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    Subject Term: "Consumer protection"

    29 publications with a total of 72 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: Dave Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct NHTSA to define, document, and externally communicate the agency's roles and responsibilities in relation to connected vehicle data privacy.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Lawrance Evans
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In the event that Congress again requires an agency to provide affected individuals with identity theft insurance in response to a breach of sensitive personal data, Congress should consider permitting the agency to determine the appropriate level of that insurance.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should, to the extent feasible, conduct an analysis of the effectiveness of the various identity theft services relative to alternatives, and revise OMB's guidance to federal agencies in light of this analysis.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should explore options to address the risk of duplication in federal agencies' provision of identity theft services in response to data breaches, and take action if viable options are identified.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Personnel Management should incorporate criteria and procedures for determining whether to offer identity theft services into the agency's data-breach-response policy.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Personnel Management should implement procedures that provide reasonable assurance that significant decisions on the use of identity theft services are appropriately documented.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs related to product management and services that support commissary operations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief Executive Officer of DeCA to develop a plan with objectives, goals, and time frames on how it will improve efficiency in product management, such as offering products based on store sales or customer demand.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) started to implement the Category Performance Improvement process which could help improve efficiencies by offering products based on store sales and customer demand. In addition, DeCA is also offering commissary brand items which have improved efficiencies in inventory and stocking products. By making these improvements, DeCA could improve operational efficiencies. However, DeCA is in the early stages of implementing these actions and it is unclear to what extent these efficiencies have helped reduce costs related to product management.
    Recommendation: To improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs related to product management and services that support commissary operations, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief Executive Officer of DeCA to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses to guide decisions on implementing the most cost-effective option as stocking and custodial services contracts are renewed, and on choosing product distribution options.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Defense Commissary Agency has not taken action that addresses GAO's March 2017 recommendation to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses to guide decisions on implementing the most cost-effective option as stocking and custodial services contracts are renewed, and on choosing product distribution options.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA's foreign offices are able to fully meet their mission of helping to ensure the safety of imported products, as the agency continues to test performance measures and evaluate its Office of International Programs (OIP) strategic workforce plan, the Commissioner of FDA should assess the effectiveness of the foreign offices' contributions by systematically tracking information to measure whether the offices' activities specifically contribute to drug safety-related outcomes, such as inspections, import alerts, and warning letters.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and stated that FDA plans to conduct internal annual reviews of its foreign offices' performances and track their contributions by type of commodity. We will assess these actions once they have been completed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA's foreign offices are able to fully meet their mission of helping to ensure the safety of imported products, as the agency continues to test performance measures and evaluate its OIP strategic workforce plan, the Commissioner of FDA should establish goals to achieve the appropriate staffing level for its foreign offices, which would include separating foreign office vacancies from the OIP-wide vacancy rate, and setting goals by position type.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. HHS said that the strategic workforce plan for FDA's foreign offices will be updated to reflect the disaggregation of performance measures that track foreign office vacancy rates and targets by position type. We will assess these actions once they have been completed.
    Director: Daniel Garcia-Diaz
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure sustained leadership commitment to and accountability for CFPB's efforts to promote a diverse, inclusive, and fair workplace, in coordination with representatives of CFPB's employee union, the Director should develop tools to collect more comprehensive employee feedback on the grievance complaint processes to understand and remedy factors that may reduce employee confidence in these processes.

    Agency: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CFPB had reached agreement with its employee union on a process to collect more comprehensive employee feedback on its grievance complaint processes, but CFPB had not yet implemented this new process. This new process will include a short survey that will be provided to employees who participate in the grievance process. A CFPB official said that CFPB will begin using this survey to collect feedback once it has determined the best point in the grievance process to distribute it.
    Director: Lawrance L. Evans Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that FHFA has adequate authority to ensure the safety and soundness of the enterprises and to clarify its supervisory role, Congress should consider granting FHFA explicit authority to examine third parties that do business with and play a critical role in the operations of the enterprises.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Congress has not taken any action on this matter.
    Director: Lawrance Evans, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider whether additional changes to the financial regulatory structure are needed to reduce or better manage fragmentation and overlap in the oversight of financial institutions and activities to improve (1) the efficiency and effectiveness of oversight; (2) the consistency of consumer and investor protections; and (3) the consistency of financial oversight for similar institutions, products, risks, and services. For example, Congress could consider consolidating the number of federal agencies involved in overseeing the safety and soundness of depository institutions, combining the entities involved in overseeing the securities and derivatives markets, transferring the remaining prudential regulators' consumer protection authorities over large depository institutions to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the optimal role for the federal government in insurance regulation, among other considerations.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: One bill has been introduced in the 115th Congress that would change the financial regulatory structure to address fragmented and overlapping regulatory authorities among agencies, as GAO suggested in February 2016. H.R. 594 was introduced on January 20, 2017, and calls for the functions of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to be combined in a single independent regulatory commission. Such an action could help to address fragmentation and overlap between the two agencies, and reduce opportunities for inefficiencies in the regulatory process and inconsistencies in how regulators conduct oversight activities over similar types of institutions, products, and risks.
    Recommendation: Congress should consider whether legislative changes are necessary to align FSOC's authorities with its mission to respond to systemic risks. Congress could do so by making changes to FSOC's mission, its authorities, or both, or to the missions and authorities of one or more of the FSOC member agencies to support a stronger link between the responsibility and capacity to respond to systemic risks. In doing so, Congress could solicit information from FSOC on the effective scope of its collective designation authorities, including any gaps.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No legislative action identified. As of March 1, 2017, no legislation had been introduced that would align FSOC's authorities with its mission to respond to systemic risks, as GAO suggested in February 2016. Without such legislative changes, FSOC may lack the tools it needs to comprehensively address systemic risks that may emerge, and a gap will continue to exist in the post Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mechanisms for the mitigation of systemic risks.
    Recommendation: To help regulators address regulatory fragmentation and improve FSOC's ability to identify emerging systemic risks, as OFR develops and refines its financial stability monitoring tools, it should work with FSOC to determine ways in which to fully and regularly incorporate current and future monitors and assessments into Systemic Risk Committee deliberations, including, where relevant, those that present disaggregated or otherwise confidential supervisory information.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council: Office of Financial Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: At the FSOC Systemic Risk Committee meeting held in December 2016, Treasury indicated that Office of Financial Research staff presented on the agency's Financial Stability Report. Officials indicated that they provided an assessment on potential financial stability risks, including macroeconomic, market, credit, funding and liquidity, and contagion risks. Systemic Risk Committee meeting attendees were able to compare and contrast these with the results from the Federal Reserve's systemic risk monitoring activities, which were also presented at the meeting. Office of Financial Research officials stated that there was general consensus at the meeting that these discussions were useful and that they should continue. GAO does not believe that this action is consistent with the intent of if February 2016 recommendation to fully and regularly incorporate current and future monitors and assessments into FSOC's Systemic Risk Committee deliberations. While GAO encourages sharing this type of information, the Office of Financial Research's Financial Stability Report is a publicly-available report. The intent of GAO's recommendation was to encourage the agency to fully incorporate all of its monitors into Systemic Risk Committee discussions, including its Financial Stability Monitor--its benchmark tool for assessing risks across the financial system. In addition, in its February 2016 report, GAO encouraged the agency to seek ways in which monitors that present disaggregated or otherwise confidential supervisory information can be incorporated in committee discussions. Without sharing such monitors and information, the Systemic Risk Committee may identify and advance the analysis of only a subset of systemic risks in a timely manner and may identify others too late or miss others altogether. The Financial CHOICE Act of 2016 was introduced in the 114th Congress. The act called for the Office of Financial Research to be eliminated. It was not passed before the end of the 114th Congress.
    Recommendation: To help regulators address regulatory fragmentation and improve FSOC's ability to identify emerging systemic risks, the Federal Reserve should work with FSOC to regularly incorporate the comprehensive results of its systemic risk monitoring activities into Systemic Risk Committee deliberations.

    Agency: Federal Reserve System
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, Federal Reserve officials indicated that they provided a presentation to FSOC's Systemic Risk Committee in December 2016, which included comprehensive results from its systemic risk monitoring activities. This action appears to be consistent with GAO's February 2016 recommendation, but the documentation provided by the Federal Reserve did not provide sufficient evidence that the agency has regularly incorporated these results into Systemic Risk Committee meetings. GAO will continue to monitor the Federal Reserve's participation in Systemic Risk Committee meetings to ensure that the agency continues to provide both regular and comprehensive results to the committee. Without better access to systemic risk monitoring tools and other outputs, the Systemic Risk Committee may identify and advance the analysis of only a subset of systemic risks in a timely manner and may identify others too late or miss others altogether.
    Recommendation: To more efficiently and effectively monitor the financial system for systemic risks and reduce the risk of unnecessary duplication, OFR and the Federal Reserve should jointly articulate individual and common goals for their systemic risk monitoring activities, including a plan to monitor progress toward articulated goals, and formalize regular strategic and technical discussions around their activities and outputs to support those goals.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council: Office of Financial Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Financial Research had coordinated to organize semi-annual meetings to jointly discuss views from their respective monitoring of the financial system for risks; but these meetings had not yet taken place. The first of these meetings is to be held in May 2017 following the agencies' respective systemic risk exercises. Initiating these discussions addresses part of GAO's February 2016 recommendation. GAO plans to review documentation from these meetings in 2017 to further assess if the agencies will use these meetings to jointly articulate individual and common goals, including developing a plan to monitor progress toward the goals. Fully addressing GAO's recommendation could help to ensure comprehensiveness in systemic risk surveillance and reduced risk of duplication. On September 9, 2016, the Financial CHOICE Act of 2016 was introduced. It called for the Office of Financial Research to be eliminated. The legislation did not pass before the 114th Congress ended.
    Recommendation: To more efficiently and effectively monitor the financial system for systemic risks and reduce the risk of unnecessary duplication, OFR and the Federal Reserve should jointly articulate individual and common goals for their systemic risk monitoring activities, including a plan to monitor progress toward articulated goals, and formalize regular strategic and technical discussions around their activities and outputs to support those goals.

    Agency: Federal Reserve System
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Federal Reserve and the Office of Financial Research had coordinated to organize semi-annual meetings to jointly discuss views from their respective monitoring of the financial system for risks; but these meetings had not yet taken place. The first of these meetings is to be held in May 2017 following the agencies' respective systemic risk exercises. Initiating these discussions addresses part of GAO's February 2016 recommendation. GAO plans to review documentation from these meetings in 2017 to further assess if the agencies will use these meetings to jointly articulate individual and common goals, including developing a plan to monitor progress toward the goals. Fully addressing GAO's recommendation could help to ensure comprehensiveness in systemic risk surveillance and reduced risk of duplication. On September 9, 2016, the Financial CHOICE Act of 2016 was introduced. It called for the Office of Financial Research to be eliminated. The legislation did not pass before the 114th Congress ended.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen FCC's data collection efforts, the Chairman of FCC should develop a strategy to gather additional information on the IP transition to assess the transition's potential effects on public safety and consumers.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: FCC stated it will continue to use its existing strategy to obtain data necessary to ensure that core values remain intact through the tech transitions with present resource commitment levels. FCC plans to dedicate resources toward upgrading FCC systems and software to better use "big-data" capabilities.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that adequate data collection efforts by state insurance regulators produce sufficient, reliable data to oversee the LPI market, NAIC should work with the state insurance regulators to develop and implement more robust policies and procedures for the collection of annual data from LPI insurers to ensure they are complete and reliable.

    Agency: National Association of Insurance Commissioners
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that adequate data collection efforts by state insurance regulators produce sufficient, reliable data to oversee the LPI market, NAIC should work with the state insurance regulators to complete efforts to obtain more detailed national data from LPI insurers.

    Agency: National Association of Insurance Commissioners
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Mark L. Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Chairman of FCC should evaluate the effectiveness of FCC's accessibility-related public outreach efforts and ensure those efforts incorporate key practices identified in this report, such as defining objectives and establishing process and outcome metrics.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Mathew J. Scirè
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of its preparations for conducting a retrospective review of its QM regulations, CFPB should complete its plan. The plan should identify what outcomes CFPB will examine to measure the effects of the regulations and the specific metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate the limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, CFPB should include in its plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used if data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, CFPB staff noted that the Bureau produced a high-level research plan in November 2016 and organized a research team for the ATR-QM Assessment. CFPB staff stated that they are working to identify the outcomes CFPB will examine to measure the effects of the regulations, including the specific metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used. CFPB staff noted that they have also begun analyzing the data the Bureau has on-hand, planning for the collection of additional data, and drafting a Federal Register notice request for information regarding the plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of its preparations for conducting a retrospective review of its QM regulations, HUD should develop a plan that identifies the metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate the limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, HUD should include in its plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD noted that it does not currently collect data on the annual percentage rate (APR) for each loan that would allow for a perfect comparison to the average prime offer rate. According to HUD, its Office of Housing has on its long-term list of systems priorities to collect specific information from the Uniform Closing Data that could be used to conduct such a comparison. However, HUD stated that it has not received adequate funding to meet these systems enhancements. According to HUD, it is considering the feasibility and potential utility of alternative data sources or the use of a proxy in an appropriate methodology. For instance, whether it may be possible to approximate the APR based upon the note rate and information on closing costs that is collected in the current data system, or alternatively, whether the APR could be obtained or approximated through matching Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data for FHA loans.
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of their preparations for conducting a retrospective review of the QRM regulations, the agencies responsible for the QRM regulations--Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, HUD, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Securities and Exchange Commission--should develop a plan that identifies the metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used and specify the roles and responsibilities of each agency in the review process. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, the six agencies should include in their plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used if data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, FHFA informed GAO that SEC had shared its draft plan with the other participating agencies and there was an interagency call to discuss the plan on December 20, 2016. FHFA confirmed that there was an interagency call on that date to discuss the QRM review. FHFA noted that it was developing its own plan, and anticipated that the plan would be completed by June 30, 2017. Depending on changes in the structure of the mortgage market, FHFA stated that it will further update the plan as the agency approaches the start of the official QRM definition review in 2019. As with the 2014 final rule, FHFA staff expected that FHFA's participation will focus on the analysis of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac residential mortgage data.
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of their preparations for conducting a retrospective review of the QRM regulations, the agencies responsible for the QRM regulations--Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, HUD, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Securities and Exchange Commission--should develop a plan that identifies the metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used and specify the roles and responsibilities of each agency in the review process. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, the six agencies should include in their plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used if data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD stated that it has engaged in preliminary discussions both internally and with the other five partner agencies to the 2014 QRM Joint Regulation: OCC, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, FHFA and SEC. Based on GAO's recommendations, HUD stated that it has also conducted initial reviews of existing and potential methodologies and data sources that may inform the review. HUD also noted that as a fundamental matter, FHA insured mortgages are only securitized through the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA). Both FHA and GNMA have extensive underlying requirements regarding both mortgage terms and conditions as well as requirements related to the securitization of those mortgages. According to HUD, its retrospective review of the QRM rule, in terms of any impact on FHA single family insurance programs, will take into account the existing underlying FHA and GNMA statutes and regulations that already govern those programs.
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of their preparations for conducting a retrospective review of the QRM regulations, the agencies responsible for the QRM regulations--Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, HUD, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Securities and Exchange Commission--should develop a plan that identifies the metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used and specify the roles and responsibilities of each agency in the review process. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, the six agencies should include in their plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used if data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comment letter on the draft report, OCC indicated that it planned to take GAO's recommendation into account as it monitored mortgage market conditions and prepared for upcoming QRM reviews. OCC stated that it planned to periodically meet with the other agencies to discuss the implications of any trends it observes and coordinate on studies to better focus and support its evaluation of the review factors.
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of their preparations for conducting a retrospective review of the QRM regulations, the agencies responsible for the QRM regulations--Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, HUD, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Securities and Exchange Commission--should develop a plan that identifies the metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used and specify the roles and responsibilities of each agency in the review process. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, the six agencies should include in their plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used if data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, FDIC indicated that it developed a plan that outlines the baseline, data, metrics, and analytical methods that it plans to utilize in the QRM definition review. According to FDIC, the plan also outlines FDIC's commitment to working collaboratively with the other agencies. As a baseline, FDIC plans to use the data, metrics, and analytical methods used in the final rulemaking process as outlined in the Supplementary Information to the credit risk retention (CRR) regulation as well as data and analytical methods that the FDIC currently uses to monitor the mortgage and securitization markets and economy on an ongoing basis. FDIC stated that it continues to plan to coordinate with the other agencies on the QRM definition review by allocating responsibilities based on expertise, data, and other resources within each agency as the agencies did in the CRR rulemaking process.
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of their preparations for conducting a retrospective review of the QRM regulations, the agencies responsible for the QRM regulations--Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, HUD, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Securities and Exchange Commission--should develop a plan that identifies the metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used and specify the roles and responsibilities of each agency in the review process. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, the six agencies should include in their plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used if data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: Federal Reserve System: Board of Governors
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the Federal Reserve Board stated that it has an ongoing program to monitor the mortgage and securitization markets as part of its monetary policy, regulatory, and financial stability responsibilities. According to the Federal Reserve, Board staff are continuously researching new data sources, analytical methods, and metrics as part of that program. The Federal Reserve also noted that Board staff with responsibility for implementing this recommendation continue to meet with their counterparts at other agencies.
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of their preparations for conducting a retrospective review of the QRM regulations, the agencies responsible for the QRM regulations--Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Housing Finance Agency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, HUD, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and Securities and Exchange Commission--should develop a plan that identifies the metrics, baselines, and analytical methods to be used and specify the roles and responsibilities of each agency in the review process. Furthermore, to account for and help mitigate limitations of existing data and the uncertain availability of enhanced datasets, the six agencies should include in their plan alternate metrics, baselines, and analytical methods that could be used if data were to remain unavailable.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, SEC staff stated that they had developed a preliminary review plan for the QRM rule in December 2016. SEC staff noted that although the review plan describes several proposed analytical approaches, the precise analytical approach to review the mortgage market conditions and the definition of QRM will depend on future data availability, future mortgage market conditions, and the role of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other participants in those markets at that time. To prepare for this review, SEC staff noted that they intend to meet on a periodic basis with the staff of the other agencies to share the results of the analyses discussed above, understand the analyses being performed by the other agencies, and discuss what additional data or analyses may be helpful. As part of these discussions, SEC staff stated that the agencies will likely divide responsibilities for conducting the review according to agency expertise and resources, consistent with each agency's statutory authority and role.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure the safety of food imported into the United States, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs should complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. If the inspection numbers from that evaluation are different from the inspection targets mandated in FSMA, FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In January 2015, we recommended that the Commissioner of FDA complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. Additionally, if the inspection numbers from that analysis are different from the inspection targets mandated in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes. At the time of our report, FDA was not keeping pace with FSMA's mandate to increase inspections each year from 2011 through 2016. In April 2017, FDA indicated that that it does not anticipate going significantly beyond 1,200 foreign food facilities inspections per year, based on the amount of additional funding needed to meet the foreign inspection requirement of FSMA. However, FDA has not conducted an analysis to determine whether the increased number of inspections mandated by FSMA or the lower number of inspections it is currently conducting is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. FDA noted that, in January 2017, it began an analysis to define and describe the global inventory of human and animal food firms and examine the application of regulatory oversight tools across the inventory. According to FDA, the analysis will help it assess the annual number of foreign food facility inspections as part of an overall risk-based allocation of resources for ensuring that imported foods are produced in a manner the meets applicable U.S. safety standards. We continue to believe that FDA should complete such an analysis and report the results to Congress.
    Director: Morris, Steve D
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that their food safety goals are complementary and strategies are mutually reinforcing, the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should continue to build upon their efforts to implement GPRAMA requirements to address crosscutting food safety efforts, including by more fully describing in their strategic and performance planning documents how they are working with other agencies to achieve their food safety-related goals and objectives.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USDA and HHS agreed with our recommendation that they continue to build upon their efforts to implement GPRAMA requirements to address crosscutting food safety efforts. In response to the recommendation, HHS took steps to update its strategic and performance planning documents to better address crosscutting food safety efforts. For example, in February 2015, HHS updated its strategic plan to more fully describe how it is working with other agencies to achieve its food safety-related goals and objectives. As a result, we closed the recommendation to HHS as implemented. In its written comments on our report, USDA said that the Department was working to achieve the GPRAMA requirement for interagency collaboration and continues to work with HHS to align its strategic and performance planning to achieve their mutual food safety goals and efforts. As of March 2017, USDA had not fully implemented our recommendation, although the Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) had taken some steps that could contribute toward full implementation. For example, FSIS included more information on crosscutting food safety efforts in its fiscal year 2017-2021 strategic plan and in its draft fiscal year 2017 annual plan than it did in its prior strategic and annual plans. Such information could be included in USDA's next strategic plan. According to USDA officials, the Department plans to include more information on interagency collaboration in its next strategic plan, to be issued in February 2018. As USDA and its component agencies work to develop the Department's new strategic plan, attention should be given to fully addressing crosscutting food safety efforts in it and in USDA's associated performance planning documents. Once USDA's new strategic plan has been released, we will evaluate whether the recommendation has been implemented. We continue to believe that implementing the recommendation is an important step toward addressing fragmentation in federal oversight of food safety.
    Recommendation: Because challenges associated with the fragmented federal food safety system are long-standing, decision makers do not have an integrated perspective on federal food safety performance, and centralized mechanisms for broad-based collaboration have not been sustained, Congress should consider directing OMB to develop a government-wide performance plan for food safety that includes results oriented goals and performance measures and a discussion of strategies and resources.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not acted on this matter.
    Recommendation: Because challenges associated with the fragmented federal food safety system are long-standing, decision makers do not have an integrated perspective on federal food safety performance, and centralized mechanisms for broad-based collaboration have not been sustained, Congress should consider formalizing the FSWG through statute to help ensure sustained leadership across food safety agencies over time.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not acted on this matter.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, Congress should consider transferring the oversight of the markings of toy and imitation firearms in 15 U.S.C. 5001 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (within the Department of Commerce) to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: This matter is an action identified in GAO's annual Duplication and Cost Savings reports. There has been no legislative action identified. The Gun Look-Alike Case Act, H.R. 3224, which was introduced on July 27, 2015, in the 114th Congress, would transfer the authority to regulate the markings of toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms in section 5001 of title 15 of the U.S. Code from NIST to CPSC, as GAO suggested in November 2014. This bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the United States House of Representatives, and did not pass out of committee. As of March 1, 2017, the bill has not been reintroduced in the 115th Congress.
    Recommendation: To improve existing coordination of oversight for consumer product safety, Congress should consider establishing a formal comprehensive oversight mechanism for consumer product safety agencies to address crosscutting issues as well as inefficiencies related to fragmentation and overlap such as communication and coordination challenges and jurisdictional questions between agencies. Different types of formal mechanisms could include, for example, creating a memorandum of understanding to formalize relationships and agreements or establishing a task force or interagency work group. As a starting point, Congress may wish to obtain agency input on options for establishing more formal coordination.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: This matter is an action identified in GAO's annual Duplication and Cost Savings reports. There has been no legislative action identified. No legislation was introduced as of March 1, 2017, that would establish a collaborative mechanism to facilitate communication across the relevant agencies and to help enable them to collectively address crosscutting issues, as GAO suggested in November 2014. Some of the agencies with direct regulatory oversight responsibilities for consumer product safety reported that they continue to collaborate to address specific consumer product safety topics. However, without a formal comprehensive oversight mechanism, the agencies risk missing opportunities to better leverage resources and address challenges, including those related to fragmentation and overlap.
    Director: Linda T. Kohn
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to include in the CMS Compare websites, to the extent feasible, estimated out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries for common treatments that can be planned in advance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015 CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. Specifically, it is actively investigating options for allowing a more targeted and consumer-centric individual user experience on Physician Compare. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to organize cost and quality information in the CMS Compare websites to facilitate consumer identification of the highest-performing providers, such as by listing providers in order based on their performance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to include in the CMS Compare websites the capability for consumers to customize the information presented, to better focus on information relevant to them.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. Specifically, it is evaluating feasibility of including estimated out-of-pocket costs on physician compare. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to develop specific procedures and performance metrics to ensure that CMS's efforts to promote the development and use of its own and others' transparency tools adequately address the needs of consumers.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. CMS also noted that Physician Compare is in the early stages of public reporting, and is evaluating the feasibility of listing providers based on their performance in the new carefinder.gov project. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform users of the annual monitoring report about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its pesticide monitoring program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA posted a report summarizing the results of its Fiscal Year 2012 Pesticide Monitoring Program. The report identified which pesticides the agency tested for in FY 2012. However, the report did not identify which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances were not tested for, nor did it discuss the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology that would enable the agency, within existing resources, to gather nationally representative pesticide residue incidence and level data for both domestically produced and imported foods, or justify statistically the use of a nonprobability method that can measure the estimation error. In designing either approach, FDA should consider the extent to which the benefits exceed the costs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA issued a report summarizing the results of its pesticide monitoring program for Fiscal Year 2012. This report followed by about 4 months the issuance of our report, GAO-15-38, in October 2014. The FDA report stated that the sampling methodology used in FY 2012 was not statistically based. However, in light of our recommendation that FDA design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology, the agency could have used its February 2015 report to announce its plan to develop such a methodology for use in the future, but it did not do so. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to report the nationally representative incidence and level data in its annual pesticide monitoring reports, including disclosing the limits of its chosen sampling methodology.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to use the incidence and level data to assess the effectiveness of FDA's targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, including its use of the Predictive Risk-based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting targeting tool for imported foods, by comparing the rate of violations detected through the program to the overall rate of pesticide residue violations within the domestic and imported food supplies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to identify any types of domestic and imported foods that are at high risk for pesticide residue tolerance violations to improve the ability of its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program to consistently identify food likely to have violations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To better inform the public about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSIS Administrator to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its National Residue Program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2015 Residue Sampling Plan for the National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. In December 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2014 Residue Sample Results for its national residue program. The agency's report on its results did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that were not included in its testing program, nor did it report on the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. In June 2016, FSIS issued its sampling plan for Fiscal Year 2016. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. The FSIS sampling results for Fiscal Year 2015 were not available as of December 2016.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by providing more complete information on the sampling methodology the agency uses, such as how it identifies and selects states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing, and include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. As with earlier reports, this report does not provide sufficient documentation of the survey methods used in the program. In particular, the report does not provide complete information on the sampling methodology the agency used, such as how it identified and selected states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing. Further, it does not include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by reporting on the extent to which its survey covers commodities in the U.S. food supply and any limitations associated with its survey methodology.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report has a new section titled Sampling Limitations. In that section, the agency acknowledges that the total number of distribution centers and terminal markets within the participating states is difficult to establish because existing sites may go out of business or merge and new sites may open during the course of the year. Despite this limitation, the agency concludes that the sites selected in the program are representative of all sites in these states. However, the agency has not provided sufficient documentation in the report to support the claim that its data are representative of conditions across the country for commodities in the U.S. food supply.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by describing methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report does not describe methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: If Congress agrees that significant paid preparer errors exist, it should consider legislation granting IRS the authority to regulate paid tax preparers.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, several bills were introduced in Congress that would authorize the Department of Treasury to regulate paid tax return preparers. As of September 2017, no action has been taken on any of the bills. GAO testified on October 1, 2015 on improper payments and the tax gap before Senate Finance and on December 10, 2015 on GAO recommendations before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, US Senate. Both hearings increased attention to GAO's matter to Congress that tax preparers be regulated. Paid preparer regulation may increase the accuracy of tax returns and potentially reduce the tax gap.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider strengthening the current consumer privacy framework to reflect the effects of changes in technology and the marketplace--particularly in relation to consumer data used for marketing purposes--while also ensuring that any limitations on data collection and sharing do not unduly inhibit the economic and other benefits to industry and consumers that data sharing can accord. Among the issues that should be considered are: (1) the adequacy of consumers' ability to access, correct, and control their personal information in circumstances beyond those currently accorded under FCRA; (2) whether there should be additional controls on the types of personal or sensitive information that may or may not be collected and shared; (3) changes needed, if any, in the permitted sources and methods for data collection; and (4) privacy controls related to new technologies, such as web tracking and mobile devices.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Congress has not taken action on this matter.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to incorporate a mechanism to collect information on when AERs are used to support and inform consumer protection actions (i.e., surveillance, advisory, and regulatory actions).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will update this information.
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to establish a time frame for issuing final guidance for the draft (1) New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) guidance and (2) guidance clarifying whether a liquid product may be labeled and marketed as a dietary supplement or as a conventional food with added ingredients.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although FDA issued final guidance for distinguishing liquid dietary supplements from beverages in January 2014, it has not yet issued final guidance on new dietary ingredients (NDI). Once FDA completes the NDI guidance, we can close the recommendation.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the awareness, use, and usefulness of SaferProducts.gov, the CPSC should establish and incorporate metrics to assess efforts to increase awareness and use of SaferProducts.gov.

    Agency: Consumer Product Safety Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Commission states that it measures overall awareness of SaferProducts.gov in a manner similar to the manner in which it measures the awareness of CPSC.gov: by the number of visits to the website. The Commission states that website visits is a reasonable proxy measure of overall awareness that is cost-effective to collect. According to the Commission, in fiscal year 2014, SaferProducts.gov had 2.4 million visits and 863,000 visitors, where visits are the number of sessions the site was hit and visitors are the count of unique IP addresses who came to the site. The Commission had previously indicated that it planned to include three questions on SaferProducts.gov in a National Awareness Survey designed to determine overall awareness of CPSC on a national level. While the Commission administered the survey, it did not include questions related to SaferProducts.gov. As of March 2017, the Commission has not taken specific steps to measure the overall awareness of SaferProducts.gov.
    Recommendation: To improve the awareness, use, and usefulness of SaferProducts.gov, the CPSC should implement cost-effective usability improvements to SaferProducts.gov, taking into account the results of any existing usability testing or any new testing CPSC may choose to conduct.

    Agency: Consumer Product Safety Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Commission had begun making usability improvements to SaferProducts.gov by improving the search functionality and improving the user experience of submitting incident reports. The Commission planned to include a tagline to its website to increase users' understanding of the site's purpose--either "Report. Search. Protect." or "Report. Search. Be Empowered." by March 2017. However, as of April 2017, SaferProducts.gov does not include a tagline. The Commission also has not made any other website improvements in this regard, nor have staff undertaken user experience studies to assess users' understanding of the site.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable CPSC to target unsafe consumer products, Congress may wish to amend section 29(f) of CPSA to allow CPSC greater ability to enter into information-sharing agreements with its foreign counterparts that permit reciprocal terms on disclosure of nonpublic information.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 31, 2017, Section 29 of CPSA had not been amended since 2008. In 2013, a bill was introduced (S.1887) but not passed. That bill would have allowed "the Commission, when sharing information under the federal-state cooperation program with a foreign government agency for official law enforcement or consumer protection purposes, to authorize a foreign government agency to make that information available to another agency of the same foreign government (including a political subdivision of that foreign government that is located within the same territory or administrative area as the agency disclosing the information) if an appropriate official of the foreign government agency disclosing the information certifies (by prior agreement, memorandum of understanding with the CPSC, or other written certification) that it will establish and apply specified confidentiality restrictions under the Consumer Product Safety Act."
    Director: Clowers, Angela N
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As SEC works to enhance its oversight of FINRA, the SEC Chairman should encourage FINRA to conduct retrospective reviews of its rules and establish a process for examining FINRA's reviews.

    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: As SEC works to enhance its oversight of FINRA, the SEC Chairman should direct Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) to follow all elements of a risk-management framework as it develops plans for an enhanced risk-based approach to FINRA oversight, such as developing plans for how it will prioritize risks related to oversight of FINRA and assessing the effectiveness of its risk-based model.

    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: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202) 512-4803

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of information on airline-imposed fees and government-imposed taxes and fees for consumers and improve airlines' reporting of fee revenues to the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation should improve the disclosure of baggage fees and policies to passengers, in accordance with DOT guidance, by requiring that U.S. airlines and foreign airlines that fly within or to or from the United States disclose baggage fees and policies along with fare information such that this information can be consistently disclosed across all distribution channels used by the airline.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: A DOT rulemaking (RIN-2105-AE56: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees) is ongoing and could address this recommendation. As of June 2017, the final rule is expected to be published in late 2017/early 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of information on airline-imposed fees and government-imposed taxes and fees for consumers and improve airlines' reporting of fee revenues to the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation should require U.S. passenger airlines to report to DOT all optional fees paid by passengers related to their trip in a separate account, exclusive of baggage fees and reservation change and cancellation fees.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: A DOT rulemaking (RIN-2105-AE56: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees) is ongoing and could address this recommendation. As of June 2017, the final rule is expected to be published in late 2017/early 2018.
    Recommendation: If Congress determines that the benefit of added revenue to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund from taxation of optional airline service fees, such as baggage fees, is of importance, then it may wish to consider amending the Internal Revenue Code to make mandatory the taxation of certain or all airline imposed fees and to require that the revenue be deposited in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Congress has not yet taken action regarding this matter. While amendments have been offered to change the tax treatment of airline fees, none of these amendments have been passed into law. We will continue to monitor this matter and will provide updated information.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202) 512-2649

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure FDA's oversight of the safety of GRAS substances, the Commissioner of FDA should develop a strategy to minimize the potential for conflicts of interest in companies' GRAS determinations, including taking steps such as issuing guidance for companies on conflict of interest and requiring information in GRAS notices regarding expert panelists' independence.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, FDA indicated that guidance on potential conflicts of interest for experts participating on GRAS panels is a priority for the agency. In its Final Rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (81 FR 54959), issued Aug. 17, 2016, FDA stated that it had decided to issue guidance regarding conflicts of interest and that it would announce the availability of a draft guidance document through a notice in the Federal Register. As of December 2016, FDA had not yet issued this draft guidance.
    Recommendation: To better ensure FDA's oversight of the safety of GRAS substances, the Commissioner of FDA should develop a strategy to monitor the appropriateness of companies' GRAS determinations through random audits or some other means, including issuing guidance on how to document GRAS determinations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: On Aug. 17, 2016, FDA published a final rule on Substances Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) (81 FR 54959). This final rule includes a section titled "Guidance on Documenting Conclusions of GRAS Status," which states that FDA is "issuing a guidance" for companies on how to document their GRAS determinations. It is not clear from the rule the time frame for issuing this guidance, whether it will be issued in draft first for comment, and whether it will part of the guidance on conflicts of interest that FDA also plans to issue at a later date, as noted elsewhere in the rule. As of December 2016, FDA had not issued this guidance.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness and accountability of FCC's efforts to oversee wireless phone service, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct the commission to develop goals and related measures for FCC's informal complaint-handing efforts that clearly articulate intended outcomes and address important dimensions of performance.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its February 5, 2010 response, FCC stated that it would consider establishing meaningful and measurable outcome-based standards in the context of its efforts to reassess goals for the mediation of informal consumer complaints. FCC noted that it already has basic performance metrics for responding to consumer complaints in a timely manner and will examine ways to automate such responses and provide them by email, which may be more efficient than processing these complaints manually and mailing a paper response. In June 2011, FCC stated it had taken steps to improve its complaint-handling efforts by increasing staff training and beginning an effort to revise its complaint coding and intake process, which it expects to complete by the end of fiscal year 2011. FCC also stated it is considering other enhancements for fiscal year 2012. However, this response did not mention any direct action in response to the recommendation. In May 2012, FCC stated it had begun an effort to improve its informal complaint-handling, including revising its complaint intake and coding procedures with an emphasis on collecting information to enhance policymaking and compliance activities. The response did not specifically mention goals and measures, but said the effort was ongoing and expected to continue through the end of 2012. In August 2013, FCC stated it was considering a proposal for comprehensive reform to its consumer complaint process. The agency hoped to institute performance measures for the consumer complaint process as part of the reform. In June 2014, FCC staff said that the FCC Chairman had set a goal to reform the agency's complaint process by the end of 2014. In August 2016, FCC staff said that the agency is working to develop performance metrics for its complaint-handling efforts. We will continue to follow up with FCC about its efforts.
    Recommendation: To better ensure a systemwide focus in providing oversight of wireless phone service and improve FCC's partnership with state agencies that also oversee this service, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct the commission to develop and issue guidance delineating federal and state authority to regulate wireless phone service, including pulling together prior rulings on this issue; addressing the related open proceedings on truth-in-billing and early termination fees; and, if needed, seeking appropriate statutory authority from Congress.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its February 5, 2010 response, FCC noted that the Notice of Inquiry on Consumer Information and Disclosure it released on August 9, 2009, provides an opportunity for the agency to review prior rulings and related open proceedings. The response also stated that FCC's Wireless Bureau and Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau are working together to review areas of the Communications Act where clarification is needed regarding state and federal roles for oversight of wireless phone service. In June 2011, FCC stated that it was continuing to hold regular meetings with associations representing state agency officials, but did not mention taking any action to directly address the recommendation. In May 2012, FCC stated that the topic of wireless regulation is discussed during intergovernmental webinars FCC hosts with state and local government offices, but did not indicate it had developed and issued guidance as called for in the recommendation. In August 2013, FCC stated that it has not issued any formal guidance on delineating federal and state wireless oversight authority. In June 2014, FCC stated that the commission was considering making changes to its truth-in-billing rules by the end of 2014 and that such a proceeding would include addressing how FCC partners with states in protecting wireless consumers. In July 2016, FCC said that it planned to address this issue in December 2017.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-2649

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's oversight of dietary supplements and foods with added dietary ingredients, and to better enable FDA to meet its responsibility to regulate dietary supplements that contain new dietary ingredients, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to issue guidance to clarify when an ingredient is considered a new dietary ingredient, the evidence needed to document the safety of new dietary ingredients, and appropriate methods for establishing ingredient identity.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2011, FDA published draft guidance for industry on new dietary ingredient notifications and related issues. This draft guidance includes information on when a dietary ingredient is considered new, evidence of safety, and methods for ingredient identity. We are waiting for the draft guidance to become final to close the recommendation.
    Director: Crosse, Marcia G
    Phone: (202)512-3407

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the FDA Commissioner to expeditiously take steps to issue regulations for each class III device type currently allowed to enter the market through the 510(k) process. These steps should include issuing regulations to (1) reclassify each device type into class I or class II, or requiring it to remain in class III, and (2) for those device types remaining in class III, require approval for marketing through the PMA process.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: FDA has taken steps to respond to this recommendation; however we are leaving the recommendation open because the agency has not yet taken final steps to reclassify or require premarket approval (PMA) for two class III device types allowed to enter the market through the less stringent 510(k) process. In 2009, FDA began a 5-step process to reclassify or to require PMAs for 26 class III device types. This process was modified by the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (FDASIA)--instead of issuing regulations as the final step, FDA issues an administrative order to reclassify or require PMAs for the device types. In 2014, the agency reported it had set a goal to have all remaining devices finalized by the second quarter of 2015; however, as of August 2017, FDA had not finished the process of reclassifying or requiring PMAs for 2 of 26 devices types. The agency reported completing the process for 24 device types, and provided new planned milestones to complete the process for the remaining device types by the middle of 2018. We will leave this recommendation open until FDA makes progress in reclassifying or requiring PMAs for the remaining device types.
    Director: Kingsbury, Nancy R
    Phone: (202)512-6570

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the information available to the Congress for reauthorization, the Secretary of Transportation should analyze and report on trends currently anticipated to affect highway safety through 2020 and beyond in a systematic fashion--including information on high-clockspeed trends, discussion of evidence about these and other individual trends, their implications and potential interactions, and DOT responses.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT has not responded to this recommendation, but DOT announced a distracted driving summit September 30-October 1, 2009, with a limited number of invitees, and invited the GAO Assistant Director on this report to participate. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that the purpose of the summit is to "to address the dangers of text-messaging and other distractions behind the wheel." The summit will include "senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives and academics" who will convene in Washington, DC "to discuss ideas about how to combat distracted driving."
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should evaluate whether or not new approaches to data collection are needed to better track new trends related to highway safety.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT has not responded to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In order to develop an approach to decision making and the development of evidence on high-clockspeed trends affecting highway safety that are characterized by uncertainty, the Secretary of Transportation should consider and evaluate practices and principles for making decisions under conditions of uncertainty and for using data in such decision making and, on that basis, develop an approach to guide decision making on high-clockspeed trends that, although somewhat uncertain, may affect highway safety.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In GAO-09-56, GAO recommended the Secretary of Transportation consider and evaluate practices and principles for making conditions under uncertainty and for using data in light of issues encountered in developing evidence on high-clockspeed trends affecting highway safety that are characterized by uncertainty. GAO had studied driver distraction involving electronic devices, in particular cell phones with texting capability and identified these evolving electronic devices as a high clockspeed trend. DOT reports several actions on distracted driving, specifically: (1) an Executive Order to federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they are on official business; (2) the Secretary called on state and local governments to (a) make distracted driving part of their state highway plans, (b) pass state and local laws against distracted driving in all types of vehicles, (c) back up public awareness campaigns with high-visibility enforcement actions; (3) the Secretary directed the Department to establish an on-line clearinghouse on the risks of distracted driving and also (4) pledged to continue the Department's research on how to best combat distracted driving. DOT also notes that the Department's www.distraction.gov website provides information on the latest data on distracted driving and that 34 states have passed laws against texting and driving since the 2009 announcement by the Secretary of DOT.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the information available to the Congress for reauthorization, the Secretary of Transportation should determine, in consultation with relevant congressional committees, schedules for periodic reporting that will be sufficiently frequent to update the Congress on fast-changing trends.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT has not responded to this recommendation.
    Director: Dyckman, Lawrence J
    Phone: (202)512-9692

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide more efficient, consistent, and effective federal oversight of the nation's food supply, Congress should consider commissioning the National Academy of Sciences or a blue ribbon panel to conduct a detailed analysis of alternative organizational food safety structures and report the results of such an analysis to Congress.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act established a national Food Safety Commission charged with making specific recommendations for drafting legislative language. Among other things, the Commission is to make recommendations on how to improve the food safety system, create a harmonized, central framework for managing federal food safety programs, and enhance the effectiveness of federal food safety resources. However, as of January 2017, as far as current staff can ascertain, the Commission was never formed, and no recommendations were ever produced. Thus, although Congress acted to create a food safety commission through legislation, the substance of our matter--recommendations for analyzing alternative food safety structures--was not implemented. GAO subsequently made the same matter for congressional consideration in several later products, and the matter also appeared in the annual DOF report. As of January 2017, no action had been taken. Therefore, in January 2017, we reopened this matter.