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    Subject Term: "Budget cuts"

    4 publications with a total of 26 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    17 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that agencies' IT savings are being reinvested in the most efficient and effective manner possible, the Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to ensure that agencies complete their reinvestment plans, in accordance with established requirements, and maintain those plans on an ongoing basis.

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

    Comments: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) generally agreed with, and has taken initial steps to implement, our recommendation. In May 2016, OMB released updated guidance for agency's quarterly data submissions that noted the importance of providing savings reinvestment information. Specifically, OMB strongly encouraged agencies to provide reinvestment information where feasible, including a description of the activities that were funded using any savings achieved. OMB further noted that failing to provide such information might result in an agency being unable to accurately track its reinvestments. However, the May 2016 guidance notes that providing this reinvestment information is not required. As of May 2017, OMB had not yet updated its guidance for agencies quarterly data submissions to require reinvestment information. We will continue to evaluate OMB's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that agencies' IT savings are being reinvested in the most efficient and effective manner possible, the Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to require agencies to track actual reinvestment performance and define performance targets for agencies' reinvestments, as done previously.

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

    Comments: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) generally agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, OMB had not issued additional guidance to require agencies to track actual reinvestment performance or defined performance targets for agencies' reinvestments. We will continue to evaluate OMB's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the CIO to ensure that the department's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Agriculture agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the department's integrated data collection submission to the Office of Management and Budget had not been updated to include reinvestment plans for all reported cost savings and avoidance initiatives. For example, the department reported about $25 million in cost savings and avoidances related to its data center consolidation efforts, but did not include plans regarding how these savings would be reinvested. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, as part of any future update to the department's information resource management strategic plan or equivalent document, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the CIO to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) in accordance with OMB's guidance.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the department had not updated its IT Resource Management Strategic plan to include the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the CIO to ensure that the department's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the department's integrated data collection submission to the Office of Management and Budget had not been updated to include reinvestment plans for all reported cost savings and avoidance initiatives. For example, the department reported about $26 million in cost savings and avoidances related to its server virtualization efforts, but did not include plans regarding how these savings would be reinvested. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Defense CIO to ensure that the department's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense partially agreed with our recommendation and has taken initial steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the department reported approximately $331.4 million in data center consolidation cost savings in its quarterly integrated data collection submission to the Office of Management and Budget. Although the department's submission notes that it plans to reinvest these savings in the agency's core mission, it did not provide any further detail regarding these reinvestment plans. In addition, the department did not report any information technology cost savings and avoidance initiatives related to its business system modernization efforts, which it had previously reported to GAO as an area with substantial savings. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In addition, to improve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army, as part of any future update to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' IRM strategic plan or equivalent document, to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) in accordance with OMB's guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the agency had not yet updated its Information Resources Management Strategic Plan to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources. We will continue to evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the CIO, as part of any future update to the department's IRM strategic plan or equivalent document, to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) in accordance with OMB's guidance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agreed with, and has taken initial steps to implement, our recommendation. Specifically, in November 2015, the department stated that its Office of the Chief Information Officer will include reinvestment strategies in its next update of the HHS Information Resource Management Strategic Plan. According to the department, the updated strategic plan was expected to be completed by the end of September 2016. However, as of May 2017, the agency had not yet updated its Information Resources Management Strategic Plan to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the CIO to ensure that the department's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the department's integrated data collection submission to the Office of Management and Budget had not been updated to include reinvestment plans for all reported cost savings and avoidance initiatives. For example, the department did not include reinvestment plans for two cost avoidances strategies related to the Office of Management and Budget's PortfolioStat initiative that have resulted approximately $96 million in cost avoidances. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the CIO to ensure that the department's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Housing and Urban Development agreed with, and has taken initial steps to implement, our recommendation. Specifically, as of May 2017, the department updated its integrated data collection submission to include reinvestment plans for one of the seven cost savings and avoidance initiatives reported. However, the six remaining initiatives, with savings and avoidances totaling approximately $6 million, did not include reinvestment plans. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's tracking of reinvestments, the Secretary of Labor should direct the CIO to use existing governance mechanisms and any improvements resulting from the implementation of FITARA to improve tracking of how savings have been reinvested.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor has taken initial steps to implement our recommendation. As of November 2015, the department stated that it was planning improvements in the area of information technology (IT) investment management in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget's June 2015 guidance for implementing the December 2014 IT reform law (commonly referred to as the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act or FITARA). The department added that these improvements would include the tracking of how savings have been reinvested. Subsequently, in May 2016, the department finalized its FITARA Implementation Plan. While the implementation plan discusses planned actions to improve the Chief Information Officer's involvement in agency IT budget requests, acquisition requests, and program management, it did not specifically discuss planned actions to improve the tracking of how information technology savings have been reinvested. In addition, as of May 2017, the department had not documented any FITARA implementation milestones that discussed making improvements in the tracking of how savings are reinvested. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of State should direct the CIO, as part of any future update to the department's IRM strategic plan or equivalent document, to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) in accordance with OMB's guidance.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State has not yet taken steps to implement our recommendation. Specifically, as of May 2017, the agency had not yet updated its Information Technology Strategic Plan to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the CIO, as part of any future update to the department's IRM strategic plan or equivalent document, to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) in accordance with OMB's guidance.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Treasury has not yet taken steps to implement our recommendation. Specifically, as of May 2017, the agency had not yet updated its Information Resources Management Strategic Plan to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the CIO to ensure that the department's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to use any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Treasury has not yet taken steps to implement our recommendation. Specifically, as of May 2017, the department's integrated data collection submission did not include reinvestment plans for all reported cost savings and avoidance initiatives. For example, the department reported about $1.07 billion in cost savings and avoidances from its information technology infrastructure efficiency initiatives, but did not provide information regarding how it plans to reinvest these savings and avoidances. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the CIO to ensure that the department's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs agreed with, and has taken initial steps to implement, our recommendation. Specifically, in November 2015, the department's Chief of Staff stated that the Office of Information and Technology was working to establish an office to closely monitor program performance, schedule, return on investment, and total cost of ownership, which will enable reinvestment opportunities. However, as of May 2017, the department's integrated data collection submission did not include reinvestment plans for all of the reported cost savings and avoidance initiatives. For example, the department reported about $177 million in cost savings and avoidances from the renegotiation of an enterprise agreement for software licenses, but did not provide information regarding how it plans to reinvest these savings and avoidances. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should direct the CIO to ensure that the agency's integrated data collection submission to OMB includes, for all reported initiatives, complete plans to reinvest any resulting cost savings and avoidances from OMB-directed IT reform-related efforts.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. Specifically, as of May 2017, the agency's integrated data collection submission did not include reinvestment plans for all of the reported cost savings and avoidance initiatives. For example, the agency reported about $3 million in cost savings and avoidances related to two shared services initiatives, but did not provide information regarding how it plans to reinvest these savings and avoidances. We will continue to evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management should direct the CIO, as part of any future update to the agency's IRM strategic plan or equivalent document, to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) in accordance with OMB's guidance.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken action to implement it. Specifically, in November 2015, OPM's Acting Director stated that information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) would be included in future updates to OPM's Strategic IT Plan. However, as of May 2017, the agency had not yet updated its strategic plan to include this information. We will continue to evaluate the OPM's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: John Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that headquarters organizations are properly sized to meet their assigned missions and use the most cost-effective mix of personnel, and to better position DOD to identify opportunities for more efficient use of resources, the Secretary of Defense should conduct a systematic determination of personnel requirements for OSD, the Joint Staff, and the military services' secretariats and staff, which should include analysis of mission, functions, and tasks, and the minimum personnel needed to accomplish those missions, functions, and tasks.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with our recommendation, but has not taken executive action. DOD is considering developing a manpower requirements validation process, but, as of March 2017, it had not conducted a systematic determination of workforce requirements. DOD partially concurred with GAO's January 2015 recommendation to conduct a systematic determination of workforce requirements, and in comments to the report, DOD noted that it would continue to use the processes and prioritization that are part of the Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution process, and would also investigate other methods for aligning personnel to missions and priorities. However, DOD did not specify whether any of these actions would include a workforce analysis. In a December 2014 Resource Management Decision, the Deputy Chief Management Officer was directed to develop and implement a manpower requirements validation process for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Defense Agencies and Field Activities for military and civilian manpower, but this effort has not yet been completed. DOD indicated that it was taking action in response to GAO?s recommendation, but, as of March 2017, it had not provided documentation enabling GAO to determine what actions have been taken and the extent to which the recommendation has been implemented. Without a systematic determination of personnel requirements, DOD headquarters organizations may not be well positioned to identify opportunities for efficiencies and reduce the potential for headquarters-related growth. We will continue to monitor actions DOD takes in response to this recommendation and will provide updated information as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To ensure that headquarters organizations are properly sized to meet their assigned missions and use the most cost-effective mix of personnel, and to better position DOD to identify opportunities for more efficient use of resources, the Secretary of Defense should submit these personnel requirements, including information on the number of personnel within OSD and the military services' secretariats and staffs that count against the statutory limits, along with any applicable adjustments to the statutory limits, in the next Defense Manpower Requirements Report to Congress or through separate correspondence, along with any recommendations needed to modify the existing statutory limits.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with our recommendation and stated that it has ongoing efforts to refine and improve its reporting capabilities associated with these requirements, noting that the department has to update DOD Instruction 5100.73, Major DOD Headquarters Activities before it can determine personnel requirements that count against the statutory limits. DOD also did not indicate in its letter whether the department would submit personnel requirements that count against the statutory limits in the Defense Manpower Requirements Report, as we recommend, once the Instruction is finalized. DOD noted in the spring of 2016 that it has ongoing efforts to refine and improve its reporting capabilities associated with personnel requirements. Additionally, DOD plans to begin an update to DOD Instruction 5100.73, Major DOD Headquarters Activities, in summer 2016. While DOD indicated that it was taking action in response to our recommendation, it has not provided documentation enabling us to determine what actions have been taken and the extent to which our recommendation has been implemented. We will continue to monitor actions DOD takes in response to this recommendation and will provide updated information as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To ensure that headquarters organizations are properly sized to meet their assigned missions and use the most cost-effective mix of personnel, and to better position DOD to identify opportunities for more efficient use of resources, the Secretary of Defense should establish and implement procedures to conduct periodic reassessments of personnel requirements within OSD and the military services' secretariats and staffs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with our recommendation, but has not taken executive action. While DOD stated that it supports the intent of GAO's 2015 recommendation to conduct periodic reassessments of workforce requirements, as of March 2017, DOD had not taken any steps to address the recommendation despite a congressional requirement to do so. DOD partially concurred with GAO's January 2015 recommendation, but in comments to GAO's report, DOD noted that such periodic reassessments require additional resources and personnel, which would increase the number of personnel performing major DOD headquarters activities. DOD stated that it intended to examine the establishment of requirements determination processes across the department, to include the contractor workforce, but that such an examination would require a phased approach across a longer time frame. Based in part on GAO's work on management headquarters, including its January 2015 report, Congress directed DOD to develop a plan for implementing a periodic review and analysis of DOD's personnel requirements for management headquarters, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the military service secretariats and staff, among others, in section 905 of the Carl Levin and Howard P.Buck McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The review is to include a description of current headquarters size, structure, and critical capabilities; an assessment of current systems to track how headquarters personnel are managed; and a proposed time line and resources required to implement a permanent periodic reassessment. However, as of November 2016, a DOD official stated DOD's plan to address the section 905 requirement had not been finalized, and DOD provided no estimated completion date for addressing this requirement. As of March 2017, DOD has not provided documentation of progress on this recommendation to GAO. Without periodic reassessments, it will likely be difficult for headquarters organizations to be well positioned to effectively identify opportunities for efficiencies and limit personnel growth. We will continue to monitor actions DOD takes in response to this recommendation and will provide updated information as appropriate.
    Recommendation: Congress should consider using the results of DOD's review of headquarters personnel requirements to reexamine the statutory limits. Such an examination could consider whether supporting organizations that perform headquarters functions should be included in statutory limits and whether the statutes on personnel limitations within the military services' secretariats and staffs should be amended to include a prohibition on reassigning headquarters-related functions elsewhere.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on our report DOD noted that the department has to update DOD Instruction 5100.73, Major DOD Headquarters Activities before it can determine personnel requirements that count against the statutory limits. Until DOD completes its update of the Instruction and provides Congress with information on the number personnel that count against the statutory limits, it will be difficult for Congress to take action. We will continue to monitor actions taken in response to this matter and will provide updated information as appropriate. As of May 2016, the Senate Armed Services Committee markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 includes a provision that would allow the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military departments to increase their number of military and civilian personnel by 15 percent in times of national emergency.
    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: Martin, Belva M
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Recognizing that there are widespread requirements to know what is militarily critical, the Secretary of Defense should determine the best approach to meeting users' needs for a technical reference, whether it be MCTL, other alternatives being used, or some combination thereof.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet implemented it. As of August 2017, multiple approaches to maintaining a technical reference are still being considered.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that there are widespread requirements to know what is militarily critical, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that resources are coordinated and efficiently devoted to sustain the approach chosen.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, multiple approaches to maintaining a technical reference are still being considered.