Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: "Hazardous materials"

    6 publications with a total of 15 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the awareness of how risk-significant radioactive sources are transported within the United States and to better determine whether Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is meeting its goal of providing reasonable assurance for preventing the theft or diversion of these dangerous materials, the Chairman of NRC should take actions to collect information from licensees on the number of shipments and mode of transport for such sources--for example, by identifying the extent to which an existing NRC database (e.g., the National Source Tracking System) may be used to capture this information.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter from NRC to GAO, NRC repeated its position on this recommendation as stated in its formal agency response that was included as appendix III in the report. In both cases, NRC states that it disagrees with this recommendation. NRC disagrees that the specific number of shipments by mode of transport is always needed. NRC explained that existing information collection requirements already exist for category 1 quantities and that it had previously determined that collection of shipment information for category 2 quantities was not necessary. NRC also stated that NSTS would not be the appropriate database to capture shipment information; it is not designed to capture real-time information. In addition, NRC does not consider the proposed collection activity to be of sufficient benefit to justify the additional cost of capturing the information. Therefore, NRC does not believe that adopting this recommendation would result in significant improvements to safety. Despite its disagreement with this recommendation, we will continue to monitor whether NRC takes any actions that would result in addressing the concern GAO raised.
    Recommendation: To further enhance the security of radioactive sources during ground transport, the Chairman of NRC, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should identify an approach to verify that motor carriers are meeting NRC's Part 37 security requirements applicable to transportation, for example by having DOT inspectors verify compliance with NRC Part 37 security requirements during their on-site investigations.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As noted in the NRC comments on the GAO report, the NRC agrees in general with the second recommendation to explore with Federal partners an approach to verify that motor carriers meet 10 CFR Part 37 transportation security requirements. The NRC commits to exploring how the respective agencies can verify that motor carriers are meeting the NRC's applicable Part 37 transportation security requirements. This recommendation will remain open until NRC presents evidence that it has acted on it.
    Recommendation: To further enhance the security of radioactive sources during ground transport, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Chairman of NRC and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should consider examining the potential costs and security benefits associated with lowering the Highway Route Controlled Quantity (HRCQ) threshold so that more, or all, category 1 shipments are classified as HRCQ shipments.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter, NRC stated that it recognizes that HRCQ thresholds fall under the jurisdiction of DOT. The NRC commits to exploring with DOT the potential costs and security benefits associated with lowering the HRCQ threshold so that more if not all , of the shipments of Category 1 quantities of radioactive material may be classified as HRCQ shipments. In its 60-day response letter, DOT concurred with this recommendation and stated that it planned to consult with NRC and the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and its internal stakeholders to evaluate potential costs and security benefits of lowering the HRCQ threshold, which they expect to complete by January 15, 2018. This recommendation will remain open until evidence is presented by NRC and DOT that they have examined the costs and benefits of lowering the HRCQ threshold.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To continue the agency's efforts to improve state and local emergency preparedness for rail accidents involving hazardous materials, the Secretary of Transportation should, after the rulemaking is finalized, develop a process for regularly collecting information from state emergency response commissions on the distribution of the railroad-provided hazardous-materials-shipping information to local planning entities.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to take into account, in the updated regulatory impact analysis conducted in response to the FAST Act, potential uncertainty in key variables and assumptions, such as, but not limited to, fuel prices and future rail traffic of crude oil and ethanol, discuss this uncertainty, and present ranges of possible scenarios.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOT disagreed with this recommendation, asserting that we based our findings for this recommendation only on the views of industry and experts interviewed as part of our review. However, our justification for this recommendation is primarily based on data that DOT received from railroads, on what DOT reported in the rulemaking documents, and on clear criteria from OMB and others for conducting such analyses. To fully implement this recommendation, DOT should update its 2015 ECP Brake rule and the supporting regulatory impact analyses for ECP brakes, DOT should provide a range of possible scenarios and acknowledge uncertainty in certain estimates which could help increase confidence in those estimates and address stakeholder concerns.
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the FAST Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FRA and PHMSA to create a plan to collect data from railroads' ongoing and future operational experiences using ECP brakes. The plan should include details on how the agency will work with railroads to collect this data, ensure that such data are reliable, and analyze these data to conduct a retrospective analysis of the ECP brakes requirement that could help inform any potential future actions regarding ECP brakes.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the FAST Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, if, based on its updated analysis, DOT promulgates a new rule on the applicable ECP brake system requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FRA and PHMSA to require that freight railroads, once they equip with ECP brakes in response to the requirement, collect and provide data to FRA on their ongoing operational experience with ECP brakes.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the FAST Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FRA and PHMSA to publish information--including data inputs, formulas, and results of all simulations and assumptions regarding DOT's use of the LS-DYNA model used and related analyses to support the 2015 final rule--that would allow a third party to fully assess and replicate the analysis.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Susan A. Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve PHMSA's oversight of the explosives classification process, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the PHMSA Administrator to develop and implement a systematic approach for improving the guidance PHMSA provides test labs.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: PHMSA concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. When we confirm what actions PHMSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Cary B. Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD effectively evaluates the safety performance of carriers entrusted to transport security-sensitive materials in the Transportation Protective Services (TPS) program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in collaboration with the U.S. Transportation Command to update TPS program guidance to clarify (1) how to address carriers with absent or dated Safety Ratings and poor Safety Measurement System scores, and (2) what specific actions should be taken when carriers do not meet program requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD effectively evaluates the safety performance of carriers entrusted to transport security-sensitive materials in the Transportation Protective Services (TPS) program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in collaboration with the U.S. Transportation Command to establish and document an approach for conducting reviews of available violation data, such as analyzing violations incurred while transporting TPS shipments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to identify and effectively mitigate public safety risks of TPS carriers transporting security-sensitive materials, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in collaboration with the DOD Explosives Safety Board, the U.S. Transportation Command, the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, and the Army Headquarters Safety Office, to develop department-wide guidance requiring the evaluation of the Defense Transportation Tracking System TPS carrier incident data to identify trends and patterns that could suggest systemic weaknesses such as mechanical breakdowns or unusual delays that represent a heightened potential public safety risk and take action to address any identified weaknesses.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to TRANSCOM officials during our visit on April 2016--they are working on implementing these actions with a goal of completing them in Fall 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to identify and effectively mitigate public safety risks of TPS carriers transporting security-sensitive materials, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, in collaboration with the DOD Explosives Safety Board, the U.S. Transportation Command, the Surface Deployment and Distribution Command, and the Army Headquarters Safety Office, to develop department-wide guidance requiring the identification and full investigation of TPS carrier incidents, including mishaps and near misses involving security-sensitive shipments, to determine potential root causes and identify corrective actions that could mitigate the recurrence of the mishap or the potential for more significant ones.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to TRANSCOM officials during our visit on April 2016--they are working on implementing these actions with a goal of completing them in Fall 2017.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, Congress should consider transferring the oversight of the markings of toy and imitation firearms in 15 U.S.C. 5001 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (within the Department of Commerce) to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: This matter is an action identified in GAO's annual Duplication and Cost Savings reports. There has been no legislative action identified. The Gun Look-Alike Case Act, H.R. 3224, which was introduced on July 27, 2015, in the 114th Congress, would transfer the authority to regulate the markings of toy, look-alike, and imitation firearms in section 5001 of title 15 of the U.S. Code from NIST to CPSC, as GAO suggested in November 2014. This bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the United States House of Representatives, and did not pass out of committee. As of March 1, 2017, the bill has not been reintroduced in the 115th Congress.
    Recommendation: To improve existing coordination of oversight for consumer product safety, Congress should consider establishing a formal comprehensive oversight mechanism for consumer product safety agencies to address crosscutting issues as well as inefficiencies related to fragmentation and overlap such as communication and coordination challenges and jurisdictional questions between agencies. Different types of formal mechanisms could include, for example, creating a memorandum of understanding to formalize relationships and agreements or establishing a task force or interagency work group. As a starting point, Congress may wish to obtain agency input on options for establishing more formal coordination.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: This matter is an action identified in GAO's annual Duplication and Cost Savings reports. There has been no legislative action identified. No legislation was introduced as of March 1, 2017, that would establish a collaborative mechanism to facilitate communication across the relevant agencies and to help enable them to collectively address crosscutting issues, as GAO suggested in November 2014. Some of the agencies with direct regulatory oversight responsibilities for consumer product safety reported that they continue to collaborate to address specific consumer product safety topics. However, without a formal comprehensive oversight mechanism, the agencies risk missing opportunities to better leverage resources and address challenges, including those related to fragmentation and overlap.