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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Analysis of alternatives"

    9 publications with a total of 17 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    Director: Asif A. Khan
    Phone: (202) 512-9869

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The DHS Under Secretary for Management should develop and implement effective processes and improve guidance to reasonably assure that future AAs fully follow AOA process best practices and reflect the four characteristics of a reliable, high-quality AOA process. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The DHS Under Secretary for Management should improve the Risk Management Planning Handbook and other relevant guidance for managing risks associated with financial management system modernization projects to fully incorporate risk management best practices, including (1) defining thresholds to facilitate review of performance metrics to determine when risks become unacceptable; (2) identifying and analyzing risks to include periodically reconsidering risk sources, documenting risks specifically related to the lack of sufficient, reliable cost and schedule information needed to help properly manage and oversee the project, and timely disposition of IV&V contractor-identified risks; (3) developing risk mitigation plans with specific risk-handling activities, the costs and benefits of implementing them, and contingency plans for selected critical risks; and (4) implementing risk mitigation plans to include establishing periods of performance for risk-handling activities and defining time intervals for updating and certifying the accuracy and completeness of information on risks in DHS's risk register. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brian Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable DOD to provide congressional decision makers with complete and reliable information on the total anticipated costs for the JIAC consolidation efforts, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment's Basing Office--in coordination with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Installations, Environment and Energy-- should update future construction cost estimates for consolidating the JIAC at RAF Croughton using best practices for cost estimating as identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide. Specifically, cost estimates for the JIAC consolidation should fully incorporate all four characteristics of a high-quality, reliable estimate.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD did not concur with our recommendation. DOD agreed that many components in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide are broadly applicable in the decision process leading up to a military construction budget request. However, DOD further stated that once military construction funds are authorized and appropriated by Congress, the department transitions to a project management mode, and it would be a waste of resources to continue to generate cost estimates once they have transitioned to managing project execution using actual cost data. However, as we note in the report, DOD guidance for estimating construction costs, DOD?s Unified Facilities Criteria 3-740-05, states that in the MILCON program, construction cost estimates are prepared throughout the planning, design, and construction phases of a construction project to account for the refinement of the project?s design and requirements. The final estimate should document the department?s assessment of the program's most probable cost and ensure that enough funds are available to execute it. As of October 2016, the military construction funds had not been authorized by Congress for the third phase of the JIAC construction project. According to DOD officials, construction is not scheduled to begin until fall of 2017, and the contract has not yet been awarded. Further, the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide states that regardless of whether changes to the program result from a major contract modification or an overtarget budget, the cost estimate should be regularly updated to reflect all changes. This is also a requirement outlined in OMB?s Capital Programming Guide. The purpose of updating the cost estimate is to check its accuracy, defend the estimate over time, and archive cost and technical data for use in future estimates. After the internal agency and congressional budgets are prepared and submitted, it is imperative that cost estimators continue to monitor the program to determine whether the preliminary information and assumptions remain relevant and accurate. Keeping the estimate updated gives decision makers accurate information for assessing alternative decisions. Cost estimates must also be updated whenever requirements change, and the results should be reconciled and recorded against the old estimate baseline. Therefore, we continue to believe that DOD?s implementation of our recommendation to update future JIAC cost estimates using the best practices identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide would assist in ensuring that decision makers have complete and reliable information about costs associated with the JIAC consolidation and as the third phase of the JIAC project is authorized. Implementing our recommendation would also ensure that DOD develops a reliable historical record for the cost of the JIAC that can be used to estimate other similar projects in the future. As of June 2017, the agency had not taken any action to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To aid DOD in conducting future AOA processes that fully follow best practices, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and the Environment to develop guidance requiring the use of AOA best practices, including those practices we have identified, and in this guidance, the Assistant Secretary should define the types of military construction decisions for which these AOA best practices should be required.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments, DOD did not concur with our recommendation. Specifically, DOD disputes that our 22 best practices for a reliable Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) process apply to basing or military construction decision-making processes and therefore does not believe that the department should incorporate these best practices into its military construction decision-making process. We continue to believe that our AOA best practices can be applied to a wide range of activities in which an alternative must be selected from a set of possible options, as well as to a broad range of capability areas, projects, and programs including DOD's military construction decision-making processes. As of June 22, 2017, DOD had not taken any action to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In the event that operational test results for PDB-8 and PDB-8.1 reveal performance shortfalls that require additional development of the near and mid-term upgrades tested, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to establish mechanisms for overseeing those upgrades commensurate with other major defense acquisition programs, to include an initial report--similar to a Selected Acquisition Report--as soon as practical following operational testing for both PDB-8 and PDB-8.1, on the near and mid-term upgrades evaluated during these tests, including: (1) cost, schedule, and performance estimates for any additional development that is needed; and (2) an estimate of the amount of development costs it has incurred since 2013 for near- and mid-term Patriot upgrades operationally tested along with PDB-8 and PDB-8.1.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation, however, it is too early to determine what, if any, actions the agency will take until the results of operational testing for PDB-8 are made available following its planned completion in late summer 2017.
    Recommendation: In the event that operational test results for PDB-8 and PDB-8.1 reveal performance shortfalls that require additional development of the near and mid-term upgrades tested, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to establish mechanisms for overseeing those upgrades commensurate with other major defense acquisition programs, to include annual updates to Congress comparing the latest cost and schedule estimates against the initial estimates and providing explanations for any major deviations until development is complete.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation, however, it is too early to determine what, if any, actions the agency will take until the results of operational testing for PDB-8 are made available following its planned completion in late summer 2017.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct Office of Environmental Management (EM) to revise its protocol governing cleanup operations activities to require use of best practices in developing cost and schedule estimates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In its written comments, DOE stated that EM is transitioning from the operations activities protocol to a new directive that is expected to include a key decision approving a cost and schedule baseline. As EM develops the guidance for this key decision, it will include the use of cost and schedule best practices. In April 2017, however, EM indicated that it plans to issue a revised EM operations activities protocol in fiscal year 2017 for use in fiscal year 2018 instead of a new directive. According to an EM official, EM will include best practices for cost and schedule estimation in the revised protocol. When EM completes the revised protocol, we will evaluate the actions taken and whether the recommendation should be closed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct EM to implement the recommendation made by DOE's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessments in its independent review of the AOA for WIPP's new permanent ventilation system to perform a cost-benefit analysis consistent with best practices for conducting an AOA, or justify and document why the office does not intend to do so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with clarification to the recommendation. In its written comments to our report, DOE stated that in accordance with GAO best practices, it will conduct further cost-benefit analysis on the WIPP ventilation system project prior to approval of Critical Decision-2, Approve Performance Baseline. DOE stated that several alternatives remain to be evaluated including the size of the ventilation system and the location of the exhaust shaft. In March 2017, a DOE Carlsbad Field Office official overseeing the project said that the project team completed an additional analysis of alternatives (AOA) for the ventilation system project at WIPP and a revised business case for the alternative to construct a safety significant confinement ventilation system and exhaust shaft that addresses the recommendations from the Department of Energy's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessment. After we obtain a copy of the completed AOA, we will evaluate the action taken to determine whether to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE to revise its Order 413.3B to require that DOE offices implement any recommendations from an independent review of the extent to which an AOA followed best practices, or justify and document the rationale for not doing so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation and in its written comments to our report stated that it will prepare a project management policy on how DOE offices should respond to recommendations from independent reviews by December 2016. In addition, DOE stated that it will update DOE Order 413.3B with the new policy at the next available opportunity. In November 2017, a DOE official from the Office of Project Management, Oversight, and Assessments (PMOA) said that PMOA developed a project management policy statement on how DOE offices should disposition recommendations from independent reviews and PMOA intended to incorporate the policy into its planned update of DOE Guide 413.3-9 Project Review Guide for Capital Asset Projects, which was to be completed by December 2016. As of April 2017, according to a DOE official, development of the updated project review guide was on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to the two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD is sufficiently informed about the availability and reliability of data from U.S. civil government and international partner satellites as it plans for future SBEM capabilities that rely on such satellites, the Secretary of Defense should ensure the leads of future SBEM planning efforts establish formal mechanisms for coordination and collaboration with NOAA that specify roles and responsibilities and ensure accountability for both agencies.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the Air Force and NOAA signed a memorandum of agreement under which the parties are to establish annexes for interagency acquisitions or support on SBEM efforts. The Air Force and NOAA are in the process of drafting two annexes for collecting SBEM data, expected to be completed by the winter of 2017, according to the Air Force. This effort does not cover collaboration between NOAA and DOD entities outside the Air Force, but NOAA is engaged in a separate memorandum of agreement with the Navy, which includes one annex that involves sharing data for SBEM-related activities. According to the Navy, additional draft annexes that would further SBEM-related data sharing are being considered. In addition, DOD and NOAA are in the process of responding to section 1607 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which directs the agencies to jointly establish mechanisms to collaborate and coordinate in defining roles and responsibilities to carry out SBEM activities and plan for future nongovernmental SBEM capabilities, and to submit a report on the mechanism established.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve NNSA's ability to choose the best alternative that satisfies the mission need for lithium production, the Secretary of Energy should request that NNSA's Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs take steps to ensure that NNSA objectively consider all alternatives, without preference for a particular solution, as it proceeds with the analysis of alternatives process. Such steps could include clarifying the statement of mission need for lithium production so that it is independent of a particular solution.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, NNSA has not finalized its analysis of alternatives. However, documents provided and statements made by agency officials indicate that NNSA plans to construct a Lithium Production Facility. NNSA's preference for constructing a lithium production facility prior to finalizing its analysis of alternatives is not consistent with our recommendation.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in assessing the alternatives, revise cost and schedule estimates for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System and the Tank Waste Characterization and Staging facility in accordance with industry best practices.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will monitor the status of this proposed requirement.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should revise the statements of mission need for the two proposed projects to allow DOE to consider a variety of alternatives without limiting potential solutions, consistent with the DOE requirement that mission need statements should not identify particular solution such as equipment, facility, or technology.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE DARTS report on 5/19/16, revision of the statement of mission for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System "has become overcome by events". We will continue to follow up on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in accordance with DOE's Office of River Protection quality assurance policy, conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems that have not been reviewed by DOE.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE agreed with the recommendations and in its written responses to our report stated that it had implemented them. However, we believe additional actions are needed, as indicated in the priority recommendations letter we sent to DOE in 2017. To fully address the recommendations, DOE should conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for the High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities should be further limited until aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed to address technical challenges that DOE, the contractor, and others have identified but not yet resolved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE has noted that these activities were already limited and stated that a specific set of criteria has been established for resuming construction on the High Level Waste facility. However, as we noted in our report, an extent-of-condition review has not been performed on the remainder of the facility's systems, and recommendations from the facility's design and operability review have not been implemented. DOE also stated that construction on the Low Activity Waste facility is nearly complete, that the WTP Federal Project Director has a detailed risk register, and that each remaining risk is being proactively mitigated. This statement, however, does not fully reflect the extent or potential seriousness of the technical risks that remain. An extent-of-condition review may mean limiting the production of new design documents until this review is complete in order to avoid potential costly rework. We believe additional actions are needed. To fully address the recommendation, DOE should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for those facilities should be further limited until this review is completed and aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should enlist the services of another agency or external entity to serve as an owner's agent to assist the Office of River Protection in reviewing and evaluating the WTP contractor's design and approach to mitigating design challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress required DOE to meet this requirement in the 2016 NDAA, and DOE reports that they issued a contract to Parsons Government Services on September 29, 2015. We have requested a copy of this contract for review to ensure that the recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To minimize the risk of developing unreliable AOAs and incurring major cost increases and schedule delays on projects, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's Office of Acquisition and Project Management to update its project management order requirements to incorporate best practices for conducting an AOA.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In May 2016, DOE updated its project management order (Order 413.3B) to require that AOAs for capital asset acquisition projects be consistent with published GAO best practices. DOE also planned to issue an AOA guide that will be critical to ensuring implementation of the new AOA requirement by providing DOE procedures for conducting reliable AOAs. According to a DOE official, development of the guide was on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to the two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations. In the interim, DOE issued an AOA handbook in April 2017 but will not have fully addressed the recommendation until it completes the guide.