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    Subject Term: "Critical technologies"

    4 publications with a total of 18 open recommendations
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To fulfill the role assigned to it under the 1980 Act, the Secretary of Commerce should engage with industry stakeholders and continually identify and assess critical materials needs across a broad range of industrial sectors.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, Commerce provided information on its implementation of the recommendation from GAO-16-699. Commerce stated that it had developed an action plan consisting of the following steps: (1)consulting with relevant offices and agencies, including: OSTP, DOD, the U.S. Geological Survey, DOE, the U.S. International Trade Commission, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; (2) determining criteria to be used when it is necessary to collect information to identify and assess critical materials needs; (3) determining appropriate steps, which might include: (a) developing a summary of information that federal agencies currently collect on the domestic and international supply of critical raw materials; (b)soliciting input from a broad range of industries through a Federal Register notice; (c)assessing aggregate information, as allowable under law, that is submitted through the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process over the course of Q1-2 of fiscal year 2017; and (d)consulting with federal advisory groups for advice; (4) determining the audience for collected information and methodology for information dissemination; (5) determining the process for identifying further information collection needs and methodology for disseminating collected information; and (6) determining the timeline and responsibilities for information collection and distribution. In an April 2017 update, Commerce stated that it had identified points of contacts in 7 of the 8 agencies listed in its action plan and is in the process of contacting them for input. Commerce stated that it hoped to identify an appropriate contact in the 8th agency in the near future. Commerce stated that it had also drafted questions to ask the agencies in order to implement the action plan. Commerce did not provide a timeframe for when it expected to complete implementation of the action plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should agree on and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of member agencies and take steps to actively engage all relevant federal agencies in the Subcommittee's efforts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that an increasing number of agencies participate in Subcommittee discussions and activities, with the last several meetings having had strong engagement from agencies that had not previously been involved, including the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. OSTP indicated that when the Subcommittee's charter is considered for renewal in spring 2017, it will reach out to all federal agencies with relevant responsibilities to discuss their roles in the Subcommittee's efforts and encourage them to name a lead representative and regularly participate. However, OSTP did not provide information about any plans to more clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the Subcommittee's member agencies. OSTP stated that it prefers flexibility, as this facilitates cooperation on topics of mutual interest and better accommodates changing circumstances and areas of focus.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should develop joint strategies that articulate common outcomes and identify contributing agencies' efforts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. However, the information OSTP provided did not include any details related to developing joint strategies that articulate common outcomes and identifying contributing agencies' efforts.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should develop a mechanism to monitor, evaluate, and periodically report on the progress of member agencies' efforts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. However, the information OSTP provided did not include any details related to developing a mechanism to monitor, evaluate, and periodically report on the progress of member agencies' efforts.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to broaden future applications of the early warning screening methodology, the Subcommittee should take the steps necessary to include potentially critical materials beyond minerals, such as developing a plan or strategy for prioritizing additional materials for which actions are needed to address data limitations.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that current efforts to update the early warning screening methodology have refined, and in some cases augmented, the materials being screened based on available, regularly collected data. The Subcommittee will continue to consider incorporation of additional materials. OSTP further stated that, with respect to data availability limitations, the report's suggestion that the Subcommittee "better work with member agencies to address existing data limitations" is sometimes not actionable because private entities and foreign governments may be unwilling or unable to provide (or even collect) such data. OSTP stated that the Subcommittee will, however, continue to explore approaches to improve data availability and granularity, such as through proposals for revisions to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule or to the North American Industry Classification System or other such systems.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to enhance the federal government's ability to facilitate domestic production of critical materials, the Subcommittee should examine approaches other countries or regions are taking to see if there are any lessons learned that can be applied to the United States.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that it concurs with the recommendation that the Subcommittee should examine approaches other countries or regions are taking to see if there are any lessons learned that can be applied to the United States. OSTP stated that the Subcommittee is sharing and discussing information on production in other regions, including a U.S.-led project (and other projects with U.S. involvement or support) under the Mining Task Force of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. OSTP stated that in the future, the Subcommittee expects to review experiences in other countries/regions to glean lessons learned. OSTP did not provide a time frame in reach it would review experiences in other countries/regions.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation. Relevant efforts by DHS to finalize memoranda of understanding with other agencies and by the Export Enforcement Coordination Center to share information and data across the export control enforcement community are ongoing. As of Sept 2017, DHS did not identify relevant actions to coordinate on critical technologies among other agencies.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: Commerce has identified various efforts to collaborate across multiple agencies within individual critical technologies programs, but has not taken steps to promote collaboration on critical technologies through a larger group discussion.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has identified numerous activities within DOD to coordinate across the critical technologies portfolio, in particular the Arms Transfer and Technology Release Senior Steering Group. In some cases, these activities include other departments, most commonly State. However, officials have stated that they are not aware of any high-level coordination on critical technologies among the larger group of agencies. On Sept. 5, 2017, DOD provided an update on multiple DOD efforts, including CFIUS, but none are collaborating among all of the agencies cited in the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Attorney General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, the agency identified coordination actions being taken across the agencies with export control responsibilities--including through the Export Control Enforcement Center--and through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. However, it is not clear how, or if, these coordination efforts are tied to the larger, government-wide portfolio of critical technologies programs. As of Sept. 2017, Justice has no additional updates.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, a Treasury official identified coordination actions being taken across the agencies with export control responsibilities and through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. However, coordination efforts are not tied to larger, government-wide collaboration on critical technologies. In March 2017, Treasury provided an update on actions taken, but did not address the recommendation for coordination among the critical technologies programs.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. In Sept. 2017, State provided updates on actions taken within the department, but none across affected agencies.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to track commodity inventory data. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to track commodity inventory data. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USDA has held multiple meetings with USAID as part of its Business Management Improvement initiative, to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and have documented some of the results of some of those meetings.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USAID has participated in multiple meetings with USDA to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and are gathering documentation from this process. According to USAID officials, they plan to submit documentation to GAO to close this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Martin, Belva M
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

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

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

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