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    Subject Term: "Foreign assistance"

    10 publications with a total of 32 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that sufficient due diligence is undertaken by implementing partners of U.S. democracy assistance in Burma, where appropriate, to help ensure that assistance is not made available to prohibited entities or individuals, the Administrator of USAID should direct the Mission in Burma to review its procedures and practices regarding due diligence for democracy projects to determine whether additional guidance or reviews of implementing partners' due diligence procedures would be appropriate.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation. As of September 2017, USAID is reviewing its due diligence procedures, and will determine if additional guidance for implementing partners is required. USAID plans to develop and issue any guidance accordingly.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that sufficient due diligence is undertaken by implementing partners of U.S. democracy assistance in Burma, where appropriate, to help ensure that assistance is not made available to prohibited entities or individuals, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to review its procedures and practices regarding due diligence for Burma democracy projects to determine whether additional guidance or reviewing implementing partners' due diligence procedures would be appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with the recommendation. As of September 2017, State is reviewing its due diligence procedures, and will consider whether additional guidance for implementing partners is needed.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has inserted a requirement for partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for activities including cash transfers and food vouchers into its FY 2017 Request for Applications for Food for Peace development activities, and that new Title II development awards will require partners to adhere to the requirement. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions taken in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    10 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Millennium Challenge Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in May 2017, MCC stated that it had responded to our finding that MCC needed to more clearly document the independence of its evaluators and fully disclose any potential conflicts of interest in the published final evaluations. In response to this recommendation, MCC revised its standard evaluator contract language and now requires the evaluator's independence, and any potential conflicts of interest, be fully documented in the published evaluation report. GAO will follow up on documentation of this and any other steps responsive to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, DOD provided a response to our final report, dated March 30, 2017. The response noted that, in January 2017, the Department established policy on assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AM&E) for security cooperation with the goal of improving the quality of program evaluation across the Department. DOD also stated that it would review best practices for AM&E to determine those that are best suited for security assistance, and will discuss our findings and recommendations with the independent evaluator who conducts security assistance evaluations and encourage them to consider the recommendations in future evaluations. GAO will review the January 2017 guidance and will follow-up on specific steps taken by the DOD to incorporate best practices.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a response to GAO in May 2017, HHS stated that the CDC Operationalization of the Evaluation Standards of Practice (ESOP) was updated in January 2017 and provides guidance on evaluation planning, protocol development, implementation, reporting, dissemination, and use of evaluation results, as well as reporting requirements. HHS also stated that it now reviews all evaluation and performance monitoring plans and assess report quality at several stages prior to publication and has begun to provide webinars and templates for evaluators to ensure that standards are addressed and reflected in the report. GAO will review the updated documents and request documentation of the actions taken for responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. The policy and its implementation, along with the recently published Program Design and Performance Management toolkit, as well as updated policy guidance, constitute State's plan to improve evaluations. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in follow-up to our report, USAID stated that steps already taken include (1)recently updating and clarifying the requirements and quality standards for evaluations and (2) working to ensure that staff has the skills they need to manage evaluations through training and other capacity building actions. As of September 2017, GAO is reviewing the updated guidance and actions against the specific findings in our report to assess their responsiveness in addressing our findings.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its guidance and practices on the posting of evaluations to require President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) evaluations to be posted within the timeframe required by PEPFAR guidance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a response to GAO in May 2017, HHS stated that the CDC, as of December 2016, now provides guidance noting that each new evaluation protocol specifically state that a report on the main findings of an evaluation will be produced in alignment with the PEPFAR ESOP and posted (in English) on a publically accessible website within 90 days of completion. GAO will review the updated document for responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC should adjust MCC evaluation practices to make evaluation reports available within the timeframe required by MCC guidance.

    Agency: Millennium Challenge Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in May 2017, MCC stated that it had initiated a re-design of its evaluation monitoring information system to provide MCC with detailed timelines of each component of the evaluation review and publication process. GAO will follow up on documentation of this and any other steps responsive to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of State should amend State's evaluation policy to require the completion of dissemination plans for all agency evaluations

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. State reported that it would add a requirement for dissemination plans to the new policy. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of Agriculture should implement guidance and procedures for making FAS evaluations available online and searchable on a single website that can be accessed by the general public.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Merritt, Zina Dache
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To implement DOD guidance requiring the military departments to prepare readiness and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) budget impact assessments during drawdown planning, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to develop guidance that assigns responsibility for the preparation of impact assessments and includes direction on how such assessments should be conducted as part of drawdown planning.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, DOD concurred with the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To implement DOD guidance requiring the military departments to prepare readiness and O&M budget impact assessments during drawdown planning, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, DSCA, to develop an internal control mechanism to determine whether the military departments have completed the required impact assessments before moving forward with drawdown planning and execution.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, DOD concurred with the recommendation.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, undertake a review of the efforts to date on ensuring data quality

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and noted that it will continue to work with USAID in consultation with OMB to assess whether additional existing resources are required to meet the goals of ForeignAssistance.gov. As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of June 2017, GAO was following up with State to obtain additional information on how the established review process would or has helped improve the quality of the data reported on Foreignassistance.gov.
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, develop additional guidance that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of June 2017, GAO was following up with State to determine if additional guidance has been developed that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given that countering violent extremism is a priority for the U.S. government in general and State's Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT Bureau), the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that CVE program efforts abroad are evaluated.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the CT Bureau indicated that a third-party evaluation of the CVE program has been completed. The evaluation focused on process and programming, including all CVE projects funded between fiscal years 2012 and 2016 and resulted in two related but disparate sets of recommendations and findings. The CT Bureau indicated that it has begun incorporating the recommendations made in the evaluation into its overall CVE efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve State's CT Bureau's program management efforts, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure the Bureau of Counterterrorism establishes specific time frames for addressing recommendations from program evaluations.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the CT Bureau indicated it is in the process of reviewing recommendations from the CVE evaluation, and will soon be assigning timelines to those recommendations that the bureau deems relevant and achievable. For other evaluations, the CT Bureau indicated that it has already acknowledged the need to assign specific timelines to evaluation recommendations and has adjusted accordingly.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve the ability of U.S. government agencies and others to assess the timeliness of U.S. security assistance to Yemen, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to improve the accuracy of data used to track when Section 1206 projects are congressionally cleared for implementation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD officials indicated that they will correct the historical congressional notification clearance data for Yemen and ensure it is correct going forward, with the goal of having correct data by May, 2015. They also noted there is a policy in place requiring the congressional notification clearance date entered into the database to be drawn from the e-mail from the DOD Comptroller's office indicating the clearance date. In order to correct the historical data, DOD will try to find documents showing the actual clearance dates, but when those are unavailable, DOD will add fifteen days to the date of the congressional notification. As of June 2017, DOD had not provided documentation in response to our requests for a status update regarding this recommendation. We will monitor these efforts to determine when they have been completed.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better report the occupations filled by H-2B workers who have been approved by DHS, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should implement during its transformation process to an electronic petition form, an occupation classification system that conforms to a national standard.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, USCIS indicated that it was revising its Transformation Roadmap (schedule). The conversion to electronic nonimmigrant petitions is expected to be completed during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. USCIS also noted that it is exploring the adoption of a single set of occupation codes across multiple form types, but has not yet made a final decision whether to implement this. USCIS estimates this recommendation will be completed by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help potential H-2A and H-2B workers and their advocates better assess employment offers and reduce their vulnerability to abuse, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should, during its transformation to an electronic petition form, ensure that petition job information is collected in an electronic manner and made available to the public as soon as possible following a final adjudication decision. Such job information should include number of positions, wage, and any staffing, placement or recruitment agency the employer plans to use.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, USCIS indicated that it was revising its Transformation Roadmap (schedule). The conversion to electronic nonimmigrant petitions is expected to be completed during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. Therefore, USCIS estimates this recommendation will be completed by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help protect workers from being hired by employers who have been debarred from program participation, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, to use all employer-related information it collects on debarred employers to screen new applications.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, the agency noted that it continues to screen for debarred employers in two ways: 1) by adding debarred employers to its iCERT System, which matches incoming employer applications using the federal Employer Identification Number; and 2) by conducting additional reviews during analyst case adjudications using a more expansive set of employer-related information. While the Employment and Training Administration explored enhancing its iCERT system in 2015 to flag more information on debarred employers, the agency said this enhancement was not pursued due to technical difficulties in matching open text fields (e.g., physical employer addresses).
    Recommendation: To ensure that H-2B workers are adequately protected and that DOL's investigative resources are appropriately focused, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, to review its enforcement efforts and conduct a national investigations-based evaluation of H-2B employers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) indicated that it is coordinating closely with the department's Chief Evaluation Office on evaluations and special projects involving data analytics. As a result of that coordination, it is shifting away from large-scale compliance surveys and toward leveraging internal enforcement data and external survey data to assess compliance levels in priority industries. Therefore, WHD is not currently considering a national level survey of the H-2B program. However, WHD indicated that its focus of enforcement resources on industries that employ workers vulnerable to violations of labor laws will include H-2B workers and employers.
    Recommendation: To determine to what extent, if any, the 2-year statute of limitations on debarment limits its use as a remedy for employers who violate program requirements: (1) the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, and the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, to collect data on the nature of the cases where debarment would have been recommended but was not because the 2-year statute of limitations had expired, and based on that data determine whether to pursue a legislative proposal to extend the statute of limitations; and (2) the Department of Labor Inspector General should direct the Assistant Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations to provide the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, and the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, data on the number of referrals for debarment that the Inspector General's Office sent to the department after the 2-year statute of limitations had expired.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL indicated that it was considering the utility of collecting these data in light of the fact that the new H-2B regulations that were issued in April 2015 eliminated the 2-year statute of limitations for the H-2B program. We continue to believe, however, that this data collection would be valuable given that the H-2A program is still subject to the 2-year statute of limitations. The department indicated it is undertaking a modernization of its data systems--by implementing a data governance structure that will manage its data as a business asset--and our recommendation for the collection of these data will be vetted through this process.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's tracking and reporting on progress of its Local Solutions initiative, the USAID Administrator should identify additional indicators to better capture Local Solutions progress toward the initiative's goals.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As part of a three-tier approach to integrate more strategic monitoring efforts, USAID is conducting an internal review of the department's best practices, processes, and procedures for promoting the goals of the Local Solutions initiative, which are to strengthen capacity, promote ownership, and increase sustainability. Through this review, the agency expects to identify ways of monitoring the Local Solutions initiative that will more accurately capture the underlying models of change and help identify indicators that will help capture progress toward the initiative's goals. In October 2016, USAID officials said that the agency is in the process of developing a menu of potential indicators and will request missions to provide feedback on these indicators. Agency-wide indicators for local ownership are expected no sooner than spring of 2017. In April 2017, officials stated that the agency is working on finalizing draft indicators for local ownership. The expected date of completion is now late summer 2017.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202)512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. efforts to promote international religious freedom, the Secretary of State and the Chair of USCIRF should jointly define how State and USCIRF should interact in their efforts to promote international religious freedom, paying particular attention to defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom as a nonvoting USCIRF member.

    Agency: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2015, officials from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL) said that the DRL Front Office and senior management have yet to approve a joint letter between State's Office of International Religious Freedom and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that addresses GAO's recommendation. According to the officials, the DRL front office wanted to revisit the letter given the recent appointment of a new Ambassador-at-Large. According to the Ambassador, he met with USCIRF and wanted to provide input to the joint letter, but as of March 2015, the letter had not been approved by State. We followed up again in both August 2015 and August 2016 and were told that no progress on the letter or a joint understanding had been made. In July 2017, the President announced his nominee to be the new Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. As of August 15, 2017, the nomination is pending. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. efforts to promote international religious freedom, the Secretary of State and the Chair of USCIRF should jointly define how State and USCIRF should interact in their efforts to promote international religious freedom, paying particular attention to defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom as a nonvoting USCIRF member.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: After the report was issued, in a letter dated May 28, 2013, the State Department said it has met with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to discuss a plan for better systematizing the interactions between the entities, including by more clearly defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large. In October 2013 and again in March 2014, State said it continued to discuss this plan with USCIRF. In October 2014, State said it had drafted a joint letter with USCIRF in response to our recommendation, but that it was awaiting a Front Office signature. In March 2015, officials from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL) said that the DRL Front Office and senior management have yet to approve a joint letter between State's Office of International Religious Freedom and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that addresses GAO's recommendation. According to the officials, the DRL front office wanted to revisit the letter given the recent appointment of a new Ambassador-at-Large. According to the Ambassador, he met with USCIRF and wanted to provide input to the joint letter, but as of March 2015, the letter had not been approved by State. We followed up again in both August 2015 and August 2016 and were told that no progress on the letter or a joint understanding had been made. In July 2017, the President announced his nominee to be the new Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. As of August 15, 2017, the nomination is pending. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation.