Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: "Budget appropriations"

    11 publications with a total of 22 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: John Pendleton
    Phone: (404) 679-1816

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide additional information for congressional decision makers regarding DOD's budget, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), in consultation with the OMB, to reevaluate and revise the criteria for determining what can be included in DOD's OCO budget requests to reflect current OCO-related activities and relevant budget policy directing in which budget requests OCO funds may be included.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have not taken action on our recommendation. In DOD's response to a draft of our report, DOD concurred with our first recommendation and stated it planned to propose updated criteria to OMB to reflect current and evolving threats and reflect any changes in overseas contingency operations policy under the new Administration. As of June 2017, neither OMB nor DOD has publically released updated criteria, and DOD has not made any updates to Volume 12, Chapter 23 of its Financial Management Regulation that governs contingency operations to reflect the criteria. According to an official at DOD, at this time, there are no updates to the criteria for determining what can be included in DOD's overseas contingency operations budget request nor are there efforts underway between DOD and OMB to update the criteria. In addition, DOD's fiscal year 2018 budget request continued to include activities that our report identified as not being specifically addressed in the OMB criteria, including operations in Syria, the European Reassurance Initiative, and security cooperation funds (formerly the known as the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund).
    Recommendation: To assist decision makers in formulating DOD's future budgets, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to develop a complete and reliable estimate of DOD's enduring OCO costs and to report these costs in concert with the department's future budget requests, and to use the estimate as a foundation for any future efforts to transition enduring costs to DOD's base budget.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The department has not, as yet, responded to our recommendation, and DOD's fiscal year 2018 budget request, issued in May 2017, did not include an estimate of its enduring overseas contingency operations costs as we had recommended. In its response to our draft report, DOD partially concurred with our recommendation and commented that developing reliable estimates is an important first step in any future effort to transition these costs to the base budget. However, DOD stated that until there is relief from the budgetary caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011, DOD would need overseas contingency operations funds to finance counterterrorism operations, such as Operation Freedom's Sentinel and Operation Inherent Resolve. DOD also offered no plans to take action to address this recommendation in its response to our draft report.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As DOD assesses potential cost savings under the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board or through other cost savings initiatives identified, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command, and the Marine Corps Exchange to provide information to Congress that includes data, assumptions, and methodology supporting DOD's conclusion for not achieving budget neutrality.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOD assesses potential cost savings under the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board or through other cost savings initiatives identified, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command, and the Marine Corps Exchange to develop a plan with assumptions, a methodology, cost estimates, and specific time frames for achieving alternative reductions to appropriations, to support DOD's efforts to ensure that DOD's cost savings target is feasible and accurate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOD conducts pilot programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command, and the Marine Corps Exchange to identify specific metrics to determine whether DOD has fulfilled the mandated requirement to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, the provision of high-quality products, and the sustainment of patron savings.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Andrew Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that Congress will have more complete information on DOD's full funding needs for its O&M base budget and to conduct oversight of DOD's use of OCO funds to support base programs and activities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller to revise its guidance on preparing budget justification materials and execution reports for Congress to require the addition of O&M obligations used for base programs and activities at the level of information presented for each account.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD continues to non-concur with our recommendation; however, we continue to believe that the recommendation is valid and will follow up annually on the status of the recommendation.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the budget process and to improve transparency, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, to the extent feasible, should ensure that the CJ includes data by appropriation account on the amount of funding requested to maintain current services for each future state theme.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As Treasury works with IRS to improve the quality and accuracy of budget data, the Secretary of the Treasury should ensure sufficient controls are in place to make certain that the information technology investment reports generated from the SharePoint Investment Knowledge Exchange are accurate. This includes, for example, taking steps to reduce the need for manual corrections to the data.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the efficient use of resources for the Three Percent Fund, the Attorney General should develop a policy and implement procedures to regularly analyze unobligated balances and develop collection estimates in order to determine an appropriate reserve amount and inform estimates of future funding needs.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, we found that the Department of Justice (DOJ) Collection Resource Allocation Board (CRAB) had taken steps to manage the Three Percent Fund, but it had not conducted analyses that would help DOJ better manage the fund, such as developing reserve estimates aligned with DOJ priorities or projecting future collections. GAO has identified leading practices among federal agencies when evaluating balances in federal accounts. Such practices emphasize the importance of regularly analyzing balances by, for example, estimating collections and determining reserve needs. Doing so helps agencies more effectively anticipate program needs and ensure the most efficient use of resources. As a result, we recommended that DOJ develop a policy and implement procedures to regularly analyze unobligated balances collection estimates in the Three Percent Fund. DOJ partially concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOJ provided us with a policy it began implementing in January 2016 to help them analyze the Three Percent Fund's unobligated balance and develop an appropriate reserve amount. For example, DOJ's policy for developing the reserve estimate now relies on more robust requests for information of DOJ debt collection activities, including government personnel, contract support, and automated litigation service requirements. By developing and implementing this policy, DOJ is better positioned to ensure the continuity of operations funded through the Three Percent Fund and to make future resource allocations. However, DOJ stated in its response to the report that it does not believe it is appropriate to estimate incoming collections for the following year. For example, DOJ does not ask litigating components for the number of cases that will be settled because the agency does not want to be perceived as inappropriately encouraging larger government civil collections. Additionally, DOJ does not calculate such estimates due to the high level of variability in the civil debt litigation cases that make it difficult to use historical information to estimate reserves. We noted in our report DOJ's concerns for developing collection estimates. However, we continue to believe that developing a policy for considering collection estimates is important. The Three Percent Fund is self-sustaining and does not receive annual appropriations. Therefore, any volatility should be managed with the best information and estimates the department can provide. Without developing collection estimates, DOJ is at risk of committing too much or too few budgetary resources from the Three Percent Fund. A lack of such a policy may lead to Three Percent balances either falling too low to efficiently manage operations or rise to unnecessarily high levels. As we have previously reported, one method DOJ could consider instead of a specific dollar estimate is to develop a range between the potential lowest and highest collection amounts based on historical trends and current collection activities. By estimating future collections, DOJ could better ensure it is able to efficiently fund as many programs as possible and best support the fund's priorities. Therefore, we consider this recommendation only partially implemented and will keep it open until DOJ develops collection estimates to aid managing the Three Percent Fund.
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and ensure the effective use of automation fees for the CJIS fingerprint checks fees, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should publish in the Federal Register, or other documents such as annual reports, how much is assessed for automation and cost recovery in each transaction to better communicate the cost of the service to customers and stakeholders.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2015, we found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sets its Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) fingerprint checks fees to collect two parts--the cost recovery portion and the automation portion, but does not provide transparency in how much is assessed for each portion of the fee. As a result, we recommended that FBI publish in the Federal Register, or other documents such as annual reports, how much is assessed for automation and cost recovery in each transaction to better communicate the cost of the service to customers and stakeholders. In July 2016, FBI published a notice in the Federal Register announcing a CJIS fingerprint checks fees rate change effective on October 1, 2016. However, the notice did not include an explanation of how much is assessed for the cost recovery or the automation portion of the fee. According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) liaison, FBI included a breakout of the revised rates in its CJIS Information Letter, which services as written notification of a rate change to state and federal stakeholders. GAO requested a copy of the CJIS Information Letter, but as of February 2017, DOJ has not provided the letter. Further, while the CJIS Information Letter might provide transparency to stakeholders on how much FBI assesses for each portion of the fee, FBI has not relayed how it intends to be transparent with customers. To fully address this recommendation, FBI needs to demonstrate that it is being transparent with stakeholders and with customers. Until it does so, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and ensure the effective use of automation fees for the CJIS fingerprint checks fees, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should develop a policy to analyze the unobligated balances coming from the automation portion of the fee to inform program needs, including improving methods for anticipating automation collections, and establishing a range of appropriate carryover amounts to support program needs.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2015, we found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had a growing unobligated balance from the automation portion of its Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) fingerprint checks fees but did not evaluate the appropriate range of its carryover amounts, nor had it developed a policy to do so. As a result, we recommended that FBI develop a policy to analyze the unobligated balances coming from the automation portion of the fee to inform program needs, including improving methods for anticipating automation collections, and establishing a range of appropriate carryover amounts to support program needs. In September 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that FBI is taking steps to develop and implement a multi-year investment plan that will be reviewed and updated annually, and that will address key questions from the GAO report titled "Budget Issues: Key Questions to Consider When Evaluating Balances in Federal Accounts." Additionally, the multi-year investment plan will include both an annual analysis of current and projected revenue from the automation portion of the fee, and the evaluation of the resource requirements needed to support the development of technological enhancement of fingerprint identification and criminal justice services. According to DOJ officials, the 2017 plan will be the first to include this information; however GAO has not yet received a copy of the 2017 plan. We will continue to monitor FBI's progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

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

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: A Senate Committee on Appropriations report released on June 16, 2015, which accompanied a bill that provided for the Commission's FY 2016 appropriations, included a provision that directed the Commission to address one of the issues highlighted in our recommendation. Specifically, the report calls for the Commission to limit the use of letterhead to items that reflect the views of the entire Commission.
    Recommendation: To more fully inform congressional consideration of the commission's fiscal year 2016 budget submission, the commission should develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a comprehensive workforce plan that assesses skills needed and the appropriate distribution of commission staff to fulfill the agency's mission and statutory responsibilities. This plan should incorporate relevant information from the report that Congress recently directed the commission to provide.

    Agency: Commission on Civil Rights
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Commission on Civil Rights stated that the Commissioners will work closely with the incoming Staff Director, once the President makes an appointment, to develop a comprehensive workforce plan. The agency stressed the importance of involving the new Staff Director in this process. We recognize the importance of involving the Staff Director - the agency's chief administrative official - in an analysis of the Commission's workforce and look forward to the results of this analysis.
    Recommendation: To enhance the commission's consideration of State Advisory Committee work in planning its National Office projects, the commission should increase the visibility of SAC work at commission meetings. For example, the commission could invite SACs to present the results of their work during monthly commission business meetings.

    Agency: Commission on Civil Rights
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Commission on Civil Rights highlighted several initiatives that it plans to consider, pending resource availability, to better highlight and consider the work of its state advisory committees (SAC). First, the agency stated that it would like to re-introduce an annual conference where SAC chairs from around the country can meet and share information. Second, the agency stated that it is looking to leverage technology, such as video conferencing and live streaming, to allow the general public and stakeholders to view SAC meetings. Lastly, the agency stated that the Commission's Chair is planning to develop a list-serve for SAC chairs, send out monthly updates to SACs, and institute quarterly conference calls between the Chair, Vice Chair, and SAC Chairs. We are encouraged by the Commission's efforts to explore ways to better engage with SACs and look forward to the implementation of these planned actions.
    Director: John H. Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist DOD in conducting any future comprehensive assessments of roles and missions that reflect appropriate statutory requirements, the Secretary of Defense should develop a comprehensive process that includes (1) a planned approach, including the principles or assumptions used to inform the assessment, that addresses all statutory requirements; (2) the involvement of key DOD stakeholders, such as the armed services, Joint Staff, and other officials within the department; (3) an opportunity to identify and involve appropriate external stakeholders, to provide input to inform the assessment; and (4) time frames with milestones for conducting the assessment and for reporting on its results.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) has not subsequently conducted a comprehensive assessment of roles and missions. However, a DOD official responsible for force development stated that, in response to our report, DOD has taken specific steps to improve the force planning guidance it uses to inform its annual Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution process, including in ways that reflect evolving roles and missions of the military services. As of August 2016, DOD has still not conducted a subsequent comprehensive assessment of roles and missions; however according to a DOD official, through the normal Fiscal Year 2017 Program Review and development of internal force planning guidance in advance of the budget cycle, a range of discussions touching on roles and missions have occurred.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD is better informed in its decision-making processes, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to utilize comprehensive and up-to-date furlough cost-savings information as it becomes available in the event that DOD decides to implement another administrative furlough in the future.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We received the 60 day letter from DOD, it noted that the Department's position has not changed. In its written comments on the draft report, DOD partially concurred with the recommendation to utilize comprehensive and up-to-date furlough cost-savings information as it becomes available in the event that DOD decides to implement another administrative furlough in the future.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: As a result of turnover in IRS's Senior Executive Team and in order to enhance budget planning and improve decision making and accountability, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop a long-term strategy to address operations amidst an uncertain budget environment. As part of the strategy, IRS should take steps to improve its efficiency, including (1) reexamining programs, related processes, and organizational structures to determine whether they are effectively and efficiently achieving the IRS mission, and (2) streamlining or consolidating management or operational processes and functions to make them more cost-effective.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: IRS agreed with our recommendation and is taking steps to implement it. For example, IRS has adopted a new, more strategic approach to identify and select budget program priorities. In its fiscal year 2017 budget justification, IRS introduced six themes of its Future State Initiative for tax administration, which in part aims to deliver service improvements across different taxpayer interactions such as individual account assistance, refunds, identity theft, and billings and payments. The budget also linked requested spending increases to the themes laid out in the initiative. The themes were derived from a subset of its 19 objectives identified in the IRS 2014-2017 Strategic Plan. In addition to the future state themes and strategic objectives, IRS has identified enterprise goals to guide the IRS toward the future state. As of December 2016, IRS has yet to set targets for meeting the goals but plans to have targets in place by June 2017. We acknowledge the steps IRS has taken and will continue to monitor its progress as the process is further developed.
    Recommendation: Because ROI provides insights on the productivity of a program and is one important factor in making resource allocation decisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should calculate actual ROI for implemented initiatives, compare the actual ROI to projected ROI, and provide the comparison to budget decision makers for initiatives where IRS allocated resources.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: No executive action taken. While IRS agreed that having actual ROI data for implemented initiatives would be useful, it did not believe it was feasible to produce such estimates, as GAO recommended in June 2014. GAO maintains that IRS should be able to provide some information on past initiatives, such as whether funds requested were used in the manner originally proposed. As of December 2016, IRS officials reported there is no timeline for full implementation. In March 2017, IRS officials confirmed that they do not isolate the revenue attributable to a specific initiative, but pointed to other efforts to help manage IRS's budget, including establishing the Office of Planning, Programming and Audit Coordination and the Planning Community of Practice, which are intended to improve investment planning processes. While these efforts are intended to help IRS act more strategically, comparing projected ROI to actual ROI can help hold managers and IRS accountable for the funding received.
    Recommendation: Because ROI provides insights on the productivity of a program and is one important factor in making resource allocation decisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should use actual ROI calculations as part of resource allocation decisions.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: No executive action taken as of March 2017. IRS's Research, Analysis, and Statistics Division has begun to estimate marginal direct revenues and marginal costs attributable to specific compliance projects. The estimates are necessary inputs to establish a measure of ROI, which in turn can guide resource allocation decisions. IRS plans to use these estimates to inform future examination plans, but considerable work remains in this long-term effort. In October 2016, IRS officials reported there is no timeline for full implementation, but that the work is on-going. In June 2016, IRS officials confirmed that projected revenue will be considered in investment decision making as part of fiscal year 2018 enterprise planning guidance, but did not report any progress in using actual ROI data. Until such action is taken, IRS may not be allocating its resources in the most effective way, thus potentially forgoing additional revenues.
    Director: Clowers, Angela N
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that OMB, in consultation with federal financial regulators, consistently classifies Dodd-Frank rules as major under CRA, the Director of OMB, through the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, should issue additional guidance to help standardize processes for identifying major rules under CRA, including on the extent to which agencies should submit rules to OMB for review, such as whether agencies should submit only those rules their analyses indicate are major or all rules.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: OMB originally disagreed with the recommendation and has not taken any action to implement the recommendation as of June 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that OMB, in consultation with federal financial regulators, consistently classifies Dodd-Frank rules as major under CRA, the Director of OMB, through the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, should issue additional guidance to help standardize processes for identifying major rules under CRA, including on how agencies should apply CRA's major rule criteria in their analyses, such as whether agencies should include indirect benefits or costs, combine benefits or costs of separate but related rules, or aggregate benefits or costs for jointly issued rules.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: OMB originally disagreed with the recommendation and has not taken any action to implement the recommendation as of June 2017.
    Director: Davis, Beryl H
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To proactively prepare for oversight of future disaster relief funding, the Director of OMB should develop standard guidance for federal agencies to use in designing internal control plans for disaster relief funding. Such guidance could leverage existing internal control review processes and should include, at a minimum, the following elements: (1) robust criteria for identifying and documenting incremental risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and (2) requirements for documenting the linkage between the incremental risks related to disaster funding and efforts to address known internal control risks.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To address the recommendation, OMB should issue guidance on internal control for disaster relief funding, including criteria for identifying additional risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and a requirement to link these incremental risks to ongoing efforts to address known internal control risks. On July 15, 2016, OMB issued the revised Circular No. A-123, Management's Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control. The Circular requires agencies to implement enterprise risk management, which includes the development of a risk profile that analyzes the risks faced in achieving strategic objectives and identifies options for addressing them. In April 2017, OMB staff stated that they believe that the implementation of enterprise risk management through Circular No. A-123 satisfies the intent our recommendation. Because the responsibility for implementing enterprise risk management lies with agency management, Circular No. A-123 does not include specific guidance for identifying risks related to disaster funding. Further discussion and documentation to support OMB's position that the revised Circular addresses our recommendation will be necessary.