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    Subject Term: "Financial accountability"

    8 publications with a total of 22 open recommendations
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop a comprehensive long-term capital asset plan to inform its allocation of school facility funds. Such a plan should include a prioritized list of school repair and maintenance projects with the greatest need for funding.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior stated that Indian Affairs is engaged with the Office of Management and Budget to develop a more robust and prioritized capital asset management plan for school infrastructure needs, which they expect to complete before the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to provide more details in Indian Affairs' annual congressional budget justifications on specific needs at BIE schools, including information on proposed capital expenditures, and updates on previous school construction projects.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. In May 2017, Interior stated that Indian Affairs is currently engaged in an effort to comprehensively review the budget justification process with the objective of improving the quality, format, and presentation of the President's annual budget submission to Congress and that it will work to provide more detailed information on proposed capital expenditures and updates on previous construction projects. In addition, the agency reported that Indian Affairs will ensure improvements to the budgeting process are made permanent through formal policy and procedure in order to ensure that the needs of BIE schools are accurately and regularly reported in its congressional budget justification.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop and implement guidance for its project managers and contracting officers regarding effective use of accountability measures.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior indicated that the Acquisition office and the Division of Facilities Management and Construction are working together to create and implement guidance and were preparing and planning improvements for future construction contracts. In addition, the agency stated that Indian Affairs will develop a financial accountability workgroup with members from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, BIA, BIE, and the Office of the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop guidance and standards to ensure the effective use of accountability measures.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to clarify Indian Affairs' design handbook requirements to explain when and how school designs can deviate from specific requirements--such as heating and cooling systems with complex features--when the life cycle cost analysis demonstrates the requirements are not cost-effective or practical given such factors as the technical capacity of school facility staff.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior disagreed with this recommendation, noting that it had revised its design handbook in 2017 and that the revised handbook includes a process to consider deviations that do not violate requisite codes, standards, or laws. Interior also stated that the handbook is not intended to describe every scenario where a deviation may be requested and that it is more efficient to allow designers, schools and other users to request deviations and exceptions as and when needs arise. However, we believe the revised handbook is still in draft and is being reviewed internally and has neither been finalized nor distributed: an updated design handbook that includes a process for deviations is critical. We agree with the agency that the handbook does not need to describe every scenario where a deviation may be requested. The draft 2017 handbook indicates that when conflicts or questions arise the designer is to formally notify the Interior project manager in writing to request a waiver. However, it does not provide an explanation of the process or how life cycle cost analysis might inform that process. We continue to believe that, in addition to a process, providing guidelines and an explanation about how life-cycle cost analysis should inform such decisions in the handbook before it is finalized would be useful and help to ensure that the choices designers make with regard to design are both cost-effective and practical.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to improve oversight and technical assistance to tribal organizations to enhance tribal capacity to manage major construction projects.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior stated that its Division of Facilities Management and Construction will develop a "high-risk" project tracking and monitoring process. The Division will work with BIA and BIE facilities managers to develop an engagement plan to better inform tribes of the extensive requirements involving the management of capital projects replacing schools or facilities. For tribes that manage projects themselves, Indian Affairs will offer to provide them with technical assistance, particularly during key program phases.
    Recommendation: To ensure accountability for BIE school facility funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary--Indian Affairs to develop and implement guidance for maintaining complete contract and grant files for all BIE school construction projects.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. Interior stated that Indian Affairs will develop, as part of its Financial Accountability Workgroup, guidance for maintaining all types of construction contract and grant files.
    Director: Andrew Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that Congress will have more complete information on DOD's full funding needs for its O&M base budget and to conduct oversight of DOD's use of OCO funds to support base programs and activities, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller to revise its guidance on preparing budget justification materials and execution reports for Congress to require the addition of O&M obligations used for base programs and activities at the level of information presented for each account.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD continues to non-concur with our recommendation; however, we continue to believe that the recommendation is valid and will follow up annually on the status of the recommendation.
    Director: Moran, Revae E
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide for independent audit and investigative oversight of NMB, Congress should consider authorizing an appropriate federal agency's Office of Inspector General to provide such oversight.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing in April 2014 to (1) review the processes and mechanisms by which small agencies and other federal entities without statutory inspectors general receive oversight, and (2) examine potential legislative actions to improve the oversight of small agencies. In advance of the hearing, the committee circulated draft legislation that would, among other things, assign the Inspector General of the National Labor Relations Board the responsibility of providing oversight of the National Mediation Board. However, this legislation was not formally introduced. No related legislation has been enacted since that time.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop a formal strategic planning process to fully implement key required elements of strategic planning, including a formal process to obtain congressional and stakeholder input.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that it had reviewed strategic planning material from GAO and OMB, and would produce a formal planning process to guide future strategic plan development. It anticipated that the formal planning guide would be in place by the end of fiscal year 2016. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop, and include in its performance plan, performance goals and measures that contain required elements to demonstrate results.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated it had been in contact with other federal labor agencies (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and Federal Labor Relations Authority) to discuss measurable performance goals that may be adapted to NMB's mission areas. It also indicated that it would review OPM guidance when developing updated performance goals. It anticipated that new performance metrics would be included in the fiscal year 2017 strategic plan update. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop and implement a formal mechanism to ensure the prompt resolution of findings and recommendations by independent auditors, including clearly assigning responsibility for this follow-up to agency management.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated it would develop standard procedures to address all program audits. It anticipated that the new updated and new procedures would be in place before the next round of program audits in fiscal year 2017. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop and fully implement key components of an information security program in accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that it was reviewing the security certificates of the agencies with which it contacts for services and working with them to determine how to review their security audits in an efficient manner. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should establish a privacy program that includes conducting privacy impact assessments and issuing system of record notices for systems that contain personally identifiable information.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated it is conducting a review of its record management program to assess the status of agency records and documents held in its cloud-based records management program. It indicated that this review would be completed before the end of fiscal year 2016 and would be used to assess any impact on privacy and issue any appropriate notices. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop a strategic workforce plan that (1) involves input from top management, employees, and other stakeholders; (2) identifies critical skills and competencies needed by NMB; (3) identifies strategies, such as training, to address any gaps; and (4) provides for cost-effective evaluations of these strategic workforce planning efforts. This plan should also address succession for the significant proportion of NMB staff and senior managers who are eligible to retire in the next few years.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that it would develop a formal process to elicit stakeholder input as it updates the current strategic workforce plan. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources and to better inform its decisions about managing the rail grievance arbitration process, including addressing the backlog of cases, NMB should collect and analyze data on the types of grievances filed, and their disposition. NMB should use these data to improve the efficiency of the arbitration process and consider, as part of this effort, whether to establish fees for arbitration services. If NMB determines that the establishment of fees would improve the efficiency of the arbitration process, it should impose such fees or seek legislative authority to do so, as necessary.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that data on rail grievance arbitration cases are being collected and that it anticipated presenting analysis of those data in the agency's fiscal year 2016 annual report. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Director: Gootnick, David B
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the ability of the U.S. agencies participating in the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) and Joint Economic Management and Financial Accountability Committee (JEMFAC) to conduct required oversight of compact funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of Insular Affairs, as Chairman of JEMCO, to coordinate with other JEMCO-member U.S. agencies to have JEMCO take all necessary steps, or, as the administrator of compact grants, to directly take all necessary steps, to ensure that the FSM (1) completes satisfactory plans to address annual decrements in compact funds, (2) produces reliable indicator data used to track progress in education and health, and (3) addresses all single audit findings in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: JEMCO accepted decrement plans from the FSM which addressed one element of the recommendation. However, as of June 16th, 2017 the other parts of the recommendation have not been addressed.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the ability of the U.S. agencies participating in the JEMCO and JEMFAC committees to conduct required oversight of compact funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of Insular Affairs, as Chairman of the JEMFAC, to coordinate with other JEMFAC-member U.S. agencies to have JEMFAC take all necessary steps, or, as the administrator of compact grants, to directly take all necessary steps, to ensure that the RMI (1) completes satisfactory plans to address annual decrements in compact funds, (2) produces reliable indicator data used to track progress in education and health, and (3) addresses all single audit findings in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: JEMFAC accepted decrement plans from the RMI, which addressed one element of the recommendation. However, as of June 16th, 2017 the other parts of the recommendation have not been addressed.
    Director: Pickup, Sharon L
    Phone: 202-512-9619

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop a fully integrated management approach to guide virtual training efforts and investments, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force to develop an overarching strategy to align goals and funding for virtual training efforts across all Air Force major commands. This strategy should at a minimum contain elements such as results-oriented goals, performance measures, and a determination of resources needed to achieve stated goals. In addition, this strategy should show clear linkages between existing and planned initiatives and goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Interagency Council and the Office of Management and Budget; in conjunction with the Secretaries of HHS, HUD, Labor, and VA should consider examining inefficiencies that may result from overlap and fragmentation in their programs for persons experiencing homelessness. As a starting point, the agencies could use the program information from this report to further analyze the degree and effects of overlap and fragmentation. The results of this assessment could be used to take actions to reduce any identified inefficiencies and therefore better leverage their resources. Actions may include streamlining services offered within specific programs or by agencies, identifying programs that could benefit from further research or evaluations, or consolidating programs or services to reduce administrative costs.

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

    Comments: We have contacted OMB three times recently regarding this recommendation, most recently on August 24, 2017. We have yet to receive a response.
    Director: Draper, Debra A
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To systematically gauge the extent to which deficiencies identified by individual AIBs may be occurring throughout VHA; and to maximize opportunities for sharing information across VHA to improve its overall operations, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to establish a process to collect and analyze aggregate data from AIB investigations, including the number of investigations conducted, the types of matters investigated, whether the matters were substantiated, and systemic deficiencies identified.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation and noted that it would explore any new processes for collecting and analyzing aggregate data from AIB investigations. In September 2015, VA reported that VHA had established a working group to review this recommendation and also had created a database to collect and analyze aggregate data from AIB investigations into senior executive service (SES) employees. Based on an informal survey of its working group as well as its analysis of AIB data for SES employees, VA stated that central office oversight of the AIB process is not needed and that several systems already in place capture data on system-wide risks (e.g., sexual assault reporting, Issue Briefs, and National Center for Patient Safety Patient Safety Information System Program). Ultimately, VA stated that it could not justify the resources needed to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To systematically gauge the extent to which deficiencies identified by individual AIBs may be occurring throughout VHA; and to maximize opportunities for sharing information across VHA to improve its overall operations, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to establish a process for sharing information about systemic changes, including policies and procedures implemented in response to the results of AIB investigations, which may have broader applicability throughout VHA.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation and noted that it would explore any new processes for collecting and analyzing aggregate data from AIB investigations. In September 2015, VA reported that it had established a working group to review this recommendation. In addition, VA also had created a database to collect and analyze aggregate data from AIB investigations into senior executive service (SES) employees to identify trends and address deficiencies. Based on an informal survey of its working group and its analysis of AIB data for SES employees, VA stated that VISNs currently provide adequate oversight of the AIB process and notify VA central office when appropriate and that a comprehensive review of its AIB data for SES employees identified no system-wide issues. Ultimately, VA stated that it could not justify the resources needed to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Ragland, Susan
    Phone: (202)512-9471

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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