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MARAD′s Efforts To Address Program Management Challenges

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security
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The Assistant Inspector General (AIG) for Surface Transportation Audits testified on the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) efforts to address its program management challenges. His testimony highlighted findings from our most recent report, and our 2014 report on the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy’s (USMMA) actions to address sexual assault and sexual harassment.

In December 2015, we reported that weaknesses in MARAD’s management controls for risk mitigation, workforce development, and program implementation hindered the Agency’s ability to meet its mission. MARAD has since implemented 5 of our 16 recommendations to improve its risk management process, refine program implementation in two areas, and enhance oversight mechanisms. However, weaknesses remain in workforce development and program implementation. For example, MARAD has not fully implemented plans from its 2012 workforce analysis, updated or completed policies and procedures agencywide for program implementation and for ship disposal and vessel transfer, which could increase various risks including for poor program implementation and non-compliance with Federal requirements; or effectively monitored the Vessel Transfer Office and National Defense Reserve Fleet operations.

The AIG also noted that in October 2014, we reported that USMMA lacked progress in implementing needed actions to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment on its campus, including assigning oversight responsibility and establishing standard operating procedures for investigating and reporting allegations. Weaknesses in the Academy’s biennial surveys of midshipmen, staff, and faculty further limited USMMA’s efforts to target and make progress in critical areas. The AIG also noted that MARAD has implemented our nine recommendations, and that we continue to monitor the Academy’s actions to address sexual assault and harassment in light of ongoing congressional interest.