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    Subject Term: "Government employees"

    18 publications with a total of 58 open recommendations including 17 priority recommendations
    Director: Diana Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the USMS should develop specific documented guidance--both for the current and new processes--to enhance raters' ability to consistently interpret and apply experience-based benchmarks for GS-14 and GS-15 positions and competency-based benchmarks for GS-13 positions when evaluating candidate qualifications. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the USMS should develop and implement a mechanism to provide specific feedback to employees on the results of the promotion process, including their readiness for promotion. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the USMS should develop and implement an agency-wide action plan to more fully understand and address areas where employees express negative perceptions of the merit promotion process. Consistent with Office of Personnel Management guidance in this area, the plan should specify (1) time frames for accomplishing the actions, (2) who will be responsible for implementing the actions, (3) who will be affected by the actions, (4) the resources required, and (5) a plan to communicate these actions to managers and employees. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jessica Lucas-Judy
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should track data that can help VA determine whether AVO improves recruitment and retention.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-2717

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Associate Director of Merit System Accountability and Compliance should ensure that OPM's finalized records schedule on retaining conversion case files specifically lists all documentation that must be saved in its case files. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Associate Director of Merit System Accountability and Compliance should establish a policy requiring that its staff verify they have reviewed all documentation required by OPM checklists before recommending approval or denial of a conversion request. OPM may incorporate such a verification requirement as part of checklists completed by its staff when reviewing conversion requests. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cindy Brown Barnes
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve VA's ability to accurately track employees' use of official time, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration to increase efforts to ensure timekeepers at all facilities receive training and consistent guidance on recording official time in VATAS.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA stated that the Office of Labor Management Relations (LMR) has revised its policy to include specific directions to human resource offices to begin recording official time in the VA Time and Attendance System (VATAS) once VATAS has been implemented at their respective facilities. We will considering closing this recommendation when the agency provides documentation that this has been done.
    Recommendation: To improve VA's ability to accurately track employees' use of official time, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration to standardize the methods used by facilities for determining the amount of official time used prior to the agency-wide implementation of VATAS by encouraging facilities to rely on time and attendance records when calculating the amount of official time used at the facility level.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA stated that the Office of Human Resources and Administration plans to develop a memo directing facilities to rely on time and attendance records when calculating the amount of official time used at the facility level. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency has provided documentation that they have completed this effort.
    Recommendation: To improve VA's ability to accurately track employees' use of official time, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration to, in preparation for the full implementation of VATAS, take steps to transition from using the LMR system to VATAS to collect and compile information on the amount of official time used agency-wide.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA stated that the Office of Labor Management Relations (LMR) will transition from using the LMR Official Time Tracking System to collect and compile data on official time and will coordinate with the Financial Services Center to use VATAS to create a report on the agency-wide use of official time. We will consider closing this recommendation when the agency has completed this effort.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-2717

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the accuracy of MSPB's reporting on whistleblower appeals received and closed, the Chairman of MSPB should update MSPB's data entry user guide to include additional guidance and procedures to help improve the identification of appropriate whistleblower appeal closing codes to use.

    Agency: Merit Systems Protection Board
    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 the accuracy of MSPB's reporting on whistleblower appeals received and closed, the Chairman of MSPB should add a quality check in MSPB's data analysis and reporting process to better identify discrepancies or other anomalies in data queries and the resulting datasets.

    Agency: Merit Systems Protection Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    5 open recommendations
    including 5 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to create consolidated guidance for RSOs that specifies required elements to include in post travel notification and transportation security policies. For example, as part of its current effort to develop standard templates for certain security directives, DS could develop templates for transportation security and travel notification policies that specify the elements required in all security directives as recommended by the February 2005 Iraq ARB as well as the standard transportation-related elements that DS requires in such policies.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of October 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to clarify whether or not the FAH's armored vehicle policy for overseas posts is that every post must have sufficient armored vehicles, and if DS determines that the policy does not apply to all posts, articulate the conditions under which it does not apply.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of October 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to develop monitoring procedures to ensure that all posts comply with the FAH's armored vehicle policy for overseas posts once the policy is clarified.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of October 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to clarify existing guidance on refresher training, such as by delineating how often refresher training should be provided at posts facing different types and levels of threats, which personnel should receive refresher training, and how the completion of refresher training should be documented.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of October 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to improve guidance for RSOs, in coordination with other relevant State offices and non-State agencies as appropriate, on how to promote timely communication of threat information to post personnel and timely receipt of such information by post personnel.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of October 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-2717

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that OPM fulfills its oversight responsibilities related to adherence to merit system principles in hiring and to help improve agencies' compliance with OPM's stated policy on conversions, the Acting Director of OPM should establish a process for agencies to verify and correct, in a timely manner, political conversion data for use in required reports to Congress on conversion requests, and to identify those conversions not receiving OPM's prior approval.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to OPM it has established a process for verifying and correcting political conversions data received from agencies and says it does so quarterly. On October 11 and October 24, 2017, OPM provided GAO with copies of letters sent to agencies that detailed the receiving agency's request(s)to appoint current or recent political appointees to proposed permanent civil service positions. OPM's letters ask agencies to review the enclosed information to ensure it captures all agency requests and appointments of political appointees to career positions during the time period. The letter further requests agencies to provide OPM with a statement of verification and concurrence or to submit corrections or additional information on hires not captured in the letter or its enclosure.
    Director: Robert Goldenkoff
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To help strengthen the government's ability to compete in the labor market for top talent, and to improve the federal hiring process, for hiring authorities for which OPM oversees, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) Council, should conduct a study or assessment of specific hiring authorities and/or processes to gain insight into why these agencies relied on the authorities, the relationship between the agencies' choices and the agency mission and broader public policy goals, consistent with merit systems principles, and determine whether modernization is necessary. For agency-specific hiring authorities and/or processes, OPM should collaborate with the CHCO Council to obtain similar insights agencies may have regarding their authorities and/or processes and to determine whether there are lessons learned which may be relevant to government-wide modernization efforts.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, OPM has undertaken or completed some reviews of agency use of hiring authorities. In August 2016, OPM published the findings of a recent study on the use and effectiveness of the Pathways Programs' hiring authorities. In October 2016, OPM issued a report on hiring authorities used by the National Park Service to help meet its seasonal workforce needs. In August 2017, OPM said it had started a study of agencies' use of excepted service hiring authorities and it plans to issue a report in fiscal year 2018. We will continue to monitor OPM's efforts to assess the use and effectiveness of hiring authorities and any determination of the need for modernization.
    Recommendation: To help strengthen the government's ability to compete in the labor market for top talent, and to improve the federal hiring process, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council, should use this information to determine whether opportunities exist to refine, consolidate, eliminate, or expand agency-specific authorities to other agencies and implement changes where OPM is authorized, including seeking presidential authorization (as necessary) in order to do so. In cases where legislation would be necessary to implement changes, OPM should work with the CHCO Council to develop legislative proposals.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, OPM said it plans to explore opportunities for improving the hiring system by analyzing and reviewing existing hiring authorities with an eye towards modernization. For example, OPM said it plans to use information from its current study of excepted service hiring authorities to consider changes or refinements to these authorities once that study has been completed in fiscal year 2018. OPM also said its future plans to improve the hiring system will be informed by its current strategic planning efforts.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure HHS has reliable data on SGEs not serving on federal boards, the Secretary of HHS should take steps to improve the reliability of data on SGEs not serving on boards. For example, the agency could reconcile human capital data with general counsel and ethics office data, or issue clarifying guidance to human capital staff on appropriately identifying SGEs in human capital databases.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, HHS submitted its action plan to address GAO's recommendations. HHS stated the agency is currently reviewing its internal policies and procedures related to the hiring of special government employees not serving on boards to identify policy options that might improve data reliability.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies report consistent and reliable data, the Director of OGE should determine (e.g., through a survey of Designated Agency Ethics Officials and/or by analyzing agency data) whether other executive branch agencies are experiencing data challenges similar to HHS, State, and NRC. If they are, the Director should take steps to help the agencies strengthen their data.

    Agency: Office of Government Ethics
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, OGE submitted its action plan to address GAO's recommendations. OGE reported having a number of actions underway. OGE stated the agency is surveying agency ethics officials to determine whether executive branch agencies are experiencing data challenges related to special government employees not serving on boards. According to OGE, the agency plans to evaluate what steps may help agencies strengthen their data if the survey results show agencies are experiencing data challenges. OGE reported that, in consultation with OPM, the agency proposed new regulations that would improve coordination between agency human resource officials and agency ethics officials by requiring agency human resource officials to provide ethics officials with prompt notification of the appointment of all financial disclosure report filers, including special government employees. OGE also reported expanding the agency's ongoing review of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in light of GAO's recommendation for HHS to take steps to improve the reliability of data on SGEs not serving on boards. OGE plans to evaluate the mechanisms HHS has in place for tracking special government employees not serving on boards and may offer recommendations for improving them.
    Director: Valerie C. Melvin
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOL's management of FOIA requests, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Chief FOIA Officer to establish a time frame for implementing, and take actions to implement, section 508 requirements in the department's FOIA system and online portal.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, the Department of Labor had provided a response regarding its actions to address our recommendation. We have not yet verified if the actions meet the intent of our recommendation. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve DOL's management of FOIA requests, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Chief FOIA Officer to establish a time frame for implementing, and take actions to fully implement, recommended best practice capabilities for enhanced processing of requests in the department's FOIA system and online portal.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, the Department of Labor had provided a response regarding its actions to address our recommendation. We have not yet verified if the actions taken meet the intent of our recommendations. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve DOL's management of FOIA requests, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Chief FOIA Officer to require components to document in the Secretary's Information Management System for FOIA the rationales for delays in responding to FOIA requests, and to notify requesters of the delayed responses when processing requests.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, the Department of Labor had provided a response regarding its actions to address our recommendation. We have not yet verified if the actions taken meet the intent of our recommendations. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve DOL's management of FOIA requests, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Chief FOIA Officer to establish a time frame for consulting with the Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy on including language in DOL's response letters to administrative appeals notifying requesters of the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of Government Information Services' mediation services as an alternative to litigation, and then ensure that the department includes the language in the letters.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, the Department of Labor had provided a response regarding its actions to address our recommendation. We have not yet verified if the actions taken meet the intent of our recommendations. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken we will provide updated information.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services should develop detailed guidance to ensure that ORISE program coordinators, mentors, and research participants are fully informed of the prohibition on nonfederal employees performing inherently governmental functions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017 DOD developed a terms of agreement to be signed by each mentor and research participant, in which they acknowledge that they fully understand the restrictions on performing inherently governmental functions. However, DOD intended the terms of agreement to be used by a subset of the ORISE research participants at DOD (those participating in the Science and Technology Policy Fellowships program). To fully address this recommendation, DOD needs to take similar action for ORISE research participants not participating in this program.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services should develop detailed guidance to ensure that ORISE program coordinators, mentors, and research participants are fully informed of the prohibition on nonfederal employees performing inherently governmental functions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS had not provided information as of July 2017 on steps it has taken to address the recommendation.
    Director: Robert Goldenkoff
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help strengthen the ability of agencies to deal with poor performers and to help ensure supervisors obtain the skills needed to effectively conduct performance management responsibilities, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council and, as appropriate, with key stakeholders such as federal employee labor unions, should assess the adequacy of leadership training that agencies provide to supervisors.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to OPM officials, as of July 2017, OPM conducted a survey and recently completed the survey analysis. OPM is in in the development phase for the second part of the study - stakeholder interviews. The survey data is being used to inform the interview protocol. The stakeholder interviews are scheduled to begin in mid-August 2017. The comprehensive report will tentatively begin OPM's internal review process by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To help strengthen the ability of agencies to deal with poor performers and to more effectively ensure that agencies have a well-qualified cadre of supervisors capable of effectively addressing poor performance, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council and, as appropriate, with key stakeholders such as federal employee labor unions, should determine if promising practices at some agencies should be more widely used government-wide. Such practices include (1) extending the supervisory probationary period beyond 1-year to include at least one full employee appraisal cycle; (2) providing detail opportunities or rotational assignments to supervisory candidates prior to promotion, where the candidate can develop and demonstrate supervisory competencies; and (3) using a dual career ladder structure as a way to advance employees who may have particular technical skills and/or education but who are not interested in or inclined to pursue a management or supervisory track.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, OPM told us they were holding meetings to determine how to respond to this recommendation. As of June 2017, we are continuing to monitor OPM's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    8 open recommendations
    including 8 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FBI whistleblowers have access to recourse under DOJ's regulations should the individuals experience retaliation, and to minimize the possibility of discouraging future potential whistleblowers, the Attorney General should clarify in all current relevant DOJ guidance and communications, including FBI guidance and communications, to whom FBI employees may make protected disclosures and, further, explicitly state that employees will not have access to recourse if they experience retaliation for reporting alleged wrongdoing to someone not designated in DOJ's regulations.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that complainants receive the periodic updates that they are entitled to and need to determine next steps for their complaint, such as whether or not to seek corrective action from OARM, Counsel, DOJ-OPR should tailor its new case management system or otherwise develop an oversight mechanism to capture information on the office's compliance with regulatory requirements and, further, use that information to monitor and identify opportunities to improve DOJ-OPR's compliance with regulatory requirements.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Inspector General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, GAO has not received information from the Department of Justice about any steps taken to address this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure agencies can more fully implement their monitoring policy and guidance related to recruitment of foreign workers, the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should each develop, as part of their agency policy and guidance, a more precise definition of recruitment fees, including permissible components and amounts.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of the report, the Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation and indicated that it would define recruitment fees as part of the next review of DOD policy on combating trafficking in persons. In January 2015, DOD and other agencies issued a final rule in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that prohibits charging employees any recruitment fees; however, this rule did not provide a precise definition of such fees. In May 2016, DOD and others proposed a new FAR rule defining "recruitment fees." The public comment period for this proposed rule ended in July 2016, and, as of August 2017, the proposed rule was in process. In addition, DOD has updated its policy and guidance on combating trafficking in persons, most recently in June 2015. GAO is monitoring these efforts and will provide an update once the proposed FAR rule is finalized.
    Recommendation: To help ensure agencies can more fully implement their monitoring policy and guidance related to recruitment of foreign workers, the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should each develop, as part of their agency policy and guidance, a more precise definition of recruitment fees, including permissible components and amounts.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on a draft of this report, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) noted that a proposed amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) on combating Trafficking in Persons (TIP) contained language that would prohibit charging contractor employees any recruitment fees. In January 2015, the final FAR rule was issued, prohibiting employers from charging employees any recruitment fees on government contracts; however, this rule did not provide a precise definition of such fees. In May 2016, a new FAR rule defining "recruitment fees," which would apply to USAID, among others, was proposed. The public comment period for this proposed rule ended in July 2016, and, as of August 2017, the proposed rule in process, GAO is monitoring the status of these actions and will provide an update on USAID's activities to define components of recruitment fees once the proposed FAR rule is finalized.
    Recommendation: To help improve agencies' abilities to detect potential TIP abuses and implement the U.S. government's zero tolerance policy, the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should each take actions to better ensure that contracting officials specifically include TIP in monitoring plans and processes, especially in areas where the risk of trafficking is high. Such actions could include developing a process for auditing efforts to combat TIP or ensuring that officials responsible for contract monitoring are aware of all relevant acquisition policy and guidance on combating TIP.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of the report, the Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation and indicated that it would update the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) accordingly once the final Federal Acquisition Regulation on Ending Trafficking in Persons had been published. In January 2015, DOD updated the DFARS to include a sample checklist for auditing compliance with Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) policy. This checklist reiterates the U.S. government's zero tolerance policy regarding trafficking in persons and includes, among other items, questions regarding contractors' treatment of employee passports and other identification documents. In addition, in September 2017, DOD reported that it had developed and mandated acquisition training for DOD military and civilian contracting employees. U.S. Central Command has also created a CTIP Program Manager position in Afghanistan, which ensures that CTIP training is provided to contracting officials in that country. GAO is monitoring these efforts and will provide an update on DOD's progress as more information becomes available.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    11 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the respective DHS and DOD data systems contain sufficiently complete and accurate information to facilitate effective oversight of the personnel security clearance revocation and appeal process, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence to take steps to ensure that data are recorded and updated in the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) and the department's new systems, so that the relevant fields are filled.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a July 2016 update to this recommendation from the Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence) (USD(I)), the department plans to field the Defense Information System for Security (DISS) to replace Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS) by March 2017. According to DOD, on a monthly basis, OUSD(I), DMDC, the Office of Personnel Management, DoD Components and Industry participate in a meeting which addresses actions to improve the accuracy of information in JPAS. These Data Quality Initiatives (DQIs) serve as the most appropriate means available at this time to enhance completeness and accuracy of JPAS data prior to DISS migration, according to DOD. GAO will continue to monitor migration of data from JPAS to DISS, expected to be completed by the March 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure independence and the efficient use of resources, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD General Counsel to first, resolve the disagreement about the legal authority to consolidate the PSABs (Personnel Security Appeals Board) and, in collaboration with the PSABs and the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, address any other obstacles to consolidating DOD's PSABs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, this recommendation remains open because DOD has not yet addressed any obstacles related to consolidating Personnel Security Appeals Boards. On July 10, 2015, DOD Office of General Counsel issued a memo stating that there is no legal obstacle to co-location or consolidation of the Services' Personnel Security Appeal Boards (PSABs) within the Defense Legal Services Agency. The memo further requested that the Director, Defense Personnel Security and Research Center,to do further assessment, after which the DoD OGC, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, will consider whether any further actions should be taken. DOD estimated this action will be completed by the end of fiscal year 2016. GAO will continue to monitor DOD's response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that all employees within DOD receive the same rights during the revocation process, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to revise Secretary of the Navy Manual M-5510.30 to specify that any information collected by the Navy PSAB from the employee's command will be shared with the employee, who will also be given the opportunity to respond to any such information provided.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, this recommendation remains open. According to a memo from the Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence), the update of the Navy Manual M-5510.30 has been delayed due to an update in publishing DOD?s personnel security policy. The memo stated that the Navy had instituted procedures to address information provided by the command, sharing the information with the individual and giving the individual an opportunity to respond. The Navy expects to issue its Manual by September 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure independence and the efficient use of resources, and, if the General Counsel determines that there are no legal impediments and that other obstacles to consolidation can be addressed, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Defense Legal Services Agency to take steps to implement the Secretary of Defense's direction to consolidate DOD's PSABs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, this recommendation remains open because, as noted in a prior recommendation, DOD has not yet addressed obstacles to consolidating the Personnel Security Appeals Boards, despite having determined that there are no legal obstacles to consolidation. This recommendation will remain open until DOD takes steps to consolidate the PSABs.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that all employees within DOD receive the same rights during the revocation process, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to revise Army Regulation 380-67 to specify that any information collected by the Army PSAB from the employee's command or by the Army PSAB itself will be shared with the employee, who will also be given the opportunity to respond to any such information provided.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 16, 2016, this recommendation remains open pending a finalized version of Army Regulation 380-67. According to a DOD update to this recommendation, a major revision to Army Regulation AR 380-67, "Army Personnel Security Program," incorporates Personnel Security Appeal Boards (PSAB's) requirement to provide any documents it obtains, after receipt of a personnel security file, to the subject who will be allowed a reasonable period of time to respond prior to PSAB rendering a final decision. AR 380-67 is undergoing legal sufficiency review. DOD estimated this review will be finalized late in March 2017. GAO will monitor the status of this regulation and assess whether the revised regulation meets the intent of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that all employees are treated fairly and receive the protections established in the executive order, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, to revise the Coast Guard instruction for military personnel to specify that military personnel may be represented by counsel or other representatives at their own expense.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of summer 2016, in response to our recommendation, the Commandant of the Coast Guard issued a policy message stating that individuals may have counsel or other representative present at the service member's own expense. According to a Coast Guard official, this message serves as interim guidance until the personnel security manual can be finalized. This official estimated that the manual will be updated in the latter part of fiscal year 2016. This recommendation will remain open until the Coast Guard finalizes the update to its manual in accordance with our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To facilitate department-wide review and assessment of the quality of the personnel security clearance revocation process, the DNI should, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, develop performance measures to better enable them to identify and resolve problems, and direct the collection of related revocation and appeals information.

    Agency: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DNI has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To facilitate coordination between personnel security and human capital offices regarding how a security clearance revocation should affect an employee's employment status, and to help ensure that individuals are treated in a fair and consistent manner, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for Management to review and revise policy regarding coordination between the personnel security and human capital offices to clarify what information can and should be communicated between human capital and personnel security officials at specified decision points in the revocation process, and when that information should be communicated.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To facilitate coordination between personnel security and human capital offices regarding how a security clearance revocation should affect an employee's employment status, and to help ensure that individuals are treated in a fair and consistent manner, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in consultation with the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, to review and revise policy regarding coordination between the personnel security and human capital offices to clarify what information can and should be communicated between human capital and personnel security officials at specified decision points in the revocation process, and when that information should be communicated.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 16, 2016, this recommendation remains open pending the department's update to a draft manual. According to an update from DOD, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Intelligence) (OUSD(I)) will replace DoD 5200.2-R, "Personnel Security Program," 01/1987 with DoD Manual5200.02. The draft DoD Manual elaborates on the procedures required during due process to ensure that individuals are treated in a fair and consistent manner, according to DOD's update. The Draft DoD Manual 5200.02 is under legal sufficiency review (LSR). Once LSR has been completed, the Federal Register package will be provided to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency coordination. DOD estimates the manual will be finalized March 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the DNI report to Congress contains accurate data about the number of current DOD military and federal civilian employees eligible to access classified information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to review and analyze the discrepancies in the total number of employees and the number of employees eligible to access classified information, and take immediate steps to address the problems.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 16, 2016, this recommendation remains open pending the department's fielding of an updated Defense Information System for Security (DISS), scheduled for the March 2017. According to an update provided by DOD, DISS will contain all requisite fields to capture revocation and appeals related data. GAO will monitor fielding of the new system and in the process of validating DOD officials' statements that discrepancies have been substantially resolved.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that similarly situated individuals are treated consistently, and to facilitate oversight and help ensure the quality of the security clearance revocation process, the DNI should review whether the existing security clearance revocation process is the most efficient and effective approach. In this review, the DNI should consider whether there should be a single personnel security clearance revocation process used across all executive-branch agencies and workforces, with consideration of areas such as the timing of the personal appearance in the revocation process, and the ability to cross-examine witnesses. Further, to the extent that a single process or changes to the existing parallel processes are warranted, the DNI should consider whether there is a need to establish any policies and procedures to facilitate a more consistent process, and recommend as needed any revisions to existing executive orders or other executive-branch guidance.

    Agency: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DNI has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information
    Director: Robert Goldenkoff
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the classification system and to strengthen OPM's management and oversight, the Director of OPM, working through the Chief Human Capital Officer Council, and in conjunction with key stakeholders such as the Office of Management and Budget, unions, and others, should use prior studies and lessons learned from demonstration projects and alternative systems to examine ways to make the GS system's design and implementation more consistent with the attributes of a modern, effective classification system. To the extent warranted, develop a legislative proposal for congressional consideration.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, OPM officials said they continue to meet on a regular basis with the Interagency Classification Policy Forum group to inform strategies and action plans for implementation of general schedule system best practices. As a result, they have made changes for conducting occupational studies through various actions, including streamlining their process for conducting occupational studies. These actions include the cancellation of 21 occupational series with minimal agency use (25 or fewer Federal employees reported) and upcoming policy issuances - the Handbook of Occupational Groups and Families and the Interpretive Guidance for Cybersecurity Positions and 17 Professional Medical and Health occupational series. In addition, they have developed a methodology to streamline studies for occupational series with 1,000 or less Federal employees. OPM officials said any further action to develop a legislative proposal for congressional consideration would be contingent upon having permanent OPM leadership in place. We will continue to monitor OPM's efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve the classification system and to strengthen OPM's management and oversight, the Director of OPM should develop cost-effective mechanisms to oversee agency implementation of the classification system as required by law, and develop a strategy that will enable OPM to more effectively and routinely monitor agencies' implementation of classification standards.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, OPM officials said the agency had designed several efforts to improve the classification system and strengthen oversight: (1) OPM is reviewing occupational series post studies to assess whether agencies are implementing classification policy updates and new issuances. (2) Decisions from the classification appeals program are issued to monitor implementation of classification standards. (3) The classification policy group has formalized the participation of the Merit System Accountability and Compliance group to discuss best practices in monitoring and overseeing classification policies and is planning a related classification forum. We will continue to monitor these efforts. Specifically, OPM officials said they were conducting occupational series post studies of custodians, public affairs, financial management, sustainability and other White House initiatives. We will continue to monitor OPM's efforts.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen DHS's evaluation and planning process for addressing employee morale, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO) and component human capital officials to examine their root cause analysis efforts and, where absent, add the following: comparisons of demographic groups, benchmarking against similar organizations, and linkage of root cause findings to action plans.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2012, we reviewed and reported on actions DHS took to address the morale of its employees. We reported, among other things, that DHS's Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer and DHS components had not consistently used three survey analysis techniques when analyzing employee survey results--comparisons of demographic groups, benchmarking against similar organizations, and linking root cause findings to action plans. DHS OCHCO officials, and supporting documentation, indicate some actions taken to incorporate these techniques. Specifically, as of June 2017, officials provided copies of the DHS FY 2017 Component Employee Engagement Action Plans. We reviewed the action plans and spoke with DHS OCHCO officials to determine the extent to which DHS's action plans addressed our recommendation. Several action plans we reviewed included evidence of utilizing the three survey analysis techniques we recommended, while other action plans lack some or all of the techniques. For example, components whose action plans fully address the recommendation includes: Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Components whose action plans partially address the recommendation are: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and U.S. Secret Service (USSS). National Protection and Programs Directorate's (NPPD) action plan did not address any of the three survey analysis techniques. According to DHS OCHCO officials, while OCHCO developed a checklist to consult when creating action plans to address employee survey results, senior management decided not to require that components use the checklist in developing their action plans as it may limit their freedom to develop their goals and planning. To fully address this recommendation, DHS OCHCO officials need to continue to provide documentary evidence of demographic analysis, benchmarking, and root cause linkage efforts completed for components that have not fully addressed the recommendation in their action plans. DHS OCHCO officials agreed with our analysis and reiterated their intent to fully implement this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation after additional information is received from DHS. Status as of June 2017.
    Director: Wilshusen, Gregory C
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that PIV cards do not remain in the possession of staff whose employment or contract with the federal government is over, the Secretary of Commerce should establish controls, in addition to time frames for implementing a new tracking system, to ensure that PIV cards are revoked in a timely fashion.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Commerce had not submitted information or plans regarding revoking PIV cards in a timely fashion.
    Recommendation: To meet the HSPD-12 program's objectives of using the electronic capabilities of PIV cards for access to federal facilities, networks, and systems, the Secretary of the Interior should develop specific implementation plans for enabling PIV-based access to the department's major facilities, including identifying necessary infrastructure upgrades and time frames for deployment.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Interior had not yet provided specific implementation plans for enabling PIV access to the department's major facilities.
    Recommendation: To meet the HSPD-12 program's objectives of using the electronic capabilities of PIV cards for access to federal facilities, networks, and systems, the Secretary of Labor should ensure that the department's plans for PIV-enabled physical access at major facilities are implemented in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Labor had not provided any information about whether the department's plans for PIV-enabled physical access at major facilities were being implemented in a timely manner.
    Recommendation: To meet the HSPD-12 program's objectives of using the electronic capabilities of PIV cards for access to federal networks and systems, the Administrator of NASA should develop and implement procedures for PIV-based logical access when using Apple Mac and mobile devices that do not rely on direct interfaces with PIV cards, which may be impractical.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NASA reported that it had begun implementing procedures for PIV-based logical access for the Apple Mac computers and mobile devices in its computing environment. NASA procured software to begin the transition of the Apple computers, but due to configuration issues the transition was not scheduled to be completed until December 2017. Further, NASA had begun the transition for mobile devices, which was scheduled to be completed by September 2017.