recommendation will have these helicopters in the air seven years earlier than originally projected. This decision seems to ignore this nation's concerns about fiscal austerity and border security. I look forward to hearing the Secretary's justification. DHS should adopt improved department-wide standards for aviation acquisition and modifications, follow the IG's recommendation regarding the remaining conversions, and get these aircraft back on our Nation's borders as soon as possible."

Link to Report

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978