7/12/2016: Creation of a third party review team

Written by Capt. John Mauger, commanding officer of Coast Guard Marine Safety Center

The Coast Guard’s prevention program has long-relied on the use of third party organizations to augment our own capabilities to ensure maritime safety and environmental compliance. Examples include: incorporation of industry led consensus standards for design and operations; use of authorized classification societies for vessel plan review, survey and certification; and use of state and local authorities for certain casualty investigations. Third party organizations have provided multiple benefits including additional expertise and resources which have allowed the Coast Guard to serve the maritime industry and public more efficiently and effectively. As maritime commerce and operations continues to change more rapidly and grow increasingly complex, the Coast Guard will need to continue to rely on third party organizations to keep pace with the changes while ensuring maritime safety and compliance.

In order to better understand how the prevention program currently uses third party organizations for vessel compliance and how it may change in the future, Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, the assistant commandant for prevention policy, chartered a cross directorate team of experts to inventory, analyze, update and develop/implement strategies which promote, economize and leverage the use of third-party organizations for compliance operations.

Thomas noted, “The use of third party organizations cuts across all segments of the prevention concept of operations. As our operating environment has grown more complex, third parties have become an integral part of our maritime safety system. Absent a significant shift in national/international policy, industry trends point to a future in which we will be even more reliant on third parties. This review team will help us identify strengths and weaknesses of our current programs and provide strategic direction for the future environment.”

The third party review team is led by myself, with participation from the Coast Guard offices of Commercial Vessel Compliance, Engineering and Standards, Traveling Inspectors, Facilities and Investigations. The review team will initially focus on assessing third-party programs that lead to the issuance of a vessel Certificate of Inspection, e.g., the Alternate Compliance Program, Maritime Security Program, Streamlined Inspection Program and third-party portions of the new Subchapter M.

Throughout the process, the 3PRT will solicit input from key stakeholders, including organizations which currently perform third party work on the Coast Guard’s behalf, to assist with developing a strategy. The final product will take the form of an action plan to the assistant commandant for prevention policy that lists the 3PRT’s findings and recommendations. The review team plans to develop their recommendations by the end of the calendar year.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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