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    Subject Term: "Government subsidies"

    15 publications with a total of 37 open recommendations including 12 priority recommendations
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of delivering the crop insurance program, Congress should consider repealing the 2014 farm bill requirement that any revision to the standard reinsurance agreement not reduce insurance companies' expected underwriting gains, and directing the Risk Management Agency to, during the next renegotiation of the agreement, (1) adjust the participating insurance companies' target rate of return to reflect market conditions and (2) assess the portion of premiums that participating insurance companies retain and, if warranted, adjust it.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To reduce year-to-year fluctuations in the administrative and operating expense subsidies that companies receive at the crop, state, and county levels, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Risk Management Agency to consider adjusting the administrative and operating expense subsidy calculation method in a way that reduces the effects of changes in premiums caused by changes in crop prices or other factors when it renegotiates the standard reinsurance agreement.

    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: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As Congress considers reauthorizing NFIP, it should consider comprehensive reform to improve the program's solvency and enhance the nation's resilience to flood risk, which could include actions in six areas: (1) addressing the current debt, (2) removing existing legislative barriers to FEMA's revising premium rates to reflect the full risk of loss, (3) addressing affordability, (4) increasing consumer participation, (5) removing barriers to private-sector involvement, and (6) protecting NFIP flood resilience efforts. In implementing these reforms, Congress should consider the sequence of the actions and their interaction with each other.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    6 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should assess and improve, as necessary, the quality of data and methods used to forecast borrower incomes, and revise the forecasting method to account for inflation in estimates.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Education agreed to assess and improve its borrower income forecasts. The agency reported that it is working with Treasury and other federal partners to obtain the best income data while ensuring that taxpayer privacy is protected to the full extent of the law. Education noted it will establish a timeframe for improvements to the IDR model that allows for adequate and thorough analysis and quality control. It will also consider including an adjustment for inflation in our income estimates and will document the results of our analysis for the next version of the IDR model. The agency wants to guarantee that an inflation adjustment is appropriate for this subpopulation of IDR borrowers, therefore they will conduct further analysis to ensure that any inflation adjustment is appropriately incorporated into the model. The agency anticipates completing these efforts by September 29, 2017. When these efforts are complete, GAO will await documentation that Education has assessed and improved the quality of data quality and methods it uses to forecast borrower incomes, and that it has revised its forecasting methods to account for inflation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should obtain data needed to assess the impact of income recertification lapses on borrower payment amounts, and adjust estimated borrower repayment patterns as necessary.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Education agreed to attempt to obtain data to assess the impact of income recertification lapses on borrower payment amounts. The agency reported that it started to collect more detailed information on borrowers who fail to recertify their income. It will analyze these data to see if they can be used to adjust borrower repayment patterns in the model. The agency will also consider whether to include behavioral effects to account for targeted borrower outreach to recertify their income. GAO will monitor the progress of these efforts. Education expects to complete these efforts by September 29, 2017. At that time, GAO will await documentation that Education has obtained the necessary data to assess the impact of recertification lapses on borrower repayment patterns and adjusted estimated borrower repayments in its model, as necessary.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should complete efforts to incorporate repayment plan switching into the agency's redesigned student loan model, and conduct testing to help ensure that the model produces estimates that reasonably reflect trends in Income-Driven Repayment plan participation.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education agreed to incorporate repayment plan switching into its redesigned student loan model, and reiterated that efforts to incorporate this capability had begun despite challenges inherent in predicting borrower behavior. GAO will monitor the progress of these efforts.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should, as a part of the agency's ongoing student loan model redesign efforts, add the capability to produce separate cost estimates for each Income-Driven Repayment plan and more accurately reflect likely repayment patterns for each type of loan eligible for these plans.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education asserted that as they redesign its current cost estimation model, it will consider adding the capability to produce separate cost estimates for each IDR plan and allow for separate, more accurate estimates by loan type.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should more thoroughly test the agency's approach to estimating Income-Driven Repayment plan costs, including by conducting more comprehensive sensitivity analysis on key assumptions and adjusting those assumptions (such as the agency's Public Service Loan Forgiveness participation assumption) to ensure reasonableness.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education agreed to test its approach to estimating IDR plan costs more thoroughly, including through more comprehensive sensitivity analysis. The agency included in its FY16 Annual Financial Report, sensitivity analyses for Public Service Loan Forgiveness participation and borrower incomes. In the future, the agency will consider conducting additional sensitivity to analyses as well as other kind of analysis to ensure reasonableness. GAO will consider closing this recommendation when the agency has completed these efforts.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should publish more detailed Income Driven Repayment plan cost information-- beyond what is regularly provided through the President's budget--including items such as total estimated costs, sensitivity analysis results, key limitations, and expected forgiveness amounts.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education agreed to publish more detailed IDR plan cost information and stated that it plans to present sensitivity analysis results and key limitations in upcoming financial reports. GAO will consider closing this requirement when the agency has completed this effort.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help agencies determine the value of their telework programs, the Director of OPM, working with the Chief Human Capital Officers Council, should provide clarifying guidance on options for developing supporting data for benefits and costs associated with agency telework programs. For example, the guidance could identify potential data sources, such as the data generated in response to requirements under the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Reduce the Footprint Memorandum 2015-01 and Executive Order 13693.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: OPM concurred with the recommendation and its work-life policy office will work with the Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCO) Council to further agency efforts to determine the value of their telework programs. OPM stated that they will develop clarifying guidance for agencies with CHCO input and host a CHCO Academy session focused on evaluating the costs and benefits of telework programs. This guidance will review basic principles of cost-benefit analysis, highlight common costs and benefits, and identify potential data sources in areas such as real estate costs, energy use, commuting costs, and employee productivity.
    Director: Cheryl E. Clark
    Phone: (202) 512-9377

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that subsidy cost estimates for the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund are supported, reliable, and reasonable, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Housing to develop detailed policies and procedures over the subsidy cost estimation process that address, at a minimum, the documentation that should be prepared and maintained to support subsidy cost estimates and the process to document management review and approval of subsidy costs estimates.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation, HUD said that a new contract was issued that will address documentation of the MMI cash flow model and the subsidy cost estimation process. HUD also said that it was in the process of developing a solicitation for a contractor to perform an independent verification and validation of the MMI cash flow model. HUD stated that completing this documentation of the subsidy cost estimation process will help management oversee the program as required by internal control standards and help support its subsidy cost estimates. We are awaiting supporting documentation for actions taken by HUD to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that subsidy cost estimates for the Direct Student Loan Program are supported, reliable, and reasonable, the Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development to develop detailed policies and procedures over the subsidy cost estimation process that address, at a minimum, the documentation that should be prepared and maintained to support subsidy cost estimates and the process to document management review and approval of subsidy cost estimates.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) agreed with this recommendation. Education stated that has detailed procedures for developing and validating subsidy cost estimates. These procedures include, but are not limited to, establishing a baseline scenario, documenting each assumption individually, comparing estimates to actual data, and management review and sign-off. Education has begun drafting a more detailed document that will describe policies and procedures.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that subsidy cost estimates for the Direct Student Loan Program are supported, reliable, and reasonable, the Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development to develop detailed documentation of the cash flow model used to estimate subsidy costs, including the rationale for model calculations, all formulas and assumptions used in the model, data sources, the process to update and document changes to the model, and the process to document management review and approval of the model, which may be based on an independent verification and validation of the model to ensure that calculations are accurate and consistent with the model documentation.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) agreed with this recommendation. Education stated that it is committed to continuous improvements in its cash flow model and how it is documented. The cash flow model includes inputs of modeled data, referred to as assumptions, together with program-determined static values, such as interest rates and fees. Education stated that it will update its detailed documentation of its cash flow model. In addition, Education is investing staff and resources into developing a new cash flow model to estimate subsidy costs. Detailed documentation of this new cash flow model will be prepared before the model becomes operational. We will review Education's new cash flow model documentation once it is completed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that subsidy cost estimates for the Direct Student Loan Program are supported, reliable, and reasonable, the Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development to document the procedures and results of such procedures used to develop or support key elements of the subsidy cost estimation process, addressing at a minimum (1) the reliability of historical data, (2) the rationale for informed opinion when applicable, (3) the methods used to calculate cash flow assumptions, (4) the process to ensure that subsidy cost estimates are consistent with the terms and conditions of the program, (5) the process to assess estimated cash flows for reasonableness, and (6) the process used to perform sensitivity analysis.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) agreed with this recommendation. Education stated that it will work on developing more detailed policies and procedures which will address the key elements referenced in this recommendation.
    Director: Seto J. Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    8 open recommendations
    including 8 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study on actions that CMS can take to monitor and analyze, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the extent to which data hub queries provide requested or relevant applicant verification information, for the purpose of improving the data-matching process and reducing the number of applicant inconsistencies; and for those actions identified as feasible, create a written plan and schedule for implementing them.

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported that it considered this recommendation open and it was reviewing options for conducting a feasibility study to monitor and analyze information received from the Hub as recommended. HHS plans to examine the hub process in delivering usable information for applicant verification and analyzing data to identify trends or patterns that could suggest improvements in verification or actions that could reduce the number of inconsistencies that require further attention. HHS reported that this effort began March 2016. In March 2017, the agency said it is making significant progress towards implementing the recommendation. We will continue to monitor HHS's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to track the value of advance premium tax credit and cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies that are terminated or adjusted for failure to resolve application inconsistencies, and use this information to inform assessments of program risk and performance. (See related recommendation 7.)

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported it considers this recommendation closed because it expanded the use of analytics to analyze the value of premium tax credit and CSR subsidies that are eliminated or adjusted for 2015 actions at the policy level, and that CMS continues to analyze the data to develop future operations changes. In May 2016, we requested documentation of these actions, including (1) information produced using the capability described; (2) ways in which this information is being used for analysis for purposes such as program operations, monitoring, risk assessment, or fraud cleaning; and (3) a description of the future operational changes contemplated based on the analyses done. Once received, we will review to determine whether the efforts taken warrant closing the recommendation. In March 2017, HHS provided us information on their response to this and other recommendations from this report. However, HHS has not provided sufficient documentation to show that they have implemented this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to, in the case of CSR subsidies that are terminated or adjusted for failure to resolve application inconsistencies, consider and document, in conjunction with other agencies as relevant, whether it would be feasible to create a mechanism to recapture those costs, including whether additional statutory authority would be required to do so; and for actions determined to be feasible and reasonable, create a written plan and schedule for implementing them.

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported it considers this recommendation closed because CMS has considered whether it would be feasible to create a mechanism to recapture CSRs and determined that this is not possible under the current statute. HHS also noted that as currently written, the statute does not provide this authority and to pursue developing a mechanism to do so would require Congress to change the statute. In May 2016, we agreed to consider the recommendation closed upon HHS advising us if it made any review or inquiry into the feasibility of recapture apart from statutory authority and providing documentation of such consideration so that we have a full record of the agency's consideration prior to closing the recommendation. In March 2017, HHS provided us information on their response to this and other recommendations from this report. However, HHS has not provided sufficient documentation to show that they have implemented this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to identify and implement procedures to resolve Social Security number inconsistencies where the Marketplace is unable to verify Social Security numbers or applicants do not provide them.

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported that it considered this recommendation open and was working on implementing functionality for updating consumers' Social Security numbers (SSN) and their eligibility based on the correct SSN. HHS reported that is it targeting deployment of the SSN update functionality in 2017. In March 2017, HHS provided us information on their response to this and other recommendations from this report. However, HHS has not provided sufficient documentation to show that they have implemented this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to reevaluate CMS's use of Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS) incarceration data and make a determination to either (a) use the PUPS data, among other things, as an indicator of further research required in individual cases, and to develop an effective process to clear incarceration inconsistencies or terminate coverage, or (b) if no suitable process can be identified to verify incarceration status, accept applicant attestation on status in all cases, unless the attestation is not reasonably compatible with other information that may indicate incarceration, and forego the inconsistency process.

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported it considers this recommendation closed because in 2015, it made the determination to no longer require application filers to submit documentation regarding incarceration status. We were aware of that determination, but the recommendation was to reevaluate use of PUPS from the specific standpoint of using the data as it was intended to be used as in indicator of further research and then draw a conclusion on the use of the data. In May 2016, we requested documentation demonstrating that in the period since we made this recommendation, CMS has undertaken the reevaluation in the fashion that we indicated. Once received, we will review to determine whether the efforts taken warrant closing the recommendation. In March 2017, HHS provided us information on their response to this and other recommendations from this report. However, HHS has not provided sufficient documentation to show that they have implemented this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to create a written plan and schedule for providing Marketplace call center representatives with access to information on the current status of eligibility documents submitted to CMS's documents processing contractor.

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported it considers this recommendation closed because since May 2015, call center representatives have received daily updates on the status of eligibility documentation. It is working to provide call center representatives with real-time data that is tentatively scheduled for later in 2016. In May 2016, we noted that our recommendation was focused on providing such real-time capability and requested (1) confirmation that call center representatives currently have on-demand, real-time access to up-to-date, application-level document status; and documentation showing development and implementation of this capability; or (2) a written plan and schedule for providing this capability as recommended. Once received, we will review to determine whether the efforts taken warrant closing the recommendation. In March 2017, HHS provided us information on their response to this and other recommendations from this report. However, HHS has not provided sufficient documentation to show that they have implemented this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to conduct a fraud risk assessment, consistent with best practices provided in GAO's framework for managing fraud risks in federal programs, of the potential for fraud in the process of applying for qualified health plans through the federal Marketplace.

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported that it considered this recommendation open. It noted that CMS has launched a Marketplace Integrated Project Team (IPT) through the Program Integrity Board, which includes senior staff from across CMS. An objective of the IPT is to complete the fraud risk assessment of Marketplace eligibility and enrollment based on GAO's Fraud Risk Framework, as required by the recommendation. HHS said the first three steps of GAO's framework for this part were to be completed by early summer. Once HHS has completed all relevant steps of the framework, and the agency has fully documented its implementation efforts-including discussion of any items contemplated by the framework that HHS elected not to follow-we will review to determine whether the efforts taken warrant closing the recommendation. In March 2017, HHS provided us information on their response to this and other recommendations from this report. However, HHS has not provided sufficient documentation to show that they have implemented this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To better oversee the efficacy of PPACA's enrollment control process; to better monitor costs, risk, and program performance; to assist with tax compliance; to strengthen the eligibility determination process; to provide applicants with improved customer service and up-to-date information about submission of eligibility documentation; and to better document agency activities, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Acting Administrator of CMS to fully document prior to implementation, and have readily available for inspection thereafter, any significant decision on qualified health plan enrollment and eligibility matters, with such documentation to include details such as policy objectives, supporting analysis, scope, and expected costs and effects.

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

    Comments: In April 2016, HHS reported it considers this recommendation closed because CMS prepares an annual Marketplace and Related Programs Cycle Memo to fulfill reporting requirements for internal control. The Memo describes all significant eligibility and enrollment policy and process changes, including new internal key controls associated with these changes, and the 2015 Memo was released in September 2015. In May 2016, we notified HHS that its actions do not close the recommendation. Information contained in the Memos is after-the-fact and while useful, does not meet the full range of documentation contemplated by our recommendation, especially development and analysis of changes prior to implementation. In March 2017, HHS provided us information on their response to this and other recommendations from this report. However, HHS has not provided sufficient documentation to show that they have implemented this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in this area.
    Director: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and accountability of HHS's section 1115 Medicaid demonstration approval process, and to ensure that federal Medicaid funds for the demonstrations do not duplicate other federal funds, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should issue criteria for assessing whether section 1115 expenditure authorities are likely to promote Medicaid objectives.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken some steps to assess whether section 1115 expenditure authorities are likely to promote Medicaid objectives. HHS has posted on its website four "general criteria" for assessing whether a demonstration meets Medicaid program objectives:(1) increase and strengthen overall coverage of low-income individuals in the state; (2) increase access to, stabilize, and strengthen providers and provider networks available to serve Medicaid and low-income populations in the state; improve health outcomes for Medicaid and other low-income populations in the state; or (4) increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid and other low-income populations through initiatives to transform service delivery networks. We believe this is a positive step but maintain that the general criteria are not sufficiently specific to allow a clear understanding of what HHS considers to be approvable for Medicaid purposes. For example, although each of HHS's four general criteria relate to serving low-income or Medicaid populations, HHS does not define low-income or what it means to serve these individuals. Until more specific guidance is established that more precisely explains how demonstrations relate to serving low-income and Medicaid populations, the rationale for the agency?s approvals of expenditure authorities, which can amount to billions of dollars in federal spending, will not be transparent. We will update the status of this recommendation when HHS provides more specific guidance on how it applies these criteria or alternatively issues more specific criteria.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and accountability of HHS's section 1115 Medicaid demonstration approval process, and to ensure that federal Medicaid funds for the demonstrations do not duplicate other federal funds, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should ensure the application of these criteria is documented in all HHS's approvals of section 1115 demonstrations, including those approving new or extending or modifying existing expenditure authorities, to inform internal and external stakeholders, including states, the public, and Congress, of the basis for the agency's determinations that approved expenditure authorities are likely to promote Medicaid objectives.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken some steps to ensure the application of the criteria is documented in all approvals of section 1115 demonstrations. HHS stated that since the release of our report, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been identifying in Medicaid demonstration approval documents which of its general criteria each approved expenditure authority promotes. In a review of section 1115 demonstration approvals issued on or after July 1, 2015 and posted on HHS?s website as of August 12, 2016, we found that approved demonstration expenditure authorities were linked to HHS's general criteria in some but not all approvals. More consistent documentation of the basis for HHS's approvals will provide assurance that HHS is consistently applying its criteria and increase transparency around how individual expenditure authorities are considered to promote Medicaid objectives. We will continue to monitor CMS's efforts in this area.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program and achieve budgetary savings for deficit reduction or other purposes, Congress should consider reducing premium subsidies for the highest income participants.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, we await Congressional action.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program and achieve budgetary savings for deficit reduction or other purposes, Congress should consider reducing the level of federal premium subsidies for revenue crop insurance policies. In doing so, Congress should consider whether to make the full amount of this reduction in an initial year, or to phase in the full amount of this reduction over several years. In addition, Congress should consider directing the Secretary of Agriculture to monitor and report on the impact, if any, of the reduction on farmer participation in the crop insurance program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to implement this matter.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should issue guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the NMTC including the extent to which other government funds can be used to leverage the NMTC by being included in the qualified equity investment.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Although the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) has not issued guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the NMTC, as GAO recommended in July 2014, it has taken steps toward addressing this action. Specifically, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the NMTC program, awarded a contract in September 2015 for new empirical research assessing the extent to which other government programs are being used to leverage the NMTC. CDFI officials have said that this research would help examine the various types of public support used for community development projects and assess the depth of the subsidy necessary to mitigate risk and attract new private capital to businesses located in low-income communities. As of October 2016, CDFI officials anticipate that the contract should be completed in March 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should ensure that controls are in place to limit the risk of unnecessary duplication at the project level in funding or assistance from government programs and to limit above market rates of return, i.e., returns that are not commensurate with the NMTC investor's risk.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the NMTC program, has developed a plan to issue guidance to help ensure that Community Development Entities (CDE) accurately report on sources of public funds and projected internal rates of return, as GAO recommended in July 2014. In January 2016, the CDFI Fund released updated guidance that explains in more detail how CDEs should report data on the use of other public sources in financing NMTC projects. This guidance should help ensure that CDEs accurately report on sources of public funds. As of October 2016, CDFI Fund officials are also evaluating changes to guidance on how CDEs are to report different project rates of return. The CDFI Fund awarded a contract in September 2015 for new empirical research assessing the extent to which other government programs are being used to leverage the NMTC. According to CDFI officials, this research will help them to examine the various types of public support used for community development projects and assess the depth of the subsidy necessary to mitigate risk and attract new private capital to low-income communities.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should ensure that the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund reviews the disclosure sheet that CDEs are required to provide to low-income community businesses to determine whether it contains data that could be useful for the Fund to retain.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) reported that as of September 2016, the CDFI Fund had reviewed the CDE disclosure sheets provided to low-income community businesses, as GAO recommended in July 2014, and determined that useful data from the sheets were already being collected through other data-gathering tools used by the Fund. In January 2016, CDFI officials reported that they did an initial comparison of the data on the disclosure sheets to the data in the Community Investment Impact System (CIIS)which is the system CDEs use to submit reports to CDFI. Officials said they were continuing to investigate any differences between the disclosure sheets and CIIS. Officials also said that they are performing additional analysis on any new data reporting requirements to meet the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which aims to minimize the burden that agency data collections impose on the public.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To establish full-risk rates for properties with previously subsidized rates that reflect their risk for flooding, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop and implement a plan, including a timeline, to obtain needed elevation information as soon as practicable.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As we reported in February 2016 in GAO-16-190, FEMA has taken limited action to implement this recommendation. For example, FEMA noted that the agency would evaluate the appropriate approach for obtaining or requiring the submittal of information needed to determine full-risk rates for subsidized properties. FEMA also said it would explore technological advancements and engage with industry to determine the availability of technology, building information data, readily available elevation data, and current flood hazard data that could be used to implement the recommendation. However, FEMA officials also said that the agency faced a cost challenge with respect to elevation certificates and that obtaining these certificates could take considerable time and cost. They noted that requiring policyholders to incur the cost of obtaining elevation certificates would not be consistent with NFIP's policy objective to promote affordability. The officials added that the agency encourages subsidized policyholders who seek to ensure the appropriateness of their NFIP rates to voluntarily submit elevation documentation.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help estimate, reduce, and recover improper payments in the Section 521 rental assistance program, the Secretary of Agriculture should draft proposed legislation for congressional consideration that would grant RHS access to SSA benefits data for purposes of verifying tenant incomes.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2016, USDA had not drafted proposed legislation that would grant RHS access to SSA benefits data.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help reduce voucher program costs or better ensure the efficient use of voucher program funds, the HUD Secretary should provide information to Congress on housing agencies' estimated amount of excess subsidy reserves. In taking these steps, the Secretary should determine a level of subsidy reserves housing agencies should retain on an ongoing basis to effectively manage their voucher programs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to HUD officials, the Department quarterly reports to Congress and the Inspector General (1) total housing agency reserves and (2) 8.5 percent of total housing agency reserves, the amount the Department has determined that housing agencies collectively should maintain on an ongoing basis to manage the voucher program (all other reserves are generally considered "excess"). HUD has also taken steps to determine an appropriate level of subsidy reserves that individual housing agencies should retain on an ongoing basis to effectively manage their voucher programs. Specifically, HUD has proposed that small housing agencies (fewer than 50 vouchers) should maintain 12 percent of their monthly renewal budget authority in reserves; medium housing agencies (50-249 vouchers) should maintain 6 percent of monthly renewal budget authority; and large housing agencies (250 or more vouchers) should maintain 4 percent of monthly renewal budget authority. In setting these reserve levels, HUD considered several factors including program size and budget and voucher utilization rates, among other things. This recommendation will remain open until HUD implements these proposed changes. As of September 2017, HUD officials said that the administration was determining whether or not to move forward with this proposal.
    Recommendation: To help reduce voucher program costs or better ensure the efficient use of voucher program funds, the HUD Secretary should provide information to Congress on its criteria for how it will redistribute excess reserves among housing agencies so that they can serve more households. In taking these steps, the Secretary should determine a level of subsidy reserves housing agencies should retain on an ongoing basis to effectively manage their voucher programs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to HUD officials, the Department quarterly reports to Congress and the Inspector General (1) total housing agency reserves and (2) 8.5 percent of total housing agency reserves, the amount the Department has determined that housing agencies collectively should maintain on an ongoing basis to manage the voucher program (all other reserves are generally considered "excess"). HUD has also taken steps to determine an appropriate level of subsidy reserves that individual housing agencies should retain on an ongoing basis to effectively manage their voucher programs. Specifically, HUD has proposed that small housing agencies (fewer than 50 vouchers) should maintain 12 percent of their monthly renewal budget authority in reserves; medium housing agencies (50-249 vouchers) should maintain 6 percent of monthly renewal budget authority; and large housing agencies (250 or more vouchers) should maintain 4 percent of monthly renewal budget authority. In setting these reserve levels, HUD considered several factors including program size and budget and voucher utilization rates, among other things. This recommendation will remain open until HUD implements these proposed changes. As of September 2017, HUD officials said that the administration was determining whether or not to move forward with this proposal.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program, Congress may wish to consider limiting the subsidy for premiums that an individual farmer can receive each year or reducing the subsidy for all farmers participating in the program, or both limiting and reducing these subsidies.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to implement this matter.
    Director: Clowers, Angela N
    Phone: (202)512-4010

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help resolve identified borrower noncompliance in a timely manner, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of RHS to implement enforcement mechanisms that can be tailored to the severity of the borrower noncompliance, such as the civil money penalty enforcement provision in its program regulations.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency continues to take actions to address this recommendation, but has not yet fully implemented it.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that requirements for tenant eligibility are met across the FLH portfolio, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of RHS to require its loan servicers to use the Systematic Alien Verification and Entitlements (SAVE) program administered by the Department of Homeland Security to verify tenant's residency status during supervisory reviews.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency has not implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of RHS to better utilize available data on demand for the FLH program--such as systematically reviewing local market analyses, further analyzing occupancy data on a statewide, regional, or national level, and retaining and analyzing application information--to help target available funding to areas of greatest need.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency continues to take actions to address this recommendation, but has not yet fully implemented it.