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    Topic: "Agriculture and Food"

    55 publications with a total of 152 open recommendations including 10 priority recommendations
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of AMS should revise the standard operating procedures for AMS's check-off programs to state that management reviews include a sample of subcontracts for review. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Marketing Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of AMS should establish a mechanism for documenting and tracking follow-up with check-off boards on the implementation of management review recommendations. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Marketing Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of AMS should ensure that annual independent audits include the five statements of assurance as outlined in the standard operating procedures. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Marketing Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of AMS should include in the guidelines and standard operating procedures that key check-off board documents, such as bylaws and policy statements, annual reports, and independent evaluations of economic effectiveness are posted on the check-off programs' websites. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Marketing Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of AMS should develop criteria by which to assess the methodology and results of independent evaluations and document those reviews to ensure that the standard operating procedures are met. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Marketing Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cindy Brown Barnes
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health should take additional steps to encourage workers to disclose sensitive concerns during OSHA inspections of meat and poultry plants; for example, by considering additional off-site interviews or exploring other options to obtain information anonymously. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health should gather more information, such as by asking workers during meat and poultry plant inspections, to determine the extent to which bathroom access is a problem and how to address any identified issues. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health should update its guidance for employers on how to manage their health units to address the challenges of managing these units. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health should work with FSIS to assess the implementation of the MOU and make any needed changes to ensure improved collaboration; and set specific timeframes for periodic evaluations of the MOU. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FSIS Administrator should work with OSHA to assess the implementation of the MOU and make any needed changes to ensure improved collaboration; and set specific timeframes for periodic evaluations of the MOU. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FSIS Administrator should develop a process to regularly share the worker safety information it collects during its review of new chemicals with FSIS inspectors, plant management, OSHA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (Recommendation 6)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of NIOSH should consider including in the agency's research agenda a proposal for examining the extent of peracetic acid's use in combination with other chemicals in meat and poultry plants, and any safety and health hazards these combinations may pose to workers. (Recommendation 7)

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of FDA should pursue formal agreements with countries exporting seafood to the United States that commit these countries to test for drugs of concern to FDA and the corresponding maximum residue levels (MRLs) that FDA established for these drugs. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of FSIS should ensure that agency staff doing an on-site audit in another country for an equivalence determination visit at least a sample of farms whose catfish are exported to the United States to determine the conditions under which the catfish are being raised, including the drugs being used. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of FSIS should require as part of an equivalence determination that countries exporting catfish to the United States include in their residue monitoring plans the drugs of concern to FSIS and the corresponding maximum residue levels. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of FDA should coordinate and communicate with FSIS in developing drug residue testing methods and corresponding maximum residue levels for imported seafood that may also be applicable to imported catfish. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of FSIS should coordinate and communicate with FDA in developing drug residue testing methods and corresponding maximum residue levels for imported catfish that may also be applicable to other imported seafood. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of delivering the crop insurance program, Congress should consider repealing the 2014 farm bill requirement that any revision to the standard reinsurance agreement not reduce insurance companies' expected underwriting gains, and directing the Risk Management Agency to, during the next renegotiation of the agreement, (1) adjust the participating insurance companies' target rate of return to reflect market conditions and (2) assess the portion of premiums that participating insurance companies retain and, if warranted, adjust it.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To reduce year-to-year fluctuations in the administrative and operating expense subsidies that companies receive at the crop, state, and county levels, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Risk Management Agency to consider adjusting the administrative and operating expense subsidy calculation method in a way that reduces the effects of changes in premiums caused by changes in crop prices or other factors when it renegotiates the standard reinsurance agreement.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should ensure that Bellmon determinations are documented for all food assistance projects prior to the provision of commodities, consistent with agency guidance.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should update guidance on Bellmon determinations to reflect current policies and procedures.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should monitor markets during implementation of development projects to identify any potential negative effects, such as unusual changes in prices.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should evaluate markets after development projects are completed to determine whether markets were negatively affected during project implementation or after project completion.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    Recommendation: To ensure the transparency and accountability of USDA's selection of countries to receive in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop guidance to require documentation of the reasons for providing funding to countries that were not on the priority list.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that Bellmon determinations are documented for all food assistance projects prior to the provision of commodities, consistent with agency guidance.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should monitor markets during implementation of McGovern-Dole projects to identify any potential negative effects, such as unusual changes in prices.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should evaluate markets after the completion of McGovern-Dole and Food for Progress projects to determine whether markets were negatively affected during project implementation or after project completion.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance consumer understanding of agency oversight roles and to strengthen agency oversight of Internet marketing, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Chair of the FTC should develop and provide additional guidance to consumers delineating the agencies' differing roles in their shared oversight of memory supplement and other dietary supplement marketing on the Internet.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To enhance consumer understanding of agency oversight roles and to strengthen agency oversight of Internet marketing, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Chair of the FTC should develop and provide additional guidance to consumers delineating the agencies' differing roles in their shared oversight of memory supplement and other dietary supplement marketing on the Internet.

    Agency: Federal Trade Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to direct EQIP program managers to coordinate with the leaders of USDA's CEAP to help ensure that CEAP studies consider the practical limitations and trade-offs faced by program managers and to provide program managers with better information to target EQIP funds where they will optimize environmental benefits.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to revise guidance on state offices' EQIP allocation processes, stipulating that data on environmental concerns, where available, should be a primary factor influencing allocations within states.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to establish a review process at the regional level for review and concurrence of EQIP payment rates above a threshold (e.g., rates greater than 50 percent, with justification).

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to modify guidance and ranking tools so that they more accurately value an EQIP application's anticipated environmental benefits relative to estimated costs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to develop a plan for evaluating completed corrective actions to determine their effectiveness and, as appropriate, consider whether any completed corrective actions require validation through simulations or exercises.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on our draft report, USDA said that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) agreed with our recommendation to develop a plan for evaluating completed corrective actions to determine their effectiveness. Further, USDA said that APHIS will incorporate simulations and exercises in its plan and that, in the event of an actual outbreak, APHIS will evaluate the effectiveness of the response through an after action report. Finally, USDA said that APHIS will continually review the criteria and hierarchy of corrective actions, both completed and ongoing, with respect to avian influenza policies,emergency management activities, and critical communications with states, tribes, poultry producers, and poultry industry partners. GAO will assess the status of the recommendation when USDA provides information on the steps it has taken to implement it.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should develop, document, and implement a process for periodically conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews of Title II development and emergency projects. Such reviews should include efforts to verify that actual costs incurred for these projects align with planned budgets.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is exploring options to develop a new process for conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should ensure that its requirements for implementing partners to provide monitoring data on an ongoing basis on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement are consistent for Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has updated its Food for Peace development award template, and programs are now required to provide quarterly reports on cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement. As of September 2017, we are following up with USAID to confirm the actions taken in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should take steps to ensure that it collects complete and consistent monitoring data from implementing partners for Title II development and emergency projects on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement as well as data on the use of Title II funding for internal transportation, storage, and handling (ITSH) costs, in accordance with established requirements.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has taken actions in response to this recommendation including hiring staff and providing training to support adherence to award requirements. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should update key guidance and systems to consistently reflect allowable uses of ITSH funds in Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is updating guidance and exploring other options to further clarify ITSH and 202(e) funding distinctions, in response to this recommendation. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should establish a requirement for Title II development project partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for cash transfers and food vouchers funded by 202(e), and take steps to ensure that implementing partners adhere to the requirement.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has inserted a requirement for partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for activities including cash transfers and food vouchers into its FY 2017 Request for Applications for Food for Peace development activities, and that new Title II development awards will require partners to adhere to the requirement. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions taken in response to this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to develop a process, which may include time frames, to establish appropriate durations of use on labels of all medically important antibiotics used in food animals.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, and as of July 2017, we await action from FDA.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to establish steps to increase veterinary oversight of medically important antibiotics administered in routes other than feed and water, such as injections and tablets.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, and as of July 2017, we await action from FDA.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to develop performance measures and targets for actions to manage the use of antibiotics such as revising the veterinary feed directive and developing guidance documents on judicious use.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation, and as of July 2017, we await action from FDA.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of APHIS to develop performance measures and targets for collecting farm-specific data on antibiotic use in food animals.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation. In July 2017, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service stated that it will develop performance measures and targets for collecting farm-specific data on antibiotic use in farm animals and antibiotic resistant bacteria by September 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of APHIS to develop performance measures and targets for collecting farm-specific data on antibiotic-resistant bacteria in food animals.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation. In July 2017, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service stated that it will develop performance measures and targets for laboratory monitoring for antibiotic resistance of pathogens by September 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of APHIS and the Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service to work with the Director of CDC to develop a framework for deciding when on-farm investigations are warranted during outbreaks.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation. In July 2017, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service agreed to work with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service and HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop an additional decision matrix by December 31, 2017 for use to determine when on-farm antimicrobial resistance investigative activities are warranted.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To guide the nation's efforts to improve the federal food safety oversight system and address ongoing fragmentation, the appropriate entities within the EOP should, in consultation with relevant federal agencies and other stakeholders, develop a national strategy that states the purpose of the strategy, establishes high-level sustained leadership, identifies resource requirements, monitors progress, and identifies short- and long-term actions to improve the food safety oversight system.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, the agency had not acted on our recommendation.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should take additional steps to collect and disseminate information on promising practices that could help improve data matching processes among state SNAP agencies, including broad and timely dissemination of information on results of recent relevant pilots or demonstrations.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted it is moving in this direction and would build on current efforts to address them. GAO will monitor these efforts and consider closing the recommendation when these efforts have been completed.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should work with the Department of Health and Human Services (as appropriate) to analyze spending and understand data needs for SNAP across federal and state contracts and in relation to other programs as FNS explores ways to potentially reduce the costs of using commercial data services.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted it has been moving in this general direction and would build on current efforts to address it. GAO will monitor these efforts and consider closing the recommendation when these efforts have been completed.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the food assistance needs that exist for active-duty servicemembers and their families, and to help ensure that DOD effectively targets its support to those in need of assistance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to revise, as appropriate, any existing data-collection mechanisms, such as periodic surveys, to collect and analyze more complete data on the use of food assistance programs by servicemembers and their families and use the data to determine if any further actions are needed, such as assigning responsibilities at the department-level for monitoring the use of food assistance programs by active-duty servicemembers.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, The Department of Defense (DOD) revised the questions on the September 2016 Status of Force Survey of Active Duty Members to include questions on whether servicemembers and their families had in the past 12 months run out of food, skipped meals, or were unable to eat balanced meals due to a lack of money. The survey also included questions on whether the servicemembers or their families had used food pantries in the past twelve months and asked the servicemembers to identify the factors that had contributed to their food concerns and/or need to use a food pantry. Finally, the survey included questions on the extent servicemember had ever applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), whether they were currently receiving SNAP benefits, their paygrade at the time they first started receiving SNAP benefits, the total number of people in the household when they first started receiving SNAP benefits, and how long they have received SNAP benefits. DOD official stated that the results of the survey were not published until July 31, 2017 so they have not had the opportunity to review the results of the survey to determine what further actions, if any, are needed.
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the food assistance needs that exist for active-duty servicemembers and their families, and to help ensure that DOD effectively targets its support to those in need of assistance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to coordinate with USDA to leverage its access to data on active-duty servicemembers and their families who use its programs and services and consider outreaching to other organizations that have data on servicemembers' use of food assistance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, DOD has not provided information on steps it has taken to address this recommendation. When more information becomes available, we will update the recommendation?s status accordingly.
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further enhance FDA's PREDICT tool and its ability to ensure the safety of imported food, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to document the process for identifying the type of open source data to collect, obtaining such data, and determining how PREDICT is to use the data.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, GAO was awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Cindy Brown Barnes
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen DOL's efforts to ensure employers protect the safety and health of workers at meat and poultry plants, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, working together with the Commissioner of Labor Statistics as appropriate, to develop and implement a cost-effective method for gathering more complete data on musculoskeletal disorders.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL generally agreed with this recommendation and stated that its implementation would make a difference in working conditions in the meat and poultry industry. The agency also noted that resource constraints may make it difficult to implement.
    Recommendation: To develop a better understanding of meat and poultry sanitation workers' injuries and illnesses, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health and the Commissioner of Labor Statistics to study how they could regularly gather data on injury and illness rates among sanitation workers in the meat and poultry industry.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL generally agreed with this recommendation and stated that its implementation would make a difference in working conditions in the meat and poultry industry. The agency also noted that resource constraints may make it difficult to implement.
    Recommendation: To develop a better understanding of meat and poultry sanitation workers' injuries and illnesses, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conduct a study of the injuries and illnesses these workers experience, including their causes and how they are reported. Given the challenges to gaining access to this population, NIOSH may want to coordinate with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop ways to initiate this study.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and noted the previous difficulties NIOSH has had gaining access to these workplaces and the potential resource commitment involved in conducting such a study. We acknowledge this access challenge and noted in our report that OSHA has negotiated access for NIOSH in other industries, hence the rationale for recommending that NIOSH may want to coordinate with OSHA. The agency reported that it would reach out to stakeholders, such as worker unions, USDA and OSHA, to discuss the range of types of study that could be conducted to provide useful information. GAO will await the progress of this effort and close the recommendation when the agency initiates a study.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's ability to oversee GE crops, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to develop a timeline, with milestones and interim steps, for updating its existing regulations to cover GE crops developed with alternative technologies that either do not use plant pests or use plant pests but do not result in plant pest deoxyribonucleic acid in the crop developed.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 Statement of Action on our report, USDA notes that it has a timeline, but the department did not provide documentation of this timeline. The Statement of Action also indicates that USDA planned to update its biotechnology regulations and publish a proposed rule in the summer of 2016. As of December 2016, the proposed rule had not yet been published.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's ability to better understand the economic impacts of unintended mixing of GE and other crops, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to work with all relevant USDA stakeholders, including APHIS and the Organic Working Group, to determine what additional information should be sought in future organic surveys, such as the costs of reshipping and re-storing shipments rejected because of unintended GE presence, as well as the costs associated with finding new buyers for such shipments.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 Statement of Action on our report, USDA did not provide any new information on actions it has taken, if any, to implement this recommendation. For example, there is no indication whether stakeholders internal to the department have continued to meet to discuss the 2014 Organic Survey results and how to move forward with future survey questions to obtain additional data, such as data needed to better understand the economic impacts of unintended mixing with GE crops.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's ability to better understand the economic impacts of unintended mixing of GE and other crops, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of NASS to include producers, growing identity-preserved crops, in addition to organic producers in USDA's survey efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 Statement of Action on our report, USDA did not provide any new information on actions it has taken, if any, to implement this recommendation. We continue to believe that USDA should survey producers growing identity-preserved crops regarding their potential economic losses from unintended GE presence, as is being done for organic producers. As we previously reported, U.S. acreage planted to identity-preserved crops is significantly greater than that planted to organic crops; yet, little is known about the economic costs to identity-preserved farmers of unintended mixing.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USDA's ability to better manage and monitor the progress of the Blueprint, including efforts to streamline and improve administrative services, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to develop a complete list identifying all of the Blueprint efforts under way and document key information needed to monitor their progress, such as status of implementation, time frames for completion, and related performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USDA's ability to better manage and monitor the progress of the Blueprint, including efforts to streamline and improve administrative services, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to reexamine the adequacy of the staff and budget resources committed to the day-to-day management of the Blueprint, and further leverage existing departmental resources as needed.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's efforts to identify and track the benefits of the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to document the methodologies used to calculate any savings claimed for the Blueprint effort to ensure any such estimate is based on quality information.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's efforts to identify and track the benefits of the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief Financial Officer to develop a cost-effective method, using existing data systems, to collect and track USDA's spending on administrative services to identify baseline spending and target areas for future cost savings.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's efforts to identify and track the benefits of the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to systematically identify and track nonfinancial benefits from USDA's Blueprint efforts to better gauge the Blueprint's progress and more fully report its results.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USDA's efforts to share lessons learned from the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to maintain and promote existing web-based collaboration tools, including keeping information in these tools current, for agencies and staff offices to report their experiences and lessons learned from their Blueprint efforts to help strengthen internal information sharing and inform future efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of federal efforts to monitor wild, native bee populations, the Secretary of Agriculture, as a co-chair of the White House Pollinator Health Task Force, should coordinate with other Task Force agencies that have monitoring responsibilities to develop a mechanism, such as a federal monitoring plan, that would (1) establish roles and responsibilities of lead and support agencies, (2) establish shared outcomes and goals, and (3) obtain input from relevant stakeholders, such as states.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, USDA had taken relevant and positive actions but had not yet fully implemented the recommendation related to monitoring wild, native bees. In June 2017, USDA held a stakeholder listening session to gather input to prepare for the development of a monitoring plan. Prior to that, in February 2017, USDA chaired a meeting with representatives from USDA and Interior to discuss how to proceed in replying to the native bee monitoring recommendation. According to a senior USDA official, the meeting participants agreed to form a team to address the recommendation. The participants also planned future relevant activities. These included plans to (1) hold a stakeholder listening session in June 2017 to determine what will be needed to conduct a robust native bee survey, including the identification of any non-Federal entities that might be able to contribute to a native bee monitoring initiative; (2) develop a prospectus in August 2017 that will be shared with all the agencies represented on the Pollinator Health Task Force to ensure minimal duplication of effort and to capitalize on any other activities; (3) hold a December 2017 workshop of stakeholders and scientists to write a white paper on how to combine Federal resources to address the need for a native bee survey; (4) develop the white paper in February 2018 with information on the status of monitoring efforts, current and future needs for effective and comprehensive monitoring, and the status of monitoring partnerships between Federal agencies, State agencies, and nongovernmental organizations; (5) continue bi-weekly conference calls with task teams to address what can be done with current resources; and (6)complete a gaps analysis in May 2018 to determine how to allocate additional resources.
    Recommendation: To increase the accessibility and availability of information about USDA-funded research and outreach on bees, the Secretary of Agriculture should update the categories of bees in the Current Research Information System to reflect the categories of bees identified in the White House Pollinator Health Task Force's research action plan.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the agency informed GAO that it planned to complete the recommendation by October 2017.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the effectiveness of USDA's bee habitat conservation efforts, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrators of FSA and NRCS to, within available resources, increase evaluation of the effectiveness of their efforts to restore and enhance bee habitat plantings across the nation, including identifying gaps in expertise and technical assistance funding available to field offices.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the agency had not acted on our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that EPA is reducing the risk of unreasonable harm to important pollinators, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Pesticide Programs to develop a plan for obtaining data from pesticide registrants on the effects of pesticides on nonhoney bee species, including other managed or wild, native bees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, the agency had taken actions relevant to the recommendation but had not fully developed a plan to obtain data from pesticide registrants on the effects of pesticides on non-honey bee species. According to EPA, until suitable test methods have been developed, the agency has continued to rely on honey bees as a surrogate for the broader range of bee species that include both solitary and social non-honey bees. The agency continues to track the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD's) efforts to develop suitable test methods to evaluate the effects of pesticides on non-honey bees. EPA provided comments to the OECD on the acute oral and acute contact toxicity test guidelines developed for bumble bees, which are social non-honey bee managed bees; these test methods were recently finalized by OECD as formal test guidelines. Also, EPA staff serve as members of the International Commission on Plant-Pollinator Relationship (ICP-PR), for which a non-honey bee workgroup has been developing acute and chronic toxicity test methods for other managed non-honey bees, including the solitary mason bee. EPA researchers in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (within the Office of Research and Development) are developing methods for measuring effects of pesticides on bumble bee colonies through the use of micro-colonies, and will be participating in field studies over the next two years to determine the effectiveness of these methods in evaluating impacts to bumble bees from the use of pesticides used in horticulture. According to the agency, once sufficient data are available, EPA will be in a better position to determine the extent to which honey bees serve as reasonable surrogates for estimating the sensitivity of non-honey bees to pesticides. According to agency officials, EPA included the recent OECD acute contact and acute oral toxicity tests with bumble bees with the suite of laboratory and semi-field studies in a rulemaking effort that would codify these tests as formal data requirements for registrants. EPA had planned to solicit public comment on the proposed bumble bee testing requirements; however, the rulemaking effort has been delayed until the regulatory burden of the rule can be more thoroughly evaluated. According to agency officials, in January 2017, EPA hosted an international workshop on non-honey bees to evaluate the extent to which the primary routes of exposure for honey bees (i.e., contact and ingestion of residues in pollen/nectar) are protective and serve as suitable surrogates for evaluating exposure of non-honey bees to pesticides. Workshop participants discussed data needed to evaluate exposure for solitary and social non-honey bees. The proceedings of this workshop will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and will inform EPA's understanding of whether additional routes of exposure need to be considered as part of EPA's risk assessment framework for pollinators. While these are positive developments, they do not constitute full implementation of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help comply with the directive in the White House Pollinator Health Task Force's strategy, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Pesticide Programs to identify the pesticide tank mixtures that farmers and pesticide applicators most commonly use on agricultural crops to help determine whether those mixtures pose greater risks than the sum of the risks posed by the individual pesticides.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA had taken actions relevant to this recommendation but had not fully implemented it. According to EPA, during February and March 2017, the Office of Pesticide Programs continued its efforts to monitor residues in honey bee colonies providing pollination services in almond orchards. In April 2017, EPA requested that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation provide Pesticide Use Reporting data, including specific formulation and quantities applied to specific sites on specific dates during almond bloom. EPA has also reached out to the Almond Board, as well as to beekeepers and almond growers, to request information on the most common tank mixes applied during almond bloom. Although EPA has previously requested Pesticide Use Reporting data from California and the state has provided preliminary data, the information was not sufficiently detailed to extract actual formulations applied on specific dates to specific areas within the almond growing region of California. The combination of information requested from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Almond Board is expected to provide data to evaluate and identify commonly used pesticide tank mixes applied during almond pollination as a case study. According to EPA officials, data from California indicate that the use of tank mixtures in almond orchards decreased by roughly 60 percent from 2014 through 2016, suggesting that best management practices recommended by the Almond Board may be having a positive effect on almond grower practices with respect to tank mixtures. While these are positive developments, they do not yet fully implement the recommendation. It is not yet clear that EPA has used information on the identity of the most common tank mixtures to determine whether they pose greater risks than the sum of the risks posed by the individual pesticides. In addition, it is not yet clear that EPA has identified tank mixtures commonly used on crops other than almonds.
    Recommendation: To measure their contribution to the White House Pollinator Health Task Force strategy's goal to restore and enhance 7 million acres of pollinator habitat, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrators of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop an improved method, within available resources, to track conservation program acres that contribute to the goal.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, USDA had not acted on this recommendation.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA has relevant and timely information to support management decisions, including the critical information necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs compounded for animals, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of the FDA to modify the voluntary reporting form FDA uses to obtain information on adverse events to ask whether drugs involved in adverse events were compounded.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, FDA has drafted a notice for publication in the Federal Register that seeks comment on editorial revisions to Form FDA 1932a to clarify how to report adverse drug events associated with compounded products using that form. The publication of the notice was issued in July 2017. After a 60-day public comment period, the revisions to Form FDA 1932a will be submitted to OMB for review and approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA has relevant and timely information to support management decisions, including the critical information necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs compounded for animals, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of the FDA to develop policy or guidance for agency staff that specifies circumstances under which FDA will or will not enforce compounding regulations for animals and clearly define key terms.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, FDA notified us that they are still in the process of developing guidance for agency staff that specifies circumstances under which FDA will enforce compounding regulations for animals. According to FDA, the agency received more than 150 comments regarding the draft Guide For Industry #230 and 280 nominations of bulk drug substances for use in compounding office stock; information necessary for updating the guidance. In addition, FDA is reviewing the substances that were nominated for use in compounding office stock. Officials did not provide a specific timeline for completing this work, but stated that developing updated guidance on compounding for animals continues to be a high priority for FDA.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA has relevant and timely information to support management decisions, including the critical information necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs compounded for animals, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of the FDA to consistently document the bases for FDA's decisions about how or whether it followed up on warning letters, adverse event reports, and complaints about drug compounding for animals.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, FDA reported that it is still developing an enforcement strategy for compounded animal drugs that includes a process for documenting the Agency's actions with respect to follow-up on warning letters, adverse event reports, and complaints.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to monitor Title II conditional food aid and evaluate food-for-assets activities' impact on reducing food insecurity, the USAID Administrator should establish a mechanism to readily identify all Title II projects that include conditional food aid activities and systematically collect information about the type of conditional activity included in each project.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, USAID concurred with the recommendation and stated its intention to establish a mechanism to readily identify all Title II projects that include conditional food aid activities and to collect information about the type of conditional activity in each project through the Food for Peace Management Information System. USAID also noted that it is already collecting such information for the Emergency Food Security Program, another food assistance program. As of November 2017, GAO continues to monitor USAID's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to monitor Title II conditional food aid and evaluate food-for-assets activities' impact on reducing food insecurity, the USAID Administrator should systematically assess the effectiveness of food-for-assets activities in development projects in achieving project goals and objectives.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, USAID concurred with the recommendation. In September 2016, USAID stated that it had undertaken relevant reviews of the effectiveness and sustainability of Title II development projects and that it is considering expanding evaluations of completed projects to assess sustainability of results over time. As of November 2017, GAO continues to monitor USAID's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: While recognizing that cargo preference serves policy goals established by Congress with respect to the U.S. merchant marine, including maintenance of a fleet capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, Congress should consider clarifying cargo preference legislation regarding the definition of "geographic area" to ensure that agencies can fully utilize the flexibility Congress granted to them when it lowered the CPFA requirement.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: We did not receive comments on the Matter for Congressional Consideration. As of October 2017, no legislation had been introduced to clarify the definition of 'geographic area' with regard to cargo preference laws.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of MARAD to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. In the study, MARAD should identify potential solutions to address the mariner shortfall if one is still identified.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments, DOT concurred with our recommendation to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. DOT stated that MARAD has been reviewing the adequacy of existing plans to recruit mariner volunteers to crew the full reserve fleet. Furthermore, DOT noted that 13,000 mariners are required to crew all the vessels in the fleet for sustained operations. On June 15, 2016, GAO contacted MARAD officials to clarify the current status of the National Maritime Strategy, which DOT officials had stated would contain the results of their review. The officials said that the Strategy is still in the interagency process for approval and is not likely to be published until the end of 2016. DOT told GAO in December 2016 that it had conducted an exercise in September 2016 to test mariner availability for an initial activation of the full fleet. However, this exercise did not fully address GAO's recommendation, as it did not test for a full and prolonged activation of the fleet. Furthermore, DOT officials told GAO in April 2017 that the National Maritime Strategy has not been released and is awaiting review from the current Administration. As of May 2017, MARAD officials reported that they had established a working group to identify the total number of U.S. citizen mariners in the United States who, among other things, are available to crew the U.S. flag fleet and the surge sealift fleet in times of a national emergency and planned to report to Congress in December 2017.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to institutionalize sound IT management practices and build FSA's IT management capacity while improving service to the Nation's farmers and ranchers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSA Administrator to establish and implement an improvement plan to guide the agency in adopting recognized best practices and following agency policy.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSA developed a Strategic IT Roadmap to assist the agency's business and IT leadership in prioritizing IT investments. In addition, FSA stated that it will develop and document a comprehensive improvement plan that is to delineate tactical steps, timelines, and performance metrics to track incremental progress in adopting recognized best practices and program management capabilities. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in documenting and implementing its improvement plan.
    Recommendation: In order to institutionalize sound IT management practices and build FSA's IT management capacity while improving service to the Nation's farmers and ranchers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSA Administrator to adhere to recognized best practices and agency policy in developing and managing system requirements before proceeding with any further system development to deliver previously envisioned MIDAS functionality. Specifically, the Administrator should ensure that requirements are complete, unambiguous, and prioritized; commitment to requirements is obtained through a formal requirements baseline; differences (or gaps) between the requirements and capabilities of the intended solution (including commercial off-the-shelf solutions) are analyzed; strategies to address any gaps are developed; and requirements are traced forward and backward among development products.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSA reported that it will improve the rigor and adherence to requirements management processes for all IT projects, utilizing processes and tools that will support the integrity of the requirements throughout the lifecycle, to ensure that requirements are complete, formally baselined, gaps are analyzed, and fully traceable forward and backward. FSA also noted that it is pursuing an enhanced, more comprehensive governance structure that will further support its commitment to increasing rigor and adherence to defined requirements management processes. We will continue to monitor the agency's implementation of these efforts.
    Recommendation: In order to institutionalize sound IT management practices and build FSA's IT management capacity while improving service to the Nation's farmers and ranchers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSA Administrator to adhere to recognized best practices and agency policy in planning and monitoring projects. Specifically, the Administrator should ensure that project plans include predefined expectations for cost, schedule, and deliverables before proceeding with any further system development; updates to the project plan are made through change control processes; and progress against the project plan, including work performed by contractors, is monitored.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSA noted that it began an initiative to improve the agency's use of capital planning guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and would prepare corrective action plans to address identified weaknesses in fiscal year 2016. FSA also noted that it was conducting a series of training classes on capital planning and IT project management across the agency, developing a risk management program, and strengthening the use of earned value management. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress on its project planning efforts.
    Recommendation: In order to institutionalize sound IT management practices and build FSA's IT management capacity while improving service to the Nation's farmers and ranchers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSA Administrator to adhere to recognized best practices and agency policy in system testing. Specifically, the Administrator should establish well-defined test plans before proceeding with any further system development, and ensure that testing of (a) individual system components, (b) the integration of system components, and (c) the end-to-end system are conducted.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSA stated that going forward the agency will adhere to recognized best practices and agency policy in pursuing consistent or increased rigor around system testing. The agency noted that it plans to demonstrate that its testing capabilities are consistent and repeatable across all FSA IT projects. We will continue to monitor the agency's implementation of these efforts.
    Recommendation: In order to institutionalize sound IT management practices and build FSA's IT management capacity while improving service to the Nation's farmers and ranchers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSA Administrator to adhere to recognized best practices and agency policy in executive-level IT governance before proceeding with any further system development. Specifically, an executive-level governance board should (1) review and approve a comprehensive business case that includes a life cycle cost estimate, a cost-benefit analysis, and an analysis of alternatives for proposed solutions that are to provide former MIDAS requirements prior to their implementation; (2) ensure that any programs that are to accommodate former MIDAS requirements are fully implementing the IT program management disciplines and practices identified in this report; (3) conduct a post-implementation review and document lessons learned for the MIDAS investment; and (4) reassess the viability of the MIDAS technical solution before investing in further modernization technologies.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSA stated that, as part of its organizational transformation efforts, the CIO is evaluating its governance structure and updating the charter for the agency-wide IT investment review board with the support of the agency's Executive Leadership Council. FSA also noted that it will adhere to the department's governance framework and processes. We will continue to monitor the agency's implementation of these efforts and how they address our recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the ability of the federal veterinarian workforce to carry out its activities, and to prepare for an emergency involving a large-scale animal disease outbreak, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to assess the veterinarian workforce needs under possible scenarios for an emergency response to a large-scale animal disease outbreak. Building on the Talent Management Advisory Council's (TMAC) efforts to determine the veterinarian workforce needed to respond to an animal disease outbreak, the assessment should include the number and types of veterinarians needed, the sources required to have a sufficient workforce to respond, and the training needed to carry out their roles.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USDA provided information in April 2017 on steps taken to partially address this recommendation. According to USDA, the agency uses its experiences with real-world animal disease outbreaks, such as recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza, to assess its veterinarian workforce needs. To fully implement this recommendation, APHIS needs to develop an estimate of the number of veterinarians necessary to respond to large-scale animal disease outbreaks, such as a nationwide foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in livestock.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the adherence to requirements for approval and public access to and feedback on significant guidance in accordance with OMB's Final Bulletin for Agency Good Guidance Practices (M-07-07), the Secretary of HHS should develop written procedures for the approval of significant guidance documents.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments printed in the April 2015 final report, HHS concurred with the recommendation and stated that it would explore the best mechanism for distributing written procedures for approval of significant guidance. As of August 2017, GAO is working with HHS officials to obtain additional updates and documentation regarding the department's implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve agencies' guidance development, review, evaluation, and dissemination processes for non-significant guidance, we recommend that the Secretaries of USDA, HHS, DOL, and Education should strengthen their selected components' application of internal controls to guidance processes by adopting, as appropriate, practices developed by other departments and components, such as assessment of risk; written procedures and tools to promote the consistent implementation and communication of management directives; and ongoing monitoring efforts to ensure that guidance is being issued appropriately and has the intended effect. Examples of practices that could be adopted more widely include (1) written procedures for guidance production to, among other things, clearly define management roles; (2) improved communication tools, such as routing slips to document management review; and (3) consistent and ongoing monitoring to determine if guidance is being accessed and having the intended effect.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments printed in the April 2015 final report, HHS concurred with the recommendation and stated that it would continue to work with its agencies to share best practices and ensure that agency practices are alighted with departmental standards. As of August 2017, GAO is working with HHS officials to obtain additional updates and documentation regarding the department's implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve agencies' guidance development, review, evaluation, and dissemination processes for non-significant guidance, we recommend that the Secretaries of USDA, HHS, DOL, and Education should improve the usability of selected component websites to ensure that the public can easily find, access, and comment on online guidance. These improvements could be informed by the web and customer satisfaction metrics that components have collected on their websites. Some examples of changes that could facilitate public access to online guidance include (1) improving website usability by clarifying which links contain guidance; (2) highlighting new or important guidance; and (3) ensuring that posted guidance is current.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments printed in the April 2015 final report, HHS concurred with the recommendation and stated that it would review current links to guidance documents and explore ways to enhance their visibility and usability. As of August 2017, GAO is working with HHS officials to obtain additional updates and documentation regarding the department's implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should develop policy and comprehensive guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In June 2016, USAID reported that it would work with the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) on the development and dissemination of policy and guidance related to financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects. In April 2017, USAID stated that it is continuing to work with CaLP and provide training for FFP staff and implementing partners for the oversight and management of cash-based food assistance programs, including courses related to the financial oversight. However, as of April 2017, USAID had not completed any guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should require USAID staff to conduct systematic financial oversight of USAID's cash-based food assistance projects in the field.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In January 2017, USAID stated that it was continuing to pursue training opportunities for staff in response to this recommendation. However, USAID, as of April 2017, had not completed efforts to address the recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to require staff to conduct systematic financial oversight and determine the extent to which the training and third monitoring will address this issue.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program and achieve budgetary savings for deficit reduction or other purposes, Congress should consider reducing premium subsidies for the highest income participants.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, we await Congressional action.
    Director: Morris, Steve D
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform Congress in the future about crop insurance program costs, reduce present costs, and ensure greater actuarial soundness, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency should monitor and report on crop insurance costs in areas that have higher crop production risks.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Risk Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, the Department of Agriculture has not taken action to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better inform Congress in the future about crop insurance program costs, reduce present costs, and ensure greater actuarial soundness, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency should, as appropriate, increase its adjustments of premium rates in areas with higher crop production risks by as much as the full 20 percent annually that is allowed by law.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Risk Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, the Department of Agriculture has not taken action to implement this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure the safety of food imported into the United States, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs should complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. If the inspection numbers from that evaluation are different from the inspection targets mandated in FSMA, FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In January 2015, we recommended that the Commissioner of FDA complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. Additionally, if the inspection numbers from that analysis are different from the inspection targets mandated in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes. At the time of our report, FDA was not keeping pace with FSMA's mandate to increase inspections each year from 2011 through 2016. In April 2017, FDA indicated that that it does not anticipate going significantly beyond 1,200 foreign food facilities inspections per year, based on the amount of additional funding needed to meet the foreign inspection requirement of FSMA. However, FDA has not conducted an analysis to determine whether the increased number of inspections mandated by FSMA or the lower number of inspections it is currently conducting is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. FDA noted that, in January 2017, it began an analysis to define and describe the global inventory of human and animal food firms and examine the application of regulatory oversight tools across the inventory. According to FDA, the analysis will help it assess the annual number of foreign food facility inspections as part of an overall risk-based allocation of resources for ensuring that imported foods are produced in a manner the meets applicable U.S. safety standards. We continue to believe that FDA should complete such an analysis and report the results to Congress.
    Director: Morris, Steve D
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that their food safety goals are complementary and strategies are mutually reinforcing, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should continue to build upon their efforts to implement GPRAMA requirements to address crosscutting food safety efforts, including by more fully describing in their strategic and performance planning documents how they are working with other agencies to achieve their food safety-related goals and objectives.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USDA and HHS agreed with our recommendation that they continue to build upon their efforts to implement GPRAMA requirements to address crosscutting food safety efforts. In response to the recommendation, HHS took steps to update its strategic and performance planning documents to better address crosscutting food safety efforts. For example, in February 2015, HHS updated its strategic plan to more fully describe how it is working with other agencies to achieve its food safety-related goals and objectives. As a result, we closed the recommendation to HHS as implemented. In its written comments on our report, USDA said that the Department was working to achieve the GPRAMA requirement for interagency collaboration and continues to work with HHS to align its strategic and performance planning to achieve their mutual food safety goals and efforts. As of March 2017, USDA had not fully implemented our recommendation, although the Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) had taken some steps that could contribute toward full implementation. For example, FSIS included more information on crosscutting food safety efforts in its fiscal year 2017-2021 strategic plan and in its draft fiscal year 2017 annual plan than it did in its prior strategic and annual plans. Such information could be included in USDA's next strategic plan. According to USDA officials, the Department plans to include more information on interagency collaboration in its next strategic plan, to be issued in February 2018. As USDA and its component agencies work to develop the Department's new strategic plan, attention should be given to fully addressing crosscutting food safety efforts in it and in USDA's associated performance planning documents. Once USDA's new strategic plan has been released, we will evaluate whether the recommendation has been implemented. We continue to believe that implementing the recommendation is an important step toward addressing fragmentation in federal oversight of food safety.
    Recommendation: Because challenges associated with the fragmented federal food safety system are long-standing, decision makers do not have an integrated perspective on federal food safety performance, and centralized mechanisms for broad-based collaboration have not been sustained, Congress should consider directing OMB to develop a government-wide performance plan for food safety that includes results oriented goals and performance measures and a discussion of strategies and resources.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not acted on this matter.
    Recommendation: Because challenges associated with the fragmented federal food safety system are long-standing, decision makers do not have an integrated perspective on federal food safety performance, and centralized mechanisms for broad-based collaboration have not been sustained, Congress should consider formalizing the FSWG through statute to help ensure sustained leadership across food safety agencies over time.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not acted on this matter.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that WIC participants are aware of the prohibition against selling WIC formula, and to assist states' efforts to prevent and address online formula sales, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to require state agencies to articulate their procedures for identifying attempted sales of WIC food benefits in their WIC state plans and analyze the information to ascertain the national extent of state efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation and reported that in April 2015 the agency revised the guidance for WIC state plans to include policies on informing participants that the sale of WIC benefits is a program violation. As part of that document, state agencies were required to report/articulate their policies and procedures for identifying and monitoring online sales of WIC benefits. In October 2015, USDA contracted a study to determine 1) the national extent of WIC state agency policies and procedures intended to prevent, monitor, and take administrative action related to online sales of WIC infant formula; and 2) effective preventative, monitoring, and investigative approaches to address the online sale of WIC infant formula. USDA reported that a narrative state plan report, based on the contractor's review of 2016 and 2017 state plans, is expected to be completed by the end of FY 2017. GAO will close this recommendation once USDA has issued its report.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that WIC participants are aware of the prohibition against selling WIC formula, and to assist states' efforts to prevent and address online formula sales, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to collect information to help assess the national extent of attempted online sales of WIC formula benefits and determine cost-effective techniques states can use to monitor online classified advertisements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation and reported that it would explore options for using available resources to assess the extent of online sales of WIC formula and to identify and share best practices, cost-effective techniques, or new approaches with state agencies to use in monitoring online advertisements. In October 2015, USDA contracted a case study analysis of two state agencies in order to provide examples of prevention, monitoring, investigation, and sanctioning practices related to the online sale of WIC infant formula. As part of this study, the contractor sought to identify cost-effective techniques State agencies can use to monitor sales of WIC infant formula. USDA reported that the Case Study Analysis Report is expected to be completed by the end of FY 2017, and after it is completed, USDA will work to disseminate the study results to state agencies. GAO supports these efforts and will close this recommendation when the study is completed, providing the study identifies cost-effective techniques states can use to monitor online sales of infant formula.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote forward-looking construction and rebuilding efforts while FEMA phases out most subsidies, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to consider amending NFIP minimum standards for floodplain management to incorporate, as appropriate, forward-looking standards, similar to the minimum standard adopted by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the Department of Homeland Security reaffirmed that they agreed with the recommendation, and would begin implementing it after implementing the statutory mandates in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The Department estimated that it would begin implementing our recommendation in 2018 and complete its implementation by 2020.
    Recommendation: To promote greater resilience to climate change effects in U.S. agriculture, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RMA to consider working with agricultural experts to recommend or incorporate resilient agricultural practices into their expert guidance for growers, so that good farming practices take into account longterm agricultural resilience to climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, USDA issued Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry: Implementation Plan and Progress Report as USDA's framework for helping farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners respond to climate change, through voluntary and incentive-based actions. The report establishes long-term goals for improving agricultural resilience to climate change, which could reduce federal fiscal exposure for federally-insured crops. However, USDA has framed its resilience-building actions for producers as voluntary, rather than incorporating them into the good farming practices required to be eligible for insurance payouts. As a result, it is unclear to what extent federal crop insurance policyholders will use the information provided to improve their resilience.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform users of the annual monitoring report about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its pesticide monitoring program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA posted a report summarizing the results of its Fiscal Year 2012 Pesticide Monitoring Program. The report identified which pesticides the agency tested for in FY 2012. However, the report did not identify which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances were not tested for, nor did it discuss the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology that would enable the agency, within existing resources, to gather nationally representative pesticide residue incidence and level data for both domestically produced and imported foods, or justify statistically the use of a nonprobability method that can measure the estimation error. In designing either approach, FDA should consider the extent to which the benefits exceed the costs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA issued a report summarizing the results of its pesticide monitoring program for Fiscal Year 2012. This report followed by about 4 months the issuance of our report, GAO-15-38, in October 2014. The FDA report stated that the sampling methodology used in FY 2012 was not statistically based. However, in light of our recommendation that FDA design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology, the agency could have used its February 2015 report to announce its plan to develop such a methodology for use in the future, but it did not do so. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to report the nationally representative incidence and level data in its annual pesticide monitoring reports, including disclosing the limits of its chosen sampling methodology.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to use the incidence and level data to assess the effectiveness of FDA's targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, including its use of the Predictive Risk-based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting targeting tool for imported foods, by comparing the rate of violations detected through the program to the overall rate of pesticide residue violations within the domestic and imported food supplies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to identify any types of domestic and imported foods that are at high risk for pesticide residue tolerance violations to improve the ability of its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program to consistently identify food likely to have violations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To better inform the public about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSIS Administrator to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its National Residue Program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2015 Residue Sampling Plan for the National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. In December 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2014 Residue Sample Results for its national residue program. The agency's report on its results did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that were not included in its testing program, nor did it report on the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. In June 2016, FSIS issued its sampling plan for Fiscal Year 2016. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. The FSIS sampling results for Fiscal Year 2015 were not available as of December 2016.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by providing more complete information on the sampling methodology the agency uses, such as how it identifies and selects states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing, and include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. As with earlier reports, this report does not provide sufficient documentation of the survey methods used in the program. In particular, the report does not provide complete information on the sampling methodology the agency used, such as how it identified and selected states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing. Further, it does not include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by reporting on the extent to which its survey covers commodities in the U.S. food supply and any limitations associated with its survey methodology.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report has a new section titled Sampling Limitations. In that section, the agency acknowledges that the total number of distribution centers and terminal markets within the participating states is difficult to establish because existing sites may go out of business or merge and new sites may open during the course of the year. Despite this limitation, the agency concludes that the sites selected in the program are representative of all sites in these states. However, the agency has not provided sufficient documentation in the report to support the claim that its data are representative of conditions across the country for commodities in the U.S. food supply.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by describing methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report does not describe methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FSIS efforts protect human health by reducing Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination in FSIS-regulated poultry products, in future revisions of the compliance guidelines on controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FSIS to ensure the inclusion of information on the effectiveness of each recommended farm practice to reduce these pathogens in live poultry.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2015, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service released the draft revised compliance guideline to assist poultry establishments in controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw poultry. The draft guideline included information on the effectiveness of each recommended farm practice to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in live poultry. FSIS announced the availability of and requested comment on the revised compliance guideline in a December 2015 Federal Register Notice. FSIS officials told us that they anticipate finalizing the draft guideline in fiscal year 2017 and the guideline states that while the document is draft, establishments are encouraged to incorporate information in the guideline in their decision-making process. As of April 2017, FSIS had not finalized the guideline.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to work with relevant USDA agencies to develop performance measures that better reflect the breadth of USDA's climate change efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to ensure that the department's annual performance plans explain how agency actions will lead to the accomplishment of performance goals in the area of climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to use annual performance reports to provide information on the status of agency efforts toward meeting its performance measures in the area of climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Recommendation: To provide relevant information to farmers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office to work with relevant USDA agencies to develop and provide readily accessible information to farmers on the farm-level economic costs and returns of taking certain actions in response to climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to establish additional guidance to help states analyze SNAP transaction data to better identify SNAP recipient households receiving replacement cards that are potentially engaging in trafficking, and assess whether the use of replacement card benefit periods may better focus this analysis on high-risk households potentially engaged in trafficking.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FNS officials reported that, in September 2013, they awarded a contract to provide expert business consultation and technical assistance in the area of recipient fraud prevention and detection to 7 states. The purpose of the contract was to improve how effectively recipients suspected of trafficking SNAP benefits were identified and investigated, including the use of predictive analytics involving transaction and replacement card data to uncover potential recipient trafficking. As of August 2017, FNS officials reported that they have completed studies in 10 states, helping the states build predictive analytics models that incorporate use of replacement card data to better identify SNAP recipient trafficking. FNS officials report that the models have demonstrated a significant improvement in state effectiveness. FNS officials also report that, in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, the agency conducted a training program for state technical staff to teach them how to build predictive models that incorporate the use of replacement card data. In addition, FNS officials report that the agency is currently developing a SNAP Fraud Framework to provide guidance to states on improving fraud prevention and detection, including the use of excessive card replacements and other data sources, as potential indicators of fraud. FNS tentatively anticipates releasing the framework by the end of calendar year 2017. GAO will monitor these efforts and await information, including related technical assistance materials and documentation, on how these activities are used to guide states' efforts to use transaction and replacement card data to better focus on high-risk households for potential investigation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to reassess the effectiveness of the current guidance and tools recommended to states for monitoring e-commerce and social media websites, and use this information to enhance the effectiveness of the current guidance and tools.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FNS officials reported that, in 2016, the agency conducted additional analysis to evaluate states' current use of social media in their detection of SNAP trafficking and develop a proof of concept for the use of market-leading tools to assist states in more efficient monitoring. Based on the information gained through this analysis, FNS officials reported in August 2017 that a draft of the social media guidance is currently in FNS clearance and is expected to be released by the end of the calendar year. GAO will await the issuance of this guidance.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program and achieve budgetary savings for deficit reduction or other purposes, Congress should consider reducing the level of federal premium subsidies for revenue crop insurance policies. In doing so, Congress should consider whether to make the full amount of this reduction in an initial year, or to phase in the full amount of this reduction over several years. In addition, Congress should consider directing the Secretary of Agriculture to monitor and report on the impact, if any, of the reduction on farmer participation in the crop insurance program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to implement this matter.
    Director: Daniel Garcia-Diaz
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As FEMA determines the scope of its efforts to revise its existing guidance, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should direct the Administrator of FEMA to update existing guidance to include additional information on and options for mitigating the risk of flood damage to agricultural structures to reflect recent farming developments and structural needs in vast and deep floodplains.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: To obtain information for updating existing guidance, FEMA engaged a contractor in April 2016 to conduct Phase 1 of a study evaluating recent farming developments. The June 2016 report from the contractor provided FEMA with information on the types of flood damage agricultural buildings and contents can sustain, required mitigation measures under NFIP, and insurance that is currently available to farmers. Phase 2 of the study is underway. This phase will identify the number and types of agricultural structures and the legislation, regulations, and various agency programs affecting the management of these structures; analyze the feasibility of mitigation options for these structures across different types of floodplains; and explore rating guidelines and potential mitigation techniques that could result in reduced risk or rates for agricultural structures. FEMA expects to receive a draft of the Phase 2 study from the contractor in July 2017. GAO will continue to monitor FEMA's progress.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should align performance goals under the "enhance rural prosperity" strategic objective in the APR to the broadband loan program's purpose, to the extent feasible.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Summary and Annual Performance Plan includes a key performance measure for the number of borrowers/subscribers receiving new or improved telecommunication services. This measure will track the number of subscribers proposed to receive broadband service. However, this method does not measure actual adoption of RUS-financed broadband service. Further, the plan does not include goals or measures to determine the program's progress towards economic development in rural areas.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the OECA GLP inspection process, the EPA Administrator should assess the authority and need for a fee-based inspection system, and if such a system is warranted, establish a user fee system, seeking additional legislative authority, if necessary, to make the laboratory inspection program self-sustaining.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, EPA officials told GAO that OECA was working with OPP and its Office of General Counsel to figure out the best mechanism for potentially accomplishing this. As of July 2017, EPA had not provided any additional information on the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure appropriate levels of employees' supervision and guidance for the workforces of USDA's service center agencies, consistent with OPM guidance, the Secretary of Agriculture, through the Chief Human Capital Officer, should revise departmental policy targeting a uniform supervisory ratio so that the service center agencies can identify appropriate supervisory ratios based on a documented analysis of their specific customer needs and workload distribution.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To ensure appropriate levels of employees' supervision and guidance for the workforces of USDA's service center agencies, consistent with federal internal control standards, the Secretary of Agriculture, through the Chief Human Capital Officer, should communicate to the service center agencies the departmental guidance for calculating supervisory ratios and ensure its use.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To help USDA's service center agencies effectively implement office closures and meet internal control standards, the Secretary should take action to amend USDA's policy on organizational changes to include such leading practices as presenting a business-case or cost-benefit analysis and using the change management practice of measuring progress toward stated goals.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to USDA the Department is in the process of revising its policy on organizational changes, but as of December 15, 2016, this revision is not yet finalized. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve the use of buyout or early retirement incentives, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct its service center agencies, FSA and RD, to document clear links between their buyout and early retirement incentives and their reshaping or overall strategic goals.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve the use of buyout or early retirement incentives, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct its service center agencies, FSA, NRCS, and RD, to establish a system for identifying and evaluating relevant data on buyout and early retirement incentive recipients.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to track commodity inventory data. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to track commodity inventory data. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USDA has held multiple meetings with USAID as part of its Business Management Improvement initiative, to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and have documented some of the results of some of those meetings.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USAID has participated in multiple meetings with USDA to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and are gathering documentation from this process. According to USAID officials, they plan to submit documentation to GAO to close this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically collect, and ensure the reliability and validity of, data on delivery time frames for all emergency food aid shipments, including prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that Food for Peace (FFP) was reviewing what actions are needed to ensure that reliable data on delivery time frames for all emergency aid is collected from cooperating sponsors. In 2015, USAID officials noted that they were exploring options for developing a prepositioning tracking system, but were still in the early stages. In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the timeliness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to monitor and assess data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess costs associated with commodity procurement, shipping, and storage for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to monitor and assess costs associated with prepositioned food aid shipments. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Director: Garcia-diaz, Daniel
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To further improve agency controls that help prevent payments to participants whose incomes exceed eligibility limits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FSA to implement a process to verify that accountants' and attorneys' statements accurately reflect participants' incomes as reported on income tax returns and supporting documentation or other equivalent documents.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department agreed with this recommendation at the time of our report but, as of April 2017, has not acted to implement it because of the sensitive nature of questioning accountants' and attorneys' professional judgement. However, we believe doing so would reduce the likelihood of improper payments supported by U.S. taxpayers and would be an appropriate action for the agency to take.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's management of the conditional registration process, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations to more readily track the status of these registrations and related registrant and agency actions and identify potential problems requiring management attention.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that until upgrades to OPP's database architecture are complete in the FY 18 timeframe, the agency cannot complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations. The agency informed us that plans are currently underway to improve the functionality and accuracy of OPP databases, including the tracking of information on conditional registration. However, until this work is complete, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to incorporate a mechanism to collect information on when AERs are used to support and inform consumer protection actions (i.e., surveillance, advisory, and regulatory actions).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will update this information.
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to establish a time frame for issuing final guidance for the draft (1) New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) guidance and (2) guidance clarifying whether a liquid product may be labeled and marketed as a dietary supplement or as a conventional food with added ingredients.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although FDA issued final guidance for distinguishing liquid dietary supplements from beverages in January 2014, it has not yet issued final guidance on new dietary ingredients (NDI). Once FDA completes the NDI guidance, we can close the recommendation.
    Director: Irving, Susan J
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In light of declining discretionary budgets, to reduce or eliminate the reliance of the AQI program on taxpayer funding, Congress should consider allowing USDA to set AQI fees to recover the aggregate estimated costs of AQI services--thereby allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to set fee rates to recover the full costs of the AQI program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not passed legislation to give the Secretary of Agriculture authority to set fee rates to fully recover the aggregate costs of agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) services, as GAO suggested in March 2013. In the 114th Congress, the Savings, Accountability, Value, and Efficiency Act of 2015 was introduced in the House and referred to the committees of jurisdiction. The act would require the Secretary of Agriculture to (1) study whether the amount of AQI fees collected cover the aggregate costs of AQI services, and (2) report to Congress the results of the study and any recommendations for ensuring that fees covered costs. The act would not authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to set fee rates to recover the full costs of the AQI program. The current AQI fee authority does not permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set AQI fees to recover the aggregate estimated costs of AQI services. Authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to set fee rates to recover the full costs of the AQI program would save the federal government money by reducing the program's reliance on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's annual Salaries and Expenses appropriation.
    Recommendation: Congress should consider amending USDA's authorization to assess AQI fees on bus companies, private vessels, and private aircraft and include in those fees the costs of AQI services for the passengers on those buses, private vessels, and private aircraft.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not passed legislation to give the Secretary of Agriculture authority to assess agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) fees on private vessels, private aircraft, and commercial buses and include in those fees the costs of AQI services for the passengers on those vehicles. In the 114th Congress, the Savings, Accountability, Value, and Efficiency Act of 2015 was introduced in the House and referred to the committees of jurisdiction. The act would require the Secretary of Agriculture to (1) study whether the amount of AQI fees collected cover the aggregate costs of AQI services, and (2) report to Congress the results of the study and any recommendations for ensuring that fees covered costs. The current AQI fee authority does not permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assess AQI fees on private vessels, private aircraft and commerical buses and to recover, through those fees, the costs of AQI services for the passengers on those vehicles.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen FDA's process for ordering recalls, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to document FDA's process for ordering food recalls in regulations or industry guidance to include information on how the agency will weigh evidence on whether a recall is necessary.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2015, FDA published a notice in the Federal Register announcing that draft guidance for industry on mandatory food recalls was available for public comment. According to FDA officials, a review of public comments has been completed and finalization of the guidance is pending. We will continue to monitor FDA's efforts to finalize this guidance. (As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.)
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone:

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of the food safety system for catfish and avoid duplication of effort and cost, Congress should consider repealing provisions of the Farm Bill that assigned USDA responsibility for examining and inspecting catfish and for creating a catfish inspection program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program, Congress may wish to consider limiting the subsidy for premiums that an individual farmer can receive each year or reducing the subsidy for all farmers participating in the program, or both limiting and reducing these subsidies.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to implement this matter.
    Director: Crosse, Marcia G
    Phone: (202)512-3407

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA's overseas offices are able to fully meet their mission of helping to ensure the safety of imported products, the Commissioner of FDA should ensure, as it completes its strategic planning process for the overseas offices, that it develops a set of performance goals and measures that can be used to demonstrate overseas office contributions to long-term outcomes related to the regulation of imported products and that overseas office activities are coordinated with the centers and Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, FDA reported that it remains committed to strengthening its efforts and systematically monitoring and evaluating the overseas offices' contributions to the agency's mission and objectives. FDA also stated that it is making significant progress in several areas by enhancing strategic planning and analysis, refining the Office of International Program's (OIP) performance metrics, and designing a monitoring and evaluation plan. For example, FDA stated it has developed a framework with refined performance metrics to distinguish and assess the distinct contribution of OIP and its foreign offices towards program objectives and broader agency goals. FDA said that the performance metrics will track and monitor the quantity, quality, and timeliness of activity outputs and intermediate outcomes resulting from OIP's work. The measures have been standardized and defined, and will be further disaggregated to enable various levels of analyses, including distinguishing the unique efforts by foreign offices and product type. According to FDA, it plans to roll out its performance framework, related metrics, and monitoring and evaluation processes in fiscal year 2018. FDA said it anticipates that its performance measures, enhanced monitoring, and increased sharing of best practices across foreign offices and FDA headquarters will facilitate tracking of performance, allow greater accountability, and provide a foundation for continuous improvement. GAO will continue to monitor FDA's progress.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202) 512-2649

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure FDA's oversight of the safety of GRAS substances, the Commissioner of FDA should develop a strategy to minimize the potential for conflicts of interest in companies' GRAS determinations, including taking steps such as issuing guidance for companies on conflict of interest and requiring information in GRAS notices regarding expert panelists' independence.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, FDA indicated that guidance on potential conflicts of interest for experts participating on GRAS panels is a priority for the agency. In its Final Rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (81 FR 54959), issued Aug. 17, 2016, FDA stated that it had decided to issue guidance regarding conflicts of interest and that it would announce the availability of a draft guidance document through a notice in the Federal Register. As of December 2016, FDA had not yet issued this draft guidance.
    Recommendation: To better ensure FDA's oversight of the safety of GRAS substances, the Commissioner of FDA should develop a strategy to monitor the appropriateness of companies' GRAS determinations through random audits or some other means, including issuing guidance on how to document GRAS determinations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: On Aug. 17, 2016, FDA published a final rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) (81 FR 54959). This final rule includes a section titled "Guidance on Documenting Conclusions of GRAS Status," which states that FDA is "issuing a guidance" for companies on how to document their GRAS determinations. It is not clear from the rule the time frame for issuing this guidance, whether it will be issued in draft first for comment, and whether it will part of the guidance on conflicts of interest that FDA also plans to issue at a later date, as noted elsewhere in the rule. As of December 2016, FDA had not issued this guidance.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-2649

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's oversight of dietary supplements and foods with added dietary ingredients, and to better enable FDA to meet its responsibility to regulate dietary supplements that contain new dietary ingredients, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to issue guidance to clarify when an ingredient is considered a new dietary ingredient, the evidence needed to document the safety of new dietary ingredients, and appropriate methods for establishing ingredient identity.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2011, FDA published draft guidance for industry on new dietary ingredient notifications and related issues. This draft guidance includes information on when a dietary ingredient is considered new, evidence of safety, and methods for ingredient identity. We are waiting for the draft guidance to become final to close the recommendation.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202)512-2649

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure sufficient oversight and management direction are provided to guide USDA's civil rights efforts, to make responsibility for improvement clear, and to make USDA's performance more transparent, Congress may wish to consider making USDA's Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights subject to a statutory performance agreement.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2013, action on a new farm bill is pending and it is not known whether Congress will make the Assistant Secretary subject to a performance agreement.
    Recommendation: To better ensure sufficient oversight and management direction are provided to guide USDA's civil rights efforts, to make responsibility for improvement clear, and to make USDA's performance more transparent, Congress may wish to consider establishing a USDA civil rights oversight board.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2013, action on a new farm bill is pending and it is not known whether Congress will establish a USDA civil rights oversight board.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA efforts to address civil rights issues and the participation of minority farmers and ranchers in USDA programs, the Secretary of Agriculture should prepare and implement an improvement plan for resolving discrimination complaints that sets time frame goals and provides management controls for resolving complaints from beginning to end.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA has not fully implemented this recommendation. As of August 2012, USDA had developed a plan to improve resolution of discrimination complaints, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR) had implemented many of the plan's actions, such as placing priority on processing program complaints facing the statute of limitations. However, USDA had more work to do on (1) establishing an electronic records management system; (2) implementing the Lean Six Sigma (LSS) process; (3) conducting pilot efforts to explore establishing new time frame goals for intake, investigation, and adjudication activities to resolve employee and program complaints; and (4) providing documentation of new policies, procedures, guidance, and training needed to determine if new management controls cover the entire process for resolving complaints. As of September 2013, OASCR's electronic complaints management systems allow OASCR to scan in, store, and retrieve multiple records in a searchable environment. OASCR undertook a review of the program complaint process through LSS, and based on the results, extended the scope of the review to include the employment complaint process. OASCR implemented core changes through LSS that identify efficiencies to reduce time frames. OASCR has established time frame goals for processing program complaints; however, it has yet to establish them for investigating and adjudicating employment complaints. Time frame goals for the entire employment complaint resolution process would have to be final before management controls can be made final.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA efforts to address civil rights issues and the participation of minority farmers and ranchers in USDA programs, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop and implement a plan to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of ASCR's databases on customer and employee complaints, and that provides for independent validation of ASCR's data quality.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA has not fully implemented this recommendation. As of August 2012, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights' (OASCR) efforts to ensure data reliability of the iComplaints employee complaints database included a comprehensive set of business rules, a data integrity tool, and a quality review management module. Also, OASCR had developed and was implementing a plan to check the accuracy of the data entered for every program complaint in the Program Complaints Management System (PCMS). However, OASCR had not provided all of the documentation needed to assess whether its planned efforts contain key elements to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the iComplaints and PCMS databases. For example, OASCR officials had neither provided documentation showing that the office developed departmental policy to ensure the consistent use of iComplaints and PCMS nor training to ensure the completeness of data in PCMS. As of September 2013, OASCR officials provided standard operating procedures (SOPs) for processing program complaints, which include numerous steps to ensure the consistent use of PCMS. OASCR officials also provided SOPs for processing employment complaints; however, the SOPs have not been finalized for the investigation and adjudication phases of the processing and are therefore insufficient to ensure the consistent use of iComplaints. OASCR officials did provide documentation showing that OASCR has established a formal training program to ensure that OASCR and USDA civil rights practitioners are trained in the proper use of PCMS and iComplaints. In addition, the PCMS Data Integrity Team is working to correct discrepancies found as of October 2012. This effort is 85 percent complete.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA efforts to address civil rights issues and the participation of minority farmers and ranchers in USDA programs, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop a results-oriented department-level strategic plan for civil rights at USDA that unifies USDA's departmental approach with that of ASCR and the newly created Office of Advocacy and Outreach and that is transparent about USDA's efforts to address the concerns of stakeholders.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA has not fully implemented this recommendation. As of August 2012, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (OASCR) had not updated its strategic plan since our report was issued in October 2008. From October 1, 2009, to November 20, 2011, OASCR was placed under Departmental Management and during that time was not required to develop or update its own strategic plan, according to OASCR officials. Since November 20, 2011, OASCR has reported directly to the Secretary and has been working to develop its own strategic plan. On July 31, 2012, we obtained a revised draft of OASCR's strategic plan that covers fiscal years 2011-2015. This draft still has a number of shortcomings. For example, it (1) focuses primarily on the activities OASCR plans and does not unify OASCR's approach with the Office of Advocacy and Outreach, other USDA agencies, or the department as a whole; (2) does not describe the viewpoints and interests of USDA's external stakeholders, such as community-based organizations; and (3) does not fully address other key issues identified in our report, such as measuring performance to gauge progress, using performance information for identifying performance gaps and making program improvements, and identifying external and internal factors that can influence the achievement of its long-term goals. As of September 2013, OASCR had, by November 2012, finalized and published its strategic plan for fiscal years 2011-2015. The published plan includes some time frame goals for processing program and employment complaints, but these goals are incomplete. The published plan also includes some minor editorial changes, but otherwise, it was almost identical to the draft plan we reviewed in July 2012 and still has the same shortcomings that we identified at that time.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202)512-9692

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help address problems related to FSA foreclosures, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop and promulgate a policy statement that lays out the factors USDA considers in issuing stays of foreclosure in class action lawsuits.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested documentation from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights that would demonstrate this recommendation has been implemented.
    Recommendation: To help address problems related to FSA foreclosures, the Secretary of Agriculture should maintain historic information, by race, on foreclosures completed by FSA.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested documentation from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights that would demonstrate this recommendation has been implemented.
    Recommendation: To help address problems related to FSA foreclosures, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct FSA and OCR to improve communications to ensure that foreclosure actions are not taken against borrowers with pending complaints.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested documentation from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights that would demonstrate this recommendation has been implemented.
    Director: Dyckman, Lawrence J
    Phone: (202)512-9692

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide more efficient, consistent, and effective federal oversight of the nation's food supply, Congress should consider commissioning the National Academy of Sciences or a blue ribbon panel to conduct a detailed analysis of alternative organizational food safety structures and report the results of such an analysis to Congress.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act established a national Food Safety Commission charged with making specific recommendations for drafting legislative language. Among other things, the Commission is to make recommendations on how to improve the food safety system, create a harmonized, central framework for managing federal food safety programs, and enhance the effectiveness of federal food safety resources. However, as of January 2017, as far as current staff can ascertain, the Commission was never formed, and no recommendations were ever produced. Thus, although Congress acted to create a food safety commission through legislation, the substance of our matter--recommendations for analyzing alternative food safety structures--was not implemented. GAO subsequently made the same matter for congressional consideration in several later products, and the matter also appeared in the annual DOF report. As of January 2017, no action had been taken. Therefore, in January 2017, we reopened this matter.