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    Subject Term: "Foreign governments"

    23 publications with a total of 66 open recommendations including 9 priority recommendations
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The NNSA Deputy Administrator for DNN should revise the DNN program management policy to require DNN programs and subprograms to follow life-cycle program management. These requirements should include development of schedule and cost estimates that cover the life cycle of DNN programs and subprograms, use of methods to account for uncertainty and risk in such estimates, use of cost and schedule baselines to measure performance over program and subprogram life cycles, and development of program management plans. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration: Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should take steps to ensure the implementation of revised standard operating procedures for collecting electronic ATA course and participant data. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 28, 2017, having reviewed a draft version of GAO-17-704, State concurred with this recommendation and noted that ATA had revised its standard operating procedures for collecting data and shared the document with us. We will follow-up with ATA regarding steps taken to ensure the implementation of those procedures.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should develop and implement a process to confirm and document whether future ATA participants return to their home countries following the completion of ATA training and, for any participants trained in the United States who do not, share relevant information with the Department of Homeland Security. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 28, 2017, having reviewed a draft version of GAO-17-704, State concurred with this recommendation and stated that, by the end of the year, it will implement a process to ensure that participants sent to ATA training in the United States return to their home countries. We will follow-up with ATA regarding the implementation of such a process for participants sent to ATA training in the United States or other locations outside of their home countries.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help increase efficiency when defining FMS requirements to be placed on contract, the Secretary of Defense should issue department-wide guidance for the military departments and DOD components to expand the use of requirements checklists to develop more comprehensive letters of request for FMS cases.

    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: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should ensure that Bellmon determinations are documented for all food assistance projects prior to the provision of commodities, consistent with agency guidance.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should update guidance on Bellmon determinations to reflect current policies and procedures.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should monitor markets during implementation of development projects to identify any potential negative effects, such as unusual changes in prices.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should evaluate markets after development projects are completed to determine whether markets were negatively affected during project implementation or after project completion.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure the transparency and accountability of USDA's selection of countries to receive in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop guidance to require documentation of the reasons for providing funding to countries that were not on the priority list.

    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 help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that Bellmon determinations are documented for all food assistance projects prior to the provision of commodities, consistent with agency guidance.

    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 help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should monitor markets during implementation of McGovern-Dole projects to identify any potential negative effects, such as unusual changes in prices.

    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 help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should evaluate markets after the completion of McGovern-Dole and Food for Progress projects to determine whether markets were negatively affected during project implementation or after project completion.

    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: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD program managers have the necessary information to maintain complete visibility and accountability of ITEF-funded equipment in SCIP, the Secretary of Defense should identify the root causes, such as potential interoperability and data reporting issues within SCIP and other DOD data systems, for why DOD components are not ensuring that ITEF-funded equipment transportation dates are captured in SCIP.

    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.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD program managers have the necessary information to maintain complete visibility and accountability of ITEF-funded equipment in SCIP, the Secretary of Defense should develop an action plan with associated milestones and time frames for addressing the root causes for why DOD components are not ensuring that ITEF-funded equipment transportation dates are captured in SCIP.

    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.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD program managers have the necessary information to maintain complete visibility and accountability of ITEF-funded equipment in SCIP, the Secretary of Defense should develop written procedures that specify under which data field ITEF-funded equipment transfer dates should be captured in the Enhanced Freight Tracking System in SCIP.

    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.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD program managers have the necessary information to maintain complete visibility and accountability of ITEF-funded equipment in SCIP, the Secretary of Defense should update the 1st Theater Sustainment Command's (1st TSC) written standard operating procedures to include the 1st TSC commander's verbal order requiring the inclusion of unique equipment case identifier information for ITEF-funded equipment on transfer documentation.

    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: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that all relevant U.S. agencies have information on the effect of changes in U.S. policy related to Cuba, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other relevant agencies, should take steps to identify and begin to collect the information that would allow them to monitor changes in economic engagement, including with the Cuban private sector.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation. As of April 2017, State reported that it is taking steps to identify and collect information that would enable it to monitor the Cuban economy and changes in the economic environment, including with the Cuban private sector. For example, State noted that Embassy Havana has developed a plan for in-country travel and reporting by identifying key sectors and provinces that can provide additional insights on the Cuban economy. GAO will continue to monitor State's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and clarity of the Trafficking in Persons Report and improve its usefulness as a diplomatic tool to encourage countries to address trafficking, the Secretary of State should improve explanations in narratives for Tier 1 rankings, including using consistent language, as feasible, in the Trafficking in Persons Report.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and said that it seeks to make the Trafficking in Persons Report as useful as possible to a broad array of stakeholders and will continue its commitment to ensure each narrative better serves this purpose. GAO will continue to monitor State's efforts to fully implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and clarity of the Trafficking in Persons Report and improve its usefulness as a diplomatic tool to encourage countries to address trafficking, the Secretary of State should take actions, such as tracking the recommendations in the Trafficking in Persons Report, to assess the effectiveness of the report as a tool to encourage countries to address human trafficking.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and described steps it is taking to more systematically assess the effectiveness of the Trafficking in Persons Report in encouraging governments to address human trafficking, including the recent establishment of a monitoring and evaluation position in the Trafficking Office. GAO will continue to monitor State's implementation efforts.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    10 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM/C among visa recipients, the Secretary of State should update the Foreign Affairs Manual to require posts located in countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced to directly provide information about FGM/C to nonimmigrant visa recipients in the same manner as is done for immigrant visa recipients.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will expand the pool of visa applicants who will receive information on FGM/C. Specifically, once its transition to providing paperwork electronically during the visa application process is complete, State will directly distribute the fact sheet on FGM/C to both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients. According to State, both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients will have to certify that they have read and understood the fact sheet on FGM/C before signing and submitting their respective visa applications. As of August 2017, State has not yet completed these actions.
    Recommendation: To increase awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM/C among visa recipients, the Secretary of State should update the Foreign Affairs Manual to require posts located outside of the countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced to directly provide information on FGM/C to immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients who are nationals of countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will expand the pool of visa applicants who will receive information on FGM/C. Specifically, once its transition to providing paperwork electronically during the visa application process is complete, State will directly distribute the fact sheet on FGM/C to both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients who are from or were nationals of a country where FGM/C is commonly practiced. State noted that this change will ensure the widest distribution possible by providing all individuals from countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced with access to the fact sheet on FGM/C regardless of place of application or visa recipient type. As of August 2017, State has not yet completed these actions.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will develop a written plan for disseminating relevant FGM/C resources to the agency?s key stakeholder groups. As of August 2017, Education reported that action is still pending.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that various HHS offices and agencies are working together to develop a written plan for its approaches to addressing FGM/C. In August 2017, HHS reported that once a key leadership position has been filled, it will provide more information on developing a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Justice (DOJ) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of its Criminal Division is taking the lead on developing a written plan on its FGM/C outreach and awareness efforts. As of August 2017, DOJ has not yet developed a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) did not concur with our recommendation, and, as of August 2017, has not indicated that it would implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will develop a written plan for disseminating relevant FGM/C resources to the agency?s key stakeholder groups and will explore how to best communicate and coordinate efforts at the federal level. As of August 2017, Education reported that action is still pending.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that various HHS offices and agencies are working together to develop a written plan for its approaches to addressing FGM/C. HHS also noted that it would share this plan with other federal partners and key stakeholders. In August 2017, HHS reported that once a key leadership position has been filled, it will provide more information on disseminating a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Justice (DOJ) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of its Criminal Division is taking the lead on developing a written plan on its FGM/C outreach and awareness efforts. DOJ also noted that it would communicate its written plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate. As of August 2017, DOJ has not yet disseminated a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) did not concur with our recommendation, and, as of August 2017, has not indicated that it would implement this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State acknowledged challenges identifying recipients of equipment across the range of assistance activities, but noted that it would continue to update its systems and procedures to facilitate human rights vetting for recipients of equipment. In April 2017, State reported that it had provided finalized guidance on vetting Egyptian recipients of Foreign Military Financing-funded equipment to Embassy Cairo. These procedures have been incorporated into a revised version of Embassy Cairo's guide for conducting human rights vetting. According to State, Embassy Cairo has implemented these procedures. Also, as of June 2017, State has added new features to INVEST to help facilitate vetting of equipment recipients. However, State has not yet provided information on its plans for adopting the procedures used in Egypt more broadly in other countries that also receive equipment through the Foreign Military Financing account or through other U.S. assistance programs. In addition, State has not established requirements for posts to use the new equipment vetting features in INVEST. We will continue to monitor agency efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better determine the costs needed to sustain the equipment to support a Marine Air Ground Task Force capability, the Commandant of the Marine Corps should direct the Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics to incorporate the four characteristics of reliable cost estimates in the Marine Corps' forthcoming prepositioning programs budget development policy, and specifically to ensure that estimates are accurate and well-documented, require all relevant departments and subordinate commands to provide documentation of cost-estimating details that include both source data and calculations.

    Agency: Department of Defense: United States Marine Corps
    Status: Open

    Comments: Based on our review of DOD's database on DOD's actions addressing GAO recommendations and follow up with DOD officials, as of September 1, 2017, DOD has not yet addressed this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better determine the costs needed to sustain the equipment to support a Marine Air Ground Task Force capability, the Commandant of the Marine Corps should direct the Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics to incorporate the four characteristics of reliable cost estimates in the Marine Corps' forthcoming prepositioning programs budget development policy, and specifically to ensure that estimates are credible, implement management requirements to establish and conduct formal cross-checks of major cost elements among the relevant departments and subordinate commands to determine whether they are replicable.

    Agency: Department of Defense: United States Marine Corps
    Status: Open

    Comments: Based on our review of DOD's database on DOD's actions addressing GAO recommendations and follow up with DOD officials, as of September 1, 2017, DOD has not yet addressed this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better determine the costs needed to sustain the equipment to support a Marine Air Ground Task Force capability, the Commandant of the Marine Corps should direct the Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics to incorporate the four characteristics of reliable cost estimates in the Marine Corps' forthcoming prepositioning programs budget development policy, and specifically to ensure that estimates are comprehensive, implement a standardized structure for collecting all the necessary details used to develop and support cost estimates from all relevant departments and subordinate commands.

    Agency: Department of Defense: United States Marine Corps
    Status: Open

    Comments: Based on our review of DOD's database on DOD's actions addressing GAO recommendations and follow up with DOD officials, as of September 1, 2017, DOD has not yet addressed this recommendation.
    Recommendation: As part of its quality assurance program for ensuring that the Marine Corps has accurate and reliable information on inventory data for stored assets used to support combatant commanders' requirements, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, in consultation with the Norwegian Defence Logistics Organization, should take steps to update the Technical Manual on Logistics Support for the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program - Norway and the Local Bilateral Agreement, to incorporate guidance and instructions on conducting a quality assurance review that assesses the accuracy and reliability of the Norwegian Equipment Information Management System.

    Agency: Department of Defense: United States Marine Corps
    Status: Open

    Comments: Based on our review of DOD's database on DOD's actions addressing GAO recommendations and follow up with DOD officials, as of September 1, 2017, DOD has not yet addressed this recommendation.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve State's processing of nonimmigrant visas, the Secretary of State should evaluate the relative impact of efforts undertaken to reduce nonimmigrant visa interview wait times to help managers make informed future resource decisions.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to State officials, State's Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is committed to putting procedures in place that will provide all of the necessary management information to assess the relative impact of process improvement efforts. State officials said that CA has expanded collection of detailed nonimmigrant visa productivity data from posts that account for nearly 65 percent of the worldwide NIV workload. That data will provide a basis for future analysis of the impact of process or program changes on adjudicator productivity. State, however, has not completed an evaluation of the relative impact of their efforts.
    Recommendation: To further improve State's processing of nonimmigrant visas, the Secretary of State should document a plan for obtaining end user (i.e., consular officers) input to help improve end user satisfaction and prioritize enhancements to information technology systems.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State informed GAO that it has taken some steps to gather additional end-user input, such as centrally tracking and then prioritizing input and expanding the use of Agile development methodology that will permit more frequent updates of software that end users desire. State, however, has not provided evidence of a documented plan for obtaining end user input to help improve end user satisfaction and prioritize enhancements to information technology systems.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should reconsider State's INKSNA process to ensure that it (1) complies with INKSNA's 6-month reporting cycle, and (2) minimizes delays in its ability to opt to impose sanctions.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments on the draft report, the Department of State concurred with our recommendation while expressing concerns about what it referred to as the inherent difficulties of producing INKSNA reports every six months as required by law. In a July 2016 letter, State noted that it had worked to minimize delays in its ability to impose sanctions pursuant to INKSNA reports and that it aims to eventually comply with INKSNA's six-month reporting cycle as it clears the existing backlog of INKSNA cases. Moreover, it noted that State had transmitted three INKSNA reports covering three years of activity (the latest covering calendar year 2013) within the last 18 months as evidence that it was making progress towards meeting the GAO recommendation. GAO will continue monitoring State's efforts to fully implement the recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

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

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the timely completion of an evaluation of security assistance to Egypt that is required by State policy, the Secretary of State should establish specific time frames for completing such an evaluation.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State noted that while evaluation of security assistance to Egypt poses challenges, it views evaluation as a critical tool for accountability and program improvement and will continue to pursue a formal evaluation of security assistance to Egypt. As of August 2017, State had not established specific time frames for such an evaluation. However, according to State officials, the department had begun preliminary data collection in anticipation of an evaluation at some point in the future. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation. Relevant efforts by DHS to finalize memoranda of understanding with other agencies and by the Export Enforcement Coordination Center to share information and data across the export control enforcement community are ongoing. As of Sept 2017, DHS did not identify relevant actions to coordinate on critical technologies among other agencies.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: Commerce has identified various efforts to collaborate across multiple agencies within individual critical technologies programs, but has not taken steps to promote collaboration on critical technologies through a larger group discussion.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has identified numerous activities within DOD to coordinate across the critical technologies portfolio, in particular the Arms Transfer and Technology Release Senior Steering Group. In some cases, these activities include other departments, most commonly State. However, officials have stated that they are not aware of any high-level coordination on critical technologies among the larger group of agencies. On Sept. 5, 2017, DOD provided an update on multiple DOD efforts, including CFIUS, but none are collaborating among all of the agencies cited in the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Attorney General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, the agency identified coordination actions being taken across the agencies with export control responsibilities--including through the Export Control Enforcement Center--and through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. However, it is not clear how, or if, these coordination efforts are tied to the larger, government-wide portfolio of critical technologies programs. As of Sept. 2017, Justice has no additional updates.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, a Treasury official identified coordination actions being taken across the agencies with export control responsibilities and through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. However, coordination efforts are not tied to larger, government-wide collaboration on critical technologies. In March 2017, Treasury provided an update on actions taken, but did not address the recommendation for coordination among the critical technologies programs.
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. In Sept. 2017, State provided updates on actions taken within the department, but none across affected agencies.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure the safety of food imported into the United States, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs should complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. If the inspection numbers from that evaluation are different from the inspection targets mandated in FSMA, FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes.

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

    Comments: In January 2015, we recommended that the Commissioner of FDA complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. Additionally, if the inspection numbers from that analysis are different from the inspection targets mandated in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes. At the time of our report, FDA was not keeping pace with FSMA's mandate to increase inspections each year from 2011 through 2016. In April 2017, FDA indicated that that it does not anticipate going significantly beyond 1,200 foreign food facilities inspections per year, based on the amount of additional funding needed to meet the foreign inspection requirement of FSMA. However, FDA has not conducted an analysis to determine whether the increased number of inspections mandated by FSMA or the lower number of inspections it is currently conducting is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. FDA noted that, in January 2017, it began an analysis to define and describe the global inventory of human and animal food firms and examine the application of regulatory oversight tools across the inventory. According to FDA, the analysis will help it assess the annual number of foreign food facility inspections as part of an overall risk-based allocation of resources for ensuring that imported foods are produced in a manner the meets applicable U.S. safety standards. We continue to believe that FDA should complete such an analysis and report the results to Congress.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, should establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOL concurred with GAO recommendation and stated that it regularly coordinates monitoring and enforcement activities related to assessing and ensuring the consistency of FTA partner countries' labor laws, regulations, and practices with FTA labor provisions with USTR and State. In March 2017, the Monitoring and Enforcement of Trade Agreements Division (META) in DOLs Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) finalized Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for monitoring FTA labor provisions and engaging with partner country governments and stakeholders. These SOPs involve a renewed emphasis on monitoring trips to FTA partner countries to meet with government officials and in-country stakeholders to gather information on potential FTA violations and make key contacts with stakeholders to encourage direct communication going forward. The SOPs also include provisions regarding coordination with USTR and State in the monitoring and enforcement of FTA labor provisions. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by DOL and USTR.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, should establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a correspondence dated January 12, 2015, USTR concurred with GAO's recommendation that USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns. USTR stated that it is constantly exploring strategies to monitor and analyze information on labor issue more effectively and take action to implement those strategies. To implement GAO's recommendation, USTR is increasing the level and frequency of interagency monitoring through the Trade Policy Staff Committee, Subcommittee on Labor Monitor and Enforcement. Additionally, with DOL, USTR is exploring ways to improve engagement with U.S. Embassies in trade partner countries to monitor labor conditions. For example, DOL is funding the placement of labor officers in certain priority U.S. Embassies to collect and assess facts and to support the implementation of USTR and DOL's efforts. To date, according to USTR, DOL has placed labor officers in Colombia, Honduras, and Bangladesh. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by USTR and DOL.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR should ensure that the Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreement Programs, which USTR provides each year to Congress, includes results of USTR's and DOL's efforts to proactively monitor partner countries' compliance with FTA labor provisions.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a correspondence dated January 12, 2015, USTR concurred with GAO's recommendation that USTR should ensure that the Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreement Programs, which USTR provides each year to Congress, includes results of USTR's and DOL's efforts to proactively monitor partner countries' compliance with FTA labor provisions. USTR stated that its annual report already provides country-specific information on labor issues and that USTR regularly engages with Congress to provide detailed information on labor issues via meetings and phone conferences. Nonetheless, USTR recognizes that meaningful engagement with Congress is an indispensable part of monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions. To implement GAO's recommendation, USTR agreed to continue to identify more effective ways of communicating with Congress, including USTR's committees of jurisdiction, with respect to the Administration's FTA monitoring and enforcement efforts. Furthermore, USTR stated that it will solicit congressional advice and input to inform its efforts. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by USTR.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: For elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, the Secretary of State should provide the relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In the absence of such information, State should explain to the congressional committees why it was not included in the strategy.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated December 23, 2014, the Department of State (State) noted that the elements identified in the GAO report as not being adequately addressed by State were matters where the consensus of the intelligence community was that there was not an identifiable threat to counter. GAO's report assessed that State did not address four specific elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012. State's December 2014 letter provided explanations for these four elements, including the availability of information on existing agency websites, briefings provided to Congress, and State's lack of finding that foreign governments showed clear threats. We continue to maintain that the strategy did not include all of the elements that the law stated should be included, and State did not demonstrate that it provided relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In December 2015, State noted that it remains in close contact with the relevant congressional committees across a range of security, economic and political with regard to the Western Hemisphere on a regular and continuing basis. State further noted that it provided an oral briefing along with its original submission of the report to Congress and answered questions posed by Congress. State officials said that they stand ready to provide further information in the appropriate setting should it be requested. However, State did not provide GAO with information about whether it had provided information to Congress specifically for the elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, nor provide additional information about whether State explained to the congressional committees why any absence of such information was not included in the strategy. Furthermore, GAO learned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff that State and the Office of the Director for National Intelligence provided a briefing to the committee regarding Iranian activities in Latin America on February 25, 2016. As of August 2016, GAO did not receive any documents related to the briefings because, according to State, the talking points document was considered deliberative and therefore could not be shared. According to State officials, they continue to monitor the issue and brief Congress as appropriate. As of June 2017, State noted that its position regarding this recommendation and the deliberative nature of the talking points document remains unchanged.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    4 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should identify a mechanism to readily determine the universe of assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation, but has not yet identified a mechanism to readily determine the universe of assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training. As of March 2017, GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that management personnel responsible for assigning personnel to designated high-threat countries consistently verify that all assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training have completed it before arrival in the designated high-threat countries.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with the recommendation, and on July 7, 2014--subsequent to our report issuance and addressing this finding--State issued a memo to all agencies that states that it is the responsibility of each agency to ensure its employees are in compliance with FACT training requirements prior to travel to the relevant posts. The memo also requires employees to provide a FACT completion certificate to posts upon request. In October 2016, State officials reported that State had rolled out a ClassNet SharePoint site, and that they expected that the site would include Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs posts by January 1, 2017. The SharePoint site allows designated users in Washington, D.C. and at posts to access the Foreign Service Institute's training records database. As of March 2017, GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that management personnel responsible for granting country clearance consistently verify that all short-term TDY U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training have completed it before arrival in the designated high-threat countries.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In response to GAO's recommendation, as of March 2017, State had taken several steps to ensure that the electronic Country Clearance (eCC) is easier for personnel to use, but these steps do not ensure that the personnel responsible for verifying FACT training before deployment are doing so. For instance, State updated the current eCC to require personnel traveling to High Threat, High Risk Posts to certify FACT training, with radio buttons for the following: (1) whether the stay is greater than 45 days; (2) whether the traveler has spent more than 45 total days at a High Threat, High Risk Post within the last 365-days; and (3) whether the traveler has completed FACT. If the eCC user responds that the traveler has not taken FACT, he or she must provide a justification. In addition, the eCC system requires personnel traveling to High Threat, High Risk Posts to certify whether they have completed FACT and to provide the completion date. When the eCC user enters this information, he or she is prompted with a box that instructs him or her to "provide documentation of FACT Training (e.g. Certificate) upon arrival at Post" and to click OK to continue. Since May 2016, the agency had been developing a new eCC application that will include automated checks of training records. Agency officials expect to produce this new application in the summer of 2017. GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should monitor or evaluate overall levels of compliance with the FACT training requirement among U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are subject to the requirement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of May 2015, State officials said that they are developing a plan to utilize various electronic systems to monitor overall levels of compliance for assigned and short-term TDY personnel. The plan is being developed iteratively and is subject to change based on findings and lessons learned from each stage as well as constraints based on cyber security compliance. As of March 2017, State did not report further progress on this recommendation.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve policymakers' and the public's understanding of progress through bilateral dialogues in increasing access to China's markets, the U.S. Trade Representative, in conjunction with the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Treasury, should work to provide clearer and more comprehensive reporting on the status of China's implementation of its JCCT and S&ED trade and investment commitments. This reporting should include more complete information on the status of implementation of these commitments, as well as a more clearly identified source for consolidated information, which could be an existing report.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTR has taken steps to implement this recommendation, but additional information on the status of specific commitments would further improve understanding of progress in these bilateral dialogues. USTR made changes to the Chinese trade barriers reporting in its 2014 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE report) to align more closely with other Congressional reports prepared by USTR on related issues. USTR also provided updated information in that NTE report on China's compliance with a commitment that had not been reported on in earlier reports. Further, USTR identified the Report to Congress on China's WTO Compliance as the one report among the various annual reports prepared by USTR that provides comprehensive information on the status of the trade and investment commitments that China has made through the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). As of July 2017, GAO is continuing to track agency progress in reporting on these commitments.
    Director: Jeszeck, Charles A
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As DOL and Treasury continue their efforts to determine the actions needed to enhance the retirement security of 401(k) plan participants, DOL and Treasury should consider the approaches taken by other countries to formalize access to multiple spend-down options for U.S. plan participants that address varying retirement risks and needs. To the extent possible, lessons from other countries should be used to help DOL and Treasury ensure plan sponsors have information about their flexibilities and the ability to facilitate access to a mix of appropriate options for 401(k) plan participants.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury did not provide comments on this recommendation and has not provided any updates.
    Recommendation: As DOL considers changes to participant benefit statements and other disclosures, the Secretary of DOL should consider strategies other countries have employed to help participants make sound decisions, such as providing timely information at or before retirement about available spend-down options and projections of future retirement income.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed that participants should have timely information at or before retirement about available spend-down options and projections of future retirement income. DOL had previously published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking soliciting public input on ways to show an projections of lifetime income in retirement plan benefit statements. DOL also consulted with the ERISA Advisory Council on ways it could assist DOL in this area. The Council developed and submitted to DOL tips, principals, and samples for plan sponsors to consider when communicating with participants. However, DOL has not taken additional steps in this area and continues to cite its other regulatory and guidance priorities as taking precedence.
    Recommendation: As DOL continues to review regulatory barriers to lifetime income options for 401(k) plan participants it should consider other countries' approaches to plans offering annuities, such as their reliance on existing solvency requirements and insurance industry standards to provide assurances rather than place responsibility on plan sponsors to make an assessment of an annuity provider's financial stability. As DOL considers the approaches of other countries and continues to work with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which facilitates interactions between insurance companies and state insurance regulators, DOL may wish to consult with the Federal Insurance Office, which coordinates federal efforts on prudential aspects of international insurance matters.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL worked with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in 2013 and 2014 to consider possible options for easing plan sponsor concerns about the requirement to assess the financial solvency of annuity providers. DOL reported they will continue to work with NAIC, as well as the National Organization of Life & Health Insurance Guaranty Associations and Treasury's Federal Insurance Office as they consider potential regulatory approaches in this area. DOL also worked with the Federal Insurance Office in developing guidance on the selection and monitoring of annuity providers under the current annuity selection safe harbor regulation. However, DOL has not taken further actions and continues to cite its other regulatory and guidance priorities as taking precedence. We commend DOL's efforts on a more workable safe harbor, but continue to encourage DOL to review alternative approaches taken by other countries, such as their reliance on existing solvency requirements and insurance standards, which can ease the burden on plan sponsors.
    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.