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    Subject Term: "Federal funds"

    70 publications with a total of 167 open recommendations including 22 priority recommendations
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should require Commissioners to review and approve, as appropriate, spending above the budget in a timely manner.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should maintain and disseminate an updated list of state eligibility databases available to Lifeline providers that includes the qualifying programs those databases access to confirm eligibility; this step would help ensure Lifeline providers are aware of state eligibility databases and could also help ensure USAC audits of Lifeline providers can verify that available state databases are being utilized to verify subscriber eligibility.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should establish time frames to evaluate compliance plans and develop instructions with criteria for FCC reviewers how to evaluate these plans to meet Lifeline's program goals.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should develop an enforcement strategy that details what violations lead to penalties and apply this as consistently as possible to all Lifeline providers to ensure consistent enforcement of program violations; the strategy should include a rationale and method for resource prioritization to help maximize the effectiveness of enforcement activities.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to ensure that the preliminary plans to transfer the USF funds from the private bank to the U.S. Treasury are finalized and implemented as expeditiously as possible.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to require a review of customer bills as part of the contribution audit to include an assessment of whether the charges, including USF fees, meet FCC Truth-in-Billing rules with regard to labeling, so customer bills are transparent, and appropriately labeled and described, to help consumers detect and prevent unauthorized charges.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to respond to USAC requests for guidance and address pending requests concerning USF contribution requirements to ensure the contribution factor is based on complete information and that USF pass-through charges are equitable.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

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

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that NTTFI is able to provide quality information to support management and program oversight efforts, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to coordinate with the Federal Highway Administration and tribal stakeholders and reexamine the need for road-description and condition data currently collected in the NTTFI and eliminate fields that do not serve an identified purpose.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that NTTFI is able to provide quality information to support management and program oversight efforts, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to for fields determined to have continued relevance for management and program oversight take steps to improve the quality of these data by clarifying guidance in the NTTFI coding guide that tribes use to collect data and by providing additional guidance on steps needed to ensure that data are consistently reported.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that NTTFI is able to provide quality information to support management and program oversight efforts, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to establish a process to monitor data to facilitate timely and targeted corrections to missing or erroneous data.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    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 the DMR, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop a means to document when the level of service for each road section was last evaluated.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    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 the DMR, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop and maintain documentation supporting the unit costs of maintenance used to estimate maintenance needs.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    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 the DMR, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop a process for more complete and accurate reporting occurring under existing authority of Road Maintenance Program funds expended for performed maintenance on BIA roads.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    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 data on reasons for student absences, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to provide guidance to BIE schools to collect data on student absences related to road and weather conditions.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To best align resources allocation decisions to needs, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to review the formula to fund transportation at BIE schools and determine, with BIA and tribal stakeholders, what adjustments, such as distinguishing between gravel and paved roads, are needed to better reflect transportation costs for schools.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should direct the Office of Academic Improvement to expand its performance measures for the 21st Century program to address all program objectives. Specifically, Education should establish performance measures related to key behavioral, including student attendance and disciplinary incidents, and socio-emotional outcomes.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendations; rather, it generally noted that it will keep our recommendations in mind as it continues to implement changes in the program as a result of ESSA. Specifically, the department stated that it is in the process of re-examining whether additional or revised measures should be developed to align more significantly with the program's statutory objectives under ESSA. Education also expressed concern about collecting data on student attendance and disciplinary measures, noting that it will require effective collaboration between states, districts, and other eligible entities. However, we note that about half of states already collect data on at least one of these two measures; and that research has shown that 21st Century programs more often have positive effects on student attendance and reducing disciplinary incidents than on improving students' academic outcomes. Given these effects, we continue to believe that it is critical for Education to measure student attendance and disciplinary incidents to obtain more complete, accurate information on this program's effect on student outcomes.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should direct the Office of Academic Improvement to conduct federal-level data checks on the accuracy of 21st Century program data submitted by states. Such checks could test for logical relationships between fields. Education should also publicly disclose and address any data limitations it identifies, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. Education commented that it plans to build in additional data checks into the data system beyond its current checks on the data's completeness. Specifically, Education anticipates that new technology enhancements in the data system will be designed to flag for inconsistencies in data reporting. For example, the system may send a "flag" that participation data is significantly lower or higher than previously reported participation data. Further, Education indicated that it will consider whether auditors performing audits under the Single Audit Act can be asked and guided to do more checks on the accuracy and reliability of 21st Century program data.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should direct the Office of Academic Improvement to provide written, non-regulatory guidance to states on developing and conducting high-quality 21st Century state evaluations to help address the difficulties states face in measuring program performance and effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. Education outlined several steps it has taken to assist states in the past. For example, Education said that it provided six states with individualized technical assistance on strategies related to developing statewide evaluations and measures. Education also noted that, to date, it has conducted two webinars on state evaluations and is in the process of including presentations from those webinars on its online learning portal so that states will have easy access to the information. In addition, Education stated that it included presentations on evaluation strategies in the past during its Summer Institute. Education also said it would consider whether additional guidance for all states was needed. While these are important steps, we do not believe they are sufficient. We continue to believe that Education should prepare written guidance to assist all states in developing and conducting high-quality program evaluations.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should direct the Office of Academic Improvement to use the information it collects from its monitoring visits and ongoing interactions with states to share effective practices across states for sustaining their 21st Century programs once program funding ends. This information could be shared using existing mechanisms such as Education's meetings with 21st Century state coordinators.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. Education noted that it hosts meetings twice a year for 21st Century state coordinators where strategies related to program sustainability are shared with states. These meetings covered topics such as reducing the amounts of 21st Century grant awards by a percentage each year. However, these meetings have not focused on topics on program sustainability for several years. We continue to believe that Education should take the lead in sharing information with states to help them address their sustainability challenges by sharing information on state policies and practices that have shown some success.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its oversight of discretionary grantee performance, the Secretary of Education should direct the Risk Management Service (RMS) to work with principal offices, as appropriate, to establish and implement detailed written supervisory review procedures for official grant files to provide reasonable assurance that grant staff perform and document key monitoring activities.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education substantially agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted that it planned to establish a standard operating procedure for grant file reviews, including a protocol for the review of these files to ensure that monitoring efforts are documented appropriately.
    Recommendation: To enhance its oversight of discretionary grantee performance, the Secretary of Education should direct RMS to work with principal offices, as appropriate, to develop guidance for grant staff on using the PAM Module to share information on grantee performance. Such guidance could clarify expectations about when staff should use the "Issues" and "Notable Results" tabs while monitoring grantees once the transition to electronic grant files is complete, and clarify the types of information staff should enter about grantee performance.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education substantially agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted that it planned to reinforce through grant administration trainings the importance of sharing grantee performance information agency-wide, including in the PAM Module.
    Director: Allison B. Bawden
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the pilot programs for disconnected youth can be effectively implemented over the lifetime of the initiative, the Director of OMB should coordinate with relevant federal agencies to identify and estimate expected annual financial and staff resource contributions from each agency, including during the implementation and evaluation phases of the pilots.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal agencies involved in the disconnected youth pilots are able to evaluate pilot outcomes and ultimately communicate to Congress whether and to what extent the flexibilities tested by the pilots should be integrated into broader efforts, the Director of OMB should coordinate with relevant federal agencies to identify criteria or standards for assessing scalability, and collect data needed to address those criteria or standards.

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

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

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to direct EQIP program managers to coordinate with the leaders of USDA's CEAP to help ensure that CEAP studies consider the practical limitations and trade-offs faced by program managers and to provide program managers with better information to target EQIP funds where they will optimize environmental benefits.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to revise guidance on state offices' EQIP allocation processes, stipulating that data on environmental concerns, where available, should be a primary factor influencing allocations within states.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to establish a review process at the regional level for review and concurrence of EQIP payment rates above a threshold (e.g., rates greater than 50 percent, with justification).

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to modify guidance and ranking tools so that they more accurately value an EQIP application's anticipated environmental benefits relative to estimated costs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Director: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve consistency in CMS oversight of federal spending under section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should require the Administrator of CMS to develop and document standard operating procedures for monitoring spending under demonstrations that (1) require setting reporting requirements for states that provide CMS the data elements needed for CMS to assess compliance with demonstration spending limits; (2) require consistent enforcement of states' compliance with financial reporting requirements; and (3) require consistent tracking of the amount of unspent funds under demonstration spending limits.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve consistency in CMS oversight of federal spending under section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should require the Administrator of CMS to issue formal guidance on the revised budget neutrality policy, including information on how the policy will be applied.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should develop, document, and implement a process for periodically conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews of Title II development and emergency projects. Such reviews should include efforts to verify that actual costs incurred for these projects align with planned budgets.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is exploring options to develop a new process for conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should ensure that its requirements for implementing partners to provide monitoring data on an ongoing basis on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement are consistent for Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has updated its Food for Peace development award template, and programs are now required to provide quarterly reports on cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement. As of September 2017, we are following up with USAID to confirm the actions taken in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should take steps to ensure that it collects complete and consistent monitoring data from implementing partners for Title II development and emergency projects on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement as well as data on the use of Title II funding for internal transportation, storage, and handling (ITSH) costs, in accordance with established requirements.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has taken actions in response to this recommendation including hiring staff and providing training to support adherence to award requirements. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should update key guidance and systems to consistently reflect allowable uses of ITSH funds in Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is updating guidance and exploring other options to further clarify ITSH and 202(e) funding distinctions, in response to this recommendation. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should establish a requirement for Title II development project partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for cash transfers and food vouchers funded by 202(e), and take steps to ensure that implementing partners adhere to the requirement.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has inserted a requirement for partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for activities including cash transfers and food vouchers into its FY 2017 Request for Applications for Food for Peace development activities, and that new Title II development awards will require partners to adhere to the requirement. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions taken in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the elements of the agency's process for making asset maintenance decisions are achieving desired outcomes, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Park Service to evaluate the Capital Investment Strategy and its results to determine if it is achieving its intended outcomes or if changes need to be made.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its March 22, 2017 update, the Department of the Interior stated that they concur with this recommendation and will assign responsibility for developing and implementing corrective actions to the new Director of NPS upon his or her confirmation.
    Director: Susan Irving
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the reserve target SEC set for PCAOB safeguards against realistic risks and probable contingencies, including potential unforeseen funding delays, the SEC Chair, in exercising the commission's authority to oversee PCAOB, should analyze--and document the analysis of--program needs and probable contingencies, in consultation with PCAOB as appropriate.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reported in January 2017 that it will coordinate further with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) staff as the PCAOB analyzes, with review by the SEC, their program costs and risks to ensure that the operating reserve reflects current needs and probable contingencies and that the analysis is documented.
    Director: J. Lawrence Malenich
    Phone: (202) 512-3406

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: CCI's Chief Financial Officer should update its existing Procurement and Accounts Payable Policy to fully document CCI's management approval controls over payments made by check, including exemptions to regular procedures. This should include approval procedures to be followed during periods when only one authorized manager is available to sign checks for payment.

    Agency: Capital Concerts, Inc.
    Status: Open

    Comments: We provided a draft of this report to Capital Concerts, Inc. (CCI) for comment. In its written comments, CCI stated that its Board of Directors will take appropriate action to address this recommendation.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should take additional steps to collect and disseminate information on promising practices that could help improve data matching processes among state SNAP agencies, including broad and timely dissemination of information on results of recent relevant pilots or demonstrations.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted it is moving in this direction and would build on current efforts to address them. GAO will monitor these efforts and consider closing the recommendation when these efforts have been completed.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should work with the Department of Health and Human Services (as appropriate) to analyze spending and understand data needs for SNAP across federal and state contracts and in relation to other programs as FNS explores ways to potentially reduce the costs of using commercial data services.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted it has been moving in this general direction and would build on current efforts to address it. GAO will monitor these efforts and consider closing the recommendation when these efforts have been completed.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To facilitate collaboration and identify and broadly disseminate information on leading practices and lessons learned, the Director of OMB should establish a formal means for agencies to collaborate on tiered evidence grants. This could include creating a formal working group or providing collaboration technologies, such as an electronic mailing list or web portals.

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

    Comments: In July 2017, OMB staff told us that they had established an interagency working group and other mechanisms to facilitate collaboration and disseminate information on tiered evidence grants. We have requested documentation of such activities but have yet to receive it.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to develop an efficiency measure or measures that demonstrate the linkage between the federal funding of bridges and the desired performance outcomes, such as maintained or improved bridge conditions, and report the resulting information to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported to GAO that FHWA will review bridge project information and cost data that is currently being collected and review Office of Management and Budget's guidance and other examples for developing meaningful performance measures and measures that were proposed in prior FHWA proposed rulemaking efforts. Following those reviews, FHWA reported that an applicable efficiency measure will be developed that links federal funding and condition of bridges. FHWA reported that this review and evaluation will be completed by January 31, 2018 and once the efficiency measure is implemented it will be reported and incorporated in one of FHWA's existing reports to Congress.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    11 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of CAS should develop a standardized checklist and document procedures in its internal guidance instructing negotiators to use the checklist during negotiation.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Cost Allocation
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that its Cost Allocation Services (CAS) will update and complete standardized checklists and that staff will be instructed to use these checklists by December 31, 2016. We are currently reviewing support received from HHS to determine if we can close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of CAS should develop detailed internal guidance for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiation process to provide reasonable assurance that key control activities have been performed by the negotiators.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Cost Allocation
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that by December 31, 2016, its Cost Allocation Services (CAS) will establish a document outlining standardized review procedures for supervisory review of workpapers and rate agreements. We are currently reviewing support received from HHS to determine if we can close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of CAS should develop internal guidance for negotiating indirect cost rates with all types of research organizations, including hospitals, as well as universities using the simplified method.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Cost Allocation
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that its Cost Allocation Services (CAS) will update internal guidance for negotiating indirect cost rates with universities using the simplified method by December 31, 2016. This guidance will include an example under the two types of direct cost bases, a salary and wage base and a modified total direct cost base. CAS will develop internal guidance for negotiating with hospitals as soon as possible. We are currently reviewing support received from HHS to determine if we can close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: As NIH-DFAS begins formalizing its internal guidance, the Director of NIH-DFAS should update internal guidance to include key characteristics, such as policy number, purpose of the policy, effective date, and approving official, that are normally included in formal policy and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: National Institutes of Health: Office of Management: Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management: Office of Acquisition Management and Policy: Division of Financial Advisory Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that by December 31, 2016, National Institute of Health's Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS) will update internal guidance to include key characteristics that are normally included in formal policy and procedures. NIH-DFAS has finalized three of the five polices, which are effective as of July 1, 2017. The remaining two policies will be finalized by August 31st, 2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: As NIH-DFAS begins formalizing its internal guidance, the Director of NIH-DFAS should develop detailed procedures for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiation process to provide reasonable assurance that key control activities have been performed by the negotiator.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: National Institutes of Health: Office of Management: Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management: Office of Acquisition Management and Policy: Division of Financial Advisory Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that the National Institute of Health's Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS), will develop detailed procedures for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiations process. NIH-DFAS has developed draft internal guidance to address the supervisory review of the indirect cost negotiation process. NIH-DFAS plans to finalize these procedures by August 31, 2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: As NIH-DFAS begins formalizing its internal guidance, the Director of NIH-DFAS should establish a mechanism for tracking key milestones in the indirect cost rate-setting process, such as when indirect cost rate proposals are due.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: National Institutes of Health: Office of Management: Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management: Office of Acquisition Management and Policy: Division of Financial Advisory Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendations. In response, HHS stated that National Institute of Health's Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS) will establish a mechanism for tracking key milestones in the indirect cost rate-setting process. NIH-DFAS has initiatives underway that include moving from paper to electronic submissions of indirect cost proposals and developing a replacement to its Commercial Rate Agreement Distribution Services website. DFAS is looking into the feasibility of incorporating key milestones into these two major initiatives. NIH-DFAS is currently working with a contractor to develop a web based system that will establish a tracking system to account for when indirect cost proposal are due from organizations. The original initiative to enable the electronic submission of indirect cost proposals was modified to incorporate this new requirement. NIH-DFAS anticipates the planned date for implementation of this system to be October 1, 2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should implement the May 2014 policy requiring an annual review of guidance so that internal guidance is updated when changes are made to applicable regulations and procedures to reasonably assure that the guidance reflects current requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) will comply with its requirement for an annual review of its internal policy on negotiating indirect costs. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should include in its internal guidance acceptable Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) audit completion time frames and identify supplemental procedures to be performed by negotiators if DCAA cannot perform its audits timely or if DCAA issues a qualified opinion or rescinds one of its previously issued audit opinions, to reasonably assure that the indirect cost rate proposal has been adequately reviewed and the negotiated rate complies with applicable regulations.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) internal guidance will be updated to provide more realistic audit report due dates and will include general procedures to be performed by negotiators in the case of untimely audits, qualified opinions, or rescinded opinions. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should develop detailed procedures for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiation process to provide reasonable assurance that required certifications and assurances are obtained and follow-up with the research organization is documented.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. DOD did not agree that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) lacks procedures to ensure supervisors confirm that negotiators adequately performed and documented key controls. DOD noted that both the primary and secondary supervisors are required to review and approve the Business Clearance Memorandum, which records steps performed by the negotiator. While we agree that the Business Clearance Memorandum documents steps performed by the negotiator, these steps are documented at a high level and do not include detailed procedures for supervisors to follow to reasonably assure that the negotiator has performed and documented all key control activities, such as obtaining all required certifications and assurances. DOD agreed in its response that ONR's Business Clearance Memorandum can be improved and stated that ONR will update it to require the negotiator to cross-reference the review steps to the proposal to facilitate the supervisor's review process. However, it is not clear whether the planned Business Clearance Memorandum revisions will include providing detailed procedures for supervisory review as we recommended. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should finalize and issue internal guidance for negotiating indirect cost rates with universities and nonprofit organizations, including establishing a time frame for issuance of the internal guidance, to help ensure that the procedures are implemented in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is currently updating its internal guidance and currently plans to issue this guidance by December 31, 2016. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should update ONR's existing process for tracking key milestones in the indirect cost rate-setting process to include information such as when indirect cost rate proposals are overdue and when DCAA's audit reports are due.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research will update its existing processes for tracking key milestones to include information such as due dates for rate proposals and DCAA audit reports. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Dan Bertoni
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure the agency has sufficient information about risks to SSI program integrity when making decisions about efforts to address them, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should conduct a risk assessment of the current manual process for connecting and adjusting claim records of SSI recipients who live in households with other SSI recipients, and, as appropriate, take steps to make cost-effective improvements to SSA's claims management system to address identified risks.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA disagreed with this recommendation stating that current SSI program rules do not support connecting records of unrelated individuals living in multiple recipient households. SSA also noted that it does not have evidence from its fiscal year 2014 payment accuracy reviews that manual processing of married couple multiple recipient household claims led to payment errors. As such, the agency stated that it could not commit resources to address this recommendation at this time, but noted if a legislative proposal is put forth that affects unrelated multiple SSI recipient households, SSA will assess program policy and systems risks as part of its evaluation and planning. However, we continue to believe that the manual processing currently used to connect and adjust claim records of SSI recipients who live in households with other SSI recipients leaves the agency at risk. SSA has acknowledged that it has not assessed the extent to which manual processing leads to payment errors, and the data they provided us on fiscal year 2014 improper payments to married couple recipients does not address the full scope of the issues we identified. Specifically, field office staff reported several instances in which manual processing is used to connect and adjust claims records for multiple recipient households due to system limitations, and indicated that these manual adjustments increase the likelihood of erroneous payments. These manually processed claims are for households with multiple related recipients whose SSI benefits are currently inter-related under program rules, such as multiple child recipients who are siblings or individual recipients who marry another recipient. Without an assessment of the risks associated with the manual processing of these claims, SSA is unable to determine if additional adjustments to its system would be a cost-effective use of its resources.
    Director: Kay Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve tribes' ability to maintain safe, stable, and permanent care for children, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Children's Bureau to explore the reasons for low tribal participation and identify actions to increase this participation in the title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted that some tribal-state agreements might predate 2008, when GAP was established. HHS also said that regional office staff participate annually in joint planning for the title IV-B and IV-E programs with their respective states and tribes and that participation in GAP is a topic covered in joint planning activities. In addition, HHS said that regional office staff are available to assist states and tribes with discussions about GAP participation when tribal-state agreements are renegotiated and that technical assistance is available to tribes, if needed. According to HHS, the agency plans to add information to the Children's Bureau website about direct federal funding for tribal title IV-E agencies and about tribal-state partnership agreements and plans to distribute issue briefs on GAP and best practices for tribal-state agreements. We agree that HHS has the planning process, technical assistance resources, and regional staff in place to discuss GAP participation with title IV-E state and tribal agency officials. However, our review found that tribal participation in GAP remains low, which suggests that HHS needs to identify actions to increase participation in this program. We believe that the additional actions HHS plans to take - providing information on the Children's Bureau website about direct funding and distributing issue briefs on GAP and best practices for tribal - state partnerships and agreements - could support tribes' participation in GAP either by helping tribes to directly operate a title IV-E program or to negotiate a tribal-state agreement that includes a provision for GAP participation. Because some tribes reported challenges at the state level to participating in GAP and several tribes reported that the state where they are located does not participate in the program, we encourage HHS to engage title IV-E state agency officials in discussions about tribal participation in GAP during the annual review of the their title IV-E state plan. HHS could identify ways that regional office staff might help state agencies resolve any challenges to GAP participation that tribes experience at the state level. HHS has taken several steps over the past few years to help tribes with their title IV-E programs, including hiring a tribal coordinator to facilitate communication between regional offices and tribal title IV-E agencies. Taking additional steps to ensure that tribes have the opportunity to participate in GAP could go a long way toward helping tribes gain more resources for children under their care and better support tribes' efforts to care for children exiting foster care to permanent homes.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CERC's performance monitoring, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that for CERC's second phase the program creates targets and tracks progress against those targets in order to measure program performance.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, DOE created a standardized reporting template with performance measures for CERC partners to complete on a quarterly basis. DOE officials informed GAO that they are working to develop targets for those performance measures. We will continue to monitor DOE's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should develop and make public annual targets for the agency's performance measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, USTDA revised its fiscal year 2016 through 2018 strategic plan to include an annual performance target for one of its two performance measures: the value of exports generated for every program dollar. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in developing an annual performance target for its performance measure on procurements awarded to small U.S. businesses.
    Recommendation: To improve the East Asia Program's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should ensure that the East Asia Program sets targets for its performance measures and tracks progress against those measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation. As of October 2016, USTDA had planned to review its internal goals for the East Asia Program, and other regional programs, and to begin to track progress against those goals. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    9 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce pre-award administrative workload and costs, particularly for applications that do not result in awards, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should conduct agency-wide reviews of possible actions, such as further use of preliminary proposals, to postpone pre-award requirements until after a preliminary decision about an applicant's likelihood of funding and, through OSTP's Research Business Models working group, coordinate and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, DOE stated that it remained committed to addressing this recommendation. DOE outlined several steps it planned to take, such as participating in interagency meetings, but it did not indicate whether it has taken these steps.
    Recommendation: To reduce pre-award administrative workload and costs, particularly for applications that do not result in awards, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should conduct agency-wide reviews of possible actions, such as further use of preliminary proposals, to postpone pre-award requirements until after a preliminary decision about an applicant's likelihood of funding and, through OSTP's Research Business Models working group, coordinate and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to HHS, NIH is considering the feasibility of an approach to streamline its application process. As of May 2017, HHS anticipated implementing this recommendation by early fiscal year 2019.
    Recommendation: To reduce pre-award administrative workload and costs, particularly for applications that do not result in awards, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should conduct agency-wide reviews of possible actions, such as further use of preliminary proposals, to postpone pre-award requirements until after a preliminary decision about an applicant's likelihood of funding and, through OSTP's Research Business Models working group, coordinate and report on these efforts.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, NASA anticipated implementing this recommendation by September 2017. NASA stated that it is working with other federal agencies to identify best practices for reducing the administrative burden to applicants and will assess the impact these practices have on the quality of applications so that NASA can continue to meet its mission.
    Recommendation: To better target requirements on areas of greatest risk, while maintaining accountability over grant funds, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as part of the planned evaluation of the HHS regulation governing financial conflicts of interest in NIH-funded research, should evaluate options for targeting requirements on areas of greatest risk for researcher conflicts, including adjusting the threshold and types of financial interests that need to be disclosed and the timing of disclosures.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS stated that, as of May 2017, NIH was proceeding with plans to assess the financial conflict of interest regulation, including how to reduce administrative burden on researchers while maintaining the integrity and credibility of research findings.
    Recommendation: To better target requirements on areas of greatest risk, while maintaining accountability over grant funds, the Director of OMB, as part of OMB's planned evaluation of the Uniform Guidance, should evaluate options for targeting requirements for research grants to universities, including requirements for purchases and subrecipient monitoring, on areas of greatest risk for improper use of research funds.

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

    Comments: As of August 2017, OMB had not provided information on steps it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To fulfill the secretarial order's directive that FWS manage Midway in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the public, including key parties that have previously expressed interest in historic preservation issues on Midway, are notified about future FWS undertakings that may have an adverse effect on historic properties so that they have an opportunity to provide comment and input.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To strengthen compliance with the Leahy laws and implementation of State's human rights vetting process and to help ensure that U.S. funded assistance is not provided to Egyptian security forces that have committed gross violations of human rights, as State works to implement a revised version of the International Vetting and Security Tracking system (INVEST) system that is expected to help facilitate equipment vetting, the Secretary of State should develop time frames for establishing corresponding policies and procedures to implement a vetting process to help enable the U.S. government to provide a more reasonable level of assurance that equipment is not transferred to foreign security forces, including those in Egypt, when there is credible information that a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State acknowledged challenges identifying recipients of equipment across the range of assistance activities, but noted that it would continue to update its systems and procedures to facilitate human rights vetting for recipients of equipment. In April 2017, State reported that it had provided finalized guidance on vetting Egyptian recipients of Foreign Military Financing-funded equipment to Embassy Cairo. These procedures have been incorporated into a revised version of Embassy Cairo's guide for conducting human rights vetting. According to State, Embassy Cairo has implemented these procedures. Also, as of June 2017, State has added new features to INVEST to help facilitate vetting of equipment recipients. However, State has not yet provided information on its plans for adopting the procedures used in Egypt more broadly in other countries that also receive equipment through the Foreign Military Financing account or through other U.S. assistance programs. In addition, State has not established requirements for posts to use the new equipment vetting features in INVEST. We will continue to monitor agency efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Daniel Bertoni
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that it provides all eligible populations access to its services and that its eligibility requirements are consistent with currently accepted practices, the Library of Congress should re-examine and potentially revise its requirement that medical doctors must certify eligibility for the NLS program for those with a reading disability caused by organic dysfunction.

    Agency: Library of Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has contracted for a study of how eligibility based on reading disability should be certified. This study will look at medical advances in the diagnosis of reading disabilities, the NLS authorizing statute, and the potential impact of a regulatory change on the program. The expected completion date is December 2017. To close this recommendation, the Library of Congress must demonstrate that this study has been completed and that NLS has determined whether a change in its requirements is warranted.
    Recommendation: To ensure funds are directed to the most cost-effective outreach efforts, NLS should evaluate the effectiveness of its outreach efforts, including the extent to which different outreach efforts have resulted in new users.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has begun revising the program application form so that it captures information on how applicants were referred to the program. NLS expects to have all libraries nationwide using this revised application by sometime in 2018. In addition, the Library of Congress indicated that NLS has contracted for a multi-year, multi-media advertising campaign. This effort will assess the effectiveness of different approaches by connecting direct responses to ads with verified program enrollment. The campaign is expected to be fully underway by January 2018. To close this recommendation, the Library of Congress will need to demonstrate that NLS has fully implemented one or more of its planned new approaches for evaluating outreach.
    Recommendation: To help it determine the most cost-effective approach for its next audio player, NLS should comprehensively assess the alternatives of designing its own specialized audio player versus providing commercially available players to its users.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has contracted for a study of the different commercially available audio players for their usability, life-cycle costs, maintenance needs, and durability. The study is expected to be completed by December 2017, and will guide NLS in its decision about how to develop its next generation of audio players. To close this recommendation as implemented, the Library of Congress will have to demonstrate that this study has been conducted and that NLS has considered its findings in making a decision about its next generation audio player.
    Recommendation: To help it determine whether to supplement its collection of human-narrated audio materials with text-to-speech materials, NLS should thoroughly assess the text-to-speech option versus continuing to provide only human-narrated materials.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has developed a library of 100 text-to-speech (synthetic speech) talking books. In September 2017, NLS will begin a 3-month pilot in which a group of NLS users try out these talking books and provide input to NLS. Also, NLS will require that its next generation of audio players have the capacity to play synthetic speech talking books, and the study it has contracted of commercially available players will consider this requirement among other factors. To close this recommendation as implemented, NLS needs to demonstrate that it has completed its text-to-speech pilot and has decided on an approach going forward with regards to expanding this program.
    Director: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote consistency in the distribution of supplemental payments among states and with CMS policy, the Administrator of CMS should issue written guidance clarifying its policy that requires a link between the distribution of supplemental payments and the provision of Medicaid-covered services.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: CMS plans to publish a proposed rule for public comment in the summer of 2017 to improve the oversight of supplemental payments, including a proposal to require that supplemental payments be distributed proportional to the volume or cost of services delivered or be tied to meeting performance benchmarks. To the extent the agency issues a final rule that results in states distributing supplemental payments in a manner that aligns their distribution with individual facilities' Medicaid workloads, CMS's ability to ensure that state Medicaid payments are not excessive and are used for Medicaid purposes will improve.
    Recommendation: To promote consistency in the distribution of supplemental payments among states and with CMS policy, the Administrator of CMS should issue written guidance clarifying its policy that payments should not be made contingent on the availability of local funding.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: CMS plans to publish a proposed rule for public comment in the summer of 2017 to improve the oversight of supplemental payments, including a proposal to require that supplemental payments be distributed proportional to the volume or cost of services delivered or be tied to meeting performance benchmarksTo the extent the agency issues a final rule that results in states distributing supplemental payments in a manner that aligns their distribution with individual facilities' Medicaid workloads, CMS's ability to ensure that state Medicaid payments are not excessive and are used for Medicaid purposes will improve.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that planned improvements to Amtrak's routes are implemented and their outcomes can be evaluated, the President of Amtrak should prioritize the adoption of Amtrak's strategic management system in all of Amtrak's remaining lines of business and functional departments.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials indicated that Amtrak was rolling-out its strategic management system in several departments and plans were in place to extend the roll out over time. According to Amtrak officials, senior management meets monthly to discuss progress being made in the company's various strategic initiatives, however the officials noted that full implementation of the strategic management system would take time, and did not provide an estimated completion date. We will continue to monitor Amtrak's progress in adopting the strategic management system across its various business lines and functional departments.
    Recommendation: To ensure that planned improvements to Amtrak's routes are implemented and their outcomes can be evaluated, the President of Amtrak should externally report how Amtrak's initiatives meet the goals established under the Amtrak's strategic management system.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials confirmed that Amtrak disagrees with this recommendation and has not taken action to implement it. Officials reported that much of Amtrak's business takes place in an environment that is increasingly competitive and prefers to keep its deliberation on these initiatives confidential. As we reported in January 2016, while we agree that there is value to keeping business proprietary information and deliberations confidential, Amtrak should be able to externally report progress without disclosing confidential deliberations or information to show how its initiatives are meeting the goals established under its strategic management system. Without this reporting, it is difficult for the company to demonstrate to Congress and other stakeholders how Amtrak is improving its financial and operating performance, and whether it is making the most efficient use of federal funds. Thus, we continue to believe that our recommendation is valid and that Amtrak should fully implement it. We will continue to monitor any steps taken by Amtrak to report outcomes of initiatives taken under Amtrak's strategic management system.
    Recommendation: To improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting and to provide Congress with accurate information to make funding decisions, the President of Amtrak should make the format of its monthly performance reports and its 5-year financial plan consistent to show all of Amtrak's revenues and expenses by major function for each line of business.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials confirmed that Amtrak disagrees with this recommendation and has not taken action to implement it. According to Amtrak, the 5-year financial plan and monthly performance reports serve different purposes and their utility would be lost if it attempted to "standardize" them. As we reported in January 2016, we continue to believe that it is important to improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting and to provide Congress with accurate information to use in making funding decisions. The intent of our recommendation is that Amtrak provide a mechanism to show how its financial results in its monthly performance reports are comparable to the financial targets by line of business that are in its 5-year financial plan. Because Amtrak has not taken action to implement this recommendation, the inconsistency between the two reports makes it difficult to compare Amtrak's past results with its future forecasts. As a result, Congress and the states lack a clear view into the financial performance of the company that they help fund. Thus, we continue to believe that our recommendation is valid and that Amtrak should fully implement it. We will continue to monitor steps taken by Amtrak to improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting.
    Recommendation: To improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting and to provide Congress with accurate information to make funding decisions, the President of Amtrak should ensure that Amtrak's depreciation expenses are appropriately allocated to its lines of business once the underlying capital asset data are determined reliable.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials confirmed that Amtrak disagrees with this recommendation and has not taken action to implement it. According to Amtrak, reporting of depreciation costs is of limited use for management accounting for several reasons, including that many of Amtrak's key assets, such as bridges and tunnels on the Northeast Corridor are fully depreciated, and that Amtrak's financial system includes a synthetic capital charge, which serves as a proxy for depreciation and is currently allocated across routes. As we reported in January 2016, we agree that given the long-lived nature of Amtrak's capital assets, depreciation calculated for financial reporting purposes may not provide an appropriate measure of the economic costs of using the related assets. While Amtrak may be capturing depreciation or economic costs through its synthetic capital charge (which serves as a proxy for depreciation and which Amtrak does not publicly report), as we also mention in this report, Amtrak may be misstating its line-of-business financial results by not allocating depreciation costs to its lines of business. There are a number of methods or models used to calculate depreciation or economic costs. However, regardless of the method used, it is important that the data used to calculate depreciation or the economic costs of using long-lived assets--historical cost, useful life, residual value--are complete, accurate, and timely. Thus, we continue to believe that our recommendation is valid and that Amtrak should fully implement it. We will continue to monitor steps taken by Amtrak to improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting.
    Recommendation: To help Congress in assessing Amtrak's need for federal assistance for state-supported routes and to help Amtrak to develop strategies to reduce the costs of its services, the President of Amtrak should delineate the specific costs and activities for state-supported routes that are covered by the federal government and communicate this information to Congress, such as in Amtrak's annual budget request.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, Amtrak provided GAO with financial reports that Amtrak had submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration that provide details of the revenues, costs, state payments, and operating losses for each of the state-supported routes for fiscal year 2016. Although these reports include some information on the costs of state-supported routes that are covered by the federal government, Amtrak has not provided this specific information to Congress to help with assessing Amtrak's need for federal assistance for these routes, as GAO recommended. Amtrak officials told us that the company plans to report to Congress information on the expected revenues and costs for state-supported routes in the Five Year Business Line Plans required by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. According to Amtrak officials, they plan to submit the Five Year Business Line Plans to Congress on June 2, 2017. GAO will review those plans when published and continue to monitor Amtrak's efforts to delineate and report to Congress the specific costs and activities for state-supported routes that are covered by the federal government.
    Recommendation: In addition, to better inform congressional decision making regarding the funding of Northeast Corridor infrastructure improvements, the Northeast Corridor Commission should work with its members to establish criteria for its members to use in selecting and prioritizing capital projects to be included in future editions of its 5-year capital plan.

    Agency: Northeast Corridor Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Commission published the Northeast Corridor Capital Investment Plan, Fiscal Years 2018-2022 which documents planned capital investments to the NEC over the five year period. The plan identifies criteria for Commission members (Amtrak, states, and commuter railroads that operate on the NEC) to use in selecting and prioritizing certain projects that could be advanced over the coming five years. However, the plan does not establish such criteria for all investments in the plan. Specifically, the plan establishes criteria for selecting "unfunded projects"--including major bridge and tunnel projects and basic infrastructure improvements--that could be advanced if additional funding became available. These criteria are (1) shared use by commuter and intercity rail; (2) age and condition, with priority for replacing the oldest assets beyond their useful lives; (3) critical need for continued operation of existing service; and (4) project readiness to begin construction in the next five years. However, these criteria do not cover "funded projects," or those for which a funding source has been identified, including projects funded by Amtrak and the commuter railroads through their required contributions to the NEC Commission's Baseline Capital Charge program. According to the NEC Commission officials, the Commission members have yet to establish specific criteria for funded projects due to challenges in working with Amtrak's legacy capital planning process. Amtrak has traditionally allocated funding amounts to the various segments of the NEC where the company plans to make improvements, but its planning process does not identify the specific assets to be repaired in the coming year, or the criteria for selecting these assets. NEC Commission members said they would continue to work with Amtrak to develop clear criteria for selecting and prioritizing funded projects for inclusion in future editions of the NEC's 5-year capital improvement plan. We will continue to monitor progress made by the Commission and Amtrak in this area.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure complete, analyzable records regarding research grant award decisions are available for management and analysis, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to lead the implementation of additional data collection efforts in coordination with DOD's grant-making components. These should include: (1) Retaining complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data, including a record of proposal disposition, in linked electronic files to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. (2) Collecting demographic, education, and career information from applicants, on a voluntary basis, that is not available to proposal reviewers but is used for analysis of success rates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with our recommendation to implement additional data collection efforts. As of August, 2017, the Basic Research Office (BRO) has drafted an implementation plan and schedule for the collection of demographic data on grant applicants and lifecycle grant data. As part of this, BRO has identified a number of issues to be addressed and resolved within DoD. One of these areas is the protection of any information collected to assess the success rates of women as Principal Investigators (PIs)/co-PIS under STEM Research grants and cooperative agreements. As a result, before BRO proceeds with its planned actions, they are working with the Office of Information Management, WHS, to ensure there are no issues related to the Privacy Act. The agency did not provide a timeline to GAO for when these actions are expected to be completed.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure complete, analyzable records regarding research grant award decisions are available for management and analysis, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's grant-making agencies to implement additional data collection efforts, which should include: (1) Retaining complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data, including a record of proposal disposition, in linked electronic files to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. (2) Collecting demographic, education, and career information from applicants, on a voluntary basis, that is not available to proposal reviewers but is used for analysis of success rates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE generally agreed with our recommendation to implement additional data collection efforts. According to DOE officials, as of September, 2017, of the four components audited at DOE, all four have taken actions toward implementing the recommendation and one component has completed its implementation. Specifically, the Office of Science began collecting investigator demographics during the second quarter of fiscal year 2015 and already retained complete records that enabled the calculation of success rates. Three additional DOE components conducted a joint feasibility study and all concur that it is feasible to collect data on demographic, education and career information of applicants. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) revised its approach to data collection and now retains complete grant life cycle information for each individual award, including complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data in linked electronic files. NE is also changing existing data systems to input/track voluntarily submitted demographic information on Principle Investigators on applications to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. The agency notes that for NE, the completion of the actions required to implement this recommendation is estimated to take up to 12 months. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) participated in the joint feasibility study regarding the collection of demographic data, but have not completed any actions to implement such data collection.
    Recommendation: As NASA begins to collect demographic data on its grant proposals and awards, the NASA Administrator should include the following key components: (1) Retain complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data, including a record of proposal disposition, in linked electronic files to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. (2) Collect demographic, education, and career information from applicants, on a voluntary basis, that is not available to proposal reviewers but is used for analysis of success rates.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA agreed with our recommendation and indicated it will begin collecting basic demographic, education, and career data from its research grant applicants on a voluntary basis by the end of fiscal year 2016. In addition, NASA noted it will explore its ability to consolidate proposal and award data as part of the ongoing update to its procurement and grants management systems. As of September 2017, NASA officials reported that the notice of grant award document (form 1687) was modified to require entry of the proposal number on the form in order to capture the linkage between proposal and award. When the transition to the new contract/grant writing system (Procurement for Public Sector) occurred in June 2017, NASA began using the amended award notice. NASA states they are continuing to investigate system options for fine tuning this cross-referencing methodology. However, as of September 2017, there were no stated plans to collect or track demographic, education, or career characteristics of grant applicants in such a way as to facilitate the analysis of success rates.
    Recommendation: To comply with Title IX enforcement requirements, the Secretary of the Department of Defense, which funds STEM research at universities, should direct the Director of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity to ensure that Title IX compliance reviews of DOD's grantees are periodically conducted.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with our recommendation and noted it is in the process of revising current DOD guidance which will address its Title IX enforcement requirements. In a conversation with GAO in September 2017, a DOD official stated that the agency is in the process of formulating instructions related to both Title IX and Title VI that they believe will address the recommendation regarding Title IX enforcement. To date, these actions are not complete as they are still in the process of developing appropriate language.
    Recommendation: To comply with Title IX enforcement requirements, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which funds STEM research at universities, should ensure that Title IX compliance reviews of NIH's grantees are periodically conducted.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS indicated it would consult with NIH and initiate a sex discrimination compliance review program that includes grantee institutions with STEM programs. We will update the status of this recommendation when the agency provides documentation that these efforts have been completed.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to develop and periodically update a set of authoritative climate change observations and projections for use in federal decision making, which state, local, and private sector decision makers could also access to obtain the best available climate information.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to create a national climate information system with defined roles for federal agencies and nonfederal entities with existing statutory authority.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Carolyn L. Yocom
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of its oversight of eligibility determinations, the Administrator of CMS should conduct reviews of federal Medicaid eligibility determinations to ascertain the accuracy of these determinations and institute corrective action plans where necessary.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken some steps to improve the accuracy of Medicaid eligibility determinations, as GAO recommended in October 2015, but has not conducted a systematic review of federal eligibility determinations. In March 2017, HHS reported that it is reviewing federal determinations of Medicaid eligibility in two of the nine states that have delegated eligibility determination authority to the federal marketplace and HHS is planning to include reviews of federal determinations as part of its future Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM) reviews, which will resume in 2018 pending final publication of the proposed PERM rule (81 FR 40596). In October 2016, HHS officials provided information indicating that the Department is relying upon operational controls within federally marketplaces to ensure accurate eligibility determinations as well as new processes that would identify duplicate coverage. These actions have value, however, they are not sufficient to identify other types of erroneous eligibility determinations. Without a systematic review of federal eligibility determinations, HHS lacks a mechanism to identify and correct errors and associated payments.
    Recommendation: To increase assurances that states receive an appropriate amount of federal matching funds, the Administrator of CMS should use the information obtained from state and federal eligibility reviews to inform the agency's review of expenditures for different eligibility groups in order to ensure that expenditures are reported correctly and matched appropriately.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, HHS is establishing a process to make the eligibilty and expenditure reviews interact with one another. GAO will work with the agency to determine if these actions address the recommendation.
    Director: Valerie C. Melvin
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the oversight of states' marketplace IT projects, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that all CMS senior executives from IT and business units who are involved in the establishment of state marketplace IT projects review and approve funding decisions for these projects.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2015, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concurred with the recommendation. The department, in its agency comments, stated that it already included senior executives in its funding decisions for these projects. However, as noted in our report, CMS did not provide evidence that key senior executives from CCIIO, CMCS, and OTS were involved in various funding decisions associated with the states' IT projects. For example, CMS did not demonstrate that senior-level executives from all relevant business and IT units were involved in the initial approval of grant awards or the release of restricted IT funds from marketplace grants as states progressed with their projects. In addition, CMS did not provide evidence of senior executive involvement in the approval of Medicaid funds for marketplace IT projects. Furthermore, as of March 10, 2017, CMS still had not provided evidence that it had taken such actions to support the implementation of this recommendation. By ensuring such executive involvement, CMS would increase accountability for decisions to fund states' IT projects and ensure that these decisions are well informed in order to make efficient use of federal funds.
    Recommendation: To improve the oversight of states' marketplace IT projects, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ensure that states have completed all testing of marketplace system functions prior to releasing them into operation.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2015, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concurred with the recommendation. The department noted that it would continue to follow its guidelines to determine if state marketplace system functions are ready for release. The department added that it would work closely with state-based marketplaces to improve their systems and verify that system requirements are met and fully tested before approving them for release into production. While CMS drafted guidance to update its process in June 2016, which required states to submit certain testing reports and supporting documentation, as of March 10, 2017, the agency had not provided evidence that it had determined that state systems had been sufficiently tested for release into operations.
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help preserve a proven resource supporting the oversight community's analytic capabilities, Congress may wish to consider directing CIGIE to develop a legislative proposal to reconstitute the essential capabilities of the ROC to help ensure federal spending accountability. The proposal should identify a range of options at varying scales for the cost of analytic tools, personnel, and necessary funding, as well as any additional authority CIGIE may need to ensure such enduring, robust analytical and investigative capability for the oversight community.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that transit agencies have appropriate and current guidance to assist them when procuring transit buses, the Administrator of FTA should update its Best Practices Procurement Manual and assess its other related guidance identified in this report and update that guidance as needed.

    Agency: Department of Transportation: Federal Transit Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide a more efficient and cost-effective way for transit agencies to procure transit buses while complying with federal procurement requirements, the Administrator of FTA, in conjunction with the Administrator of the General Services Administration, should submit a legislative proposal to Congress that would authorize transit agencies that are recipients of FTA grants to access GSA sources of supply for the purchase of transit buses.

    Agency: Department of Transportation: Federal Transit Administration
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal program spending data are provided to the public in a transparent, useful, and timely manner, the Director of OMB should accelerate efforts to determine how best to merge DATA Act purposes and requirements with the GPRAMA requirement to produce a federal program inventory.

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

    Comments: OMB staff stated that they expect to issue new guidance on the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act by the end of 2017. According to these staff, OMB expects that, within a year of issuing the new guidance, they will be able to move forward with plans to resume implementation of the federal program inventory. In October 2017, OMB staff told us they believe there are opportunities to leverage the DATA Act taxonomy in service to the goals of GPRAMA and they continue to work with their performance management colleagues on this effort. However, they said no formal progress has been made to identify programs for the purposes of DATA Act reporting.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the integrity of data standards is maintained over time, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should establish a set of clear policies and processes for developing and maintaining data standards that are consistent with leading practices for data governance.

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

    Comments: OMB and Treasury have taken some initial steps to build a data governance structure standardizing data elements and definitions, conducting interviews with key stakeholders and developing a set of recommendations for decision-making authority. In September 2016, OMB and Treasury established a Data Standards Committee (DSC) that is responsible for advising OMB and Treasury, and providing recommendations on DATA Act data standards to the Executive Steering Committee (ESC) -- the decision making body regarding DATA Act and other data standards. According to OMB staff, the DSC meets on a monthly basis, but has not yet provided recommendations to OMB or to the ESC. OMB staff told us in October 2017 that, in accordance with their broader data governance mandates and overall transparency efforts, they are reviewing opportunities to incorporate and leverage other mandates and existing governance structures. As part of our ongoing feedback with OMB, we shared 5 key practices that we believe should inform their plans to develop a data governance framework moving forward.
    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: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and accountability of HHS's section 1115 Medicaid demonstration approval process, and to ensure that federal Medicaid funds for the demonstrations do not duplicate other federal funds, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should issue criteria for assessing whether section 1115 expenditure authorities are likely to promote Medicaid objectives.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken some steps to assess whether section 1115 expenditure authorities are likely to promote Medicaid objectives. HHS has posted on its website four "general criteria" for assessing whether a demonstration meets Medicaid program objectives:(1) increase and strengthen overall coverage of low-income individuals in the state; (2) increase access to, stabilize, and strengthen providers and provider networks available to serve Medicaid and low-income populations in the state; improve health outcomes for Medicaid and other low-income populations in the state; or (4) increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid and other low-income populations through initiatives to transform service delivery networks. We believe this is a positive step but maintain that the general criteria are not sufficiently specific to allow a clear understanding of what HHS considers to be approvable for Medicaid purposes. For example, although each of HHS's four general criteria relate to serving low-income or Medicaid populations, HHS does not define low-income or what it means to serve these individuals. Until more specific guidance is established that more precisely explains how demonstrations relate to serving low-income and Medicaid populations, the rationale for the agency?s approvals of expenditure authorities, which can amount to billions of dollars in federal spending, will not be transparent. We will update the status of this recommendation when HHS provides more specific guidance on how it applies these criteria or alternatively issues more specific criteria.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and accountability of HHS's section 1115 Medicaid demonstration approval process, and to ensure that federal Medicaid funds for the demonstrations do not duplicate other federal funds, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should ensure the application of these criteria is documented in all HHS's approvals of section 1115 demonstrations, including those approving new or extending or modifying existing expenditure authorities, to inform internal and external stakeholders, including states, the public, and Congress, of the basis for the agency's determinations that approved expenditure authorities are likely to promote Medicaid objectives.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken some steps to ensure the application of the criteria is documented in all approvals of section 1115 demonstrations. HHS stated that since the release of our report, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been identifying in Medicaid demonstration approval documents which of its general criteria each approved expenditure authority promotes. In a review of section 1115 demonstration approvals issued on or after July 1, 2015 and posted on HHS?s website as of August 12, 2016, we found that approved demonstration expenditure authorities were linked to HHS's general criteria in some but not all approvals. More consistent documentation of the basis for HHS's approvals will provide assurance that HHS is consistently applying its criteria and increase transparency around how individual expenditure authorities are considered to promote Medicaid objectives. We will continue to monitor CMS's efforts in this area.
    Director: Katherine M. Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CMS's oversight of Medicaid payments, the Administrator of CMS should take steps to ensure that states report accurate provider-specific payment data that include accurate unique national provider identifiers (NPI).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with GAO's recommendation. As of September 2016, CMS has not provided additional information showing that the recommendation has been implemented. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To improve CMS's oversight of Medicaid payments, the Administrator of CMS should develop a policy establishing criteria for when such payments at the provider level are economical and efficient.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: HHS concurred with GAO's recommendation and as of October 2016 was evaluating ways to improve its oversight, including gathering information from states to better inform future policies. In November 2016, CMS plans to publish a proposed rule for public comment to improve the oversight of supplemental payments made to individual providers. Supplemental payments are large lump sum payments that most states make to certain providers and are not based on claims for services provided. According to CMS, the proposed rule will establish criteria for determining the economy and efficiency of Medicaid payments made to individual providers.
    Recommendation: To improve CMS's oversight of Medicaid payments, the Administrator of CMS should, once criteria are developed, develop a process for identifying and reviewing payments to individual providers in order to determine whether they are economical and efficient.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: HHS concurred with GAO's recommendation and as of October 2016 was evaluating ways to improve its oversight, including gathering information from states to better inform future policies. In November 2016, CMS plans to publish a proposed rule for public comment to improve the oversight of supplemental payments made to individual providers. According to CMS, the proposed rule will establish a process for identifying and reviewing payments to individual providers to determine if these payments meet the criteria of economy and efficiency established by the rule.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct, as appropriate, federal agencies involved with the White House Working Group on Detroit, to collect good practices and lessons learned from their efforts to assist Detroit during its fiscal crisis and share them with other federal agencies and local governments. Toward this end, OMB may want to consider making use of existing knowledge and capacity associated with the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative and its National Resource Network.

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

    Comments: In commenting on a draft of GAO's March 2015 report, OMB neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. In April 2017, OMB staff stated that they believed steps had been taken to preserve some of the lessons coming out of the administration's efforts to assist the City of Detroit during its fiscal crisis. However, they were unable to provide specifics. GAO has requested additional information and supporting documentation regarding this effort.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: GSA should examine incorporating successful management practices--such as consistently involving tenants at various stages of the project--into its capital investment process to ensure that projects are managed efficiently and that tenant disruptions are minimized.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that GSA's green Recovery Act projects meet relevant requirements, GSA should analyze environmental outcomes against relevant requirements for each of its full and partial-modernization Recovery Act projects and apply any lessons to future projects.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen Education's oversight of accreditors through the recognition review process, the Secretary of Education should draw upon accreditor data to determine whether accreditors are consistently applying and enforcing their standards to ensure that the education offered by schools is of sufficient quality. For example, Education could systematically use available information related to the frequency of accreditor sanctions or could do additional analyses, such as comparing accreditor sanction data with Education's information on student outcomes, to inform its recognition reviews.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education agreed with this recommendation, noting that it is committed to identifying ways to use data about and from accreditors in its oversight. As of December 2017, Education has taken steps to track the number of accreditor sanctions issued by each accrediting agency. Education previously noted that this information will then be used to focus their limited resources on those accrediting agencies with extremely low or high sanction rates, to strengthen its oversight of accreditors. GAO will close this recommendation when these efforts are completed.
    Director: Brown, Kay E
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To encourage broader adoption and evaluation of promising approaches and address impediments to the use of the career pathways approach among TANF agencies, HHS should, in consultation with Congress, identify potential changes that would address the lack of incentives for states and localities to adopt promising approaches and then develop and submit a legislative proposal outlining those changes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2015, HHS noted that the agency's fiscal year 2016 budget includes a proposal to increase incentives for states to implement or strengthen subsidized employment programs and notes the Administration's willingness to work with Congress to improve the TANF program's effectiveness in accomplishing its goals. Additionally, HHS reported that it continues to provide technical assistance and disseminate research to help encourage TANF agencies to adopt or strengthen employment-focused approaches. While we commend these efforts, we continue to believe it is important for HHS, in consultation with Congress, to identify potential changes that would address the lack of incentives for states and localities to adopt promising approaches and develop and submit a legislative proposal outlining those changes. As of October 2017, we have not received any additional status updates on this recommendation from HHS.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    4 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop a comprehensive workforce plan to ensure that BIE has an adequate number of staff with the requisite knowledge and skills to effectively oversee BIE school expenditures.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, the Bureau of Indian Education(BIE) Director reported that an internal working group would draft a comprehensive workforce plan that is aligned with BIE's strategic plan. They did not specify whether such a plan would include a focus on BIE administrative offices responsible for oversight of school expenditures. In late August 2017, BIE officials indicated that they would revisit the strategic workforce planning effort by Indian Affairs. They did not provide further information on what actions BIE will take to address this recommendation. However, the BIE Director noted in May of this year that the agency planned to complete its work on this recommendation no later than the end of 2018. We will continue to monitor Indian Affairs' efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop a process to share relevant information, such as single audit reports, with all BIE staff responsible for overseeing school expenditures to ensure they have the necessary information to identify schools at risk for misusing funds.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In late August 2017, agency officials reported that it had developed and implemented a SharePoint-based system for sharing single audit reports to ensure that all key staff have access to this system. The agency is exploring other technological options for providing staff with access to single audit reports. The BIE Director noted in May of this year that the agency planned to complete its work on this recommendation no later than the end of 2018. While this is a step in the right direction, as we have communicated to BIE officials, the SharePoint system includes audit reports on fewer than half of all tribally-operated schools. Such reports are a vital source of information for monitoring how schools use federal funds. Without relevant BIE staff having access to audit reports for the majority of tribally-operated schools, it is unclear to us how such a system can support effective oversight of spending at these schools. We will continue to monitor Indian Affairs' efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop written procedures for BIE to oversee expenditures for major programs, including Interior's Indian School Equalization Program. These procedures should include requirements for staff to consistently document their monitoring activities and actions they have taken to resolve financial weaknesses identified at schools.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In response to our report, Interior stated that BIE already had written procedures in place related to the Indian School Equalization Program (ISEP). However, we found the procedures did not relate to overseeing schools' ISEP expenditures. In late August 2017, agency officials reported taking several steps to address this recommendation. In particular, officials reported that the agency had drafted written procedures for overseeing BIE school spending. However, these officials noted that further review and revision to the procedures are necessary before they can be finalized and implemented. Officials did not provide us with a draft of the procedures to review. The BIE Director noted in May of this year that the agency planned to complete its work on this recommendation by the middle of 2019. We will continue to monitor Indian Affairs' efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop a risk-based approach to oversee BIE school expenditures to focus BIE's monitoring activities on schools that auditors have found to be at the greatest risk of misusing federal funds.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In late August 2017, agency officials reported that they had begun drafting a risk assessment policy and procedures for monitoring BIE school expenditures. However, they noted that further review and revision to the policy is necessary before it can be finalized and implemented. Officials did not provide us with a draft of these documents to review. The BIE Director noted in May of this year that the agency planned to complete its work on this recommendation by the middle of 2019. We will continue to monitor Indian Affairs' efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and provide Congress and the public greater visibility into the types of highway activities funded with Highway Trust Fund monies, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to explore the costs, feasibility, and options for collecting and publicly reporting consistent aggregate project-level spending data.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2017, FHWA has not implemented this recommendation. In December 2015, the President signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act". Sec. 1402 of the Act requires DOT to annually report, for all projects administered by FHWA with a total estimated cost of $25 million or more (and for all other projects to the extent practicable), on the total cost of funded projects, the amount of federal funds obligated, and other information, and to make this information "available in a user-friendly manner on the public Internet website of the Department of Transportation." DOT has not yet implemented this provision of the Act. GAO is monitoring DOT's efforts to implement this provision and the extent to which it fulfills GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Katherine M. Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of CMS should develop a data collection strategy that ensures that states report accurate and complete data on all sources of funds used to finance the nonfederal share of Medicaid payments. There are short- and long-term possibilities for pursuing the data collection strategy, including (1) in the short-term, as part of its ongoing initiative to annually collect data on Medicaid payments made to hospitals, nursing facilities, and other institutional providers, CMS could collect accurate and complete facility-specific data on the sources of funds used to finance the nonfederal share of the Medicaid payments, and (2) in the long-term, as part of its ongoing initiative to develop an enhanced Medicaid claims data system (T-MSIS), CMS could ensure that T-MSIS will be capable of capturing information on all sources of funds used to finance the nonfederal share of Medicaid payments, and, once the system becomes operational, ensure that states report this information for supplemental Medicaid payments and other highrisk Medicaid payments.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, CMS reported that states provide assurances to CMS that they are adhering to statutory requirements, such as the limit that no more than 60 percent of the nonfederal share of a state's total annual Medicaid expenditures may come from local sources. This process was in place prior to GAO's July 2014 report, and in its written comments in response to that report, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) acknowledged that it does not have adequate data on state financing methods for overseeing compliance with this requirement. HHS added that it will examine efforts to improve data collection toward this end. In July 2016, CMS reiterated that it did not consider T-MSIS to be the correct method to gather information on state sources of the nonfederal share. GAO continues to believe it is important that CMS and federal policymakers have more complete information about how increasing federal costs are impacting the Medicaid program, including beneficiaries and the providers who serve them and plans to continue to monitor CMS's actions to help ensure that states report accurate and complete data on all sources of the nonfederal share.
    Director: Mathew J.Scirè
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the viability and safety of manufactured housing produced in accordance with the HUD Code, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development should develop a plan to assess how FHA financing might further promote the affordability of manufactured homes and identify the potential for better securitization of manufactured housing financing.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the viability and safety of manufactured housing produced in accordance with the HUD Code, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development should strengthen the oversight of inspections and enforcement-related activities by (1) consistently documenting actions taken to resolve recommendations from completed audits and the outcome of such actions, (2) completing a Transition Plan for the monitoring contractor activity, and (3) exploring the feasibility of developing a cost-effective systematic process for collecting and evaluating information on the content of complaints.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that Congress, stakeholders, and agencies have complete information about changing costs and whether a fee needs to be changed, HUD should complete the necessary rulemaking changes to allow the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs to adjust its label fees from the $39 per label toward levels up to the congressionally authorized level that better reflect the current levels of manufactured home production, while considering the impact that such fees may have on the industry; put in place a process for regular fee reviews to determine whether the fees currently being charged will allow the program to respond to spikes and surges in label fee revenue and to identify any factors that may drive label fee revenue instability; and identify any additional sources of funding that may mitigate initial revenue shortfalls and the program's fixed and variable costs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that Congress, stakeholders, and agencies have complete information about changing costs and whether a fee needs to be changed, HUD should assess the feasibility, including an analysis of the benefits and costs, of putting in place user fees for its dispute resolution and installation programs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that Congress, stakeholders, and agencies have complete information about changing costs and whether a fee needs to be changed, HUD should establish the goals for use of reserves of the Manufactured Housing Fees Trust Fund, and the minimum and maximum thresholds for the reserves appropriate for meeting these goals.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the viability and safety of manufactured housing produced in accordance with the HUD Code, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should develop and implement a plan for updating construction and safety standards for manufactured homes on a timely, recurring basis to include: (1) addressing unresolved issues related to defining and developing sufficient economic analyses tied to proposed changes to the construction and safety standards; and (2) ensuring sufficient resources and capacity within HUD and the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee and its administering organization; or if such a plan cannot be devised and implemented, identify and report to Congress on alternative methods of ensuring the quality, durability, safety, and affordability of manufactured homes, including the possibility of relying more extensively on existing industry standards.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brown, Kay E
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to help inform federal, state, and local initiatives to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse by school personnel, the Secretary of Education should lead an effort, in collaboration with the Secretary of HHS and the Attorney General, to leverage resources, expertise, and capacities across the departments to determine the most cost-effective way to disseminate federal information so that relevant state and local educational agencies, child welfare agencies, and criminal justice entities are aware of and have access to it.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, the Department of Education reported that on November 16, 2015, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education convened a meeting with federal partners to explore ways in which the agencies can better support states and to devise dissemination strategies for sharing information and providing technical assistance in the most cost- effective ways to state and local educational agencies and child welfare agencies, and ensure that resources are accessible to the various stakeholders. It noted several next steps including creating and implementing a Federal dissemination plan for the new adult sexual misconduct guidance, repository of federal resources, and for information on all state-level mandates and policies addressing adult sexual misconduct in schools. GAO will consider this recommendation closed when the department provides timelines for the completion of these activities and documentation of their completion. The agency did not provide an update on the agency's progress in FY17.
    Recommendation: In order to help inform federal, state, and local initiatives to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse by school personnel, the Secretary of Education should lead an effort, in collaboration with the Secretary of HHS and the Attorney General, to leverage resources, expertise, and capacities across the departments to identify mechanisms to better track and analyze the prevalence of child sexual abuse by school personnel through existing federal data collection systems, such as the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, and the National Crime Victimization Survey.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education reported that experts within the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) consulted with research partners in the Department of Justice and academic research experts to determine if an effective item or item set about this important issue could be derived. After review of extant sources and consultation with item development experts, a clear question that would result in meaningful information from school administrator respondents could not be developed. They also noted that they understand there is continuing interest on this issue and will continue studying item possibilities for the next School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) provided the collection is funded. As of May 2016, NCES does not have funds to field SSOCS after 2016, but there is a request in the 2016 budget to support a 2018 collection. GAO will consider this recommendation closed when the department has taken the above mentioned action to continue studying item possibilities for the next SSOCS if the collection is funded. The agency did not provide an update on the agency's progress in FY17.
    Director: Rectanus, Lori
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to collect data, on an ongoing basis, about which local public agencies are administering federal-aid projects.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, FHWA informed us it had no plans to collect data about which local public agencies are administering federal-aid projects.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to collect information, on an ongoing basis, from state DOTs on local public agencies' capabilities.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, FHWA informed us that it did not plan collect information on the capabilities of local public agencies on an ongoing basis. In 2017 FHWA released the results of a compliance assessment review which assessed the capabilities of selected local public agencies. We are reviewing FHWA's efforts and the extent to which they address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to identify and disseminate minimum and uniform qualification criteria for state DOTs to determine whether local public agencies are capable and equipped to administer federal-aid projects.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, FHWA informed us it had no plans to identify and disseminate minimum and uniform qualification criteria for state DOTs to determine whether local public agencies are capable and equipped to administer federal-aid projects.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to explore opportunities to make administration of federal-aid projects by local public agencies more efficient by examining: (a) the circumstances in which issuing guidance on administrative flexibilities targeted at local agencies would be appropriate, and (b) a potential dollar threshold under which the use of federal funds may no longer be cost-effective.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, FHWA informed us that it did not plan to explore a dollar threshold under which the use of federal funds may no longer be cost-effective. However, FHWA told us it has provided guidance in this regard, and has continued disseminating guidance on administrative flexibilities beneficial to locally administered projects. We are reviewing FHWA's actions and the extent to which its these efforts address our recommendation.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve communication between the Corps and nonfederal sponsors of flood control projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take steps to ensure that flood control project delivery teams comply with agency guidance to develop communications plans for flood control projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to monitor the relationship between PPACA-based FULs and the NADACs on an ongoing basis to help determine whether PPACA-based FULs effectively control federal Medicaid expenditures without reducing beneficiary access to drugs subject to FULs over time.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As part of the final rule implementing the PPACA-based FUL formula, CMS monitors the relationship between the FUL and the NADAC for individual drugs on an ongoing basis and ensures that the FUL does not fall below the NADAC. CMS, however, does not monitor the relationship between the FUL and NADAC in aggregate. This monitoring would provide CMS information on the extent to which the FUL effectively controls federal Medicaid expenditures, particularly in cases where there may be potential for over-reimbursement. CMS officials expect that, by mid-2017, many states will determine reimbursement using an average acquisition cost based on the NADAC. As a result, any potential variation between the FUL and NADAC would be reduced according to CMS officials. We plan to obtain state plan amendments from CMS to confirm whether states are reimbursing at an average acquisition cost or using some other methodology to control Medicaid expenditures.
    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: Crosse, Marcia G
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of IACC data and enhance its efforts to coordinate HHS autism activities and monitor all federally funded autism activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the IACC and NIH, in support of the IACC, to provide consistent guidance to federal agencies when collecting data for the portfolio analysis and web tool so that information can be more easily and accurately compared over multiple years.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS continues to disagree with this recommendation. In the spring of 2016 NIH released fiscal years 2011 and 2012 data, and in the spring of 2017, it released fiscal year 2013 data and made these data available through the IACC Web Tool. GAO continues to believe that the issuance of consistent guidance could enhance coordination and monitoring and that implementing this recommendation would be beneficial.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of IACC data and enhance its efforts to coordinate HHS autism activities and monitor all federally funded autism activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the IACC and NIH, in support of the IACC, to create a document or database that provides information on non-research autism-related activities funded by the federal government and make this document or database publicly available.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS continues to disagree with this recommendation. However, GAO believes that having a document or database that contains current information on these non-research activities is an important aspect of fulfilling the IACC's responsibility to monitor all federal autism activities, not just research. In May 2016, we issued another report on federal autism activities (GAO-16-446). During our work for this engagement, we found that HHS and the IACC have recently taken actions required by the Autism CARES Act that could help coordinate federal non-research autism activities and implement our November 2013 recommendation. First, as directed by the act, in April 2016, the Secretary of Health and Human Services designated an official to serve as the Autism Coordinator to oversee national autism research, services, and support activities and ensure that autism activities funded by HHS and other federal agencies are not unnecessarily duplicative. Secondly, the Act required the development of a strategic plan for autism research, including for services and supports as practicable, for individuals with autism and the families of such individuals. The plan is to include recommendations to ensure that autism research, and services and support activities to the extent practicable, of HHS and other federal departments and agencies are not unnecessarily duplicative. During IACC meetings in 2016, NIH staff and IACC members discussed updating the strategic plan to include services and supports. This plan is expected to be published in calendar year 2017. We acknowledge the steps taken by HHS and the IACC in response to the Autism CARES Act; however, we believe continued action is needed to develop these initial steps into methods for identifying and monitoring non-research autism-related activities funded by the federal government. We believe that continued fulfillment of provisions in the Autism CARES Act could help the department implement GAO's 2013 recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of IACC data and enhance its efforts to coordinate HHS autism activities and monitor all federally funded autism activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the IACC and NIH, in support of the IACC, to identify projects through its monitoring of federal autism activities--including Office of Autism Research Coordination's annual collection of data for the portfolio analysis and the IACC's annual process to update the strategic plan--that may result in unnecessary duplication and thus may be candidates for consolidation or elimination, and identify potential coordination opportunities among agencies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS continues to disagree with this recommendation. However, GAO questions the purpose and value of devoting federal resources to collecting these data, if they are not then used to ensure federal funds are used appropriately. In May 2016, we issued another report on federal autism activities (GAO-16-446), which among other topics, examined the steps HHS and other federal agencies have taken to improve coordination and help avoid unnecessary duplication in autism research. We reported that HHS has recently taken actions required by the Autism CARES Act that could help coordinate federal autism research and implement our November 2013 recommendation. First, as directed by the act, in April 2016 the Secretary of Health and Human Services designated an official to serve as the Autism Coordinator to oversee national autism research, services, and support activities and ensure that autism activities funded by HHS and other federal agencies are not unnecessarily duplicative. Second, the Autism Cares Act requires that the IACC's strategic plan include recommendations to ensure that autism research funded by HHS and other federal agencies is not unnecessarily duplicative. During IACC meetings in 2016, NIH staff and IACC members discussed updating the strategic plan, including the aforementioned requirement. This plan is expected to be published in calendar year 2017. We acknowledge the steps taken by HHS and the IACC in response to the Autism CARES Act; however, until the designated Autism Coordinator takes steps to meet the act's requirements and the forthcoming strategic plan is published, there is a risk that opportunities to coordinate and create efficiencies and avoid unnecessary duplication in federal autism research will not be seized. We believe that continued fulfillment of provisions in the Autism CARES Act could help the department implement GAO's 2013 recommendation.
    Director: Brown, Kay E
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide the basis for greater consistency across states in assessing elder justice service delivery, the Secretary of HHS, as chairman of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, should direct the Council to make it a priority to identify common objectives for the federal elder justice effort and define common outcomes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with this recommendation and noted the formation of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council (EJCC) as an effort to develop common objectives and plans for action to address elder justice issues. As of June 2014, the EJCC had developed eight recommendations for increased federal leadership in combating elder abuse based on input from elder justice experts in financial exploitation, public policy and awareness, enhancing response, and advancing research. Staff compiled information on best and promising practices for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention; empirical evidence from peer-reviewed research; approaches used in related disciplines; and information about where gaps exist in the collective knowledge about elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. Staff then turned the suggestions into proposals with accompanying steps for federal action. Those proposals were subsequently presented at two public EJCC meetings (May and September 2013) and were made available for public review and comment. The Secretary of HHS formally accepted the recommendations in May 2014, and they were posted to the EJCC page of the Administration on Aging's website. In May 2015, HHS reported that the EJCC had published these recommendations in a document entitled "Eight (8)Recommendations for Increased Federal Involvement in Addressing Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation" and stated that the recommendations addressed the issues identified in GAO's recommendation. While we recognized that these 8 recommendations corresponded to the common objectives included in our recommendation, we also sought from HHS information on the status of common outcomes for the objectives. HHS reported that outcomes for the eight common objectives that the EJCC has approved were being discussed, but have not yet been approved. In March 2016,HHS reported that the EJCC's Elder Justice Working Group continued to gather and discuss action steps and outcomes for the eight recommendations. We will monitor the EJCC's progress in agreeing upon outcomes and close the recommendation when agreement on outcomes is reported.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of the process for reviewing and approving spending limits for comprehensive section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should update the agency's written budget neutrality policy to reflect actual criteria and processes used to develop and approve demonstration spending limits, and ensure the policy is readily available to state Medicaid directors and others.

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

    Comments: HHS does not agree with this recommendation. However, we continue to believe that HHS should have a formal written budget neutrality policy in place that reflects the Department's actual criteria and processes. HHS's written budget neutrality policy was last issued in 2001 and is not publicly available, and staff have acknowledged that aspects of the policy as written do not reflect their current criteria or processes.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of the process for reviewing and approving spending limits for comprehensive section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should reconsider adjustments and costs used in setting the spending limits for the Arizona and Texas demonstrations, and make appropriate adjustments to spending limits for the remaining years of each demonstration.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, HHS officials reported that they have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update this information when we receive additional information
    Director: Caldwell, Stephen L
    Phone: (202)512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address long-standing challenges that continue to hinder regional preparedness efforts in the NCR, the FEMA Administrator should require that the Director of NCRC assist regional officials in developing measures to better assess the implementation of the NCR's strategic plan.

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

    Comments: In May 2017, FEMA officials reported that (1) efforts to update the NCR Homeland Security Strategic Plan had been delayed o provide more time to determine targets for each core capability, and in light of anticipated changes in the NCR homeland security and emergency management governance structure; (2) FEMA's 's Office of National Capital Region Coordination (ONCRC) held a kick-off meeting of a new NCR Strategic Plan Working Group in February 2017; and (3) the working group will continue development of the new plan with a revised estimated completion date of November 2017.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency of and accountability for Medicaid non-DSH supplemental payments, Congress should consider requiring the Administrator of CMS to (1) improve state reporting of non-DSH supplemental payments, including requiring annual reporting of payments made to individual facilities and other information that the agency determines is necessary to oversee non-DSH supplemental payments; (2) clarify permissible methods for calculating non-DSH supplemental payments; and (3) require states to submit an annual independent certified audit verifying state compliance with permissible methods for calculating non-DSH supplemental payments.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, no legislation had been enacted although at least one bill had been introduced in the Congress that would implement this Matter. If enacted, H.R. 541 would, among other things, require annual reporting of non-DSH supplemental payments made to individual institutional providers; information on type of ownership of providers that received the supplemental payments; and other information the agency determines is necessary to oversee non-DSH supplemental payments. However, CMS has taken some actions administratively to understand how to improve its oversight, which are underway. CMS had planned to publish a proposed rule for public comment in fall 2016 that could improve the oversight of supplemental payments made to individual providers. As of August 2017, the agency stated that it is gathering information from data submitted by states to better inform individual provider level payment criteria and establish policies and procedures to evaluate whether payments at the provider level are economic and efficient. They expect to complete this process by March 2018. CMS has also awarded a contract to review Medicaid supplemental payment information submitted by states that may, according to CMS officials, provide information to identify areas for future supplemental payment oversight, including issuing additional guidance on non-DSH supplemental payment submissions and developing standardized formatting. CMS reported that in 2016 it received approval from the Office of Management and Budget to issue standardized templates for all states to use when submitting the annual non-DSH supplemental payments for agency review, but did not specify when standard templates would be used. CMS also reported that the agency was developing a tool to assist in reviewing amendments to state plans and analyzing non-DSH supplemental payments. GAO plans to continue to monitor congressional action, as well as CMS's guidance on supplemental payments to individual providers and actions resulting from the contracted review to determine the extent to which improve state reporting of non-DSH supplemental payments, clarify permissible methods for calculating non-DSH supplemental payments, and require audits to verify that states use permissible methods to calculate non-DSH supplemental payments.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-4101

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the performance measures used to evaluate the TAA for Firms program demonstrate program results and to help ensure that EDA can comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of the program, the Secretary of Commerce should broaden the program's evaluation approach, for instance, by developing additional quantifiable outcome-oriented performance goals and measures for key program areas and conducting further analysis of the data to isolate the impact of the TAA for Firms program from other influences, such as economic trends.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Commerce concurred with our findings and recommendations. In April 2017, EDA provided additional information on its progress in implementing our recommendation. In 2012, EDA commissioned a study to inform the development of performance metrics and evaluation methods for the TAA for Firms program. Issued in October 2014, the study provided recommendations to EDA on potential performance metrics, tested the metrics by conducting a statistical analysis of TAA for Firms clients against a control group as well as a survey, and suggested data sources for conducting future evaluations of the TAA for Firms program. According to EDA officials, the study will help provide a foundation for more robust longitudinal performance measurement and enhanced policy analysis, thereby enabling EDA to more comprehensively evaluate the program. These officials noted that, as of April 2017, EDA is continuing to collaborate with the authors of the study to help develop, validate, and implement recommended performance metrics. According to EDA officials, the authors of the study have finalized an operational toolkit containing recommended metrics and protocols for data collection and impact evaluation methods. EDA plans to review and pilot test these recommended metrics and evaluation methods to improve program evaluation. We will continue to monitor Commerce's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the data available to manage and evaluate the TAA for Firms program, the Secretary of Commerce should develop a data system to consistently collect, maintain, and analyze sufficiently reliable and up-to-date data on program operations and participant firms.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Commerce concurred with our findings and recommendations. In April 2017, EDA provided additional information on its progress in implementing our recommendation. Commerce's Office of the Chief Information Officer has undertaken a variety of activities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Commerce's data systems, including those of EDA. According to EDA officials, as of April 2017, EDA is evaluating its agency-wide data system and alternative systems for collecting data on program operations with which to measure program performance. According to these officials, EDA expects that the transition to the new data system for the TAA for Firms program will be completed pending the outcome of the evaluation. We will continue to monitor Commerce's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Director: Yocom, Carolyn L
    Phone: (202)512-4931

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal funding efficiently and effectively responds to the countercyclical nature of the Medicaid program, Congress may wish to consider enacting an FMAP formula that is targeted for variable state Medicaid needs and provides automatic, timely, and temporary increased FMAP assistance in response to national economic downturns.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On February 10, 2016, GAO testified on considerations related to the Medicaid funding formula. See Medicaid: Changes to Funding Formula Could Improve Allocation of Funds to States GAO-16-377T January 26, 2016. We also cited this report in our discussion on Medicaid funding during economic downturns in Medicaid: Key Policy and Data Considerations for Designing a Per Capita Cap on Federal Funding(GAO-16-726).
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (214)777-5719

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To know whether its data on committed spending can be relied on to determine state DOTs' progress in meeting goals, to enhance FHWA's ability to know whether state DOTs meet their DBE goals, and to help increase transparency in the reporting of spending on DBEs, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator, in the information it provides to decision makers, including Congress, to include statements about potential limitations of the data it uses to determine state DOTs' progress towards goals.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: An official from the Department of Transportation said that the agency expects the recommendation to be met with a final rule regarding disadvantaged business enterprises, which will be signed by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation by the end of the calendar year.
    Director: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202)512-5154

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop more accurate data for estimating the funds needed for the CHS program and improving IHS oversight, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to develop a written policy documenting how IHS evaluates need for the CHS program and disseminate it to area offices and CHS programs to ensure they understand how unfunded services data are used to estimate overall program needs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, IHS reported in October 2015 that it was completing a comprehensive update of a policy chapter related to the Contract Health Services (CHS) Program (also called the Purchased/Referred Care Program). The agency indicated that this revised chapter would incorporate a written policy on how IHS evaluates need for the CHS program. It indicated that the chapter update had been under revision since December 20, 2012, with final approval anticipated in 2015. In July 2017, IHS indicated that the policy was still under development and would be issued to all IHS sites by September 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To develop more accurate data for estimating the funds needed for the CHS program and improving IHS oversight, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to provide written guidance to CHS programs on a process to use when funds are depleted and there is a continued need for services, and monitor to ensure that appropriate actions are taken.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, IHS reported in October 2015 that it developed and distributed Fund Management Standardization guidance to Area Offices to monitor compliance by federal Contract Health Services (CHS) program (also called the Purchased/Referred Care program) Service Units. Also, IHS issued standardized spending plan procedures to all Area Offices and Federally-operated programs. Also, it indicated that spending plan guidance would be included in an update of a policy chapter related to the CHS program. The agency indicated that this chapter had been under revision since December 20, 2012, with final approval anticipated in 2015. In July 2017, IHS indicated that the policy was still under development and would be issued to all IHS sites by September 30, 2017.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202)512-5731

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve FTA's ability to determine the extent to which transit grants, current formula incentives, and FTA program activities have had a positive effect on local transit agency performance--and to the extent that FTA finds current data sources to be appropriate and reliable for such purposes-- the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to further analyze and use data submitted to FTA by local transit agencies. As part of this analysis, FTA may want to identify and evaluate, when applicable, (1) the extent to which transit grant programs are accomplishing their established goals; (2) the areas of performance in which FTA should concentrate its program activities to increase the performance of local transit agencies and the federal transit program in general; and (3) the extent to which formula incentives and other performance accountability mechanisms have influenced the activities and performance of local transit agencies.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2017, FTA had published the final National Safety Plan and a final rule on state of good repair for transit assets. However, the final Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan rule is under additional review per the transition in administration. FTA does not expect publication until Spring 2018. We will continue to monitor DOT actions pertaining to this rulemaking.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202)512-4431

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further the goals of public understanding of what Recovery Act funds are being spent on and what results are expected, the Director, Office of Management and Budget, should work with executive departments and agencies to determine (1) whether supplemental guidance is needed to meet, in a reasonable and cost-effective way, the intent of the Recovery Act for reporting on projects and activities and (2) whether that supplemental guidance or other agency-proposed technical assistance dealing with narrative descriptions of awards provides for transparent descriptions of funded activities.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further the goals of public understanding of what Recovery Act funds are being spent on and what results are expected, the Director, Office of Management and Budget, should periodically (1) review, in partnership with executive departments and agencies, the descriptions of awards--in particular, the narrative fields--submitted by recipients to determine whether the information provides a basic understanding of the uses of the funds and the expected outcomes, and, if not, determine what actions to take, including encouraging agencies to develop or improve program-specific guidance and (2) work with the Recovery Board on the board's assessments of departments' and agencies' data quality reviews to ensure the adequacy of these reviews and further reinforce actions to meet transparency goals.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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: 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.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: (202) 512-8509

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To support the triennial review program's goal of having grantees consistently meet more federal requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to meet standards set forth in previous GAO work, based on the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, and develop performance measures to assess: (1) the outcomes of the triennial review program, such as a method for evaluating improvements in grantee performance in meeting more federal requirements over time (2) and the quality of the triennial review through improved contractor oversight, testing, or inspection.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) responded to our recommendations stating that it plans to improve the quality of oversight reviews. Actions aimed to improve quality are: (1) increasing oversight of contractors by emphasizing regional and headquarters' participation in all on-site triennial reviews and (2) increasing annual oversight conference participation and quarterly review workshops that focus on improving performance measures. These activities were to be specified in new procedures coming out in 2011.
    Recommendation: To support the triennial review program's goal of having grantees consistently meet more federal requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to improve the objectivity and reliability of the "Close Findings Timely" performance measure by: (1) developing an internal controls process to verify grantees have satisfactorily resolved findings before closing them (2) continuing to emphasize the use of OTRAK across all regions and developing a process to close out triennial reviews in OTRAK upon grantees' completion of corrective actions.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is working to strengthen the internal control process for closing out triennial review findings. Specifically, it is drafting operating procedures indicating that (1) the regional offices have the primary responsibility to provide the necessary technical assistance to grantees to close-out findings as well as ensure the findings are not closed-out prematurely and (2) program managers have a secondary responsibility to verify whether the findings were closed out properly. The procedures were to be issued in October 2010.
    Recommendation: To support the triennial review program's goal of having grantees consistently meet more federal requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA to ensure that additional outcome and quality performance measures are balanced with the existing measures for assessing the timeliness of the triennial review program so that one priority is not emphasized at the expense of others.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) anticipates adding a performance measurement, called reduction in repeat findings, that relates to assessing the quality of the review. FTA officials told us that this new performance measurement is noncontroversial and was to be discussed at a June 2012 Oversight Meeting.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine M
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the oversight of states' Medicaid supplemental payments, the Administrator of CMS should develop a strategy to identify all of the supplemental payment programs established in states' Medicaid plans and to review those programs that have not been subject to review under CMS's August 2003 initiative.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2016, HHS officials reported that they have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: (202)512-8984

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the federal investment in surface transportation, meet the nation's transportation needs, and ensure a sustainable commitment to transportation infrastructure, Congress may wish to consider reexamining and refocusing surface transportation programs to be responsive to these principles so that they institute tools and approaches to that emphasize the return on the federal investment.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2017, Congress has not yet acted on this recommendation. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94), signed into law in December 2015, is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the federal investment in surface transportation, meet the nation's transportation needs, and ensure a sustainable commitment to transportation infrastructure, Congress may wish to consider reexamining and refocusing surface transportation programs to be responsive to these principles so that they address the current imbalance between federal surface transportation revenues and spending.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2017, Congress has not yet acted on this recommendation. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94), signed into law in December 2015, did not address the current imbalance between federal surface transportation revenues and spending. The Act is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine
    Phone: (212) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress may wish to consider requiring increased attention to fiscal responsibility in the approval of section 1115 Medicaid demonstrations by requiring the Secretary of HHS to improve the demonstration review process through steps such as (1) clarifying criteria for reviewing and approving states' proposed spending limits, (2) better ensuring that valid methods are used to demonstrate budget neutrality, and (3) documenting and making public material explaining the basis for any approvals.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, no legislation on this topic had been passed, although at least one bill had been introduced in Congress that would make budget neutrality a statutory requirement for Medicaid demonstrations.The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing in June 2015 examining HHS's approval of spending under Medicaid demonstrations. In addition, the House Oversight and Government Reform and House Energy and Commerce Committees had sent letters to the Administration inquiring as to how HHS was responding to GAO findings and recommendations to improve the process and methods used to set demonstration spending limits.
    Recommendation: Congress may wish to consider addressing whether demonstrations that allow states to operate public managed care organizations and retain excess revenue to support programs previously funded by the state--including the Vermont demonstration--are within the scope of the Secretary of HHS's authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, Congress had not passed legislation in response to our matter for congressional consideration.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: 2025128984

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve freight mobility by more clearly defining the federal role in the freight transportation network and to begin to align federal investments with economically significant national benefits, the Secretary of Transportation should develop with Congress and public and private sector stakeholders a comprehensive national strategy for freight transportation. This national strategy should include defining the federal role and national interests in freight transportation, including economically-based and objective criteria to identify areas of national significance for freight transportation and to determine whether federal funds are required in those areas.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO contacted DOT on various occasions about the status of this recommendation, and a DOT official noted that the recommendation was receiving active consideration in the Administration's thinking on the next surface transportation authorization bill. Once Congress passes a surface transportation authorization bill, GAO will review the bill and determine if the recommendation was addressed.
    Recommendation: In order to improve freight mobility by more clearly defining the federal role in the freight transportation network and to begin to align federal investments with economically significant national benefits, the Secretary of Transportation should develop with Congress and public and private sector stakeholders a comprehensive national strategy for freight transportation. This national strategy should include establishing the roles of regional, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO contacted DOT on various occasions about the status of this recommendation, and a DOT official noted that the recommendation was receiving active consideration in the Administration's thinking on the next surface transportation authorization bill. Once Congress passes a surface transportation authorization bill, GAO will review the bill and determine if the recommendation was addressed.
    Recommendation: In order to improve freight mobility by more clearly defining the federal role in the freight transportation network and to begin to align federal investments with economically significant national benefits, the Secretary of Transportation should develop with Congress and public and private sector stakeholders a comprehensive national strategy for freight transportation. This national strategy should include using new or existing federal funding sources and mechanisms to support a targeted, cost-effective, and sustainable federal role in freight transportation.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO contacted DOT on various occasions about the status of this recommendation, and a DOT official noted that the recommendation was receiving active consideration in the Administration's thinking on the next surface transportation authorization bill. Once Congress passes a surface transportation authorization bill, GAO will review the bill and determine if the recommendation was addressed.
    Director: Siggerud, Katherine A
    Phone: (202)512-6570

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to put the Emergency Relief program on a sound financial footing, Congress may wish to consider the expected future demands on the program and reexamine the appropriate level and sources of funding--including whether to increase the $100 million annual authorized funding and whether the Highway Trust Fund, the General Fund, or some combination would allow the program to accomplish its purpose in a fiscally sustainable manner.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, Congress has not yet taken action on this recommendation. The Emergency Relief Program is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Recommendation: Congress may also wish to consider tightening the eligibility criteria for Emergency Relief funding, either through amending the purpose of the Emergency Relief program, or by directing FHWA to revise its program regulations. Revised criteria could include limitations on the use of Emergency Relief funds to fully finance projects with scope and costs that have grown as a result of environmental and community concerns.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, Congress has not yet taken action on this recommendation. The Emergency Relief Program is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Director: Ragland, Susan
    Phone: (202)512-9471

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs to develop a framework for OIA employees to use in conducting site visits to help ensure objectives are achieved, to assure that relevant information is shared with responsible officials, and to allow more efficient and effective monitoring of issues.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 24, 2017, the Department of Interior (DOI) sent out an email to its staff showing the dissemination of the new format required for completing trip reports by the staff of the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). The new format requires staff to include travel justification (i.e., purpose/objective, location, and travel period) and trip report (i.e., meetings, site visits, results, and next steps, as applicable.) The intent of the recommendation is for DOI to have a framework that includes (1) status of required single audit reports; (2) the progress of actions to resolve reported internal control weaknesses; and (3) current needs for technical assistance, capacity building, and staff level expertise. Further, the intent of GAO's recommendation is that this information be integrated into a comprehensive monitoring process. We did not see these elements included in DOI's new format. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202)512-6670

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to provide the Congress and federal and state officials with an accurate assessment of the progress being made toward the goal of full deployment of wireless E911, the Department of Transportation should work with state-level E911 officials, the National Emergency Number Association, and other public safety groups to determine which public safety answering points will need to have their equipment upgraded. This information should then be reflected in the PSAP database managed by NENA under contract with DOT. This will provide the baseline needed to measure progress toward the goal of full nationwide deployment of wireless E911 service.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO has made several attempts to contact DOT to update the status of this recommendation and are awaiting a reply.