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    Subject Term: "Federal grants"

    28 publications with a total of 87 open recommendations including 6 priority recommendations
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery should complete a workforce staffing assessment that identifies the appropriate number of staff needed at joint field offices, Consolidated Resource Centers, and in FIMA's hazard mitigation cadre to implement the new delivery model nationwide. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery should establish controls for tracking FAC-Trax capabilities to the system's functional and operational requirements to more fully satisfy requirements development controls and ensure that the new information system provides capabilities that meets users' needs and expectations. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery should establish system testing criteria, such as a "definition of done," to assess FAC-Trax as it is developed; define the roles and responsibilities of all participants; and develop the sequence and schedule for integration of other systems with FAC-Trax to more fully satisfy systems testing and integration controls. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery, in coordination with the Associate Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, should implement procedures to standardize planning for addressing PA hazard mitigation at the joint field offices, for example, by requiring FEMA and state officials to develop a memorandum of understanding outlining how they will prioritize and address hazard mitigation following a disaster as it did through prior policy. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery, in coordination with the Associate Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, should develop performance measures and associated objectives for the new delivery model to better align with FEMA's strategic goal for hazard mitigation in the recovery process. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better position DOT and FHWA to effectively guide the transformation of federal surface transportation programs to a more performance-oriented approach, and to help states and MPOs overcome anticipated challenges, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of FHWA to take the following two actions: 1. Develop a formal TPM implementation plan to include overarching implementation goals, specific actions FHWA plans to take to help states and MPOs successfully implement TPM, and corresponding timelines. 2. Publicly communicate this plan and approach to build a shared understanding of the goals and purpose of the transformation with its grantees.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2017, FHW A stated it is developing a comprehensive TPM implementation plan that will contain overall implementation goals and timeframes for key deliverables and actions. Additionally, FHWA said it will make states and MPOs aware of training and guidance available to them and develop a strategy to communicate the impacts of federal funding investments. FHW A said it would finalize the plan by May 2018 and make it public by July 2018.
    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: Diana Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure grantees' compliance with the Drug-Free Communities Support Program's statutory requirements and to strengthen monitoring of grantee activities, SAMHSA should develop an action plan with time frames for addressing any deficiencies it finds through its reviews and making systemic changes to mitigate deficiencies on a prospective basis to strengthen the grant monitoring process.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA is currently in the process of implementing routine audits of all its grant files. SAMHSA will also conduct an audit specifically of DFC files to ensure compliance by the end of summer 2017. Additionally, SAMHSA will offer regular training to government project officers (GPO) on grant report requirements and will ensure DFC GPO participation. Finally, SAMHSA is actively implementing the Grants Enterprise Management System to streamline the grants management process and make the process for maintaining grant files automated. By the end of fall 2017, all newly awarded DFC grants will be in this system. By the end of fall 2018, all active DFC grants will utilize this system.
    Recommendation: To better ensure grantees' compliance with the Drug-Free Communities Support Program's statutory requirements and to strengthen monitoring of grantee activities, SAMHSA should develop and implement a method for ensuring that the grantee status reports it provides to ONDCP are complete and accurate.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA will develop a plan to ensure complete and accurate information is provided to ONDCP by the end of summer 2017.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of EPA's internal records and the information EPA can communicate to internal and external decision makers, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) to provide clear guidance to EPA staff to help ensure that staff correctly identify all EPA discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on this report, EPA stated that there are opportunities to explore how to better develop guidance for tracking grants and determine how to make more complete information on discretionary grants publicly available. In June 2017, EPA reported that it intends to be involved in efforts in 2017 to improve the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) descriptions, which may include changes to the CFDA template language to improve clarity of discretionary grant designations. EPA stated that also in 2017 the agency will assess whether other actions are necessary to help staff better identify discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management systems, including training and reconciling any inconsistencies in defining discretionary grants.
    Recommendation: To better enable Congress and other decision makers to monitor EPA's management of discretionary grants, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of OGD to determine how to make more complete information on EPA's discretionary grants publicly available, such as by posting timely and complete reports on its website.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, EPA reported that in 2017 the agency will begin to examine whether and how it can use its new internal Next Generation Grants System to generate more timely and complete reports related to discretionary grants and make them publicly available. EPA also stated that it plans to explore the ability to use the system to (1) generate more timely and complete information that can be publicly posted on the number of applications received and types of entities submitting applications for open competitive opportunities, and (2) produce an annual report on the amount of funds per discretionary grant program and whether such funds were for new awards or amendments.
    Director: Allison B. Bawden
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in the grant merit-review process, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance to require all competitive grant programs to clarify in the public notice of funding opportunity all review criteria, including cost sharing factors as relevant, and their related scores to be used to make final award decisions.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, Interior had updated its notice of funding opportunity template for competitive grant programs to clarify that the review process must ensure that applications are scored and selected based on announced criteria. In addition, competitive grant programs must establish a written merit review plan that details the merit review factors and sub-factors and the rating system and evaluation standards which explain the scoring basis. Furthermore, the Fish and Wildlife Service is developing new guidance to ensure discretionary grant programs include all required elements to be completed in December of 2017.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance that ensures their grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding their competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Fish and Wildlife Service issued guidance to ensure grant applications are reviewed for potential overlap and duplication, as GAO recommended in January 2017, but as of August 2017 the National Park Service had yet to issue such guidance. In August 2017, the Department of Interior (Interior) provided documentation showing that the Fish and Wildlife Service now requires discretionary grant applicants to provide a statement that addresses whether there is any overlap or duplication of proposed projects or activities to be funded by the grant. Fish and Wildlife also updated its guidance to grant awarding offices instructing them to perform a potential overlap and duplication review of all selected applicants prior to award. Interior said the National Park Service had yet to issue guidance on duplication and overlap review, but it would provide the guidance to GAO when it is finalized and implemented. Completing these improvements will help the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Food and Nutrition Service to issue written guidance that ensures its grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, the Department of Agriculture (Agriculture) said the Food and Nutrition Service was developing written guidance that will ensure its grants management staff identify grant programs for potential duplication and overlap with other federal agencies before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements, as GAO recommended in January 2017. Agriculture officials said the guidance would be based on input from grants management staff, relevant Food and Nutrition program officials, and reviews of similar guidance already in place at other Agriculture sub-agencies. The Food and Nutrition Service plans to issue this guidance by the end of federal fiscal year 2017 for use beginning in fiscal year 2018. Issuing and implementing this guidance will reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    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: Currie, Christopher P
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better assess the impact of the fire grants program, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to establish measurable performance targets linked to AFG and SAFER program goals, such as the desired percentage of awardees who used grants to achieve compliance with equipment standards.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to officials, FEMA's Grant Programs Directorate is reviewing the current set of program metrics to determine the feasibility of establishing performance targets. FEMA plans to include approved targets in its annual report to Congress that will be issued for fiscal year 2016; the report was undergoing internal review for approval and release as of November 2016. Pending issuance of the report with measurable performance targets linked to AFG and SAFER program goals, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enhance FEMA's efforts to assess and integrate the fire grant programs' contributions to national preparedness, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to use the National Preparedness Goal's definition of critical infrastructure as the basis of collecting information from applicants and using the National Critical Infrastructure Prioritization Program list to measure fire grant programs' performance in addressing national priorities.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to officials, FEMA's Grant Programs Directorate plans to incorporate the National Preparedness Goal definition of national critical infrastructure into fire grant performance measures in FEMA's fiscal year 2017 Annual Report to Congress. Specifically, they said FEMA plans to conduct an assessment of data from AFG program application and awards in order to verify recipients are reporting infrastructure that aligns with the National Preparedness Goal definition of critical infrastructure. In addition, FEMA plans to meet as needed with the National Programs and Protection Directorate's Office of Critical Infrastructure Analysis to determine how the Critical Infrastructure Prioritization Program list can be used in the application process. Pending completion of these efforts, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enhance FEMA's efforts to incorporate new National Fire Operations Reporting System (NFORS) and Fire Community Assessment Response Evaluation System (FireCARES) data elements into fire grants program management activities, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a project management plan for identifying relevant data elements in the new NFORS and FireCARES systems and determining how they can be used to improve fire grant applications and awards processes and the performance assessment system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to officials, FEMA's Grant Programs Directorate intends to develop a plan to assess the data collected to determine feasibility for integration of NFORS and FireCARES data into the AFG programs. The plan will incorporate ways to improve the applications, awards processes, and tracking of performance. This plan should be completed by March 2017, and FEMA will continue to collaborate with stakeholders for the improvement of the AFG application, awards processes, and performance management. According to FEMA, the estimated completion of this effort is September 2017.
    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: 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: Susan A. Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to enhance the process outlined in the Grants Manual to monitor project performance for future grants to include: (1) performance measures directly linked to project goals, and (2) fully incorporating timely and actionable information on grantee performance into FRA's review process to help determine whether current efforts are in line with the overall project goals.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and stated that FRA will enhance the grants management manual content linking performance measures to project goals, and incorporating timely and actionable information on grant performance into monitoring and oversight activities. DOT stated FRA would complete these actions by June 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to develop and provide written guidance to grantees to include FRA's expectations on the type of information grantees should provide, such as guidance specific to deliverables and milestones for each grant project.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and stated that FRA will identify gaps in existing guidance and develop and disseminate revised guidance to grantees. DOT stated FRA would complete these actions by December 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to analyze training needs and formalize a training plan for grantees and agency staff, which could include training on grant-specific procedures and policies.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and FRA developed a revised formal training plan in March 2017. As of May 2017, we are reviewing this plan.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help foster and unaccompanied homeless youth better navigate the college admissions and federal student aid processes, the Secretaries of Education and HHS should jointly study potential options for encouraging and enabling child welfare caseworkers, McKinney-Vento homeless youth liaisons, and other adults who work with these youth to more actively assist them with college planning.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, Education reported that it is continuing its efforts to address the recommendation. In May 2016, Education, working with the Department of Health and Human Services, issued a Foster Youth Transition Toolkit, which addresses both financial aid and college admissions processes. The toolkit was written for youth in or formerly in foster care rather than for professionals who serve these youth. Education noted that it had also posted a Homeless Youth Fact sheet for teachers and other professionals on its website in July. Education said that it will continue to work with HHS and the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth about college admissions and federal student aid processes for foster and unaccompanied homeless youth. Education also plans to conduct a technical assistance webinar for McKinney-Vento homeless youth liaisons and to provide technical assistance for other programs. Making such information available on Education's website is an encouraging step, as are plans to conduct webinars for professionals who work with homeless youth. We look forward to the implementation of these plans. However, we continue to believe that HHS and Education should consider ways to encourage more active college planning efforts among professionals who work with homeless and foster youth that consider professional staff's competing goals and priorities and multiple responsibilities.
    Recommendation: To help foster and unaccompanied homeless youth better navigate the college admissions and federal student aid processes, the Secretaries of Education and HHS should jointly study potential options for encouraging and enabling child welfare caseworkers, McKinney-Vento homeless youth liaisons, and other adults who work with these youth to more actively assist them with college planning.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS, working with the Department of Education, issued a Foster Youth Transition Toolkit in May 2016 which encourages current and former foster youth to pursue college and addresses both financial aid and college admissions processes. The toolkit was written for youth in or formerly in foster care, and HHS considers it a resource for unaccompanied homeless youth as well as for the adults who serve these youth. Making such information available through this joint publication is an encouraging step. However, child welfare caseworkers, school homelessness liaisons, and other professionals who work with homeless and foster youth have competing goals and priorities and multiple responsibilities. To encourage and facilitate college planning and admissions efforts, Education and HHS would need to carefully consider professional staff's workloads, responsibilities, and training needs, among other issues, and develop some options for encouraging college planning efforts among professionals in these programs who work with homeless and foster youth. HHS did not provide an update for FY 2017.
    Recommendation: To help foster and unaccompanied homeless youth, as well as adults who assist these youth, better navigate the federal student aid process and obtain information about college resources, the Secretary of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of HHS, should create webpages directed to homeless and foster youth so they can more easily find tailored and centralized information about available federal and other resources, such as Pell Grants, Chafee Education and Training Voucher Program (Chafee ETV Vouchers), and waivers for college admission tests.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, Education reported that it is continuing its efforts to address the recommendation. In addition to having a webpage about foster youth, Education noted that in April 2016 it had created a new webpage with resources for homeless children and youth. In July 2016, Education developed and posted online a Foster Care Transition Toolkit and a Fact Sheet on federal student aid for homeless youth that is available through its resources webpage. The development and posting of these materials on the agency's website offers helpful resources to foster and homeless youth; however, Education should also make it easier for these youth, who often lack adult support, to find these documents easily--such as by referring to them on the page that says who is eligible for federal student aid--without lengthy searching of the Website.
    Recommendation: To help college financial aid administrators more effectively implement eligibility rules for unaccompanied homeless youth, the Secretary of Education should make available an optional worksheet or form that college financial aid administrators can voluntarily use to document unaccompanied homeless youth status or encourage the use of existing forms that are available.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education agreed that it would be helpful to make forms developed by outside organizations knowledgeable about homelessness issues available for financial aid administrators to use for documenting the status of unaccompanied homeless youth. Education also said that it plans to highlight the availability of these forms and provide guidance at its annual conference and in updates to the Federal Student Aid Handbook. Education noted that it will not endorse the use of a specific form but that it will highlight forms that already exist that may be useful to financial aid administrators. In 2017, Education reported that it is continuing its efforts to address the recommendation. We look forward to Education making such forms available for college financial aid administrators so that they can more effectively implement eligibility rules for unaccompanied homeless youth.
    Recommendation: To help homeless youth more easily access federal student aid, the Secretary of Education should clarify its guidance to financial aid administrators and students about whether financial aid administrators should accept any unaccompanied homeless youth determination provided by McKinney-Vento homeless liaisons or other authorized officials even if a student is not in high school or receiving program services.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, Education reported that it is continuing its efforts to address the recommendation. In June 2016, Education posted questions and answers about federal student for homeless youth on its website and in July, the agency posted a fact sheet about Homeless Youth on its webpage for teachers and other professional staff. However, neither document states whether financial aid administrators should accept any unaccompanied homeless youth determination provided by McKinney-Vento liaisons or authorized officials even if a student is not in high school or receiving program services. In July 2016, Education issued guidance for the McKinney-Vento program specifying that a local liaison may continue to provide verification of a youth's homelessness status for federal student aid purposes for as long as the liaison has access to the information necessary to make such a determination for a particular youth. The guidance also stated that local homelessness liaisons should ensure that all homeless high school students receive information and counseling on college-related issues. Education said that it will also hold a technical assistance webinar for McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youths Program liaisons. In the 2017-18 Application and Verification Guide for financial aid administrators, Education clarified circumstances under which authorized officials may provide documentation of unaccompanied homelessness for a person who is no longer officially receiving services. The updated guide also noted that local homelessness liaisons may write subsequent year letters of verification for unaccompanied homeless youth through age 23 for whom they have the necessary information to write such letters and that this documentation is acceptable for verifying unaccompanied homelessness. The agency should also update the question and answer factsheet on federal student aid for homeless students so that the information on unaccompanied homeless youth determinations is presented consistently in these key documents.
    Recommendation: To enhance access to federal student aid for unaccompanied homeless youth, the Secretary of Education should consider developing a legislative proposal for congressional action to simplify the application process so that once a student has received an initial determination as an unaccompanied homeless youth, the student will not be required to have that status re-verified in subsequent years but attest to their current status on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, unless a financial aid administrator has conflicting information.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, Education reported that it is continuing its efforts to address the recommendation. In July 2016, Education said that the department had proposed further simplification of the FAFSA in its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal. Education stated that it will also consider the feasibility of a legislative proposal to not require re-verification of homelessness after a student has received an initial determination. Such a legislative proposal would enhance access to federal student aid for unaccompanied homeless youth.
    Recommendation: To simplify program rules for Chafee ETV vouchers and improve access to these vouchers for former foster youth ages 21 and 22, the Secretary of HHS should consider developing a legislative proposal for congressional action to allow foster youth to be eligible for the Chafee ETV voucher until age 23 without also requiring that they start using the voucher before they turn 21.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS's budget request for fiscal year 2018 does not contain a legislative proposal to improve access to Chafee vouchers for former foster youth ages 21 and 22. In July 2016, HHS noted that it had made a proposal for mandatory programs to improve foster youth's access to vouchers for title IV-E Chafee programs in the Administration for Children and Families' fiscal year 2017 budget request. However, the agency explained that the proposal's purpose is to extend eligibility for Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) services to youth up to age 23 in jurisdictions that have extended foster care to age 21. According to HHS, the budgetary proposal does not affect the Chafee Vouchers. A legislative proposal to simplify program rules for Chafee ETV vouchers would support improving access to these vouchers for former foster youth ages 21 and 22.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, FEMA officials provided an update on the status of actions taken in response to our report. In the update, FEMA officials said the National Integration Center (NIC) is holding consultative sessions with state and local emergency managers to ensure the revised National Incident Management System (NIMS) doctrine and implementation objectives is operationally sound from the perspective of FEMA's stakeholders. They expect to complete this effort by September 30, 2017. Pending completion of this effort, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: 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: 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: 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: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to update the financial indicators guidance to include one or more of EPA's financial measures for identifying the growth of states' SRF funds.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing changes to its financial indicators to help identify the growth of states' SRF funds, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us it had established a joint EPA/state workgroup that proposed draft financial indicators for the State Revolving Funds (SRF). These draft indicators are intended to address financial sustainability and the extent to which funds are being used efficiently. EPA plans to issue a memorandum to finalize these updated indicators in the summer of 2017. GAO will review EPA's memorandum when it is issued to determine if the recommendation can be closed.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to use information on SRF funds' past performance to develop projections of SRF programs by forecasting future lending capacity during regional office reviews of states' SRF programs using factors such as future interest earnings and inflation rates.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing its tools and guidance to regional offices to forecast states' future lending capacity, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us that it had enhanced its State Revolving Fund (SRF) Financial Planning Model to align future loan projections with target cash balances. EPA's Office of Water will work with EPA regional offices to use the updated SRF Financial Planning Model for SRF forecasts that will support annual regional reviews of state SRF programs. EPA will update its guidance to EPA regional offices to use these forecasts in their reviews of the state SRF programs beginning in 2017 or early 2018. GAO will review EPA's guidance when it is finalized to determine if this recommendation can be closed.
    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: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 14, 2016, no legislation had been enacted to address this issue.
    Director: 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: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: 202-512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should establish additional accountability measures for management of the TIGER program to (1) establish clear procedures for addressing late-arriving applications and communicate its decisions to either accept or reject these applications to the public, and (2) document and approve major decisions in the application evaluation and project selection process through a decision memorandum or similar mechanism that provides a clear rationale for decisions to: (a) advance for senior review applications other than those rated as highly recommended; (b) not advance applications rated as highly recommended; and (c) change the technical evaluation rating of an application.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO reviewed DOT's TIGER application evaluation process for the 2014 and 2015 funding rounds and found that DOT established guidance that it would no longer accept late-arriving TIGER applications and it improved its internal procedures for documenting major decisions in its application evaluation database, including decisions to advance for senior review applications other than those rated as "highly recommended." However, DOT did not document these procedures through a decision memorandum or similar mechanism to ensure a consistent and transparent process for approving major decisions in these and future TIGER rounds. Moreover, in reviewing the 2015 TIGER application evaluation process, GAO noted that DOT altered its procedures for evaluating applications while the review process was ongoing. According to DOT's Financial Assistance Guidance Manual, grant evaluations must be conducted in accordance with the evaluation plan created prior to the announcement, and may not be changed once applications have been received. As of August 2017, the Department's Inspector General is conducting an audit of the TIGER program to assess DOT's application evaluation procedures. GAO will review the Inspector General's findings when they become available.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve grantees' planning and implementation efforts, increase the effectiveness of grantee efforts to integrate and manage resources, and learn more about the program's impact, the Secretary of Education should clarify program guidance about planning and implementation grants to provide reasonable assurance that planning grantees are better prepared to continue their efforts in the absence of implementation funding. Additional guidance could include encouraging grantees to set aside a small amount of the grant to identify and deliver early, tangible benefits to their neighborhoods.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education stated that it would communicate to planning grant applicants that implementation funding is contingent on the availability of funds and that it would clarify to grantees that planning grant funds could be used to achieve early, tangible benefits. However, Education has not awarded any new planning grants since 2012. In FY17, ED reported that if new funding becomes available for the Promise Neighborhoods' planning and implementation awards, the Department will emphasize to all interested applicants that grant awards are contingent on the availability of funds and the results of the competitive award process. Education also stated that it would provide more targeted technical assistance to planning grant recipients regarding strategies for continuing grantees' efforts absent implementation funding. In 2015, its technical assistance provider published information on planning for growth and sustainability of Promise Neighborhoods.
    Recommendation: In order to improve grantees' planning and implementation efforts, increase the effectiveness of grantee efforts to integrate and manage resources, and learn more about the program's impact, the Secretary of Education should develop and disseminate to grantees on an ongoing basis an inventory of federal programs and resources that can contribute to the Promise Neighborhoods program's goal to better support coordination across agency lines.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education stated that it would work with its technical assistance providers to create a mechanism to distribute a comprehensive list of external funding opportunities, programs and resources on a regular basis to better support the grantees' implementation efforts. In FY15, ED reported that the program office held a grantee meeting in July 2015 featuring at least three workshops on sustainability and leveraging additional funding sources. The program office also had a website (promiseneighborhoods.ed.gov) with a number of resources under the "toolbox" tab that can assist interested programs in financing their ongoing needs. While the workshops and web resources were good first steps that can assist grantees, GAO maintains that Education, rather than individual grantees, is best positioned to develop and share such an inventory of federal programs that relate to the goals of the Promise Neighborhoods program. Without such an inventory, Education may be missing opportunities to better support grantees; find other federal program for future coordination efforts; and identify potential fragmentation, overlap and duplication at the federal level. In FY17, Education did not provide any updates on this recommendation, nor has it provided such an inventory.
    Recommendation: In order to improve grantees' planning and implementation efforts, increase the effectiveness of grantee efforts to integrate and manage resources, and learn more about the program's impact, the Secretary of Education should develop a plan to use the data collected from grantees to conduct a national evaluation of the program.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education stated that it would consider options for how and whether it can use the data collected from grantees to conduct a national evaluation. As a first step, Education said it would conduct a systematic evaluation of the reliability and validity of the data. In its 2016 Notice of Funding Availability for Implementation Grants, Education acknowledged that grantees have struggled to collect the full range of data necessary to conduct meaningful evaluation activities and emphasized the importance of helping grantees develop robust data systems. In addition, in its agency comments, Education had stated that it had not received sufficient funding to support a national evaluation. In FY2017, ED provided documentation of its request for funding for conducting an evaluation and the response to the request. However, the entity within ED that is responsible for impact evaluations maintains that it has no plans to conduct an impact evaluation, given that grantees were not randomly selected. GAO agrees that the program was not designed for impact evaluation, however, as we reported, there are other options for evaluating such programs that can provide meaningful information about how well grantees are addressing the problem of poor student outcomes in impoverished neighborhoods. Not evaluating the program limits Education and other agencies from learning about the extent to which model is effective and should be replicated. Developing an evaluation plan would provide critical information about the resources required to conduct an evaluation, and could better inform future funding requests for such an evaluation.
    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: Czerwinski, Stanley J
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should, in collaboration with the members of COFAR, develop and make publicly available an implementation schedule that includes performance targets, goal leaders who can be held accountable for each goal, and mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on results.

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

    Comments: In January 2017, GAO reported that although COFAR had released its updated priorities for Fiscal Years 2016 through 2017, it had not released to the public an implementation schedule that included key elements such as performance targets, mechanisms to monitor, evaluate, and report on progress made toward its stated priorities. For this reason, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should, in collaboration with the members of COFAR, clarify the roles and responsibilities for various streamlining initiatives and steps for decision making, in particular how COFAR will engage with relevant grant-making agency stakeholders and utilize agency resources.

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

    Comments: In January 2017, GAO reported that although COFAR had released its updated priorities for Fiscal Years 2016 through 2017, the document did not provide clarification on roles and responsibilities for its members. For this reason, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should, in collaboration with the members of COFAR, improve efforts to develop an effective two-way communication strategy that includes the grant recipient community, smaller grantmaking agencies that are not members of COFAR, and other entities involved with grants management policy.

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

    Comments: In January 2017, GAO reported that although COFAR had released its updated priorities for Fiscal Years 2016 through 2017, the document did not provide a detailed communication strategy for the grant recipient community. For this reason, this recommendation remains open.
    Director: Gootnick, David B
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to strengthen its ability to collect, evaluate, and transmit reliable information to Congress, the Secretary of the Interior should disseminate guidelines to the affected jurisdictions that adequately address concepts essential to producing reliable impact estimates, and call for the affected jurisdictions to apply these guidelines when developing compact impact reports.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a January 13, 2012 letter, Interior provided a status update to GAO and the Congress on this recommendation. Interior stated that it generally concurred with the recommendation and that it would advise the governors of affected jurisdictions of possible guidelines to develop compact reports. In addition, Interior officials met with staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and GAO representatives on January 17, 2012 to discuss approaches to preparing this guidance. Interior targeted a completion date of September 15, 2012 for the guidance at that time. In March 2012, Interior met with three of the four governors of affected jurisdictions, Hawaii, the CNMI, and Guam. According to Interior, the governors reached the consensus that Hawaii would develop a template for developing guidelines by December 2012. Although the completion date was revised, such guidance was not prepared. Section 13 of S. 1237, as introduced June 27, 2013, would have required Interior to identify the amount of compact impact costs in affected jurisdictions for the purpose of permitting the amount of impact cost to be used as in-kind contributions for federal grants. In its statement at a July 11, 2013 Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing on S. 1237, Interior stated that it "has urged the governors [of affected jurisdictions] to develop consistent standards of reporting among themselves, including the definition of FAS migrants, accurate accounting of migrant costs to the affected government, and benefits received by the affected jurisdiction from employment, taxation and consumption." but that it opposed the enactment of Section 13. On August 20, 2013, Interior sent letters to all four governors of affected jurisdictions stating that it was available to provide comments on any guidelines for measurement that the governors may choose to develop and present. Simultaneously, Interior sent a letter to GAO stating that the governing law, P.L. 108-188, does not give Interior authority to mandate either measurement processes or the reporting of impacts to the Congress. Therefore, Interior stated that it was unable to ensure that guidelines for reports to Congress are completed by the affected jurisdictions and that it can take no further action. However, our report found that, though the guidelines were not required under the law, without such guidelines, there were a number of weaknesses in affected jurisdictions' reporting of compact impacts to Interior from 2004 through 2010 related to accuracy, adequacy of documentation, and comprehensiveness. Interior prepared draft guidelines in late 2014, but these were not issued. In March 2016, Interior stated that OIA, in consultation with the leaders from the affected jurisdictions, would develop guidelines for measuring compact impact and that the guidelines would be completed in December 2016. In August 2016, Interior again stated to GAO that the guidelines would be completed by the end of the year, but they were not completed. In September 2017, Interior provided GAO with a draft template for recording costs but stated that, given new leadership at Interior and in the affected jurisdictions, more discussion would be needed before the template can be finalized. We continue to believe that providing more rigorous guidelines to the affected jurisdictions and promoting their use for compact impact reports would increase the likelihood that Interior can provide reliable information on compact impacts to Congress.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To establish accountability for meeting the programs' goal of increasing the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups in the highway construction workforce, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to create and implement an oversight mechanism that (1) holds states accountable for meeting federal training criteria and (2) clearly stipulates how FHWA will assess state program effectiveness, including what type of program achievement data states are to submit and how such data will be used. This oversight mechanism should include assessing the effectiveness of its division offices in overseeing state activities.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHWA has taken steps to implement an oversight mechanism that may address this recommendation. FHWA officials anticipate completing their work in response to this recommendation in mid- to late 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: 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.