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    Subject Term: "Grant monitoring"

    18 publications with a total of 47 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Chief Executive Officer should direct the Chief Information Officer to take steps needed to ensure that system requirements are defined to align with the business needs of CNCS's future risk-based grants monitoring process (Recommendation 1).

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community 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 Chief Executive Officer should direct the Chief Information Officer to ensure that the system development project schedule identifies in the baseline both planned and actual dates for completing all project-level activities, and can be used to monitor and measure progress of the grant monitoring system project (Recommendation 2).

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community 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 Chief Executive Officer should direct the Chief Information Officer to ensure that test plans are defined and implemented to include the second version of the grant monitoring system in all stages of testing during development, and results of initial stages are approved before conducting subsequent test stages (Recommendation 3).

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its oversight of discretionary grantee performance, the Secretary of Education should direct the Risk Management Service (RMS) to work with principal offices, as appropriate, to establish and implement detailed written supervisory review procedures for official grant files to provide reasonable assurance that grant staff perform and document key monitoring activities.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education substantially agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted that it planned to establish a standard operating procedure for grant file reviews, including a protocol for the review of these files to ensure that monitoring efforts are documented appropriately.
    Recommendation: To enhance its oversight of discretionary grantee performance, the Secretary of Education should direct RMS to work with principal offices, as appropriate, to develop guidance for grant staff on using the PAM Module to share information on grantee performance. Such guidance could clarify expectations about when staff should use the "Issues" and "Notable Results" tabs while monitoring grantees once the transition to electronic grant files is complete, and clarify the types of information staff should enter about grantee performance.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education substantially agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted that it planned to reinforce through grant administration trainings the importance of sharing grantee performance information agency-wide, including in the PAM Module.
    Director: Allison Bawden
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CNCS's efforts to move toward a risk-based process for monitoring grants and to improve its capacity for monitoring grantee compliance, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service should ensure that CNCS completes its efforts to benchmark its assessment criteria and scoring process to further develop a risk-based approach to grant monitoring and that information from this effort is used to (a) score the indicators so that the riskiest grants get the highest scores; (b) revise the assessment indicators to meaningfully cover all identifiable risks, including fraud and improper payments; and (c) document decisions on how indicators are selected and weighted.

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: CNCS stated that it would continue to periodically benchmark its assessment criteria to ensure risk assessment. The agency recognizes the need to move from compliance- to risk-based monitoring and will refine its existing approach as part of reviewing and revising risk criteria and scoring. The agency's risk-based approach will begin with FY18 grant awards. To close this recommendation, CNCS will need to show documentation for how it selected and weighted revised indicators to cover identifiable risks, and how the revised scoring system identifies the riskiest grants.
    Recommendation: To improve CNCS's efforts to move toward a risk-based process for monitoring grants and to improve its capacity for monitoring grantee compliance, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service should establish and implement a policy to ensure that all grants expected to be active in a fiscal year, including those awarded after the annual assessment, are assessed for potential risk.

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: CNCS agrees with this recommendation and plans to revise its current assessment policy to ensure that all grants are included in the assessment process.
    Recommendation: To improve CNCS's efforts to move toward a risk-based process for monitoring grants and to improve its capacity for monitoring grantee compliance, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service should review monitoring protocols, including the level of information collected for oversight of subrecipients' activities such as criminal history checks, and enhance protocols, as appropriate.

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although CNCS said that by regulation, grantees are primarily responsible for subgrantee monitoring, the agency acknowledged that more needs to be done to address risk at the sub-recipient level, particularly regarding criminal history check compliance, and noted that it is taking several actions to improve criminal history check compliance. However, the agency's comments did not specifically address reviewing monitoring protocols. We continue to believe that it is important to determine whether monitoring protocols are designed to gather sufficient and appropriate information on subrecipient oversight, to help ensure that grantees are monitoring subgrantees as required.
    Recommendation: To improve CNCS's efforts to move toward a risk-based process for monitoring grants and to improve its capacity for monitoring grantee compliance, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service should establish activities to systematically evaluate grant monitoring results.

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: CNCS said that its Office of the Chief Risk Officer has been building on the agency's current risk assessment framework and capturing the information and data necessary to enhance its approach to risk-based monitoring. However, CNCS's comments did not specifically address any planned activities to systematically evaluate grant monitoring results. We continue to believe that reviewing the outcomes and findings from its monitoring activities would help the agency analyze how well its CNCS's current efforts assess risk, and help guide improvements.
    Recommendation: To improve CNCS's efforts to move toward a risk-based process for monitoring grants and to improve its capacity for monitoring grantee compliance, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service should develop and document a strategic workforce planning process.

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: CNCS reported that its senior level executive committee reviews all staffing requests and ensures that appropriate staffing justifications are provided, and ensures that all functions in the agency are provided appropriate resources. The agency also noted that, in accordance with direction received from OMB following the release of OMB Memorandum M-17-22 ("Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies"), it is launching an enterprise-wide re-examination of its mission, strategy and structure in order to develop a plan to ensure employee performance is maximized and the agency is operating effectively. To help close this recommendation, CNCS will need to document and develop a strategic workforce planning process that addresses key principles for effective strategic workforce planning, such as to develop strategies tailored to address gaps in number, deployment, and alignment of human capital approaches for enabling and sustaining the contributions of all critical skills and competencies, and to monitor and evaluate process toward human capital goals and programmatic results.
    Recommendation: To improve CNCS's efforts to move toward a risk-based process for monitoring grants and to improve its capacity for monitoring grantee compliance, the Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service should, as part of CNCS's efforts to develop an employee development program, update critical competencies for grant monitoring, and establish a training planning process linked with agency goals and these competencies.

    Agency: Corporation for National and Community Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: CNCS cited its training efforts, such as providing training to grants management staff in FY15 and FY16 related to grants monitoring. The agency is in the process of developing a broader agency-wide employee development program that will link competencies to development needs in various mission-critical roles. To close this recommendation, CNCS will need to determine which competencies are critical for grant monitoring, and show how the competencies are linked with the agency's training planning processes and agency goals.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of EPA's internal records and the information EPA can communicate to internal and external decision makers, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) to provide clear guidance to EPA staff to help ensure that staff correctly identify all EPA discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on this report, EPA stated that there are opportunities to explore how to better develop guidance for tracking grants and determine how to make more complete information on discretionary grants publicly available. In June 2017, EPA reported that it intends to be involved in efforts in 2017 to improve the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) descriptions, which may include changes to the CFDA template language to improve clarity of discretionary grant designations. EPA stated that also in 2017 the agency will assess whether other actions are necessary to help staff better identify discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management systems, including training and reconciling any inconsistencies in defining discretionary grants.
    Recommendation: To better enable Congress and other decision makers to monitor EPA's management of discretionary grants, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of OGD to determine how to make more complete information on EPA's discretionary grants publicly available, such as by posting timely and complete reports on its website.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, EPA reported that in 2017 the agency will begin to examine whether and how it can use its new internal Next Generation Grants System to generate more timely and complete reports related to discretionary grants and make them publicly available. EPA also stated that it plans to explore the ability to use the system to (1) generate more timely and complete information that can be publicly posted on the number of applications received and types of entities submitting applications for open competitive opportunities, and (2) produce an annual report on the amount of funds per discretionary grant program and whether such funds were for new awards or amendments.
    Director: Allison B. Bawden
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in the grant merit-review process, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance to require all competitive grant programs to clarify in the public notice of funding opportunity all review criteria, including cost sharing factors as relevant, and their related scores to be used to make final award decisions.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, Interior had updated its notice of funding opportunity template for competitive grant programs to clarify that the review process must ensure that applications are scored and selected based on announced criteria. In addition, competitive grant programs must establish a written merit review plan that details the merit review factors and sub-factors and the rating system and evaluation standards which explain the scoring basis. Furthermore, the Fish and Wildlife Service is developing new guidance to ensure discretionary grant programs include all required elements to be completed in December of 2017.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance that ensures their grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding their competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Fish and Wildlife Service issued guidance to ensure grant applications are reviewed for potential overlap and duplication, as GAO recommended in January 2017, but as of August 2017 the National Park Service had yet to issue such guidance. In August 2017, the Department of Interior (Interior) provided documentation showing that the Fish and Wildlife Service now requires discretionary grant applicants to provide a statement that addresses whether there is any overlap or duplication of proposed projects or activities to be funded by the grant. Fish and Wildlife also updated its guidance to grant awarding offices instructing them to perform a potential overlap and duplication review of all selected applicants prior to award. Interior said the National Park Service had yet to issue guidance on duplication and overlap review, but it would provide the guidance to GAO when it is finalized and implemented. Completing these improvements will help the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Food and Nutrition Service to issue written guidance that ensures its grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, the Department of Agriculture (Agriculture) said the Food and Nutrition Service was developing written guidance that will ensure its grants management staff identify grant programs for potential duplication and overlap with other federal agencies before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements, as GAO recommended in January 2017. Agriculture officials said the guidance would be based on input from grants management staff, relevant Food and Nutrition program officials, and reviews of similar guidance already in place at other Agriculture sub-agencies. The Food and Nutrition Service plans to issue this guidance by the end of federal fiscal year 2017 for use beginning in fiscal year 2018. Issuing and implementing this guidance will reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to collect and analyze data on project officer FTEs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA agreed with this recommendation and planned to address the recommendation in two phases. During the first phase, EPA planned to conduct a thorough review of project officer data from the Integrated Grants Management System to provide a basis for further data collection and planned to provide clarity on additional data needed. During the second phase, EPA planned to consider which additional data were needed, collect data, and make these data available for regional and program offices to integrate into the fiscal year 2020 budget development process. EPA expects to complete both phases by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to collect and analyze data on grants management workloads.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA agreed with this recommendation. To address this recommendation, EPA's Office of Grants and Debarment planned to recommend a set of data to collect on a regular and consistent basis. Then, EPA's regional and program offices would review the draft data recommendation and resolve any issues at the agency's 2017 Grants Management Council meeting. EPA anticipated that the grants data collection plan would be fully implemented during fiscal year 2018.
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to use project officer FTE and workload data to inform FTE allocations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a December 2016 letter providing comments on the draft report, EPA agreed with this recommendation and planned to initiate implementation in fiscal year 2017 by developing and issuing a survey tool to collect relevant information on project officer FTE and workload. In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA planned to incorporate the results of its project officer data collection efforts into the fiscal year 2019 budget development process.
    Recommendation: To enhance EPA's ability to identify performance shortfalls and appropriate corrective actions, the Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop performance measures to track the effectiveness of the recruitment and retention efforts for grant specialists and collect performance data for these measures.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO in fiscal year 2017, EPA agreed with this recommendation. To implement this recommendation, EPA anticipated that its Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) would formalize a process in fiscal year 2017 for collecting information on grant specialists' recruitment and retention. OGD planned to develop draft measures with input from the agency's grants management officers and finalize the measures after review and input from assistant regional administrators. During fiscal year 2018, EPA anticipated that the agency would begin tracking these measures regularly.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate expanded search capability features, such as keyword searches, into its proposed web-based portal for collecting and accessing performance reports to improve their accessibility.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation. EPA also stated that its vision for grants management includes having grant recipients submit performance reports and other information to the agency through a web-based portal. The portal would incorporate capabilities such as key word searches to allow for easier access to performance report information. However, the portal is a long-term initiative, subject to the agency's budget process, and dependent on the completion of the Next Generation Grants System, which EPA expects to fully deploy in fiscal year 2018. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials stated that the agency has not started any work for the centralized grantee portal project, which is subject to available funds.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to identify grant programs where existing program-specific data reporting can meet EPA's performance reporting requirements for grants management purposes to reduce duplicative reporting by grantees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated it will work with recipient partners to identify where duplicative reporting can be reduced. However, EPA also noted that program-specific data cannot be relied upon to meet all grants management requirements, and performance reports often contain other information that allows project officers to monitor a recipient's progress. Further, EPA will need to consider the feasibility of expanding project officer access to certain program databases to enhance grant performance monitoring. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that the agency is on track to complete the process for identifying where duplicative reporting can be reduced.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, once EPA's new performance system is in place, to ensure that the Office of Water adopts software tools, as appropriate, to electronically transfer relevant data on program results from program-specific databases to EPA's national performance system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will apply it, where appropriate and cost effective, to program-specific databases, not only the Office of Water databases. EPA noted that not all data from program-specific databases may be appropriate for direct electronic transfer to the national performance system; some individual grant data may need to be analyzed before being rolled up into national data. Additionally, implementation of this recommendation will depend upon the agency's program offices modifying their databases to interface with the new performance system. Further, implementation of this recommendation is dependent upon completion of EPA's new performance system, currently under development. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that continued work on this effort was subject to the availability of funds.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to clarify the factors project officers should consider when determining whether performance reports are consistent with EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to the implementation guidance for the Environmental Results Order (directive). During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that they agency is on track to make the necessary changes.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to expand aspects of EPA's policy for certain categorical grants, specifically, the call for an explicit reference to the planned results in grantees' work plans and their projected time frames for completion, to all grants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to existing policy. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that this effort will be completed in fiscal year 2018.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate built-in data quality controls for performance reports into the planned web-based portal based on EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation. However, EPA emphasized that identifying and deploying appropriate data quality controls is a long-term effort subject to budgetary considerations, completion of the Next Generation Grants System, and extensive collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. Specifically, the report's vision for built-in data quality controls involves the use of electronic templates and reduced reliance on manual data entry--which would require standardized work plan and performance report formats subject to clearance by the Office of Management and Budget. Further, EPA noted that both grant recipients and EPA program offices generally have not supported standardizing the format of work plan and progress reports in the past. Accordingly, as a first step, EPA will seek feedback from the recipient and program office community. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that it plans to complete the first phase of its work within the year.
    Director: Susan A. Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to enhance the process outlined in the Grants Manual to monitor project performance for future grants to include: (1) performance measures directly linked to project goals, and (2) fully incorporating timely and actionable information on grantee performance into FRA's review process to help determine whether current efforts are in line with the overall project goals.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and stated that FRA will enhance the grants management manual content linking performance measures to project goals, and incorporating timely and actionable information on grant performance into monitoring and oversight activities. DOT stated FRA would complete these actions by June 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to develop and provide written guidance to grantees to include FRA's expectations on the type of information grantees should provide, such as guidance specific to deliverables and milestones for each grant project.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and stated that FRA will identify gaps in existing guidance and develop and disseminate revised guidance to grantees. DOT stated FRA would complete these actions by December 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to analyze training needs and formalize a training plan for grantees and agency staff, which could include training on grant-specific procedures and policies.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and FRA developed a revised formal training plan in March 2017. As of May 2017, we are reviewing this plan.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote more effective grant management coordination, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a plan with time frames, goals, metrics and milestones detailing how Grant Programs Directorate intends to resolve longstanding challenges associated with its existing hybrid grants management model, which divides responsibilities between regional and headquarters staff.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, FEMA did not believe a plan was warranted to address long-standing coordination issues associated with its existing hybrid grants management model, as recommended in GAO's February 2016 report. According to the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA believes strongly in the importance of close and collaborative relationships between headquarters and regional grants staff. Further, FEMA stated the Grant Programs Directorate at headquarters already has in place numerous steps to ensure coordination and collaboration with regional grants staff. However, these steps by FEMA were already in place when GAO conducted its review in 2015 and early 2016, yet GAO identified continuing challenges related to coordination between headquarters and regions in conducting monitoring visits and providing consistent guidance to state grantees. As a result, GAO continues to believe that without a plan with time frames, goals, metrics, and milestones detailing how officials intend to resolve long-standing challenges associated with FEMA's existing hybrid grants management model, these challenges will continue to hamper the effectiveness of interactions between FEMA and state and local stakeholders in implementing the grant programs.
    Recommendation: To enable more sophisticated and comprehensive awareness of states' NIMS implementation, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop policies and procedures for regional staff to review after-action reports from preparedness exercises within their region, and headquarters staff to review these evaluations in order to have a better understanding of NIMS implementation.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, FEMA officials provided an update on the status of actions taken in response to our report. In the update, FEMA officials said the National Integration Center (NIC) is holding consultative sessions with state and local emergency managers to ensure the revised National Incident Management System (NIMS) doctrine and implementation objectives is operationally sound from the perspective of FEMA's stakeholders. They expect to complete this effort by September 30, 2017. Pending completion of this effort, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Daniel Bertoni
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the best use of the VA Adaptive Sports Grant program funds, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Undersecretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs to systematically gather and disseminate, to all its grantees, techniques that can reduce the no-show rate at funded events.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendation. In 2015, VA stated that it would have grantees report on their policies, tools and experience with veterans and service members who do not show up for events; and measures grantees have taken to reduce no-shows. VA stated that it will analyze this information and disseminate best techniques, tools, and recommended actions to current and future grantees. We will close this recommendation when we receive documentation showing that VA is systematically gathering and disseminating information on best practices for reducing no-shows.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the best use of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Adaptive Sports Grant program funds, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Undersecretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs to revise the draft monitoring plan to include guidance on the number and frequency of annual site visits and desk audits.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation. In 2015, VA reported that its final monitoring plan calls for conduct of site visits or desk audits of at least 10 percent of grantees in a grant year. We will close this recommendation when we receive a copy of the final plan for FY16 documenting this commitment.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop a timetable with milestones and identify and allocate resources for adopting electronic records management for all 10 regional offices.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials, the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) established an agency-wide electronic grants record workgroup in fiscal year 2016. The workgroup identified the contents of the electronic grant file, technical options, and evaluation criteria. OGD completed its alternatives analysis for scope, general approach, and requirements in fiscal year 2017. As of May 2017, the next phase of work is on hold, subject to available funds and prioritization of work.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to implement plans for adopting an up-to-date and comprehensive IT system by 2017 that will provide accurate and timely data on agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts are ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD is conducting a multi-modular project to upgrade the agency's grants management IT system. As of May 2017, the final module is on schedule for deployment in fiscal year 2018. OGD will incorporate performance tracking of priority directives in accordance with the policy framework of the new grants management plan.
    Recommendation: Until the new IT system is implemented, the EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop ways to more effectively use existing web-based tools to better monitor agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts are ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD has developed the capability to provide managers cumulative annual baseline monitoring data. Further capabilities of web-based tools, namely the replacement of OGD's primary tool Quik Reports, was scheduled for deployment in fiscal year 2017. This effort, combined with updates to the Grants Datamart, will provide long-term enhancements for EPA's grant reporting needs. As of May 2017, the modernization of supported tools and web applications continues. EPA officials also said that extending centralized grant data to other internal systems is improving the continuity of data.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should develop policy and comprehensive guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.

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

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In June 2016, USAID reported that it would work with the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) on the development and dissemination of policy and guidance related to financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects. In April 2017, USAID stated that it is continuing to work with CaLP and provide training for FFP staff and implementing partners for the oversight and management of cash-based food assistance programs, including courses related to the financial oversight. However, as of April 2017, USAID had not completed any guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should require USAID staff to conduct systematic financial oversight of USAID's cash-based food assistance projects in the field.

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

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In January 2017, USAID stated that it was continuing to pursue training opportunities for staff in response to this recommendation. However, USAID, as of April 2017, had not completed efforts to address the recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to require staff to conduct systematic financial oversight and determine the extent to which the training and third monitoring will address this issue.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct, as appropriate, federal agencies involved with the White House Working Group on Detroit, to collect good practices and lessons learned from their efforts to assist Detroit during its fiscal crisis and share them with other federal agencies and local governments. Toward this end, OMB may want to consider making use of existing knowledge and capacity associated with the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative and its National Resource Network.

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

    Comments: In commenting on a draft of GAO's March 2015 report, OMB neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. In April 2017, OMB staff stated that they believed steps had been taken to preserve some of the lessons coming out of the administration's efforts to assist the City of Detroit during its fiscal crisis. However, they were unable to provide specifics. GAO has requested additional information and supporting documentation regarding this effort.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and provide Congress and the public greater visibility into the types of highway activities funded with Highway Trust Fund monies, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to explore the costs, feasibility, and options for collecting and publicly reporting consistent aggregate project-level spending data.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2017, FHWA has not implemented this recommendation. In December 2015, the President signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act". Sec. 1402 of the Act requires DOT to annually report, for all projects administered by FHWA with a total estimated cost of $25 million or more (and for all other projects to the extent practicable), on the total cost of funded projects, the amount of federal funds obligated, and other information, and to make this information "available in a user-friendly manner on the public Internet website of the Department of Transportation." DOT has not yet implemented this provision of the Act. GAO is monitoring DOT's efforts to implement this provision and the extent to which it fulfills GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Davis, Beryl H
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To proactively prepare for oversight of future disaster relief funding, the Director of OMB should develop standard guidance for federal agencies to use in designing internal control plans for disaster relief funding. Such guidance could leverage existing internal control review processes and should include, at a minimum, the following elements: (1) robust criteria for identifying and documenting incremental risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and (2) requirements for documenting the linkage between the incremental risks related to disaster funding and efforts to address known internal control risks.

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

    Comments: To address the recommendation, OMB should issue guidance on internal control for disaster relief funding, including criteria for identifying additional risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and a requirement to link these incremental risks to ongoing efforts to address known internal control risks. On July 15, 2016, OMB issued the revised Circular No. A-123, Management's Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control. The Circular requires agencies to implement enterprise risk management, which includes the development of a risk profile that analyzes the risks faced in achieving strategic objectives and identifies options for addressing them. In April 2017, OMB staff stated that they believe that the implementation of enterprise risk management through Circular No. A-123 satisfies the intent our recommendation. Because the responsibility for implementing enterprise risk management lies with agency management, Circular No. A-123 does not include specific guidance for identifying risks related to disaster funding. Further discussion and documentation to support OMB's position that the revised Circular addresses our recommendation will be necessary.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: (202) 512-8509

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To support the triennial review program's goal of having grantees consistently meet more federal requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to meet standards set forth in previous GAO work, based on the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, and develop performance measures to assess: (1) the outcomes of the triennial review program, such as a method for evaluating improvements in grantee performance in meeting more federal requirements over time (2) and the quality of the triennial review through improved contractor oversight, testing, or inspection.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) responded to our recommendations stating that it plans to improve the quality of oversight reviews. Actions aimed to improve quality are: (1) increasing oversight of contractors by emphasizing regional and headquarters' participation in all on-site triennial reviews and (2) increasing annual oversight conference participation and quarterly review workshops that focus on improving performance measures. These activities were to be specified in new procedures coming out in 2011.
    Recommendation: To support the triennial review program's goal of having grantees consistently meet more federal requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to improve the objectivity and reliability of the "Close Findings Timely" performance measure by: (1) developing an internal controls process to verify grantees have satisfactorily resolved findings before closing them (2) continuing to emphasize the use of OTRAK across all regions and developing a process to close out triennial reviews in OTRAK upon grantees' completion of corrective actions.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is working to strengthen the internal control process for closing out triennial review findings. Specifically, it is drafting operating procedures indicating that (1) the regional offices have the primary responsibility to provide the necessary technical assistance to grantees to close-out findings as well as ensure the findings are not closed-out prematurely and (2) program managers have a secondary responsibility to verify whether the findings were closed out properly. The procedures were to be issued in October 2010.
    Recommendation: To support the triennial review program's goal of having grantees consistently meet more federal requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA to ensure that additional outcome and quality performance measures are balanced with the existing measures for assessing the timeliness of the triennial review program so that one priority is not emphasized at the expense of others.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) anticipates adding a performance measurement, called reduction in repeat findings, that relates to assessing the quality of the review. FTA officials told us that this new performance measurement is noncontroversial and was to be discussed at a June 2012 Oversight Meeting.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: (202)512-8984

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the federal investment in surface transportation, meet the nation's transportation needs, and ensure a sustainable commitment to transportation infrastructure, Congress may wish to consider reexamining and refocusing surface transportation programs to be responsive to these principles so that they institute tools and approaches to that emphasize the return on the federal investment.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2017, Congress has not yet acted on this recommendation. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94), signed into law in December 2015, is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the federal investment in surface transportation, meet the nation's transportation needs, and ensure a sustainable commitment to transportation infrastructure, Congress may wish to consider reexamining and refocusing surface transportation programs to be responsive to these principles so that they address the current imbalance between federal surface transportation revenues and spending.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2017, Congress has not yet acted on this recommendation. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94), signed into law in December 2015, did not address the current imbalance between federal surface transportation revenues and spending. The Act is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Director: Ragland, Susan
    Phone: (202)512-9471

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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