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    Subject Term: "Advisory committees"

    11 publications with a total of 20 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Sager, Michelle A
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of General Services, in consultation with the STOC, should develop a travel data management approach, including common reporting formats that would provide GSA with more consistent travel cost data allowing GSA to compare travel costs across federal agencies. GSA could also include in this data management approach the planned implementation of the shared services model that would allow agencies to share a wide range of travel services with each other. This process could reduce both administrative costs and burden to the government and enable data-driven decision making.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to GSA officials, GSA will take the following actions: (1) conduct a rest program to determine the opportunities and barriers for creating a reliable, standardized data repository containing government-wide travel spending data (pending OMB Director approval); (2) develop and test, in coordination with volunteer agencies and the GSA City Pairs Program personnel, an airfare savings dashboard to assimilates data from multiple sources and provides information on savings and opportunities for additional airfare savings by agencies; (3) publish an FTR Bulletin that identifies 5 core travel Key Performance Indicators that all agencies should use to improve travel management via standardized data; and (4) Identify and promote consistent adaptation of standardized default configurations of air and lodging choices within all E-Gove Travel Service 2 systems. As of August 2017, according to agency officials, they expect to implement this recommendation by the end of September 2017.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure HHS has reliable data on SGEs not serving on federal boards, the Secretary of HHS should take steps to improve the reliability of data on SGEs not serving on boards. For example, the agency could reconcile human capital data with general counsel and ethics office data, or issue clarifying guidance to human capital staff on appropriately identifying SGEs in human capital databases.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, HHS submitted its action plan to address GAO's recommendations. HHS stated the agency is currently reviewing its internal policies and procedures related to the hiring of special government employees not serving on boards to identify policy options that might improve data reliability.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies report consistent and reliable data, the Director of OGE should determine (e.g., through a survey of Designated Agency Ethics Officials and/or by analyzing agency data) whether other executive branch agencies are experiencing data challenges similar to HHS, State, and NRC. If they are, the Director should take steps to help the agencies strengthen their data.

    Agency: Office of Government Ethics
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, OGE submitted its action plan to address GAO's recommendations. OGE reported having a number of actions underway. OGE stated the agency is surveying agency ethics officials to determine whether executive branch agencies are experiencing data challenges related to special government employees not serving on boards. According to OGE, the agency plans to evaluate what steps may help agencies strengthen their data if the survey results show agencies are experiencing data challenges. OGE reported that, in consultation with OPM, the agency proposed new regulations that would improve coordination between agency human resource officials and agency ethics officials by requiring agency human resource officials to provide ethics officials with prompt notification of the appointment of all financial disclosure report filers, including special government employees. OGE also reported expanding the agency's ongoing review of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in light of GAO's recommendation for HHS to take steps to improve the reliability of data on SGEs not serving on boards. OGE plans to evaluate the mechanisms HHS has in place for tracking special government employees not serving on boards and may offer recommendations for improving them.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should document procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB and criteria for evaluating such requests.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB). According to EPA officials, the agency will also make modifications to the SAB charter to be consistent with the process. When the charter is updated, we will review it to determine whether clarifying language included meets the intent of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should clarify in policy documents when it is and when it is not appropriate for the EPA Administrator to forward advice to the requesting committee.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB. These procedures, however, do not ensure compliance with ERDDAA because they fail to recognize that under ERDDAA, the SAB is required to provide requested scientific advice to select committees. The procedures lay out a process and criteria for reviewing congressional requests for SAB advice which include: 1) the scope of EPA's legal authorities; 2) whether the requested advice is related to the science and technical aspect of the environmental issue, rather than a question of public policy; and 3) EPA priorities and strategic plan. The relevant criterion for determining whether the SAB should take up a question, however, is whether it is scientific in nature. The other criteria may be relevant to EPA's prioritization of requests to the SAB in light of the SAB's limited resources.
    Director: Bertoni, Daniel
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to update the TDIU guidance to clarify how rating specialists should determine unemployability when making TDIU benefit decisions. This updated guidance could clarify whether factors such as enrollment in school, education level, and prior work history should be used and if so, how to consider them; and whether or not to assign more weight to certain factors than others. Updating the guidance would also give VBA the opportunity to re-examine the applicability, if at all, of other factors it has identified as extraneous.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA reported in March 2017 that an internal workgroup is in the final stage of collecting and analyzing the data to determine if age should be a factor in deciding Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU), and whether or not to use positive vocational assessments to disallow TDIU claims. VA reported that the workgroup is also in the process of completing an Inter-Rater Variability Assessment (IRVA) to examine the disparity in rating decisions involving entitlement to TDIU and service connection. After completion of the internal study on TDIU and the IRVA, targeted for September 30, 2017, the workgroup will submit its preliminary analysis and recommendations to VBA leadership for a decision on the next courses of action for future policy decisions and will then update any related guidance, as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that TDIU decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to verify the self-reported income provided by veterans (a) applying for TDIU benefits and (b) undergoing the annual eligibility review process by comparing such information against IRS earnings data, which VBA currently has access to for this purpose. VA could also explore options to obtain more timely earnings data from other sources to ensure that claimants are working within allowable eligibility limits

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA is developing an upfront verification process by expanding the data sharing agreement with Social Security Administration (SSA), which enables VA to receive federal tax information via an encrypted electronic transmission through a secure portal. Once a Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) claim is received, VA will request the reported income through the secured SSA portal and receive a response within 10-16 days. VA reported that process will serve as a more efficient way to receive income data in a timely manner and maintain the integrity of the TDIU benefit while reducing improper payments. The development and implementation of the upfront verification process for TDIU claimants is anticipated to be completed by July 21, 2017. Meanwhile, VA has reinstituted the data match agreement with SSA through December 2017, which collects earned income (employment wages). The agreement allows VBA to compare reported income earnings of TDIU beneficiaries to earnings actually received. In addition, VA completed the upfront income verification manual guidance and is planning to pilot the guidance prior to implementation. VA also has drafted new manual guidance for the annual eligibility review process and the documents are currently under review. As of March 2017, VA reported delays and stated it planned to fully implement the annual eligibility review process by June 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that TDIU decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, in light of VA's agreement with the recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to develop a plan to study the complex TDIU policy questions on (1) whether age should be considered when deciding if veterans are unemployable and (2) whether it is possible to disallow TDIU benefits for veterans whose vocational assessment indicated they would be employable after rehabilitation.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, a VA workgroup is in the final stages of collecting and analyzing the data to determine if age should be a factor in deciding TDIU, and whether or not the agency will use positive vocational assessments to disallow TDIU claims. Additionally, the workgroup is in the process of completing an Inter-Rather Variability Study (IRVA) to examine the disparity in rating decisions involving entitlement to TDIU and service connection. After completion of the internal study on TDIU and the IRVA, targeted for September 30, 2017, he workgroup will submit its preliminary analysis and recommendations and VA will then decide on the next courses of action for future policy decisions. Due to VA's earlier conclusions, in April 2015, that no immediate changes to its current guidance were necessary, and in the spirit of this recommendation, the status will remain open until the completion of these ongoing efforts.
    Director: Mak, Marie A
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order for NASA to fully implement the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 and for CASIS to fulfill its responsibility as outlined in the cooperative agreement, the NASA Administrator should direct the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to fully staff the ISS National Laboratory Advisory Committee.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA does not plan to staff the International Space Station National Laboratory Advisory Committee (INLAC) at this time. Officials stated that they continue to believe that the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Board of Directors meets the intent of the INLAC charter by providing oversight of CASIS implementation of utilization of the ISS as a national laboratory. NASA remains concerned about staffing another oversight group that may create conflicts with the existing CASIS Board of Directors. NASA is also exploring with CASIS opportunities to open portions of board meetings to the general public and interested parties in order to foster additional transparency and a broad and free exchange of ideas. In response to this recommendation, the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate indicated that NASA was seeking relief from the statutory requirement to staff the INLAC.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote effective operation of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Congress may wish to consider amending the commission's authorizing statute to clearly specify the roles and responsibilities of the commission chairperson, commissioners, and staff director, such as who has the authority to develop and implement commission operating policies and procedures, to manage commission staff, and to represent commission decisions and views, including those views expressed on commission letterhead.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: A Senate Committee on Appropriations report released on June 16, 2015, which accompanied a bill that provided for the Commission's FY 2016 appropriations, included a provision that directed the Commission to address one of the two issues highlighted in our recommendation. Specifically, the report calls for the Commission to limit the use of letterhead to items that reflect the views of the entire Commission. As of October 2017, no action has been taken with regard to clarifying the roles of the commission chairperson, commissioners, and staff director.
    Recommendation: To more fully inform congressional consideration of the commission's fiscal year 2016 budget submission, the commission should develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a comprehensive workforce plan that assesses skills needed and the appropriate distribution of commission staff to fulfill the agency's mission and statutory responsibilities. This plan should incorporate relevant information from the report that Congress recently directed the commission to provide.

    Agency: Commission on Civil Rights
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Commission on Civil Rights stated that the Commissioners will work closely with the incoming Staff Director, once the President makes an appointment, to develop a comprehensive workforce plan. The agency stressed the importance of involving the new Staff Director in this process. We recognize the importance of involving the Staff Director - the agency's chief administrative official - in an analysis of the Commission's workforce and look forward to the results of this analysis. To date, the Commission has not prepared a comprehensive workforce plan.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that application of UBP for fixed Internet access does not conflict with the public interest, the FCC should make use of existing data collection sources to track fixed-Internet UBP implementation and its effects on consumers nationwide so that FCC can take actions, if necessary, to protect consumer interests.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions FCC has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Clowers, Angela N
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: FSOC and OFR should clarify responsibility for implementing requirements to monitor threats to financial stability across FSOC and OFR, including FSOC members and member agencies, to better ensure that the monitoring and analysis of the financial system are comprehensive and not unnecessarily duplicative.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of October 2016, FSOC staff have said FSOC and its members, including OFR, understand their responsibilities, saying that meetings of FSOC's Systemic Risk Committee help to ensure that FSOC member agencies have clarity on their responsibilities and noted that the committee operated under a charter. However, our review of the charter found that it does not clarify responsibilities for monitoring threats to financial stability. They also stated that actions OFR and the Federal Reserve (both of which serve on the Systemic Risk Committee) agreed to take in response to a recommendation in a GAO report issued in February 2016 would help to clarify these responsibilities. However, these represent just two of FSOC's member agencies; similar collaborative steps by other agencies would support the clarity of roles for monitoring threats to financial stability. We maintain that more specific action from FSOC and OFR, including FSOC member and member agencies, is needed to address this recommendation that ensures clarity of roles and responsibilities in proactively and comprehensively monitoring for potential emerging threats in the financial system. Our past work has shown that the lack of clear roles and coordination can lead to duplication, confusion, and regulatory gaps.
    Recommendation: FSOC and OFR should clarify responsibility for implementing requirements to monitor threats to financial stability across FSOC and OFR, including FSOC members and member agencies, to better ensure that the monitoring and analysis of the financial system are comprehensive and not unnecessarily duplicative.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council: Office of Financial Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, OFR has taken some steps to work with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, a member agency of FSOC, to organize semi-annual meetings to jointly discuss views from their respective monitoring of the financial system for risks. We continue to monitor FSOC and OFR actions that would be responsive to clarifying responsibilities for monitoring threats to financial stability across all the agencies that are members of FSOC.
    Recommendation: To strengthen accountability and collaboration in FSOC's decision making, FSOC should establish a collaborative and comprehensive framework for assessing the impact of its decisions for designating FMUs and nonbank financial companies on the wider economy and those entities. This framework should include assessing the effects of subjecting designated FMUs and nonbank financial companies to new regulatory standards, requirements, and restrictions; establishing a baseline from which to measure the effects; and documenting the approach.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to an April 2017 presidential memorandum, Treasury is conducting a review of FSOC's designation process, including an assessment of the effects of designating FMUs and nonbank financial companies. This review will result in a report. We will update the status of this recommendation after we have reviewed the report.
    Recommendation: To strengthen accountability and collaboration in FSOC's decision making, FSOC should develop more systematic forward-looking approaches for reporting on potential emerging threats to financial stability in annual reports. Such an approach should provide methodological insight into why certain threats to financial stability are included or excluded over time, separate current or past threats from those that are potentially emerging, and prioritize the latter.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: When FSOC publishes its annual report for 2017 and we have reviewed it, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Calbom, Linda M
    Phone: (206) 287-4809

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of potential duplication of efforts and further inform assessments of advisory groups, the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Energy should identify and document specific steps that should be taken in periodically assessing potential duplication and the ongoing need for both FACA and non-FACA advisory groups.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The status of this recommendation will be updated when GAO receive updated information from the Department of Energy.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of potential duplication of efforts and further inform assessments of advisory groups, the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Energy should develop and make public (e.g., on the agency's website) information identifying non-FACA advisory groups providing advice to the agency-including the group name, agency point of contact, and a brief description of the group's purpose.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The status of this recommendation will be updated when GAO receive updated information from the Department of Energy.
    Director: Brown, Orice Williams
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that CFTC and SEC are strategically positioned to implement the joint report's recommendations and address remaining harmonization opportunities, as CFTC and SEC continue to develop the charter for the Joint Advisory Committee, the Chairmen of CFTC and SEC should take steps to establish, with associated time frames, clearer goals for future harmonization efforts and requirements for reporting and evaluating progress toward these goals. Specifically, the agencies could benefit from formalizing a plan to assess implementation of the joint report's recommendations and harmonization opportunities that may not have been fully addressed by the joint report, such as differences in market structure and investor definitions. Such a plan could include goals for future harmonization efforts, such as time frames for implementing the recommendations; assessment of whether remaining differences in statutes and regulations result in inconsistent regulation of similar products and entities that could lead to opportunities for regulatory arbitrage; and periodic reports to Congress on their progress, including the implementation and impact of the recommendations.

    Agency: Commodity Futures Trading Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2014, CFTC staff confirmed that CFTC had not taken steps to implement this recommendation. According to CFTC staff, since the issuance of the GAO report in April 2010, CFTC has prioritized implementing Dodd-Frank Act requirements related to harmonization and has not established a plan or specific goals related to harmonization.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Because EPA alone cannot address the complexities of the nation's challenges in addressing environmental health risks for children, Congress may wish to consider re-establishing a government-wide task force on children's environmental health risks, similar to the one previously established by Executive Order 13045 and co-chaired by the Administrator of EPA and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Congress may wish to consider charging it with identifying the principal environmental health threats to children and developing national strategies for addressing them. Congress may also wish to consider establishing in law the Executive Order's requirement for periodic reports about federal research findings and research needs regarding children's environmental health.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we have not identified actions by the Congress to establish in law requirements such as those in EO 13025.