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 functions"

    22 publications with a total of 49 open recommendations including 7 priority recommendations
    Director: John H. Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As the department seeks to report on and achieve required cost savings, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Chief Management Officer to develop reliable cost savings estimates that include detailed information and documentation to allow for clear tracking of cost savings by DOD and Congress.

    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: Asif A. Khan
    Phone: (202) 512-9869

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to provide guidance in the DOD Financial Management Regulation on the timing of when DOD managers should use available tools to help ensure that monthly cash balances are within the upper and lower cash requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it plans to update the DOD Financial Management Regulation as we recommended to provide additional guidance on the timing of when DOD managers should use available tools to help ensure that monthly cash balances are within the upper and lower cash requirements. DOD also stated that this change will be incorporated for the fiscal year 2019 President's Budget submission and subsequent budgets.
    Director: Susan Irving
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure efficient use of resources and plan for realistic risks, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct APHIS to review and document its operating reserve targets including an analysis of individual program needs, risks, and probable contingencies, for Veterinary Services Import Export fees.

    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 ensure efficient use of resources and plan for realistic risks, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct APHIS to review and document its operating reserve targets including an analysis of individual program needs, risks, and probable contingencies, for Veterinary Diagnostic fees.

    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 ensure efficient use of resources and plan for realistic risks, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct APHIS to review and document its operating reserve targets including an analysis of individual program needs, risks, and probable contingencies, for Phytosanitary Export Certification fees.

    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: Similarly, to ensure efficient use of resources and plan for realistic risks, the Director of CFPB should review and document its operating reserve targets for the Bureau Fund, including an analysis of program needs, risks, and probable contingencies.

    Agency: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the reserve target SEC set for PCAOB safeguards against realistic risks and probable contingencies, including potential unforeseen funding delays, the SEC Chair, in exercising the commission's authority to oversee PCAOB, should analyze--and document the analysis of--program needs and probable contingencies, in consultation with PCAOB as appropriate.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that timely information is available to facilitate congressional oversight, promote transparency, and foster public accountability, the SEC Chair, in exercising the commission's authority to oversee PCAOB, should establish a deadline for PCAOB's required annual report, including its audited financial statements.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the accuracy of the information included in the operation and maintenance (O&M) budget justification material submitted to Congress and provide complete information to review the military services' fuel consumption spending requests, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), in consultation with the military services and DLA, to develop an approach to reconcile data on fuel consumption reported by the military services and fuel sales to the military services reported by DLA and take any appropriate corrective actions to improve the accuracy of actual fuel consumption spending data.

    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: In order to improve the accuracy of the information included in the O&M budget justification material submitted to Congress and provide complete information to review the military services' fuel consumption spending requests, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), in consultation with the military services and DLA, to report complete fuel consumption information to Congress, to include actual and estimated fuel volume and actual O&M base obligations for fuel consumption spending separate from O&M Overseas Contingency Operations obligations. This information could be provided as part of DOD's annual O&M budget justification materials, or through other reporting mechanisms.

    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: John H. Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To make a well-informed decision about the future of its A-10 aircraft, before again recommending divestment of the A-10, the Secretary of the Air Force should: (1) Develop quality information that fully identifies gaps in capacity or capability that would result from A-10 divestment, including the timing and duration of any identified gaps, and the risks associated with those gaps; and (2) Use that information to develop strategies to mitigate any identified gaps.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further inform decisions about the future of the A-10, the Secretary of the Air Force should, in considering divestment, develop a high-quality, reliable cost estimate utilizing best practices.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that senior leaders have the quality information on which to base future force structure decisions, the Secretary of Defense should develop and promulgate department-wide guidance that establishes specific informational requirements to be met before proposing divestment of major weapon systems that have not reached the end of their expected service lives.

    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: 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: Krause, Heather M
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the contributions of tax expenditures toward the achievement of agency goals are identified and measured, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should work with agencies to identify which tax expenditures contribute to their agency goals, as appropriate--that is, they should identify which specific tax expenditures contribute to specific strategic objectives and agency priority goals.

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

    Comments: In July 2017, OMB staff said that although they still agreed with our recommendation, it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints.
    Director: John H. Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To further DOD's efforts to identify opportunities for more efficient use of headquarters-related resources, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Chief Management Officer, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretaries of the military departments, and the heads of the defense agencies and DOD field activities, to align DOD's data on department-wide military and civilian positions that have headquarters-related DOD function codes with the revised definition of major DOD headquarters activities in order to provide the department with reliable data to accurately assess headquarters functions and identify opportunities for streamlining or further analysis.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 16, 2016, DOD stated that it confirms the written comments it had provided in the report. In its response, DOD stated that it is currently updating civilian and military manpower and total obligation authority baselines for major DOD headquarters activities to align with the new headquarters-related definition and framework. The department stated that this effort includes updating data architecture for coding major DOD headquarters activities, by program element code, in the Future Years Defense Program, and noted that this data architecture will serve as the authoritative methodology to account for headquarters manpower and resources in the future. Further, DOD stated that, once those efforts are complete and the new framework is codified in an update to DOD Instruction 5100.73, the department will determine how best to align the function code taxonomy, which is the source of data for the IGCA Inventory, with the revised framework and definitions. We agree that determining how to align the data set from the IGCA Inventory with the revised framework and definitions is an important first step and, if implemented, would address the intent of our first recommendation.
    Recommendation: To further DOD's efforts to identify opportunities for more efficient use of headquarters-related resources, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Chief Management Officer, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretaries of the military departments, and the heads of the defense agencies and DOD field activities, to, once this definition is published in DOD guidance, collect reliable information on the costs associated with functions within headquarters organizations--through revisions to the Inherently Governmental / Commercial Activities Inventory or another method--in order to provide the department with detailed information for use in estimating resources associated with specific headquarters functions, and in making decisions, monitoring performance, and allocating resources.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of June 2017, DOD had not completed action on this recommendation. DOD concurred with our recommendation, stating that once it has completed efforts to update data architecture for coding major DOD headquarters activities in the Future Years Defense Program, and codifies the new framework in an update to DOD Instruction 5100.73, the department will determine how best to align the function code taxonomy, which is the source of data for the Inherently Governmental Commercial Activities Inventory, with the revised framework.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase the transparency to Congress about the total amount of funds agencies have available in a given year, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should identify and publicly report the total amount of actual budget authority government-wide that is temporarily sequestered and "pops up," or becomes available again to agencies for obligation in the subsequent fiscal year.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OMB staff told us they will consider additional options for reporting a government-wide total amount of actual budget authority that is temporarily sequestered during preparation of the full 2018 President's Budget.
    Recommendation: To promote further transparency in measuring the federal government's progress against deficit reduction targets required under current law, the Director of the Office of Management of Budget should identify and publicly report the total amount of actual reductions in budget authority government-wide each year as a result of sequestration or the reduction of discretionary spending limits under BBEDCA.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OMB staff maintained their position of disagreement with this recommendation as summarized in our April 2016 report.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Congress has the necessary information to provide effective oversight over DOD's workforces, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, to address ongoing requirements in section 955 and include this information in status reports that accompany the President's budget request for fiscal years 2017 and 2018. The information to be included in future status reports includes (1) a comprehensive description of a plan to achieve savings for the civilian workforce and contractor workforce for fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2017; (2) a description demonstrating that the plan is consistent with policies and procedures implementing workforce-management laws and steps the department is taking to ensure that no unjustified transfers between workforces take place as part of the implementing plan; (3) status reports to be included in the President's budget request for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 describing the implementation of the plan in the prior year; (4) the cost of covered civilian personnel and military basic pay for fiscal years 2012 through 2017, and an assessment of these costs in regard to their compliance with the statutory requirements set forth in section 955; and (5) an explanation for any shortfall in its reductions for the civilian and contractor workforces, and a description of actions DOD is taking to achieve the required savings.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Update September 2016: In DOD's most recent status report issued in February 2016, DOD did not fully address our recommendations.
    Director: Kathleen M. King
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that HHS workforce efforts meet national needs, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should develop a comprehensive and coordinated planning approach to guide HHS's health care workforce development programs--including education, training, and payment programs--that (1) includes performance measures to more clearly determine the extent to which these programs are meeting the department's strategic goal of strengthening health care; (2) identifies and communicates to stakeholders any gaps between existing programs and future health care workforce needs identified in the Health Resources and Services Administration's workforce projection reports; (3) identifies actions needed to address identified gaps; and (4) identifies and communicates to Congress the legislative authority, if any, the Department needs to implement the identified actions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, HHS indicated that the agency had not yet taken steps to implement a comprehensive workforce planning effort. Officials said that for the FY2018 cycle, HHS had planned to expand its group developing legislative proposals to include budget issues and gaps that warrant attention. While it did not do so during that cycle, officials indicated that they would recommend this broader approach to workforce planning for future budget and legislative cycles.
    Director: Asif A. Khan
    Phone: (202) 512-9869

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of DOD's financial statement audits and ensure that corrective actions to address audit recommendations are fully and effectively implemented prior to their closure, the Department of Defense Inspector General should ensure that Marine Corps corrective actions fully address audit recommendations and document auditor review of the actions taken before closing the related recommendations.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: Our follow up in fiscal year 2015 was limited to a request for a documented process the DOD-IG may have developed and implemented to ensure all control issues detailed in the NFRs have been fully resolved; related corrective action plans were relevant and reviewed consistently and adequately; and the IPA/DOD-IG reviews were documented as part of the NFR review process. DOD-IG was not able to provide such documentation to support the statement provided in its response to our recommendation at the time the report was issued. Consequently, there was no documentation for us to review. In August 2017, we contacted the DOD-IG and requested an update on the status of efforts to address this recommendation. Also, per the contract with an IPA for the USMC's fiscal year 2017 financial statement audit, the IPA is to follow up on status of efforts to address prior year recommendations.
    Director: Joseph Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration between DOD and NNSA, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should update the 1997 memorandum of agreement for the Council, and, as part of this update, describe the roles, responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's two support committees, how the Council and these groups are to work together, and the general processes and time frames the Council and its support committees should follow to carry out statutory responsibilities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD agreed with our recommendation to update the 1997 memorandum of agreement and proposed that, once this action was completed, the Council Chairman would issue a letter to the Council members documenting the roles and responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's support committees. The Secretaries of Defense and Energy approved an updated memorandum of agreement for the Council in January 2017, but as of August 2017, the NRC Chairman had not issued a letter to Council members documenting the roles and responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's support committees. Council staff told us they expected to develop that letter after the Nuclear Posture Review was complete and its impact on the Council's process was clear. Officials anticipated the Nuclear Posture Review would be complete by the end of December 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration between DOD and NNSA, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should update the 1997 memorandum of agreement for the Council, and, as part of this update, describe the roles, responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's two support committees, how the Council and these groups are to work together, and the general processes and time frames the Council and its support committees should follow to carry out statutory responsibilities.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, NNSA agreed with this recommendation and said it would work collaboratively with the Council and DOD to update the memorandum of agreement and ensure appropriate guidance is issued to document requirements for the Council's two support committees. The Secretaries of Defense and Energy approved an updated memorandum of agreement for the Council in January 2017, but as of August 2017, the NRC Chairman had not issued a letter to Council members documenting the roles and responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's support committees. Council staff told us they expected to develop that letter after the Nuclear Posture Review was complete and its impact on the Council's process was clear. Officials anticipated the Nuclear Posture Review would be complete by the end of December 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration between DOD and NNSA, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should update the 1997 memorandum of agreement for the Council, and, as part of this update, include a requirement that budget and program evaluation officials from both DOD and NNSA will consistently and routinely attend all meetings of the Council's two support committees.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD generally agreed with this recommendation and stated that the letter from the Council Chairman that would be developed to address our first recommendation would require that budget and program evaluation officials from both DOD and NNSA consistently and routinely attend meetings of the Council and its support committees. As of August 2017, the Nuclear Weapons Council's Standing and Safety Committee had reviewed and updated its membership and chairmanship structure and approved changes in preparation for the Council Chairman issuing a letter documenting the roles, responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's support committees. Council staff told us they expected to develop that letter after the Nuclear Posture Review was complete and its impact on the Council's process was clear. Officials anticipated the Nuclear Posture Review would be complete by the end of December 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration between DOD and NNSA, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should update the 1997 memorandum of agreement for the Council, and, as part of this update, include a requirement that budget and program evaluation officials from both DOD and NNSA will consistently and routinely attend all meetings of the Council's two support committees.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, NNSA agreed with this recommendation and stated that it would work collaboratively with the Council and DOD to ensure appropriate guidance is issued to document requirements for the participation of budget and evaluation officials in support committee meetings. As of August 2017, the Nuclear Weapons Council's Standing and Safety Committee had reviewed and updated its membership and chairmanship structure and approved changes in preparation for the Council Chairman issuing a letter documenting the roles, responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's support committees. Council staff told us they expected to develop that letter after the Nuclear Posture Review was complete and its impact on the Council's process was clear. Officials anticipated the Nuclear Posture Review would be complete by the end of December 2017.
    Director: Randall B. Williamson
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure DHA can accurately and consistently assess mental health provider staffing needs across each of the military services, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to require the medical commands of each military service to include its estimated mental health provider staffing needs generated through PHRAMS in the requirements fields of DHA's quarterly mental health staffing reports.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to ensure DHA, through the PHRAMS contractor, continue to refine PHRAMS to incorporate the needs of the military services to reduce the need for additional service-specific methods of determining mental health provider staffing needs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To ensure the Defense Health Agency (DHA) can accurately and consistently assess mental health provider staffing needs across each of the military services, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy to require the medical commands of each military service to report any additional service-specific methods they use to determine their final estimates of mental health provider staffing needs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to require the National Capital Region Medical Directorate to include its estimated mental health provider staffing needs generated through PHRAMS in the requirements fields of DHA's quarterly mental health staffing reports.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, DOD officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    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: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that decision makers and Congress have the necessary information to provide effective oversight of DOD's civilian workforce and that the strategic workforce plan can be used effectively, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to align DOD's strategic workforce plan with the budget and management workforce initiatives, such as those to address recruiting, retention, and readiness issues associated with declining morale among its civilian workforces.

    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: 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: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve compliance with the Small Business Act and enhance SBA's ability to provide oversight of the programs, the SBA Administrator should revise the language in the SBIR and STTR policy directives to accurately summarize the statutory provisions that describe the program spending requirements.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, SBA proposed an update to its SBIR and STTR policy directive to state that each participating agency must spend (obligate) the required amounts on the programs, which is consistent with the statutory provisions for program spending requirements. However, according to SBA officials, in January 2017, the policy directive was withdrawn from the Office of Management and Budget and is under further internal consideration in light of a recent executive order. As of April 2017, SBA has not established a time frame for publication of the final policy directive.
    Director: Khan, Asif A
    Phone: (202) 512-9869

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense, in his capacity as the Chief Management Officer and in consultation with the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), to design and implement department-level policies and detailed procedures for FIAR Plan risk management that incorporate the five guiding principles for effective risk management. The following are examples of key features of each of the guiding principles that DOD should, at a minimum, address in its policies and procedures. (1) Identify risks. Generate a comprehensive and continuously updated list of risks that includes the root cause of each risk, audit area(s) each risk will affect, and the potential consequences if a risk is not effectively mitigated. (2) Analyze risks. Consult with key stakeholders, including program managers; use analytical techniques, such as risk categorization, risk urgency assessment, or sensitivity analysis; and determine the impact of the identified risks on individual DOD components' abilities to achieve audit readiness. (3) Plan for risk mitigation. Assign responsibility or ownership of the risk mitigation actions, define roles and responsibilities in executing mitigation plans, establish deadlines or milestones for individual mitigation actions, and estimate resource needs. (4) Implement risk mitigation plan. Document the implementation of mitigation actions, develop appropriate metrics that allow for tracking of progress, and validate reported metrics. (5) Monitor risks. Track identified risks and assess the effectiveness of implemented mitigation actions on a continuous basis, including identifying and planning for new risks.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with our recommendation. While DOD did concur with our assessment that they did not have a risk management policy and procedures related to implementing the FIAR guidance. They did not concur with our assessment of the overall environment of DOD's risk management of the FIAR initiative. DOD has taken steps to address our recommendation including implementing an NFR tracker and standard operating procedures designed to track DOD component material weaknesses. DOD has also documented a critical path and milestones in Appendix F of their FIAR Guidance; military component tasks and milestones in appendix G of the FIAR Guidance; and audit readiness deal breakers, now referred to as critical capabilities. However, while these are positive actions, they do not address our recommendation for DOD to implement risk management policies and procedures for FIAR implementation. Further, DOD has not provided GAO with evidence of planned actions it summarized in its agency comments. Specifically, DOD has not provided documentation related to (1) improving risk management documentation, (2) reinstating the DOD probability and impact matrix, and (3) re-evaluation of metrics to monitor progress and risk of audit readiness. Lastly, DOD's tracking of military component material weaknesses does not identify risks to audit readiness, or the agencies capabilities to manage risks to audit readiness. According to the May 2017 FIAR Status Update for the HASC Panel Recommendations, DOD has reinforced the importance of internal controls over areas of significant risk by updating the FIAR Guidance with a new chapter dedicated to internal controls. DOD has also changed how they respond to recommendation follow-up by way of the Washington Headquarters Service (WHS). We are currently waiting for a POC to be assigned. We will continue to evaluate the status of actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense, in his capacity as the Chief Management Officer and in consultation with the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), to consider and incorporate, as appropriate, the Navy's and DLA's risk management practices in department-level policies and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has changed how they respond to recommendation follow-up by way of the Washington Headquarters Service (WHS). We are currently waiting for a POC to be assigned. We will continue to evaluate the status of actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Gianopoulos, Kimberly M
    Phone: (202)512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the consistency, comprehensiveness, and transparency of information provided to Congress and policymakers on the federal investment in export promotion programs, the Secretary of Commerce, as chair of the TPCC, should report in its National Export Strategies on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with priorities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) has not yet reported in its National Export Strategies (NES) on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with the strategy's priorities. The TPCC did not issue National Export Strategies in fiscal years 2014 or 2015, but did issue one in 2016, but it did not include any budget information. According to TPCC Secretariat officials, as of June 2017 they had collected budget information arrayed by strategic categories from most of the principle TPCC agencies and were considering sending it to congressional stakeholders outside of an NES. However, the new 2017 budget and proposed 2018 budget from the new administration may make the information they have collected out of date.
    Director: Russell, Cary B
    Phone: (202)512-8365

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve oversight and ensure consistency in the reporting of total reset costs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), in coordination with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics, the services, and the Joint Staff to act on the tasking in the Resource Management Decision 700 to develop and publish a DOD definition of reset for use in the DOD overseas contingency operations budgeting process.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2011, we recommended that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), in coordination with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics, the services, and the Joint Staff to act on the tasking in the Resource Management Decision 700 to develop and publish a DOD definition of reset for use in the DOD overseas contingency operations budgeting process. According to OSD, a definition of reset for use in the overseas contingencies operations budgeting process has been developed and incorporated into a draft update to the DOD Financial Management Regulations. During coordination within the Department, the draft definition went to DOD Office of General Counsel for consultation on the exact wording of the definition of reset. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) plans to include the definition in the next update to the FMR currently set for January 2016. According to DOD OIG, the reset definition has been added to a draft update to DOD's Financial Management Regulation. The definition was originally submitted for an update to the Financial Management Regulation glossary in November 2012. In 2014, the department reported that the update was still in the Office of General Counsel for final legal review with issuance expected in January 2015. In 2015, the department reported that after consultation with the DOD Office of General Counsel (OGC) on the exact wording of the definition of reset, OUSD Comptroller plans to include the definition in the next update to the FMR currently set for January 2016. As of September 2016, DOD has still not issued its planned update to the FMR. Consequently, this recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should resume presenting tax expenditures in the budget together with related outlay programs to show a truer picture of the federal support within a mission area.

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

    Comments: No executive action taken. OMB had not presented tax expenditures in the budget together with the related outlay programs in the fiscal year 2018 budget released in May 2017. OMB did not agree that GAO's September 2005 recommendation is necessary and stated that presenting information on tax expenditures together with related outlay programs is not useful for budgeting and that such a presentation is not part of the congressional budget process. However, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires a list of tax expenditures, including special tax credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, deferrals, and preferential tax rates. Whereas OMB favors reporting tax expenditures separately from the rest of the budget, GAO has reported that an integrated presentation is also useful to show the relative magnitude of tax expenditures compared to spending and credit programs across mission areas. OMB previously presented tax expenditure sums alongside outlays and credit activity for each budget function in the federal budget from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2002, but discontinued the practice. Tax expenditures resulted in $1.4 trillion in forgone revenue in fiscal year 2016, more than the discretionary spending level that year.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should require that tax expenditures be included in the PART process and any future such budget and performance review processes so that tax expenditures are considered along with related outlay programs in determining the adequacy of federal efforts to achieve national objectives.

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

    Comments: OMB made some progress in including tax expenditures along with related outlay programs in the executive branch's budget and performance review processes, as GAO recommended in September 2005, but as of July 2017, OMB had not developed a systematic approach for conducting such reviews. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that the administration would work toward examining the objectives and effects of the wide range of tax expenditures in the budget. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB and the agencies to identify the relevant tax expenditures that contribute to each crosscutting priority goal. Beginning with its August 2012 update to Circular No. A-11 with guidance for implementing GPRAMA and continuing in subsequent annual updates, OMB has directed agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to each of their agency priority goals. Beginning with the July 2013 update, OMB expanded its guidance to include identifying these contributions to agency strategic objectives. In both its July 2013 and July 2014 guidance, OMB stated that it planned to work with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and agencies to facilitate alignment of tax expenditure information with agency priority goals and strategic objectives. However, in its June 2015 update of this guidance, OMB removed the language about working with Treasury and agencies to align tax expenditures with agency goals. OMB staff told GAO in July 2017 that it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints. OMB's July 2017 guidance still requires agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to their agency priority goals and strategic objectives.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should develop and implement a framework for conducting performance reviews of tax expenditures. In developing the framework, the Director should (1) determine which agencies will have leadership responsibilities to review tax expenditures, how reviews will be coordinated among agencies with related responsibilities, and how to address the lack of credible performance information on tax expenditures; (2) set a schedule for conducting tax expenditure evaluations; (3) re-establish appropriate methods to test the overall evaluation framework and make improvements as experience is gained; and (4) to identify any additional resources that may be needed for tax expenditure reviews.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: No executive action taken. As of the last President's budget released in May 2017, the Director of OMB had not developed a framework for reviewing tax expenditure performance, as GAO recommended in June 1994 and again in September 2005. Since their initial efforts in 1997 and 1999 to outline a framework for evaluating tax expenditures and preliminary performance measures, OMB and the Department of the Treasury have ceased to make progress and retreated from setting a schedule for evaluating tax expenditures.The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that developing an evaluation framework is a significant challenge due to limited data availability and analytical constraints of isolating the effect of any single program. The administration planned to focus on addressing some of these challenges so it can work toward crosscutting analyses that examine tax expenditures alongside related spending programs. However, OMB and Treasury have not reported on progress on this recommendation since the President's fiscal year 2012 budget.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should develop and implement a framework for conducting performance reviews of tax expenditures. In developing the framework, the Director should (1) determine which agencies will have leadership responsibilities to review tax expenditures, how reviews will be coordinated among agencies with related responsibilities, and how to address the lack of credible performance information on tax expenditures; (2) set a schedule for conducting tax expenditure evaluations; (3) re-establish appropriate methods to test the overall evaluation framework and make improvements as experience is gained; and (4) to identify any additional resources that may be needed for tax expenditure reviews.

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

    Comments: No executive action taken. As of the last President's budget released in May 2017, the Director of OMB had not developed a framework for reviewing tax expenditure performance, as GAO recommended in June 1994 and again in September 2005. Since their initial efforts in 1997 and 1999 to outline a framework for evaluating tax expenditures and preliminary performance measures, OMB and the Department of the Treasury have ceased to make progress and retreated from setting a schedule for evaluating tax expenditures. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that developing an evaluation framework is a significant challenge due to limited data availability and analytical constraints of isolating the effect of any single program. The administration planned to focus on addressing some of these challenges so it can work toward crosscutting analyses that examine tax expenditures alongside related spending programs. However, OMB and Treasury have not reported on progress on this recommendation since the President's fiscal year 2012 budget.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should require that tax expenditures be included in the PART process and any future such budget and performance review processes so that tax expenditures are considered along with related outlay programs in determining the adequacy of federal efforts to achieve national objectives.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2005, the Department of the Treasury responded that this recommendation did not relate to Treasury. OMB made some progress in including tax expenditures along with related outlay programs in the executive branch's budget and performance review processes, as GAO recommended in September 2005, but as of July 2017, OMB had not developed a systematic approach for conducting such reviews. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that the administration would work toward examining the objectives and effects of the wide range of tax expenditures in the budget. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB and the agencies to identify the relevant tax expenditures that contribute to each crosscutting priority goal. Beginning with its August 2012 update to Circular No. A-11 with guidance for implementing GPRAMA and continuing in subsequent annual updates, OMB has directed agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to each of their agency priority goals. Beginning with the July 2013 update, OMB expanded its guidance to include identifying these contributions to agency strategic objectives. In both its July 2013 and July 2014 guidance, OMB stated that it planned to work with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and agencies to facilitate alignment of tax expenditure information with agency priority goals and strategic objectives. However, in its June 2015 update of this guidance, OMB removed the language about working with Treasury and agencies to align tax expenditures with agency goals. OMB staff told GAO in July 2017 that it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints. OMB's July 2017 guidance still requires agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to their agency priority goals and strategic objectives.