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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Federal legislation"

    5 publications with a total of 11 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve stewardship over the nation's highways and bridges, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to conduct a study on state oversize- and overweight-permitting practices, including automated vehicle routing and escort driver certification, to identify areas of best practice and share the results with states.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concurred with this recommendation. According to an FHWA letter, they will conduct a review of permitting practices, which will include findings from several recent and ongoing research projects related to oversize and overweight permitting. FHWA plans to complete this review by September 30, 2017, and share the results with states through peer exchanges and forums.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, to improve Forest Service's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures, (3) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (4) develop a feedback mechanism to collect comments agency-wide, which should include guidance or criteria to elevate customer feedback from local and regional offices to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, Forest Service provided an update for completing the tasks necessary to respond to our recommendations. In accordance with our recommendations, for each of its customer service standards, the Forest Service has developed goals, targets and measures and we consider this part of the recommendation closed. Forest Service stated the remaining part of the recommendation will be implemented by December 2018. Specifically, the Forest Service stated by December 2018 it will begin to make standards easily publicly available on its public-facing websites. The Forest Service provided the criteria for elevating customer comments and by December 2018 stated it will begin to deploy and collect feedback forms. We will close this recommendation as implemented when standards are publicly available and customer feedback forms are deployed.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of Education should direct Federal Student Aid's Chief Operating Officer, to improve Federal Student Aid's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (2) develop a feedback mechanism that includes guidance or criteria for service providers to elevate customer feedback to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: We emailed Department of Education in June 2017 for an update on the status of this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should, to improve CBP's customer service standards: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, CBP sent an email stating that the agency has done all it can to fully implement the recommendation at this time. Because CBP does not have performance goals or targets for customer service standards this recommendation remains open. In April 2016, CBP provided us with customer service survey questions they use to collect data. Based on our review of that information, we were unable to confirm CBP had established performance targets and goals for the data being collected. As we stated in the report, performance goals should be in a quantifiable and measurable form to define the level of performance to be achieved for program activities each year. Although CBP is collecting new customer service data based on survey responses, without predetermined performance targets that align with a customer service standard it is not clear what or if internal targets or customer needs are being met. In June 2017, we emailed CBP for an update on the status of this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, to improve the National Park Service's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures, (3) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (4) develop a feedback mechanism that includes guidance or criteria to review and elevate customer feedback from local and regional offices to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to NPS officials, NPS plans on defining a strategy that describes the intended customer experience for highest customer interactions such as Volunteer in Parks program and Teacher engagement program. NPS will align the strategy with overall organizational strategy, share the strategy with all employees (e.g., documentation, training), and update strategy plans to include performance targets and goals for customer service. NPS also plans on soliciting feedback from customers about their experiences with the VIP and Teacher Outreach Programs, collecting unsolicited feedback from customers about their experiences with the organization (e.g., by mining calls, emails, or social media posts), and gathering input from employees about their experiences with customers and their role in delivering the customer experience. NPS plans to share customer experience metrics and models with all employees (e.g., distribute reports and dashboards, conduct training sessions), publish customer service standards on website so that customers know what to expect, and publish customer service data to ensure actual service levels are transparent. Finally NPS plans on piloting the "Federal Feedback" Button and evaluate for expanded use in fiscal year 2018. In June 2017, we emailed NPS for an update on this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Director: Powner, David A
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard provides meaningful ratings and reliable investment data, the Director of OMB should direct the Federal CIO to make accessible regularly updated portions of the public version of the Dashboard (such as CIO ratings) independent of the annual budget process.

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

    Comments: Although the Federal CIO did not agree or disagree with our recommendation, OMB has taken initial steps to implement it. Specifically, OMB recently updated the Dashboard with a number of changes, and OMB officials stated in 2015 that they intended for the Dashboard to be able to show updates throughout the year. That said, OMB has yet to implement this recommendation. Specifically, OMB did not publish updates to the public version of the Dashboard during the fiscal year 2018 budget formulation process, starting at the end of August 2016. We will continue to monitor the Dashboard to determine if portions of the public version of the Dashboard (such as CIO ratings) are available throughout the year. Maintaining the availability of these data is important for increasing the utility of the Dashboard as a tool for greater IT investment oversight and transparency.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard provides accurate ratings, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the department CIO to ensure that the department's investments are appropriately categorized in accordance with existing statutes and that major IT investments are included on the Dashboard.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce disagreed with this recommendation. In written correspondence, the Department noted that, although it is no longer reporting three of the 10 investments reviewed for this engagement on the IT Dashboard, it is maintaining oversight through monthly Dashboard-like assessments. As of July 28, 2016, the Department stated that it did not have plans to re-categorize these three particular investments as IT and report the data on the IT Dashboard. We continue to believe that this recommendation has merit and will monitor the Department's efforts to maintain oversight for these investments.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard provides accurate ratings, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department CIO to ensure that the department's investments are appropriately categorized in accordance with existing statutes and that major IT investments are included on the Dashboard.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: While the Department of Energy had agreed with this recommendation, in subsequent written correspondence, it explained that five of the eight investments noted by GAO as being IT were no longer being reported in the IT Portfolio on the Dashboard. Instead, the Department was reporting these data to OMB via an alternative reporting mechanism specific to high performance computing. In addition, the Department noted that the remaining three investments were deconsolidated or downgraded into non-major investments, or eliminated by funding and, as such, these investments will not be included on the Dashboard. However, we continue to believe that this recommendation has merit and that the remaining investments are more properly classified as IT. We will continue to monitor the Department's efforts to maintain oversight for these investments.
    Director: Powner, David A
    Phone: (202)512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce should address the weaknesses in agency- and bureau-led TechStat processes and management outlined in this report.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency partially agreed with our assessment of the agency's TechStat process, but has not yet implemented our recommendation. At the time of our review, we identified several weaknesses in the agency's TechStat processes and management, including holding bureau-led TechStats, incorporating TechStats in its capital planning and governance structure, providing training on TechStats, and consistently capturing action steps, deadlines, and responsibilities in its TechStat memorandums. In an April 2017 update, the agency stated that it had not held any TechStats in 2016, but had identified several candidates for TechStats within the next 6 months. In addition, the agency plans to update its capital planning documents to include the TechStat program in late summer 2017. In addition, it has not finalized its TechStat training documentation, but plans to complete the documentation in late summer 2017. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-4101

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

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

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

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

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