Coast Guard: Observations on the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget, Recent Performance, and Related Challenges Page: 4 of 40
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harbor patrols and other activities to prevent terrorist attacks), defense
readiness, and undocumented migrant interdiction; and those related to
non-homeland security missions, such as search and rescue, marine
environmental protection (including oil spill response), illegal drug
interdiction, and polar ice operations.
An assessment of the Coast Guard's fiscal year 2009 budget should be
considered in the context of broader federal budgetary issues. As we have
reported elsewhere, the federal government's deteriorating long-range
financial condition and long-term fiscal imbalance are matters of
increasing concern. The nation faces large and growing structural deficits
due primarily to rising health care costs and known demographic trends
that will constrain the government's ability to pay for other obligations and
discretionary expenses.2 Addressing this long-term fiscal issue is an
overarching challenge. As a result, there is a need to engage in a
fundamental review, repriorization, and reengineering of the base of the
government. Understanding and addressing the federal government's
financial condition and long-term fiscal imbalance are critical to maintain
fiscal flexibility so that we can respond to current and emerging social,
economic, and security challenges.3
An assessment of the Coast Guard's budget should also be considered in
the context of risk management. Risk management is a strategy for helping
policy makers to make decisions about allocating finite resources and take
actions in the face of uncertainty. The Coast Guard cannot afford to
protect all maritime areas and facilities against all possible threats. As a
result, it must make choices about how to allocate its resources to most
effectively manage risk. Risk management has been widely supported by
the President and Congress, as a management approach for homeland
security, and the Secretary of Homeland Security has made it the
2 See GAO, Long-Term Fiscal Outlook: Action Is Needed to Avoid the Possibility of a
Serious Economic Disruption in the Future, GAO-08-411T (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 29,
3See GAO, A Call for Stewardship: Enhancing the Federal Government's Ability to
Address Key Fiscal and Other 21st Century Challenges, GAO-08-93SP (Washington, D.C.:
Dec. 17, 2007).
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Coast Guard: Observations on the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget, Recent Performance, and Related Challenges, text, March 6, 2008; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292988/m1/4/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.