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    Subject Term: "Climate change"

    14 publications with a total of 26 open recommendations
    Director: J. Alfredo Gomez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help reduce federal fiscal exposure by enhancing the resilience of infrastructure to extreme weather, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Director of NIST, in consultation with MitFLG and USGCRP, should convene federal agencies for an ongoing governmentwide effort to provide the best available forward-looking climate information to standards-developing organizations for their consideration in the development of design standards, building codes, and voluntary certifications.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 5, 2017, NIST has not convened a governmentwide effort to provide the best available forward-looking climate information to standards developing-organizations.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help NMFS and the Councils incorporate climate information into the fisheries management process and better manage climate-related risks, the Secretary of Commerce should direct National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries to develop guidance to direct the NMFS regions and Councils on how climate information should be incorporated into different parts of the fisheries management process.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce and NOAA agreed with this recommendation. On December 2, 2016, the Department of Commerce provided GAO with a letter stating that NMFS will continue to work with the Regional Fishery Management Councils and other stakeholders to identify how to best incorporate climate-related information into the fisheries management process. The letter also identified a number of NMFS' ongoing and planned efforts related to this goal. We plan to follow-up with the agency in Summer 2017 to obtain an update on the status of these efforts and the extent to which they address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help NMFS and the Councils incorporate climate information into the fisheries management process and better manage climate-related risks, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Fisheries to, in finalizing the regional action plans for implementing the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, (1) incorporate the key attributes associated with successful performance measures in the final performance measures developed for the plans and (2) assess whether agency-wide performance measures may be needed to determine the extent to which the objectives of the Strategy overall are being achieved, and develop such measures, as appropriate, that incorporate the key attributes of successful performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce and NOAA agreed with this recommendation. In a letter to GAO on December 2, 2016, the Department of Commerce identified the following two actions that NMFS plans to take to address this recommendation by the end of calendar year 2017 - (1) NMFS will review the draft regional action plans and take appropriate action to ensure, to the extent possible, the performance measures in the final plans include key attributes of successful measures; and (2) NMFS will assess the need for agency-wide measures to track and evaluate achievement of the Strategy objective, and develop such measures as appropriate. We plan to follow-up with the agency in Summer 2017 to obtain an update on the status of these efforts.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve the efficiency of Corps operations at reservoir projects and to assist the Corps in meeting the requirement of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 to update the Corps' 1992 reservoir report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop guidance on what activities constitute a review of a water control manual and how to document that review.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency agreed with our recommendation. We will provide updates when the agency takes action.
    Recommendation: To help improve the efficiency of Corps operations at reservoir projects and to assist the Corps in meeting the requirement of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 to update the Corps' 1992 reservoir report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to track consistent information on the status of water control manuals, including whether they need revisions, and prioritize revisions as needed.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency agreed with our recommendation. We will provide updates when the agency takes action.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CERC's performance monitoring, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that for CERC's second phase the program creates targets and tracks progress against those targets in order to measure program performance.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, DOE created a standardized reporting template with performance measures for CERC partners to complete on a quarterly basis. DOE officials informed GAO that they are working to develop targets for those performance measures. We will continue to monitor DOE's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should develop and make public annual targets for the agency's performance measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, USTDA revised its fiscal year 2016 through 2018 strategic plan to include an annual performance target for one of its two performance measures: the value of exports generated for every program dollar. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in developing an annual performance target for its performance measure on procurements awarded to small U.S. businesses.
    Recommendation: To improve the East Asia Program's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should ensure that the East Asia Program sets targets for its performance measures and tracks progress against those measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation. As of October 2016, USTDA had planned to review its internal goals for the East Asia Program, and other regional programs, and to begin to track progress against those goals. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to develop and periodically update a set of authoritative climate change observations and projections for use in federal decision making, which state, local, and private sector decision makers could also access to obtain the best available climate information.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to create a national climate information system with defined roles for federal agencies and nonfederal entities with existing statutory authority.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance HHS's ability to protect public health from the impacts of climate change, the Secretary of HHS should direct CDC to develop a plan describing when it will be able to issue climate change communication guidance to state and local health departments, to better position relevant officials to effectively communicate about the risks that climate change poses to public health and address requirements of the Climate Ready States and Cities Initiative.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, CDC has taken steps to start developing a communications strategy, and expects this process to include the development of guidance for public health officials to help them more effectively communicate about the health effects of climate change. CDC expects the strategy to be completed by the fall of 2017.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the comprehensiveness and accuracy of certain data submitted by the military services to OSD and reported in the Energy Reports--such as potentially underreported data on mitigation costs and inaccurate data on both disruptions' duration and cost--the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment to work together to improve the effectiveness of data validation steps in DOD's process for collecting and reporting utilities disruption data. For example, the military services and OSD could determine whether more time in the 5-month process should be devoted to data validation and whether equal priority should be given to validating all types of data included in the Energy Reports.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation to improve the effectiveness of data validation steps in DOD's process for collecting and reporting utilities disruption data. In a memo from April 2016, DOD stated that it determined that focusing on the minimization of data input errors at the installation level was the most effective strategy to improve the effectiveness of data validation. Further, resolving initial input errors was determined to be the least resource and cost intensive approach to improve data quality. Therefore, DOD updated its data collection template for utility disruptions to include a dropdown menu so that users can use it to select the category of utility service that was disrupted. In addition, DOD stated that it expects to continue to work with the services and Defense Agencies in the next reporting cycle for the Annual Energy Management Report to improve the effectiveness of data validation steps.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

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

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

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to facilitate the efforts of installation planners to efficiently implement the requirements of the Unified Facilities Criteria and DOD Instruction 4715.03, the Secretary of Defense--in conjunction with the Secretaries of the military departments--should provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans. At a minimum, further direction could include definitions of key terms, such as the definition of "climate change" recently included in DOD Manual 4715.03; further information about changes in applicable building codes and design standards that account for potential climate change impacts; and further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, DOD has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. For example, the Department issued DOD Directive 4715.21 (January 14, 2016), in which DOD defines climate change. Also, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program produced the report entitled Regional Sea Level Scenarios for Coastal Risk Management (April, 2016) and accompanying database, in which DOD provides regionalized sea level and extreme water level scenarios for three future time horizons (2035, 2065, and 2100) for 1,774 DOD sites worldwide. DOD intends the report and database to be used by planners to adapt to sea level rise, one impact of climate change. However, during July 2017 follow-up work, we learned that the department has not yet provided these planners with projections for the full set of expected impacts of weather effects associated with climate change.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the military services' ability to make facility investment decisions in accordance with DOD's strategic direction to include climate change adaptation considerations and additionally, to demonstrate an emphasis on proposing projects with an adaption component to installation planners, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure. DOD stated that climate change may be one of many factors that can affect facilities and impact mission and readiness, and that the department will review processes and criteria, such as the Unified Facilities Criteria, to strengthen consideration of climate change adaptation. DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, during September 2016 follow-up work, we learned that the Army has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. Specifically, in briefing slides presented to congressional staff in 2016, the Army noted that two military construction projects were sited in a manner specifically designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change. These projects were a powertrain facility at Corpus Christi Army Depot and a waste water treatment plant at West Point. However, as of July 2017, DOD had not provided us with evidence that the department's components have clarified instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help clarify the direction of future U.S. participation and position the United States for a successful Arctic Council chairmanship, the Secretary of State should assess the status of recommendations adopted through the Council, and strengthen the Council's ability to address Arctic issues within its purview. As a part of its responsibilities in assuming the Council chair in 2015 and in collaboration with other relevant agencies, the Secretary of State should develop a joint strategy for U.S. participation in the Council that outlines a clear direction for the agencies and identifies resources needed to sustain collaborative efforts and consistent participation in the Council.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are working with Department of State officials to track the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address challenges the Task Force faces in producing comprehensive and useful assessments of progress and addressing factors that may limit GLRI progress, the EPA Administrator, in coordination with the Task Force, as appropriate, should establish an adaptive management plan that includes all of the key elements of adaptive management and provides details on how these elements will be implemented.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, EPA notified GAO that the final GLRI adaptive management report is due to be released in December 2017. We will review the report after it becomes available.
    Director: Mihm, J Christopher
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve implementation of GPRAMA and help address pressing governance issues, given the common, long-standing difficulties agencies continue to face in measuring the performance of various types of federal programs and activities--contracts, direct services, grants, regulations, research and development, and tax expenditures--the Director of OMB should work with the PIC to develop a detailed approach to examine these difficulties across agencies, including identifying and sharing any promising practices from agencies that have overcome difficulties in measuring the performance of these program types. This approach should include goals, planned actions, and deliverables along with specific time frames for their completion, as well as the identification of the parties responsible for each action and deliverable.

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

    Comments: In July 2017, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff told us that they have made no further progress on this recommendation since their last update in June 2016. At that time, according to information provided by staff from OMB and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC), they had taken some initial steps to address this recommendation in a few areas, such as acquisition management (contracts). In addition, the PIC formed a working group on performance measurement that, in part, is focusing on how to develop appropriate performance measures. However, OMB and the PIC have not yet developed a comprehensive and detailed approach to address these issues as envisioned in our report. We will continue to monitor progress.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Executive Director of the United States Global Change Research Program or other federal entity designated by the Executive Office of the President should work with relevant agencies to identify for decision makers the "best available" climate-related information for infrastructure planning and update this information over time.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy: U.S. Global Change Research Program
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 7/27/17, no federal entity has identified the best available climate-related information for infrastructure planning.
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Executive Director of the United States Global Change Research Program or other federal entity designated by the Executive Office of the President should work with relevant agencies to clarify sources of local assistance for incorporating climate-related information and analysis into infrastructure planning, and communicate how such assistance will be provided over time.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy: U.S. Global Change Research Program
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 7/27/17, no federal entity has comprehensively clarified sources of local assistance for incorporating climate-related information and analysis into infrastructure planning.
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality should finalize guidance on how federal agencies can consider the effects of climate change in their evaluations of proposed federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Council on Environmental Quality
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 1, 2016, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued final guidance to federal departments and agencies on how to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change when evaluating proposed federal actions in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. However, in March 2017, the White House issued Executive Order 13783, directing CEQ to rescind the guidance, among other things. CEQ rescinded the guidance on April 5, 2017.