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    Subject Term: "Environmental protection"

    21 publications with a total of 52 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that CSTAG's information needs are met for update meetings, the EPA Administrator should direct CSTAG to clarify, in its operating procedures, what type of information and documentation, if any, should be prepared by regional offices and provided to CSTAG members in advance of these meetings.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA concurred with our recommendation, stating that it will revise the CSTAG operating procedures to clearly describe the types of information and data that regional offices need to provide before update meetings. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help agencies determine the value of their telework programs, the Director of OPM, working with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, should provide clarifying guidance on options for developing supporting data for benefits and costs associated with agency telework programs. For example, the guidance could identify potential data sources, such as the data generated in response to requirements under the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Reduce the Footprint Memorandum 2015-01 and Executive Order 13693.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: OPM concurred with the recommendation and its work-life policy office will work with the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council to further agency efforts to determine the value of their telework programs. OPM stated that they will develop clarifying guidance for agencies with CHCO input and host a CHCO Academy session focused on evaluating the costs and benefits of telework programs. This guidance will review basic principles of cost-benefit analysis, highlight common costs and benefits, and identify potential data sources in areas such as real estate costs, energy use, commuting costs, and employee productivity.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate expanded search capability features, such as keyword searches, into its proposed web-based portal for collecting and accessing performance reports to improve their accessibility.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation. EPA also stated that its vision for grants management includes having grant recipients submit performance reports and other information to the agency through a web-based portal. The portal would incorporate capabilities such as key word searches to allow for easier access to performance report information. However, the portal is a long-term initiative, subject to the agency's budget process, and dependent on the completion of the Next Generation Grants System, which the EPA expects to fully deploy in Fiscal Year 2018.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to identify grant programs where existing program-specific data reporting can meet EPA's performance reporting requirements for grants management purposes to reduce duplicative reporting by grantees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated it will work with recipient partners to identify where duplicative reporting can be reduced. However, EPA also noted that program-specific data cannot be relied upon to meet all grants management requirements, and performance reports often contain other information that allows Project Officers to monitor a recipient's progress. Further, EPA will need to consider the feasibility of expanding Project Officer access to certain program databases to enhance grant performance monitoring. EPA anticipates completing the process for identifying where duplicative reporting can be reduced by the end of FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, once EPA's new performance system is in place, to ensure that the Office of Water adopts software tools, as appropriate, to electronically transfer relevant data on program results from program-specific databases to EPA's national performance system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, the EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will apply it, where appropriate and cost effective, to program-specific databases, not only the Office of Water databases. EPA noted that not all data from program-specific databases may be appropriate for direct electronic transfer to the national performance system; some individual grant data may need to be analyzed before being rolled up into national data. Additionally, implementation of this recommendation will depend upon the agency's program offices modifying their databases to interface with the new performance system. Further, implementation of this recommendation is dependent upon completion of EPA's new performance system, currently under development; anticipated deployment is in FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to clarify the factors project officers should consider when determining whether performance reports are consistent with EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to the implementation guidance for the Environmental Results Order (Directive) in FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to expand aspects of EPA's policy for certain categorical grants, specifically, the call for an explicit reference to the planned results in grantees' work plans and their projected time frames for completion, to all grants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to existing policy in FY 2017.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate built-in data quality controls for performance reports into the planned web-based portal based on EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation. However, EPA emphasized that identifying and deploying appropriate data quality controls is a long-term effort subject to budgetary considerations, completion of the Next Generation Grants System, and extensive collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. Specifically, the report's vision for built-in data quality controls involves the use of electronic templates and reduced reliance on manual data entry--which would require standardized work plan and performance report formats subject to clearance by the Office of Management and Budget. Further, EPA noted that both grant recipients and EPA program offices generally have not supported standardizing the format of work plan and progress reports in the past. Accordingly, as a first step, EPA will seek feedback from the recipient and program office community. The agency will initiate that process in FY 2017.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help identify opportunities for cost savings, the Secretary of the Department of Defense should direct the Office of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy to issue guidance or instruction to help ensure that components make reasonable efforts to analyze component-level purchase card spend patterns to identify areas for possible savings.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation and stated that the department will issue guidance to help ensure that components make reasonable efforts to analyze component-level purchase card spend patterns to identify areas of potential savings. In September 2016, DOD issued guidance asking its components to analyze purchase card spend for potential cost savings and to consider broader application of cost savings opportunities across the department. We will continue to follow up with DOD to determine what steps have been taken to communicate findings.
    Recommendation: To help identify opportunities for cost savings, the Secretary of the Department of Energy should take reasonable steps to regularly analyze agency-wide purchase card spend patterns to identify areas such as high-use vendors or frequently purchased commodities for further analysis.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency concurred with this recommendation and has begun implementation of a Spend Analytics Database to support capture and analysis of data on agency-wide spending patterns. The department has compiled data and begun testing the new databases to determine if useful reports can be generated to assist agency-wide purchase card spending analysis.
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The department concurred with this recommendation and updated its purchase card manual November 2016 to encourage components to perform additional spend analysis for the identification of strategic sourcing opportunities, but it is unclear how results of analysis will be communicated for broader application across the agency. The department is also working with industry partners to increase the level of shared data for purchase card transactions and will develop a plan to communicate these data across the agency to support information sharing and increases strategic sourcing opportunities.
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation and stated that guidance that encourages local examination of purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities for cost savings will be developed. In September 2016, DOD issued guidance asking its components to analyze purchase card spend for potential cost savings and to consider broader application of cost savings opportunities across the department. The guidance also asked components and services to report the results of these analysis to purchase card management officials. We will continue to follow up with DOD to determine what steps have been taken to communicate findings.
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency concurred with this recommendation and will update its guidance, policy, and procedures to encourage local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtains savings and to share information on such efforts. Revisions were under review by the department in August 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The department partially concurred with this recommendation, agreeing that it would be useful to perform analysis of purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities for savings. However, rather than issue guidance, it will encourage its bureau charge card leads to use available tools to extract and share data with buyers and program managers. The department will also encourage bureau program and acquisition managers to share spend data across regional boundaries to identify potential opportunities to negotiate lower costs for commonly used items.
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The department concurred with our recommendation and plans to develop guidance and implement strategic sourcing for all purchasing requirements to include purchase cards. Additionally the department will update purchase card policy to encourage agency officials to analyze spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and share information on these efforts. Further, the agency has developed a quarterly report to identify the top merchants receiving payment through the purchase card program in order to assist officials in identifying opportunities for strategic sourcing.
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency provided comments indicating its concurrence with this recommendation, noting that it looks forward to opportunities to benchmark with other agencies and share information on approaches taken to identify opportunities which led to positive strategic sourcing outcomes.
    Director: Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should require and collect well-specific data on inspections from state and EPA-managed programs, including when the wells were inspected, the types of inspections conducted, and the results of the inspections in order to track progress toward state and EPA-managed annual inspection goals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation as open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should complete the aquifer exemption database and establish a way to update it to provide EPA headquarters and regions with sufficient information on aquifer exemptions to oversee state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, EPA published a map of aquifer exemptions online, with the exception of region 9 data. The public dataset shows the data in two dimensions and includes information such as depth of injection, surrounding geology and injectate characteristics. EPA plans to update the database annually. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes work on region 9.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should clarify guidance on what data should be reported on the 7520-4 form to help ensure that the data collected are complete and consistent across state and EPA-managed programs and to provide the information EPA needs to assess whether it must take enforcement actions.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should conduct a workforce analysis to identify the human capital and other resources EPA needs to carry out its oversight of state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA disagreed and said that the best approach is to expand its evaluation of agency oversight to include elements of inspection and enforcement. Once the evaluation is complete, EPA will consider its oversight of state programs. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes its review and determines what it will do with its oversight.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider the options for sustaining the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund as well as the optimal level of funding to be maintained in the Fund, in light of the expiration of the Fund's per-barrel tax funding source in 2017.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to monitor the funding status.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that complete information is available to Congress and the public about federal funding and spending for Great Lakes restoration over time, the Director of OMB should ensure that OMB includes all federal expenditures for Great Lakes restoration activities for each of the 5 prior fiscal years and obligations during the current and previous fiscal years in its budget crosscut reports, as required by Pub. L. No. 113-76 (2014).

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

    Comments: OMB's fiscal year 2017 Great Lakes Restoration Crosscut Report to Congress, dated January 2017, does not include the required information on federal agencies' expenditures and obligations. We will continue to review future years' reports to determine if they include this information.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

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

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: This matter is an action identified in GAO's annual Duplication and Cost Savings reports. There has been no legislative action identified. No legislation was introduced as of March 1, 2017, that would establish a collaborative mechanism to facilitate communication across the relevant agencies and to help enable them to collectively address crosscutting issues, as GAO suggested in November 2014. Some of the agencies with direct regulatory oversight responsibilities for consumer product safety reported that they continue to collaborate to address specific consumer product safety topics. However, without a formal comprehensive oversight mechanism, the agencies risk missing opportunities to better leverage resources and address challenges, including those related to fragmentation and overlap.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should establish time frames and develop performance indicators to assess the extent to which Peru's actions are meeting the commitments of the U.S.-Peru bilateral action plan to address specific challenges in Peru's forestry sector.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO met with USTR staff in July 2016 to discuss detailed a number of actions USTR has taken, with its partners on the interagency partners, including members on the Interagency Committee on Trade in Timber Products from Peru (timber committee), to develop appropriate benchmarks to measure Peru's progress in implementing commitments under the bilateral forestry action plan. USTR officials explained that they continue to work with the timber committee in regards to developing appropriate indicators to monitor the bilateral plan. In addition, USTR staff provided us with documentation containing actions aligned with the objectives of the bilateral plan, potential indicators for monitoring Peru?s activities in regards to the action plan, and potential sources for information collection to update the potential indicators. While we are encouraged by these actions, we will continue to periodically review USTR?s implementation of its instrument to monitor actions taken by Peru in response to the bilateral action plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should work with its interagency monitoring subcommittee to establish time frames and performance indicators to implement its plan for enhanced monitoring of implementation of FTA environmental commitments across all FTA partner countries.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, GAO met with USTR staff to discuss its efforts for ensuring that U.S. trading partners implement and comply with their international trade obligations, including obligations under the environment chapters of our free trade agreements. According to USTR staff, they continue to work with the interagency monitoring committee to systematically monitor environmental issues with its free trade partners, although staff reiterated that this is not a blanket approach to search for infractions. In addition, according to USTR staff, they have used systematic methods to monitor issues with illegal fishing with Korea and Mexico, and logging issues with Peru, for example. GAO will continue to evaluate USTR's progress in executing its procedures, which includes applying benchmarks and indicators where appropriate, in its updated monitoring.
    Director: Stephen Caldwell
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Within DHS, to promote efficiency and harmonize the various assessments to advance security and resilience across the spectrum of CI in a manner consistent with the Homeland Security Act of 2002, PPD-21, and the NIPP, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate work with other DHS offices and components to develop and implement ways that DHS can facilitate data sharing and coordination of vulnerability assessments to minimize the risk of potential duplication or gaps in coverage.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS has taken action in response to GAO's September 2014 recommendation to develop a department-wide process to facilitate data sharing and coordination among the various DHS components that conduct or require vulnerability assessments, but has not fully implemented the recommendation. DHS first reported to GAO in August 2015 that its Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) and the Sector Outreach and Programs Division Innovation Center had formed a vulnerability assessment working group comprised of a variety of federal stakeholders, both within and outside DHS, to enhance overall integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. In December 2015, DHS stated that IP was conducting pilot projects to expand access to its IPGateway portal--IP's system that houses infrastructure data and identifies facilities that have been assessed by IP. In a July 2016 update, DHS reported that IP had reached agreement with DHS components to expand access to its IP Gateway portal to those partners as a means to share IP's vulnerability assessment information and help coordinate assessment visits and related activities. DHS also noted in its update that IP had begun providing access to IP Gateway to components within DHS but did not provide a date as to when that step would be complete. These are positive steps toward implementing a systematic and integrated approach for facilitating data sharing and coordination of vulnerability assessments throughout the department. However, developing a department-wide process to facilitate data sharing and coordination among the DHS offices and components that conduct or require vulnerability assessments would better enable DHS to minimize the risk of potential duplication and gaps by its offices and components in the vulnerability assessments they conduct. Because DHS is still in the process of completing these steps, the recommendation has not yet been fully implemented.
    Recommendation: Regarding SSAs and other federal departments or agencies external to DHS with CI security-related responsibilities that offer or conduct vulnerability assessment tools and methods and building on our recommendation that DHS review its own vulnerability assessments, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate to work with SSAs and other federal agencies that have CI security responsibilities to identify key CI security-related assessment tools and methods used or offered by SSAs and other federal agencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DHS has established a Cross-Sector Integration and Innovation Center in conjunction with the Office of Infrastructure Protection, and has designed, created, and launched a Cross-Agency Vulnerability Assessment Working Group portal on the Homeland Security Information Network-Critical Infrastructure (HSIN-CI). The Working Group, consisting of members from multiple departments and agencies, is collaborating to enhance the integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. This working group is intended to serve as an interagency forum to address several recommendations from GAO Report 14-507. However, the effort is ongoing and it is too early to determine if it will successfully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: Regarding SSAs and other federal departments or agencies external to DHS with CI security-related responsibilities that offer or conduct vulnerability assessment tools and methods and building on our recommendation that DHS review its own vulnerability assessments, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate to work with SSAs and other federal agencies that have CI security responsibilities to analyze the key CI security-related assessment tools and methods offered by sector-specific agencies (SSA) and other federal agencies to determine the areas they capture.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DHS has established a Cross-Sector Integration and Innovation Center in conjunction with the Office of Infrastructure Protection, and has designed, created, and launched a Cross-Agency Vulnerability Assessment Working Group portal on the Homeland Security Information Network-Critical Infrastructure (HSIN-CI). The Working Group, consisting of members from multiple departments and agencies, is collaborating to enhance the integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. This working group is intended to serve as an interagency forum to address several recommendations from GAO Report 14-507. However, the effort is ongoing and it is too early to determine if it will successfully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: Regarding SSAs and other federal departments or agencies external to DHS with CI security-related responsibilities that offer or conduct vulnerability assessment tools and methods and building on our recommendation that DHS review its own vulnerability assessments, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate to work with SSAs and other federal agencies that have CI security responsibilities to develop and provide guidance for what areas should be included in vulnerability assessments of CI that can be used by DHS, SSAs, and other CI partners in an integrated and coordinated manner, among and across sectors, where appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DHS has established a Cross-Sector Integration and Innovation Center in conjunction with the Office of Infrastructure Protection, and has designed, created, and launched a Cross-Agency Vulnerability Assessment Working Group portal on the Homeland Security Information Network-Critical Infrastructure (HSIN-CI). The Working Group, consisting of members from multiple departments and agencies, is collaborating to enhance the integration and coordination of vulnerability assessment efforts. This working group is intended to serve as an interagency forum to address several recommendations from GAO Report 14-507. However, the effort is ongoing and it is too early to determine if it will successfully address the recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to support nationwide reporting goals until the national UIC database is complete, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) improve the 7520 data for reporting purposes, as well as to help with quality assurance for the national UIC database, by developing and implementing a protocol for states and regions to enter data consistently and for regions to check 7520 data for consistency and completeness to ensure that data collected from state and EPA-managed class II programs are complete and comparable for purposes of reporting at a national level, and (2) in the interim, develop a method to use the 7520 database to report UIC data, including data on class II wells, until the national UIC database is fully populated with state data.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that its 7520 database is current as of 2014 and the quality assurance process has been completed. It is developing a method to use the database to report aggregated national data on the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to ensure that EPA maintains enforcement authority of state program requirements, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) conduct a rulemaking to incorporate state program requirements, and changes to state program requirements, into federal regulations, and (2) at the same time, evaluate and consider alternative processes to more efficiently incorporate future changes to state program requirements into federal regulations without a rulemaking.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agrees with GAO's analysis that state program requirements and changes should be approved and codified in federal regulations. However, EPA does not agree with GAO's recommendation to conduct one comprehensive rulemaking to achieve this. In November 2016, EPA officials said they will continue to explore alternative methods for maintaining federal enforceability under the current statutory provisions; it plans to finish its efforts in January 2017. GAO will continue to monitor this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should evaluate and revise, as needed, UIC program guidance on effective oversight to identify essential activities that EPA headquarters and regions need to conduct to effectively oversee state and EPA managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA stated that it has developed a national framework for oversight of the UIC program and to transfer knowledge to new staff. EPA said that it will continue to evaluate whether to update its guidance. We are continuing to monitor EPA's progress on this recommendation.
    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: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop an estimate of the scope of work remaining to address uranium contamination on or near the Navajo reservation, Congress should consider requiring that the Environmental Protection Agency take the lead and work with the other federal agencies to develop an overall estimate of the remaining scope of the work, time frames, and costs.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we are not aware of any legislation being enacted to address this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to employ best practices in creating the schedule and cost estimates for the remedial action cleanup phase.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to identify and examine any lessons learned from managing the remedial investigation and feasibility study contract and consider these lessons as part of the acquisition planning process for the remedial action contract.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Mihm, J Christopher
    Phone: (202) 512-3236

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve agencies' retrospective regulatory review processes and reporting, and strengthen linkages between retrospective reviews and agency performance management, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to work with regulatory agencies to implement existing guidance, and update guidance where needed, to improve the reporting of outcomes in their retrospective regulatory review plans by taking actions such as: (1) publishing a link to updated plans, which list recent results and anticipated outcomes, on the White House website; (2) submitting evidence that agencies listed updates of their plans on their "Open Government" web pages; (3) providing more comprehensive information on completed reviews in agencies' most recent plans and progress reports by (a) ensuring the most recent published plan contains a complete accounting of all completed reviews rather than expecting readers to review multiple plans, and (b) including the supporting analysis and data for results by listing a link or citation to the related documentation.

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

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, OMB staff generally agreed with the recommendation. In responses to questions for the record following a July 2015 Senate hearing on OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), the OIRA Administrator noted that OIRA has adopted several of the recommendations in GAO-14-268. Regarding this recommendation, the Administrator stated that OIRA posted agencies' retrospective review plans on a central OMB site. As of August 2017, these plans and progress updates are now publicly available, by agency, on the archived OMB website for President Obama's administration (see https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/omb/oira/regulation-reform).
    Recommendation: To improve agencies' retrospective regulatory review processes and reporting, and strengthen linkages between retrospective reviews and agency performance management, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to ensure that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, as part of its oversight role, monitor the extent to which agencies have implemented the guidance on retrospective regulatory review requirements outlined in the related executive orders and confirm that agencies have identified how they will assess the performance of regulations in the future.

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

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, OMB staff generally agreed with the recommendation. In responses to questions for the record following a July 2015 Senate hearing on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs' (OIRA) role in the regulatory process, the OIRA Administrator noted that OIRA has adopted several of the recommendations in GAO-14-268. Specifically regarding this recommendation, the Administrator stated that OIRA regularly asks agencies to consider the incorporation of a retrospective review planning component in forward-looking regulations, but as of August 2017 OMB has not responded to GAO's requests to provide additional details.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To take advantage of opportunities to collect UCMR data on additional unregulated contaminants, Congress should consider amending SDWA to give EPA the flexibility to select more than 30 contaminants for monitoring under the UCMR program if high-priority contaminants, such as those on the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) or contaminants of emerging concern, can be included at minimal cost, with minimal additional burden on public water systems, and while using analytical methods that EPA is already employing.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to address this matter; we will continue to monitor actions and provide updated information when it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To optimize the ability of the UCMR data to support regulatory determinations, Congress should consider adjusting the statutory time frames for the UCMR and regulatory determinations cycles so that EPA can use the UCMR data to support regulatory determinations in the same cycle.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to address this matter; we will continue to monitor actions and provide updated information when it becomes available.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, EPA notified GAO that the final GLRI adaptive management report is due to be released in December 2017. We will review the report after it becomes available.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance transparency and allow for more informed decision making related to the appropriate role of leasing in GSA's real property portfolio, the Administrator of GSA should include in the lease prospectus a description of the length of time that an agency estimates it will need the space, an historical account of how long the agency has been in the particular building it is occupying at the time of the prospectus, and any major investments the agency will have to make to the leased space to meet its mission. For those spaces for which the agency has a long-term projected need, also include an appropriate form of cost-to-lease versus cost-to-own analysis.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, GSA had not incorporated the recommended information into its fiscal year 2016 lease prospectuses and did not plan to do so in future prospectuses. GSA officials stated that GSA may not know how long an agency will need the space or the amount of investment that will be needed, so this information would be difficult to incorporate. However, in its 2013 review, GAO found that 9 of the 12 case study leases included space for long-term or mission critical space needs for tenant agencies. Some of the tenant agencies in these leases had been housed in multiple successive leases far longer than the statutory term limit of 20 years for a single GSA lease-situations that would lend themselves to analyzing the extent to which it would be more cost-effective for the government to own rather than lease. Moreover, GSA and the agency are likely to have general information on the complexity and likely investment needed to meet an agency's mission-related needs in leased space that could be included in the prospectus. Including the recommended information would increase transparency and facilitate more informed decision making by Congress.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's management of the conditional registration process, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations to more readily track the status of these registrations and related registrant and agency actions and identify potential problems requiring management attention.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that until upgrades to OPP's database architecture are complete in the FY 18 timeframe, the agency cannot complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations. The agency informed us that plans are currently underway to improve the functionality and accuracy of OPP databases, including the tracking of information on conditional registration. However, until this work is complete, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA maximizes its limited resources and addresses the statutory, regulatory, and programmatic needs of EPA program offices and regions when IRIS toxicity assessments are not available, and once demand for the IRIS Program is determined, the EPA Administrator should direct the Deputy Administrator, in coordination with EPA's Science Advisor, to develop an agencywide strategy to address the unmet needs of EPA program offices and regions that includes, at a minimum: (1) coordination across EPA offices and with other federal research agencies to help identify and fill data gaps that preclude the agency from conducting IRIS toxicity assessments, and (2) guidance that describes alternative sources of toxicity information and when it would be appropriate to use them when IRIS values are not available, applicable, or current.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of October 2016, EPA indicated that the agency evaluated user needs for toxicity assessments as part of its process for developing the Multi-Year Agenda it issued in December 2015. We will continue to review additional information and documentation on EPA's agencywide strategy to address the unmet needs of EPA program offices and regions, and will update status comments as appropriate.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Comments: On August 1, 2016, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued final guidance to federal departments and agencies on how to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change when evaluating proposed federal actions in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. However, in March 2017, the White House issued Executive Order 13783, directing CEQ to rescind the guidance, among other things. CEQ rescinded the guidance on April 5, 2017.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to systematically implement the statutory requirement to consider for regulation the contaminants that present the greatest public health concern, the EPA Administrator should require that the Office of Water to develop a coordinated process for obtaining both the occurrence and health effects data that may be needed for the agency to make informed regulatory determinations on these priority contaminants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA has not demonstrated that it has developed a coordinated process for obtaining both occurrence and health effects data to make informed determinations on priority contaminants. EPA's response to this recommendation is that it will continue the status quo of obtaining occurrence data through UCMRs and work with the Office of Research and Development. As we reported, the approach EPA currently uses does not provide the agency with all of the data it needs in a timely manner to support determinations for some priority contaminants.
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to support the development of regulatory determinations that are transparent, clear, and consistent and that follow applicable agency policy, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Water to expeditiously develop, and make available to the public, policies or guidance that clearly articulates the agency's interpretation of the act's broad statutory criteria for making regulatory determinations and provides a protocol for making such determinations. In particular, the guidance should establish a process to ensure that the presentation of health effects and occurrence information in regulatory determination notices and support documents is comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable and that it includes clear explanations of key information, such as any exceptions to existing guidance reflected in the agency's support for its regulatory determinations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA's Preliminary Regulatory Determinations for Contaminants on the Third Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (Reg Det 3) did not appear to include any cases in which EPA made an exception to existing guidance, negating the need for an explanation. EPA has not developed policies or guidance that establishes a process to ensure that the presentation of health effects and occurrence information in regulatory determination notices and support documents is comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable, and that it includes clear explanations of key information and the Protocol for Regulatory Determinations 3 does not appear to address this circumstance. Without policies or guidance establishing a process to ensure the comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable presentation of its regulatory determinations, there is no guarantee at this time that EPA would include this information in future regulatory determinations.
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to support the development of regulatory determinations that are transparent, clear, and consistent and that follow applicable agency policy, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Water to expeditiously develop, and make available to the public, policies or guidance that clearly articulates the agency's interpretation of the act's broad statutory criteria for making regulatory determinations and provides a protocol for making such determinations. In particular, the guidance should specify that appropriate stakeholders--that is, EPA offices with relevant expertise such as the Office of Children's Health Protection and regional offices that have known or likely occurrence of the contaminants being evaluated in public water systems within their areas of jurisdiction--be encouraged and have the opportunity to participate in the regulatory determination work groups.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA's response to this recommendation reflects the practice that was in place at the time we issued our report including this recommendation. As a result, it does not appear that EPA has taken any additional action to satisfy this recommendation at this time.
    Recommendation: In light of EPA's decisions to issue health advisories in conjunction with determinations to not regulate certain contaminants that have been detected in some public water systems at levels of public health concern, the EPA Administrator should (1) determine whether the Office of Water's use of health advisories provides sufficient information on these unregulated contaminants to support timely and effective actions by states, localities, public water systems, and the public to ensure the safety of public drinking water, and (2) if not, direct the Office of Water to develop a plan to more effectively communicate such information to these entities.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA indicated that it has begun a process of developing concise updates to carry forward into its health advisory table and that the process will be completed gradually over the next year, with updates continuing in the future, but has not yet published any updates for non-microbial contaminants. In addition, EPA has not addressed the call in the recommendation for the documentation of the process to update the advisories. The agency did indicate its plan to update the Drinking Water Standards and Health Advisory table in the fall of 2016, so we will leave this recommendation open and continue to monitor for future actions.