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    Topic: "Economic Development"

    36 publications with a total of 89 open recommendations including 11 priority recommendations
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve employee misconduct policies and procedures, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to document policies and procedures to address potential Surge Capacity Force misconduct.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: In order to improve employee misconduct policies and procedures, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to document Reservist disciplinary options and appeals policies and procedures that are currently in practice at the agency.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: In order to improve employee misconduct policies and procedures, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to communicate the range of penalties for specific misconduct offenses to all employees and supervisors.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: In order to better identify and address trends in employee misconduct, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to improve the quality and usefulness of the misconduct data it collects by implementing quality control measures, such as adding additional drop-down fields with standardized entries, adding unique case identifier fields, developing documented guidance for data entry, or considering the adoption of database software.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: In order to better identify and address trends in employee misconduct, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to, once the quality of the data is improved, conduct routine reporting on employee misconduct trends.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that all allegations of employee misconduct referred by DHS OIG are reviewed and addressed, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop reconciliation procedures to consistently track referred cases.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As Congress considers reauthorizing NFIP, it should consider comprehensive reform to improve the program's solvency and enhance the nation's resilience to flood risk, which could include actions in six areas: (1) addressing the current debt, (2) removing existing legislative barriers to FEMA's revising premium rates to reflect the full risk of loss, (3) addressing affordability, (4) increasing consumer participation, (5) removing barriers to private-sector involvement, and (6) protecting NFIP flood resilience efforts. In implementing these reforms, Congress should consider the sequence of the actions and their interaction with each other.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve RUS's management of the Infrastructure Program, Broadband Program, and Community Connect by more closely following leading practices for broadband loan- and grant-program management, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RUS to develop and document clear goals and performance measures linked to those goals, for each program.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve RUS's management of the Infrastructure Program, Broadband Program, and Community Connect by more closely following leading practices for broadband loan- and grant-program management, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RUS to establish and implement procedures to conduct a risk assessment of each program, including an examination of risk at both the programmatic and portfolio level for each program.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve RUS's management of the Infrastructure Program, Broadband Program, and Community Connect by more closely following leading practices for broadband loan- and grant-program management, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RUS to establish and implement procedures to conduct periodic evaluations of completed grant projects to determine the outcomes associated with these projects, and analyze the information gained to assess if any programmatic changes are needed to improve the Community Connect program.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve RUS's management of the Infrastructure Program, Broadband Program, and Community Connect by more closely following leading practices for broadband loan- and grant-program management, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RUS to establish a timeline for implementing a centralized internal system for staff to obtain relevant and timely program data for use in managing and monitoring loans and grant awards.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve RUS's management of the Infrastructure Program, Broadband Program, and Community Connect by more closely following leading practices for broadband loan- and grant-program management, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RUS to develop, update, and maintain complete written policies and procedures for RUS's programs as a way to retain and communicate organizational knowledge internally among agency staff. RUS should determine the critical documentation that should be created or updated, including considering documentation such as loan-application review guidance and employee manuals for each of the three programs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance interagency collaboration in the Manufacturing USA program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to work with all non-sponsoring agencies whose missions contribute to or are affected by advanced manufacturing to revise the Manufacturing USA governance system to ensure the roles and responsibilities for how these agencies could contribute to the Manufacturing USA program are fully identified.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce responded to the recommendation with three actions. (1) Labor, DHS, and HHS were invited to participate in the Manufacturing USA program resulting in Labor, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and FDA agreeing to participate and naming representatives to the Manufacturing USA Interagency Working Team.(2) Labor was invited to present at and participate in the Spring 2017 Manufacturing USA Network meeting resulting in Labor participating in the meeting, presenting its apprenticeship programs, and continuing participation in the Manufacturing Education and Workforce Development team regular meetings. (3) The Manufacturing USA Interagency Working Team has begun discussions on expanding the Manufacturing USA network governance document to include activities, roles, and responsibilities of non-institute sponsoring agencies. Final program policy decisions will be made once the new Administration's agency leadership is in place. Completion is expected by Fall 2017.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to implement the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014 requirements related to reporting on advanced manufacturing, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working through the National Science and Technology Council and agency leadership, as appropriate, should identify the information they will collect from federal agencies to determine the extent to which the objectives outlined in the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing are being achieved.

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

    Comments: OSTP did not state whether it agreed or disagreed with this recommendation. They provided some comments on the draft recommendation. For example, OSTP commented that the recommendation could focus on the extent to which the objectives of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) recommendations are being achieved in periodic updates to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing. However, these recommendations were not covered in the scope of our report: we focused on reporting on the progress in achieving the objectives of the strategic plan.
    Director: Kay Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure FEMA's regional activities effectively support individuals with disabilities, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to take steps to establish written procedures for how regions should involve the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination in clarifying disability integration staff's roles, evaluating staff performance, and setting expectations for how staff communicate with headquarters and the regions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and FEMA's Office of Disability Integration and Coordination is in the process of establishing a working group that will clarify and codify the roles, responsibilities, and expectations among the various agency offices and personnel involved in carrying out the agency's disability integration mission. GAO will monitor the progress of these efforts. FEMA expects to complete these efforts by December 31, 2017. At that time, GAO will await documentation of the agency's procedures for carrying out its disability integration mission.
    Recommendation: To better position FEMA to expand access to key training on incorporating access and functional needs into emergency planning for state, local, and voluntary organization emergency management officials, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to evaluate alternative cost-effective methods for delivering its course on access and functional needs, such as via virtual classes.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and reported that it will explore options for updating one of its existing online courses--IS-368 "Including People with Disabilities and Other with Access and Functional Needs in Disaster Operations"--to tailor the content for a broader audience, including members of the public. The agency also reported that it will evaluate the need for alternative cost-effective methods for delivering other courses on inclusive emergency management it currently offers, such as its classroom course, "Integrating Access and Functional Need into Emergency Planning." The agency anticipates completing these efforts by December 31, 2017. When these efforts are complete, GAO will await documentation that the agency has evaluated its delivery of key training on incorporating access and functional needs into emergency planning.
    Recommendation: To help ensure its key training on incorporating access and functional needs into emergency planning reaches a sufficiently wide audience, the Secretary should direct the FEMA Administrator to collect information about the potential pool of participants, set general goals for the number of state and local emergency managers that will take this course, and implement the delivery methods needed to meet these goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and reported that it will work with its regional staff to map potential training participants in each state and set goals for delivery of the course to state and local emergency managers. The agency also reported that it may be able to use data in the State Preparedness Report and states' self-reporting on the need for training on integrating the needs of people with access and functional needs into emergency management. GAO will monitor the progress of these efforts. The agency anticipates completing these efforts by December 31, 2017.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: Given DOT's new discretionary grant programs and similar challenges we have found with previous DOT programs, the Secretary of Transportation should issue a directive that governs department-wide and modal administration discretionary grant programs. Such a directive should include requirements to: (1) develop a plan for evaluating project proposals in advance of issuing a notice of funding availability that defines the stages of the process, including how the process will be overseen to ensure a consistent review of applications; (2) document key decisions, including the reason for any rating changes and the officials responsible for those changes, and how high-level concerns raised during the process were addressed; and (3) align stated program purpose and policy priorities with the evaluation and selection process.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOT concurred with this recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, DOT must issue a directive, to address our concerns and require DOT's operating administrations to develop and document procedures for all phases of the process for its discretionary grants.
    Recommendation: To better address FTA's stated policy priority of regional resilience and to minimize fragmentation of federal efforts, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to (a) examine the projects FTA funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (DRAA) discretionary transit resilience grant program for potential duplication with other resilience efforts and (b) determine whether it is appropriate to realign funds for FTA-supported projects for other purposes authorized under the DRAA, or request a rescission of funds for any of the FTA-supported projects.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and accountability over the compensation paid to WYO companies and set appropriate compensation rates, the FEMA administrator should take into account WYO company characteristics that may impact companies' expenses and profits when developing the new compensation methodology and rates.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address a potential challenge for consumers who wish to opt for private flood insurance and who must have insurance under the mandatory purchase requirement, the FEMA Administrator should consider reinstating the cancellation reason code allowing policyholders to cancel their NFIP policy and be eligible for premium refunds, on a prorated basis, if they obtain a non-NFIP policy after their NFIP policy became effective. If changes are needed to NFIP's standard flood insurance policy to allow such refunds, FEMA should take the necessary steps to amend its standard flood insurance policy.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to conduct a systematic analysis of the information generated from FEMA's readiness assessments to determine the extent of regional office efforts to help states implement the NDRF, including conducting education and outreach.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, its Office of Readiness Assessment (ORA) launched the 2016 bi-annual FEMA Readiness Assessment Program in April 2016, which includes NDRF related assessment discussions in five FEMA regions. We met with officials in April 2017, who told us that ORA plans to incorporate into this year's assessments, a retrospective review of NDRF findings and progress made in implementing the NDRF since 2013. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to develop best practices and lessons learned with regard to conducting NDRF education and outreach to states based on the analysis of readiness assessments and create a mechanism to disseminate and share those best practices and lessons learned to FEMA regional offices.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, its Recovery Support Function Leadership Group initiated an information management workgroup, which shares best practices information as one of its objectives. The workgroup has piloted the use of an existing interagency portal as a potential platform for improved information sharing. We met with officials in April 2017, who told us that FEMA will incorporate its 2016 readiness review findings and best practices from regional Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators for stakeholder outreach and education into the final platform build-out. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to clarify with regional offices and Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators (FDRCs) the role of the regional implementation plans in FDRC performance plans and how they will be used to assess NDRF regional implementation efforts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, to achieve greater integration of FEMA's field leadership components, FEMA's Field Operations Directorate (FOD) convened a Field Leadership Working Group of senior subject matter experts to conduct a mission analysis of FEMA's Field Leadership function (which includes Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators as well as Federal Coordinating Officers and Incident Management Assistance Teams team leads). According to FEMA, one of the assigned tasks of the group involves developing performance metrics to define a steady state and operational performance framework for field leaders, to include Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators. According to FEMA, the Working Group is currently underway and is preparing a Field Leader Manual for review by FOD leadership. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to align the annual FDRC performance expectations with clearly defined organizational goals and priorities, consistent with key management practices.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, the Field Leadership Working Group will implement the elements of this recommendation alongside efforts to clarify the role of the regional National Disaster Recovery Framework implementation plans. FEMA also provided documentation to GAO noting that the Working Group is progressing in its work on its Field Leadership Professional Development Plan. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of SBA should direct the Associate Administrator of Business Development to document its planned method for tracking revenue generated under subsidiaries' primary and secondary lines of business, with milestones and timelines for when and how the method will be implemented.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is reviewing documentation that SBA provided regarding actions that it has taken to address this recommendation and is currently determining whether these actions fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of SBA should direct the Associate Administrator of Business Development to provide the appropriate level of access to and sharing of relevant subsidiary data across district offices, including primary and secondary North American Industry Classification System codes and revenue data, once SBA develops a database with the capabilities of collecting and tracking this revenue data as we recommended in 2012.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is reviewing documentation that SBA provided regarding actions that it has taken to address this recommendation and is currently determining whether these actions fully address the recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the activities carried out under the ITM program do not duplicate the efforts of other federal loan guarantee programs, such as SBA's 7(a) program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct EDA to work with SBA and NIST to further identify any gaps in capital access that may be present that the program could fill, and then develop marketing materials and conduct outreach to help target those gaps.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: Partially addressed. As of November 2016 the Economic Development Administration (EDA) had begun taking action on GAO's February 2016 recommendation to work with SBA and NIST to identify gaps in capital access and develop marketing materials and conduct outreach based on any gaps identified for the Federal Loan Guarantees for Innovative Technologies in Manufacturing program (ITM). Due to delays in establishing the program, however, these efforts are still in progress. According to EDA officials, as of November 28, 2016 EDA contractors working on the ITM program had held a preliminary discussion with SBA to discuss program marketing, outreach and potential gaps in capital access that the ITM program may be able to fill, among other topics, but had not yet initiated additional coordination with NIST. We continue to believe that coordination with SBA and NIST to identify gaps in capital access, and then marketing the program to target those gaps could help EDA ensure that ITM program activities do not duplicate the efforts of other federal loan guarantee programs.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote more effective grant management coordination, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a plan with time frames, goals, metrics and milestones detailing how Grant Programs Directorate intends to resolve longstanding challenges associated with its existing hybrid grants management model, which divides responsibilities between regional and headquarters staff.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, FEMA did not believe a plan was warranted to address long-standing coordination issues associated with its existing hybrid grants management model, as recommended in GAO's February 2016 report. According to the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA believes strongly in the importance of close and collaborative relationships between headquarters and regional grants staff. Further, FEMA stated the Grant Programs Directorate at headquarters already has in place numerous steps to ensure coordination and collaboration with regional grants staff. However, these steps by FEMA were already in place when GAO conducted its review in 2015 and early 2016, yet GAO identified continuing challenges related to coordination between headquarters and regions in conducting monitoring visits and providing consistent guidance to state grantees. As a result, GAO continues to believe that without a plan with time frames, goals, metrics, and milestones detailing how officials intend to resolve long-standing challenges associated with FEMA's existing hybrid grants management model, these challenges will continue to hamper the effectiveness of interactions between FEMA and state and local stakeholders in implementing the grant programs.
    Recommendation: To enable more sophisticated and comprehensive awareness of states' NIMS implementation, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop policies and procedures for regional staff to review after-action reports from preparedness exercises within their region, and headquarters staff to review these evaluations in order to have a better understanding of NIMS implementation.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, FEMA officials provided an update on the status of actions taken in response to our report. In the update, FEMA officials said the National Integration Center (NIC) is holding consultative sessions with state and local emergency managers to ensure the revised National Incident Management System (NIMS) doctrine and implementation objectives is operationally sound from the perspective of FEMA's stakeholders. They expect to complete this effort by September 30, 2017. Pending completion of this effort, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA OCPO and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should establish a plan to ensure that the agreement is reviewed on an annual basis as intended.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should direct OCPO and the regional administrators to revisit the 2011 service level agreement to: add details about the extent of operational control headquarters and regional supervisors should exercise to minimize potential competing interests experienced by regional contracting officers; further detail headquarters and regional supervisors' roles and responsibilities for managing regional contracting officers to improve coordination and communication; and ensure that the agreement reflects any new requirements, including recent changes in training that may require travel funds.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To address PKEMRA, the Secretary of Homeland Security should take action to address the requirements of Section 692 to implement subcontractor limitations or request that Congress amend the law to delete Section 692.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DHS took steps to ask Congress to repeal PKEMRA Section 692, which prohibits the use of subcontracts for more than 65 percent of the cost of cost-reimbursement type contracts that exceed the simplified acquisition threshold. DHS submitted a legislative change proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who approves such proposals before they are submitted to Congress. OMB approved the proposed change for PKEMRA Section 692 in April 2016. We will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase states' abilities to improve disaster resilience and mitigate future damage when using federal funding in the wake of disasters, the FEMA Administrator should, consistent with the goals of the NDRF to integrate hazard mitigation and risk reduction opportunities into all major decisions and reinvestments during the recovery process, assess the challenges state and local officials reported, including the extent to which the challenges can be addressed and implement corrective actions, as needed.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA officials provided a corrective action plan that included interim actions and milestones leading to the establishment of procedures and training to assist in implementing policy changes through the end of calendar year 2016. In September 2016, FEMA issued new policies to establish minimum standards for Public Assistance projects that are intended to promote resilience and achieve risk reduction. The April 2017 update indicates that FEMA plans to complete actions to implement this recommendation by May 2017. GAO will assess the actions taken when they are complete.
    Recommendation: To help the federal, state, and local governments plan for and invest in hazard mitigation opportunities to enhance resilience against future disasters, the Director of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group, in coordination with other departments and agencies that are MitFLG members, should supplement the National Mitigation Framework by establishing an investment strategy to identify, prioritize, and guide federal investments in disaster resilience and hazard mitigation-related activities and make recommendations to the President and Congress on how the nation should prioritize future disaster resilience investments. Such a strategy could address, among other things, (1) the extent to which current hazard mitigation and disaster resilience programs are adequately addressing critical lifelines and critical infrastructure, (2) an approach to identifying information on what disaster resilience and hazard mitigation efforts are most effective against known risks and their potential impacts on the nation's fiscal exposure, (3) the balance of federal and nonfederal investments, and (4) the balance of pre- and postdisaster resilience investments.

    Agency: Mitigation Framework Leadership Group
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2016, officials from FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration told us they are working with the Office of Management and Budget to implement this recommendation and shared a high-level work plan designed to guide MitFLG through the creation of a disaster resilience investment strategy. According to this plan, the strategy is to be complete in October 2017.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better leverage the commissioners' expertise in the development of the annual work plan, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act, potentially with one of the identified options.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 10, 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN Act. As of December 14, 2016, the legislation had not yet been signed by the President. Section 5002 of the legislation included provisions related to the Denali Commission. If the legislation becomes law we will review it in more detail to see if it addresses this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: To address barriers to the operation of the Commission, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act to include either a holdover or delegation of authority provision when the Federal Cochair position is vacant.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 10, 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN Act. As of December 14, 2016, the legislation had not yet been signed by the President. Section 5002 of the legislation included provisions related to the Denali Commission. If the legislation becomes law we will review it in more detail to see if it addresses this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: To enhance the Commission's operations, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to consider options for fulfilling the Commission's statutory purpose and finalize that new approach in a new strategic plan.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to issue Commission-specific policies for awarding and managing grants.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to establish a documented process for ensuring that the findings of single audits of grantees are promptly resolved and take action to resolve any recent single audits that showed evidence of a potential problem.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to continue efforts to close out grants and projects, including deobligating unspent grant funds in a timely manner.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to take steps to consistently manage and retain Commission records, including implementing its record retention policy once it is approved.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To allow for greater flexibility in the Commission's operations, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act to modify or end the 5 percent cap on administrative expenditures.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 14, 2016, no legislation had been enacted to address this issue.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that DOT produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, as applicable to each administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrators of the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Transit Administration to revise their policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) clearly identifying roles and responsibilities for estimating improper payments; (2) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (3) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (4) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates; (6) requiring that the sampling methodologies meet the precision requirements outlined in OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; and (7) requiring a consultation with a statistician to ensure the validity of sample design, sample size, and measurement methodology.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: On April 14, 2017, we were informed that the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has oversight over the Department of Transportation's (DOT) improper payments implementation and is revising DOT's policies for estimating improper payments. DOT plans to complete this action by 10/31/2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct appropriate officials to revise its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by (1) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (IPIA), as amended, and (2) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: Overall, we believe the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is on track for taking corrective actions that meet the intent of GAO recommendation. For example, we believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to HUD revising its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments. Specifically, we have reviewed HUD's updated recapture audit plan dated June 26, 2015, and verified it requires payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing. However, we do not believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested. Specifically, we have not seen where HUD's policies and procedures show how HUD ensures that it is selecting from a complete list of grantee files when conducting tests related to estimating improper payments. On July 19, 2017, a HUD official explained that HUD does not have controls in place to ensure that the grantee files are complete. Further, the HUD official indicated that the grantee files come from the grantee, and HUD relies on the grantees to provide a complete list of files. However, HUD does not currently have a way to verify that this list is complete. According to the HUD official, HUD he will explore options HUD can implement for ensuring that grantee files are complete, including possibly having grantees to sign a statement certifying that their grantee files are complete when provided to HUD. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE to revise policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (2) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (3) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (4) providing sufficient procedures for determining an error and what documentation is necessary to substantiate payment; and (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 5, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Seto J. Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help FEMA prevent improper payments, the Administrator of FEMA should assess the cost and feasibility of addressing limitations in FEMA's control for identifying duplicate information in applications in high-risk data fields--such as SSN, bank-account information, address, and phone number--that may currently allow individuals or households to improperly receive multiple payments, and if determined to be costbeneficial take steps to address the system design limitation.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA reported that the agency had reviewed its software system's controls for identifying duplicate SSNs, bank account, address, and phone information. FEMA reported that it would be cost effective and feasible to improve its software system's controls for identifying duplicate address information, and the agency expects to deploy these system changes in the summer of 2017. FEMA also reported that, based on its review of the cases GAO referred to FEMA, errors in SSN and bank account information were related to human casework processing rather than software system limitations. Consequently, FEMA reported that it was reviewing and updating its casework training, guidance, and quality control documentation. We will continue to monitor FEMA's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help FEMA prevent improper payments, the Administrator of FEMA should collaborate with SSA to assess the cost and feasibility of checking recipient SSNs against the Enumeration Verification System and the full death file to more accurately identify recipients who used Social Security numbers (SSNs) that were ineligible or belonged to likely deceased individuals, document the results of this assessment, and if determined to be cost-beneficial take steps to implement a partnership to use SSA data.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA reported that the agency completed a cost estimate for system changes needed to include a direct data exchange with SSA. FEMA further reported that the agency was continuing to explore alternative means of conducting a direct data exchange that would help FEMA verify if an SSN belongs to a deceased person. We will continue to monitor FEMA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement a written policy to ensure all authorized projects are entered into the agency's database and tracked.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Corps has developed a database on authorized construction projects and has used it for deauthorization activities, but the database is not yet on an Automated Information System platform due to contract capacity constraints for the software developers. Once data are included on an Automated Information System platform, guidance will be issued on data entry and updating of the data.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine what projects are eligible for deauthorization, transmit the list to Congress, and publish projects that are deauthorized in the Federal Register once the new database includes all authorized projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement written policies and procedures documenting the project deauthorization process, from initial compilation of a list of eligible projects to submitting the list to Congress and publishing the projects that are deauthorized in the Federal Register.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement a policy for record-keeping to ensure that documents related to deauthorization are maintained as federal records.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish a mechanism for tracking all authorized studies and establish and implement a written policy to ensure all authorized studies are tracked.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will move the inventory to an automated information system platform and issue guidance on data entry and updating the data.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement policies and procedures documenting the deauthorization process for studies, from initial compilation of a list of eligible studies to submitting the list to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will develop policies and procedures for the study deauthorization process.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine what studies are eligible for deauthorization and transmit the list to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will develop policies and procedures for the study deauthorization process and those policies and procedures will be used to carry out the process of deauthorizing studies.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should issue guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the NMTC including the extent to which other government funds can be used to leverage the NMTC by being included in the qualified equity investment.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Although the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) has not issued guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the NMTC, as GAO recommended in July 2014, it has taken steps toward addressing this action. Specifically, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the NMTC program, awarded a contract in September 2015 for new empirical research assessing the extent to which other government programs are being used to leverage the NMTC. CDFI officials have said that this research would help examine the various types of public support used for community development projects and assess the depth of the subsidy necessary to mitigate risk and attract new private capital to businesses located in low-income communities. As of October 2016, CDFI officials anticipate that the contract should be completed in March 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should ensure that controls are in place to limit the risk of unnecessary duplication at the project level in funding or assistance from government programs and to limit above market rates of return, i.e., returns that are not commensurate with the NMTC investor's risk.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the NMTC program, has developed a plan to issue guidance to help ensure that Community Development Entities (CDE) accurately report on sources of public funds and projected internal rates of return, as GAO recommended in July 2014. In January 2016, the CDFI Fund released updated guidance that explains in more detail how CDEs should report data on the use of other public sources in financing NMTC projects. This guidance should help ensure that CDEs accurately report on sources of public funds. As of October 2016, CDFI Fund officials are also evaluating changes to guidance on how CDEs are to report different project rates of return. The CDFI Fund awarded a contract in September 2015 for new empirical research assessing the extent to which other government programs are being used to leverage the NMTC. According to CDFI officials, this research will help them to examine the various types of public support used for community development projects and assess the depth of the subsidy necessary to mitigate risk and attract new private capital to low-income communities.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should ensure that the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund reviews the disclosure sheet that CDEs are required to provide to low-income community businesses to determine whether it contains data that could be useful for the Fund to retain.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) reported that as of September 2016, the CDFI Fund had reviewed the CDE disclosure sheets provided to low-income community businesses, as GAO recommended in July 2014, and determined that useful data from the sheets were already being collected through other data-gathering tools used by the Fund. In January 2016, CDFI officials reported that they did an initial comparison of the data on the disclosure sheets to the data in the Community Investment Impact System (CIIS)which is the system CDEs use to submit reports to CDFI. Officials said they were continuing to investigate any differences between the disclosure sheets and CIIS. Officials also said that they are performing additional analysis on any new data reporting requirements to meet the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which aims to minimize the burden that agency data collections impose on the public.
    Director: Daniel Garcia-Diaz
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As FEMA determines the scope of its efforts to revise its existing guidance, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should direct the Administrator of FEMA to update existing guidance to include additional information on and options for mitigating the risk of flood damage to agricultural structures to reflect recent farming developments and structural needs in vast and deep floodplains.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: To obtain information for updating existing guidance, FEMA engaged a contractor in April 2016 to conduct Phase 1 of a study evaluating recent farming developments. The June 2016 report from the contractor provided FEMA with information on the types of flood damage agricultural buildings and contents can sustain, required mitigation measures under NFIP, and insurance that is currently available to farmers. Phase 2 of the study is underway. This phase will identify the number and types of agricultural structures and the legislation, regulations, and various agency programs affecting the management of these structures; analyze the feasibility of mitigation options for these structures across different types of floodplains; and explore rating guidelines and potential mitigation techniques that could result in reduced risk or rates for agricultural structures. FEMA expects to receive a draft of the Phase 2 study from the contractor in July 2017. GAO will continue to monitor FEMA's progress.
    Director: Mark L. Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide information on the impact of federal investments in expanding broadband infrastructure, the Secretary of Agriculture should include BIP performance information as part of the USDA's annual performance plan and report by comparing actual results achieved against the current subscribership goal.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrators of FTA and FEMA to establish specific guidelines to monitor, evaluate, and report the results of collaborative efforts--including their communications program and protocol--for Hurricane Sandy as well as future disasters.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FTA and FEMA concurred with the recommendation and reported they took two actions in response. First, FTA and FEMA executed the communications protocol contemplated in the memorandum of agreement governing and collaboration between the two agencies in future disasters. This protocol established a joint tracking system to prevent duplicative assistance and included provisions for coordinating funding and for collaborating where insurance settlements and share grantees are involved. Second, in May 2017, FTA and FEMA published an after action report on coordination between the agencies in response to Hurricane Sandy. This report described the coordination that occurred during the Hurricane Sandy response, and discussed lessons learned to be applied to future events, such as the need for more frequent regularly scheduled meetings. We are evaluating FTA's and FEMA's responses.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrators of FTA and FEMA to establish specific guidelines to monitor, evaluate, and report the results of collaborative efforts--including their communications program and protocol--for Hurricane Sandy as well as future disasters.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FTA and FEMA concurred with the recommendation and reported they took two actions in response. First, FTA and FEMA executed the communications protocol contemplated in the memorandum of agreement governing and collaboration between the two agencies in future disasters. This protocol established a joint tracking system to prevent duplicative assistance and included provisions for coordinating funding and for collaborating where insurance settlements and share grantees are involved. Second, in May 2017, FTA and FEMA published an after action report on coordination between the agencies in response to Hurricane Sandy. This report described the coordination that occurred during the Hurricane Sandy response, and discussed lessons learned to be applied to future events, such as the need for more frequent regularly scheduled meetings. We are evaluating FTA's and FEMA's responses.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should align performance goals under the "enhance rural prosperity" strategic objective in the APR to the broadband loan program's purpose, to the extent feasible.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Summary and Annual Performance Plan includes a key performance measure for the number of borrowers/subscribers receiving new or improved telecommunication services. This measure will track the number of subscribers proposed to receive broadband service. However, this method does not measure actual adoption of RUS-financed broadband service. Further, the plan does not include goals or measures to determine the program's progress towards economic development in rural areas.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are working with Department of State officials to track the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Davis, Beryl H
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To proactively prepare for oversight of future disaster relief funding, the Director of OMB should develop standard guidance for federal agencies to use in designing internal control plans for disaster relief funding. Such guidance could leverage existing internal control review processes and should include, at a minimum, the following elements: (1) robust criteria for identifying and documenting incremental risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and (2) requirements for documenting the linkage between the incremental risks related to disaster funding and efforts to address known internal control risks.

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

    Comments: To address the recommendation, OMB should issue guidance on internal control for disaster relief funding, including criteria for identifying additional risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and a requirement to link these incremental risks to ongoing efforts to address known internal control risks. On July 15, 2016, OMB issued the revised Circular No. A-123, Management's Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control. The Circular requires agencies to implement enterprise risk management, which includes the development of a risk profile that analyzes the risks faced in achieving strategic objectives and identifies options for addressing them. In April 2017, OMB staff stated that they believe that the implementation of enterprise risk management through Circular No. A-123 satisfies the intent our recommendation. Because the responsibility for implementing enterprise risk management lies with agency management, Circular No. A-123 does not include specific guidance for identifying risks related to disaster funding. Further discussion and documentation to support OMB's position that the revised Circular addresses our recommendation will be necessary.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To establish full-risk rates for properties with previously subsidized rates that reflect their risk for flooding, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop and implement a plan, including a timeline, to obtain needed elevation information as soon as practicable.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As we reported in February 2016 in GAO-16-190, FEMA has taken limited action to implement this recommendation. For example, FEMA noted that the agency would evaluate the appropriate approach for obtaining or requiring the submittal of information needed to determine full-risk rates for subsidized properties. FEMA also said it would explore technological advancements and engage with industry to determine the availability of technology, building information data, readily available elevation data, and current flood hazard data that could be used to implement the recommendation. However, FEMA officials also said that the agency faced a cost challenge with respect to elevation certificates and that obtaining these certificates could take considerable time and cost. They noted that requiring policyholders to incur the cost of obtaining elevation certificates would not be consistent with NFIP's policy objective to promote affordability. The officials added that the agency encourages subsidized policyholders who seek to ensure the appropriateness of their NFIP rates to voluntarily submit elevation documentation.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to demonstrate compliance across the program with the statutory limit on funds that can be used for administration, the Secretary of HUD should direct the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development to develop a process for generating annual reports on compliance across the program, including making any requisite changes to IDIS to better ensure that the agency has complete and analyzable data to support such reporting.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, a HUD official told us that the agency did not have the funding necessary to make any changes to IDIS. According to this official, HUD was willing to create the recommended across-program report, but did not have the information technology funding required to make other, higher-priority changes to IDIS (such as fixing identified defects) or the change GAO recommended.
    Director: Currie, Christopher
    Phone: (404)679-3000

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the process for disaster declarations, the FEMA Administrator should develop and implement a methodology that provides a more comprehensive assessment of a jurisdiction's capability to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance. This should include one or more measures of a jurisdiction's fiscal capacity, such as TTR, and consideration of the jurisdiction's response and recovery capabilities. If FEMA continues to use the PA per capita indicator to assist in identifying a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster, it should adjust the indicator to accurately reflect the annual changes in the U.S. economy since 1986, when the current indicator was first adopted for use. In addition, implementing the adjustment by raising the indicator in steps over several years would give jurisdictions more time to plan for and adjust to the change.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: On January 20, 2016, FEMA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit comments on an option FEMA is considering to establish a disaster deductible, which would require a predetermined level of financial or other commitment from a recipient, generally the state or territorial government, before FEMA would provide assistance under the Public Assistance Program. According to FEMA, the agency received 150 responses during the 60-day public comment period, which ended on March 21, 2016, and used this input to develop a plan for further engagement on a more detailed proposal for public comment. The Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published on January 12, 2017, provided another opportunity for stakeholder input prior to any changes to the Public Assistance program. This proposal included an explanation of how deductible amounts might be calculated, identified specific credits that states could apply for, and detailed how the deductible would be applied post-declaration. Comments on the Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking must be submitted by April 12, 2017. Until FEMA implements a new methodology, FEMA will not have an accurate assessment of a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance and runs the risk of recommending that the President award Public Assistance to jurisdictions that have the capability to respond and recover on their own.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202)512-4325

    8 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, USDA noted that its Rural Business-Cooperative Service had implemented procedures to improve data collected on program performance, including procedures to validate data entered into its Guarantee Loan System. In addition, USDA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce?s Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for USDA to follow through on the initiatives described above.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it announced additional reporting requirements for grantees as part of its Fiscal Year 2017 Economic Development Assistance Programs federal funding opportunity that are intended to improve program evaluation. EDA added that it plans to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize the new survey forms needed to implement the new requirements with a goal of piloting them in fiscal year 2017. In addition, Commerce participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for Commerce to follow through on the initiatives described above.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD noted that the department had completed its effort to clean up its Community Development Block Grant data and is working to resolve issues with grantees for which costs have been disallowed. HUD expects to resolve these issues by December 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, SBA noted that it continues to evaluate its entrepreneurial development programs through third-party evaluations and limited data collected from their resource partners and will use this information to guide program development. In addition, SBA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for SBA to follow through on the initiatives described above and collect information for the additional six programs identified in our report as lacking information.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, USDA noted that its Rural Business-Cooperative Service had implemented procedures to improve data collected on program performance, including procedures to validate data entered into its Guarantee Loan System. In addition, USDA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for USDA to follow through on the initiatives described above that are intended to improve the evaluation of programs that provide assistance to entrepreneurs.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it announced additional reporting requirements for grantees as part of its Fiscal Year 2017 Economic Development Assistance Programs federal funding opportunity that are intended to improve program evaluation. EDA added that it plans to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize the new survey forms needed to implement the new requirements with a goal of piloting them in fiscal year 2017. In addition, Commerce participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for Commerce to follow through on the initiatives described above and conduct evaluations of the three economic development programs that have not yet been assessed.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD noted that the department had completed its effort to clean up its Community Development Block Grant data and is working to resolve issues with grantees for which costs have been disallowed. HUD expects to resolve these issues by December 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, SBA noted that it had taken a number of steps to build its program evaluation function, including (1) hiring its first lead program evaluator in August 2016 to manage new and coordinate ongoing agency program evaluations, (2) drafting a program evaluation framework that will support the agency's efforts to conduct, monitor, and implement findings from evaluations, and (3) creating a performance and evaluation community of practice that meets on a monthly basis to discuss program evaluation principles and address questions for the framework (e.g., data sharing, definitions, learning agendas). SBA expects to start new program evaluations in 2017. In addition, SBA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for SBA to follow through on the initiatives described above that are intended to improve the evaluation of programs that provide assistance to entrepreneurs.
    Director: Brown, Orice Williams
    Phone: (202)512-5837

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve strategic planning, performance management, and program oversight within and related to NFIP, the Secretary of DHS should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a comprehensive workforce plan according to PKEMRA that identifies agency staffing and skills requirements, addresses turnover and staff vacancies, and analyzes FEMA's use of contractors.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, as of July 2016, FEMA is in the process of developing a Workforce Strategic Plan they say will contribute to organizational performance and mission by enabling FEMA to align the overall workforce with strategic priorities. FEMA expected to complete the plan by the first quarter of FY2017. As of December 2016, FEMA officials said they were still working to implement this recommendation and agreed to provide us with an update of their progress.
    Recommendation: To improve FEMA's policies, procedures, and systems for achieving NFIP's program goals, the Secretary of DHS should direct the FEMA Administrator to consider the costs and benefits of implementing an interim system for FEMA and updating its document management policies and procedures while waiting for DHS to implement an agencywide electronic document management system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA officials stated that, as of July 2016, FEMA is working to pilot an Electronic Records Management System (ERMS). They said that they expected to have all email records in an electronic state by December 31, 2016, and all records in an electronic state by December 31, 2019. They said that they expect the end state in 2019 to meet the Presidential Directive and NARA guidelines. As of December 2016, FEMA officials said they were still working to implement this recommendation and agreed to provide us with an update of their progress.
    Recommendation: To improve FEMA's policies, procedures, and systems for achieving NFIP's program goals, the Secretary of DHS should direct the FEMA Administrator to establish timelines for and complete the development and implementation of FEMA's revised acquisition process, in line with the DHS Acquisition Directive 102-01, including a rollout process with staff training and a mechanism to better ensure that all acquisitions undergo the necessary reviews.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA officials stated that, as of July 2016, a Disaster Acquisitions Response Team (DART) was in place along with metrics in place to monitor the team's success. They said they had also awarded a contract to serve as a contract file repository and that previously scanned contract files would be uploaded by December 31, 2016. As of December 2016, FEMA officials said they were still working to implement this recommendation and agreed to provide us with an update of their progress.
    Director: Goldenkoff, Robert N
    Phone: (202)512-2757

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide more meaningful access to LEP populations, the Administrator of SBA should finalize and issue its LEP plan and recipient guidance.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies to examine how to improve access for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) to programs, services, and activities conducted by both federal agencies as well as state, local, and regional entities that receive federal financial assistance (a group referred to in the Executive Order as "recipients"). While the Executive Order does not prescribe specific approaches for improving access for LEP persons, it does require federal agencies to develop guidelines (referred to as "recipient guidance") that clarify the obligations of state, local, and regional entities. Agencies are also required to prepare LEP plans outlining the steps the agency will take to ensure that eligible LEP persons can access their programs and activities. In our April 2010 report on language access issues, we determined that the Small Business Administration (SBA) had not issued its recipient guidance or LEP plan. SBA officials attributed the delay to several factors, including staff turnover in key positions responsible for developing and approving their LEP Plan and recipient guidance as well as a major transformation effort involving SBA's business operations, goals, and staffing arrangements. As a result, our report recommended that the SBA Administrator finalize and issue SBA's LEP Plan and recipient guidance. As of February 2017, SBA's audit liaison reported that SBA's LEP Plan and recipient guidance are being revised based on comments from a review by the Department of Justice.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202)512-6794

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To the extent that the CDBG program continues to be the primary vehicle used to provide post-disaster assistance for permanent housing, Congress may wish to consider providing more specific direction regarding the distribution of disaster-related CDBG assistance that states are to provide for homeowners and renters. If Congress wishes to change the proportion of assistance directed to homeowners and rental property owners in future recovery efforts, Congress could, for example, require states to demonstrate to HUD that they are adequately addressing the needs of both homeowners and renters with their CDBG allocation and other resources as a condition for receiving funds. Alternatively, Congress could direct HUD to develop a formula that accounts for the housing needs of both homeowners and renters. Such a formula could be used by states to determine the proportions of their disaster CDBG funds that should be used for housing, specifically rental housing. Further, the formula could also reflect the anticipated production levels of other programs that provide permanent housing assistance, such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Since the Gulf Coast hurricanes, Congress appropriated CDBG Disaster Funding for subsequent disasters, including $16 billion to assist recovery in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy and other eligible events in calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013. According to Pub. L. No. 113-2, Congress did not require states to demonstrate to HUD that they were adequately addressing the needs of both homeowners and renters. Moreover, Congress does not appear to have directed HUD to develop a formula that accounts for the housing needs of both homeowners and renters. As of January 2017, no CDBG appropriations for disaster relief have addressed this issue.
    Director: Brown, Orice Williams
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to determine in advance the amounts built into the payment rates for estimated expenses and profit.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA's current payment rates do not explicitly consider WYO insurers' actual expenses and profit.
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to annually analyze the amounts of actual expenses and profit in relation to the estimated amounts used in setting payment rates.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. However, GAO has reported that an annual analysis of the WYO insurers' actual expenses and profit could be regularly performed in relation to FEMA's existing payment methodology.
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to consider the results of the analysis of payments, actual expenses, and profit in evaluating the methods for paying WYOs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act.
    Recommendation: To increase the usefulness of the data reported by WYOs to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and to institutionalize FEMA's use of such data, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to take actions to obtain reasonable assurance that NAIC flood insurance expense data can be considered in setting payment rates that are appropriate, including identifying affiliated company profits in reported flood insurance expenses.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA can also take actions, in addition to any actions related to the rule, to develop method(s) for obtaining reasonable assurance that NAIC data is accurate and usable for setting payment rates before implementation of a new compensation methodology.
    Recommendation: To increase the usefulness of the data reported by WYOs to the National Association NAIC and to institutionalize FEMA's use of such data, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to develop comprehensive data analysis strategies to annually test the quality of flood insurance data that WYOs report to NAIC.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA can also take actions, in addition to any actions related to the rule, to develop and implement data analysis strategies to annually test the quality of flood insurance data WYO insurers report to NAIC before implementation of a new compensation methodology.
    Director: Williams, Orice M
    Phone: (202)512-5837

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to take steps to ensure that its rate-setting methods and the data it uses to set rates result in full-risk premiums rates that accurately reflect the risk of losses from flooding. These steps should include, for example, verifying the accuracy of flood probabilities, damage estimates, and flood maps; ensuring that the effects of long-term planned and ongoing development, as well as climate change, are reflected in the flood probabilities used; and reevaluating the practice of aggregating risks across zones.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, FEMA is taking steps to verify the accuracy of flood probabilities by collecting and analyzing data from flood insurance studies. FEMA is also continuing to monitor the completion of these studies to determine when a statistically valid amount of data is available so that it can better assess flood risk. To verify the accuracy of damage estimates, FEMA is collecting data required to revise its estimates of flood damage and is undertaking studies to determine factors beyond flood water depth that contribute to flood damage. FEMA will incorporate that information into its rate-setting methodology as the necessary data becomes available. To verify the accuracy of flood maps, FEMA continues to reassess flood risk, evaluate coastal flood maps, and update its overall map inventory. To ensure that flood probabilities reflect long-term and ongoing planned development and climate change, FEMA is working with the Technical Mapping Advisory Committee to ensure the best available information on flood probabilities is used for rate-setting. In addition, as FEMA collects information on flood probabilities, it will conduct analyses to evaluate the practice of classifying risk across zones.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to ensure that information is collected on the location, number, and losses associated with existing and newly created grandfathered properties in NFIP and to analyze the financial impact of these properties on the flood insurance program.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: To assess the impact of grandfathered properties on the NFIP, as of January 2017, FEMA has begun to develop a process to obtain current zone designations for all existing policyholders. In addition, FEMA is requiring zone determination data to be updated as flood maps change. According to FEMA, this will allow officials to determine which policyholders are grandfathered but will not allow the determination of a property-specific rate in all circumstances.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202)512-4325

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure compliance with federal contracting regulations and to more transparently disclose the extent to which subcontracting opportunities are available to small businesses, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense and the Administrator of General Services should consider asking their respective Inspectors General to conduct a review at an appropriate future date to ensure that this guidance and related requirements are being followed.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS issued a chapter on its small business subcontracting program in its DHS Acquisition Manual in October 2009 and developed a subcontracting plan checklist that officials are to use when awarding a contract. In May 2010 DHS officials claimed that these documents are examples of progress they have made to address the recommendation on ensuring compliance with federal contracting regulations and other related requirements. After reviewing these documents we disagreed with the agency and do not believe that these documents constitute agency guidance on the contract administration duties to monitor contractor compliance with subcontracting plan reporting requirements.