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    Subject Term: "Human trafficking"

    5 publications with a total of 15 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Gretta L. Goodwin
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOJ is contributing to efforts to improve data collection and service provision to Native Americans, the Director of OVW should require grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served using grant funding, and, as appropriate, the Native American status of those victims.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: Violence Against Women Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: In responding to a draft of our report, DOJ agreed to require their grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served, but did not agree to require them to track Native American status of those victims as appropriate, citing victim confidentiality and other reasons. In June 2017, following our report's publication, DOJ provided a status update, reporting that OVW already collects consolidated data on the number of American Indian and Alaska Native victims served who are victims of all crimes and it is in the process of revising grantee forms to collect information on the number of people served who are victims of sex trafficking. We continue to believe that collecting grantee information on both the number and Native American status of victims served is important and will continue to monitor implementation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOJ is contributing to efforts to improve data collection and service provision to Native Americans, the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs should direct OVC and OJJDP to require their grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served using grant funding, and, as appropriate, the Native American status of those victims.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In responding to a draft of our report, DOJ agreed to require its grantees to report the number of human trafficking victims served, but did not agree to require them to track Native American status of those victims as appropriate, citing victim confidentiality and other reasons. In June 2017, following our report's publication, DOJ provided a status update, reporting that OJJDP human trafficking grantees will be required to report the number of human trafficking victims served, beginning with progress reports ending December 31, 2017, and that OJJDP will update applicable solicitations beginning in fiscal year 2018 to reflect this new measure. DOJ reported no new efforts from OVC, and maintained that it will not require grantees to report on the Native American status of their victims served using grant funding because of the concerns it cited initially. We continue to believe that collecting grantee information on both the number and Native American status of victims served is important and will continue to monitor implementation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and described steps it is taking to more systematically assess the effectiveness of the Trafficking in Persons Report in encouraging governments to address human trafficking, including the recent establishment of a monitoring and evaluation position in the Trafficking Office. GAO will continue to monitor State's implementation efforts.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Office of Refugee Resettlement to develop a process to update its bed capacity framework on an annual basis to include the most recent data related to numbers of unaccompanied children who may be referred to its care and adjust its planning scenarios that guide its bed capacity as appropriate.

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

    Comments: The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) developed a bed capacity framework for fiscal year 2016 and anticipated completing its fiscal year 2017 bed capacity framework by September 30, 2016. The framework includes bed capacity projections, including expected referrals and placement needs, based, in part, on data from the previous year. GAO will close this recommendation when HHS completes its 2017 bed capacity framework.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Office of Refugee Resettlement to review its monitoring program to ensure that onsite visits are conducted in a timely manner, case files are systematically reviewed as part of or separate from onsite visits, and that grantees properly document the services they provide to children.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with our recommendation and ORR is in the process of reviewing its monitoring templates and tools and, according to HHS, has conducted a monitoring training for its Project Officers. In addition, ORR is sending additional Project Officers into the field to complete scheduled monitoring visits to its care provider facilities. HHS reports that ORR is on track to complete all scheduled monitoring visits for FY 2016. We will close this recommendation when ORR has completed its review of its monitoring templates and tools and demonstrates that it can complete its planned monitoring visits on schedule.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Office of Refugee Resettlement to develop a process to ensure all information collected through its existing post-release efforts are reliable and systematically collected so that they can be compiled in summary form and provide useful information to other entities internally and externally.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) created a new section in its unaccompanied children's policy guide that, among other things, includes case reporting, records management, retention, and information sharing requirements for post-release service providers. Post-release service providers are required to maintain this information in an ORR-provided database. Also, the section requires that all reports made to ORR's National Call Center be documented and reported in accordance with mandatory reporting laws, state licensing requirements, federal laws and regulations, and ORR policies and procedures. Lastly, in May 2016, ORR released data for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 on Safety and Well-Being (SWB) follow-up calls that were made to children and their sponsors.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better report the occupations filled by H-2B workers who have been approved by DHS, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should implement during its transformation process to an electronic petition form, an occupation classification system that conforms to a national standard.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, USCIS indicated that it was revising its Transformation Roadmap (schedule). The conversion to electronic nonimmigrant petitions is expected to be completed during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. USCIS also noted that it is exploring the adoption of a single set of occupation codes across multiple form types, but has not yet made a final decision whether to implement this. USCIS estimates this recommendation will be completed by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help potential H-2A and H-2B workers and their advocates better assess employment offers and reduce their vulnerability to abuse, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should, during its transformation to an electronic petition form, ensure that petition job information is collected in an electronic manner and made available to the public as soon as possible following a final adjudication decision. Such job information should include number of positions, wage, and any staffing, placement or recruitment agency the employer plans to use.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, USCIS indicated that it was revising its Transformation Roadmap (schedule). The conversion to electronic nonimmigrant petitions is expected to be completed during the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. Therefore, USCIS estimates this recommendation will be completed by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help protect workers from being hired by employers who have been debarred from program participation, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, to use all employer-related information it collects on debarred employers to screen new applications.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, the agency noted that it continues to screen for debarred employers in two ways: 1) by adding debarred employers to its iCERT System, which matches incoming employer applications using the federal Employer Identification Number; and 2) by conducting additional reviews during analyst case adjudications using a more expansive set of employer-related information. While the Employment and Training Administration explored enhancing its iCERT system in 2015 to flag more information on debarred employers, the agency said this enhancement was not pursued due to technical difficulties in matching open text fields (e.g., physical employer addresses).
    Recommendation: To ensure that H-2B workers are adequately protected and that DOL's investigative resources are appropriately focused, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, to review its enforcement efforts and conduct a national investigations-based evaluation of H-2B employers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) indicated that it is coordinating closely with the department's Chief Evaluation Office on evaluations and special projects involving data analytics. As a result of that coordination, it is shifting away from large-scale compliance surveys and toward leveraging internal enforcement data and external survey data to assess compliance levels in priority industries. Therefore, WHD is not currently considering a national level survey of the H-2B program. However, WHD indicated that its focus of enforcement resources on industries that employ workers vulnerable to violations of labor laws will include H-2B workers and employers.
    Recommendation: To determine to what extent, if any, the 2-year statute of limitations on debarment limits its use as a remedy for employers who violate program requirements: (1) the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, and the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, to collect data on the nature of the cases where debarment would have been recommended but was not because the 2-year statute of limitations had expired, and based on that data determine whether to pursue a legislative proposal to extend the statute of limitations; and (2) the Department of Labor Inspector General should direct the Assistant Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations to provide the Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, and the Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, data on the number of referrals for debarment that the Inspector General's Office sent to the department after the 2-year statute of limitations had expired.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL indicated that it was considering the utility of collecting these data in light of the fact that the new H-2B regulations that were issued in April 2015 eliminated the 2-year statute of limitations for the H-2B program. We continue to believe, however, that this data collection would be valuable given that the H-2A program is still subject to the 2-year statute of limitations. The department indicated it is undertaking a modernization of its data systems--by implementing a data governance structure that will manage its data as a business asset--and our recommendation for the collection of these data will be vetted through this process.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

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

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

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