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    Subject Term: "Economic growth"

    7 publications with a total of 11 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that all relevant U.S. agencies have information on the effect of changes in U.S. policy related to Cuba, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other relevant agencies, should take steps to identify and begin to collect the information that would allow them to monitor changes in economic engagement, including with the Cuban private sector.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation. As of April 2017, State reported that it is taking steps to identify and collect information that would enable it to monitor the Cuban economy and changes in the economic environment, including with the Cuban private sector. For example, State noted that Embassy Havana has developed a plan for in-country travel and reporting by identifying key sectors and provinces that can provide additional insights on the Cuban economy. GAO will continue to monitor State's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the timely completion of an evaluation of security assistance to Egypt that is required by State policy, the Secretary of State should establish specific time frames for completing such an evaluation.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State noted that while evaluation of security assistance to Egypt poses challenges, it views evaluation as a critical tool for accountability and program improvement and will continue to pursue a formal evaluation of security assistance to Egypt. As of August 2017, State had not established specific time frames for such an evaluation. However, according to State officials, the department had begun preliminary data collection in anticipation of an evaluation at some point in the future. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    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: 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: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the ability of the Army and local communities to manage future base closures, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to issue, consistent with DOD guidance, guidance on specific levels of maintenance to be followed in the event of a base closure based on the probable reuse of the facilities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In DOD's comments on our report, it stated that it concurred with our recommendation and that the Army agrees to publish property maintenance guidance prior to closing installations in the event of future base closures. In June 2016, DOD stated that the Department is prohibited by Congressional/statutory language to plan for or implement future BRAC execution.
    Recommendation: To improve the ability of DOD and the local communities to respond to future growth actions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force to consider developing a procedure for collecting service members' physical addresses while stationed at an installation, annually updating this information, and sharing aggregate information with community representatives relevant for local planning decisions, such as additional population per zip code, consistent with privacy and force protection concerns.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation and stated that it agrees that information pertaining to the physical location of installation personnel helps affected communities plan for housing, schools, transportation and other off-post requirements in support of installations. It further stated that existing policy requires the military departments to provide planning information, including base personnel, to states and communities to support the establishment or expansion of a military base. In the event of future basing decisions affecting local communities, DOD stated that it will work with the military departments to assess and determine the best means to obtain, aggregate, and distribute this information to help ensure adequate planning information is made available. In June 2016, DOD stated that the Department is prohibited by Congressional/statutory language to plan for or implement future BRAC execution.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force to consider creating or designating a civilian position at the installation level to be the focal point and provide continuity for community interaction for future growth installations and to consider expanding this position to all installations. This position may be a collateral duty.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially agreed with this recommendation. It stated that it agrees with the need for a designated position at the installation level to work with the community and will ensure this requirement is being met through current practices and in accordance with each military department's personnel system. In many of the growth impacted communities, installation officials serve as ex-officio members of the community's growth management organization and relevant installation staff, including those engaged with public works, housing, education, and land use planning, and coordinate as needed with their civilian community counterparts. In July 2015, DOD stated that in the event the Department of Defense proceeds with future realignments that could result in a reduced footprint, there are provisions for Base Transition Coordinators (BTCs) to be designated as a liaison with the affected community. In the event these future realignments result in an expanded footprint or personnel growth, the Department would consider this recommendation at that time. In June 2016, DOD stated that the Department is prohibited by Congressional/statutory language to plan for or implement future BRAC execution.
    Director: Melvin, Valerie C
    Phone: (202)512-6304

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In light of the agency's declining revenue associated with its basic statutory function and the charging for information that is often freely available elsewhere, Congress should consider examining the appropriateness and viability of the fee-based model under which NTIS currently operates for disseminating technical information to determine whether the use of this model should be continued.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not yet enacted legislation to re-examine the fee-based model under which NTIS operates, although it has begun taking actions that give it an opportunity to do so. Specifically, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Acts, 2015, 2016 and 2017, prohibited NTIS from charging customers for reports authored by legislative branch offices unless the agency tells the customer how an electronic copy of the report can be accessed or downloaded for free online. The Act further stated that, if a customer still requires such a report from NTIS, the agency should not charge more than what is needed to recover the cost of processing, reproducing, and delivering the document requested. Additionally, in the 114th Congress, three bills (H.R. 443, S.787, and S.1636) were introduced and referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. However, none of these bills were passed. The 115th Congress has yet to consider legislation that would ensure the assessment of the appropriateness or viability of NTIS functions.
    Director: White, James
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Congress may wish to consider broadening IRS's ability to use math error authority (MEA), with appropriate safeguards against misuse of that authority.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has expanded IRS's math error authority in certain circumstances, but not as broadly as we suggested in February 2010. Congress enacted legislation in December 2015 that expands the circumstances in which IRS may use math error authority. Section 208 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) gives IRS the authority to use math error authority if (1) a taxpayer claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) during the period in which a taxpayer is not permitted to claim such credit as a consequence of either having made a prior fraudulent or reckless claim; or (2) a taxpayer omitted information required to be reported because the taxpayer made prior improper claims of the Child Tax Credit or the AOTC. While expanding math error authority is consistent with what we recommended Congress consider, we had suggested that math error authority be authorized on a broader basis with appropriate controls rather than on a piecemeal basis. Our previous work has identified additional tax provisions for which expanded math error authority would be helpful, such as the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, Individual Retirement Accounts, and Residential Energy Property Credit. While Congress expanded math error authority for the First-Time Homebuyer Credit in November 2009 and for other individual credits as previously described, we maintain that a broader authorization of math error authority with appropriate controls would enable IRS to correct obvious noncompliance, would be less intrusive and burdensome to taxpayers than audits, and would potentially help taxpayers who underclaim tax benefits to which they are entitled. If Congress decides to extend broader math error authority to IRS, controls may be needed to ensure that this authority is used properly. Our prior work identified potential controls, such as requiring IRS to report on its use of math error authority. The administration also requested that Congress grant the Department of the Treasury regulatory authority to expand IRS's use of math error authority as part of its budget submission for fiscal year 2017. The 114th Congress did not provide Treasury with such authority. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated this change could raise $274 million through fiscal years 2018 through 2026.