Congress had not approved a Coast Guard authorization bill since 2006, but last week that changed.  The House and Senate passed the FY2010 Coast Guard Authorization bill and sent to the White House.  The bill had been in limbo since last year.  The House passed the bill on October 23, 2009, but the Senate did not pass it until May of this year.  The bill, as summarized by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, authorizes annual Coast Guard (CG) appropriations of $10.2 billion (including $1.6 billion for acquisition and construction) and a total military personnel level of 47,000 (an increase of 1,500) for FY2011.  It includes provisions that pave the way for completion of changes to the CG management structure and the acquisition process.  The bill raises the Vice Commandant’s rank to full Admiral and establishes four Vice-Admiral positions whose command responsibilities will be determined by the Commandant.  In the area of acquisition reform, it requires the designation of a Chief Acquisition Officer, establishes a CG Acquisition Directorate, and sets training and experience standards for the CG acquisition workforce.  In addition, the bill enhances the CG marine safety program and requires the development of a long-term vessel safety improvement strategy.  In matters of personnel policy, the bill authorizes the reimbursement for medical-related travel expenses for personnel living in remote locations, and authorizes leave retention for CG personnel assigned to support a major disaster or “spill of national significance,” such as the gulf oil spill.