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    Subject Term: "Hurricane Sandy"

    6 publications with a total of 11 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: Given DOT's new discretionary grant programs and similar challenges we have found with previous DOT programs, the Secretary of Transportation should issue a directive that governs department-wide and modal administration discretionary grant programs. Such a directive should include requirements to: (1) develop a plan for evaluating project proposals in advance of issuing a notice of funding availability that defines the stages of the process, including how the process will be overseen to ensure a consistent review of applications; (2) document key decisions, including the reason for any rating changes and the officials responsible for those changes, and how high-level concerns raised during the process were addressed; and (3) align stated program purpose and policy priorities with the evaluation and selection process.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOT concurred with this recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, DOT must issue a directive, to address our concerns and require DOT's operating administrations to develop and document procedures for all phases of the process for its discretionary grants.
    Recommendation: To better address FTA's stated policy priority of regional resilience and to minimize fragmentation of federal efforts, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to (a) examine the projects FTA funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (DRAA) discretionary transit resilience grant program for potential duplication with other resilience efforts and (b) determine whether it is appropriate to realign funds for FTA-supported projects for other purposes authorized under the DRAA, or request a rescission of funds for any of the FTA-supported projects.

    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: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help preserve a proven resource supporting the oversight community's analytic capabilities, Congress may wish to consider directing CIGIE to develop a legislative proposal to reconstitute the essential capabilities of the ROC to help ensure federal spending accountability. The proposal should identify a range of options at varying scales for the cost of analytic tools, personnel, and necessary funding, as well as any additional authority CIGIE may need to ensure such enduring, robust analytical and investigative capability for the oversight community.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase states' abilities to improve disaster resilience and mitigate future damage when using federal funding in the wake of disasters, the FEMA Administrator should, consistent with the goals of the NDRF to integrate hazard mitigation and risk reduction opportunities into all major decisions and reinvestments during the recovery process, assess the challenges state and local officials reported, including the extent to which the challenges can be addressed and implement corrective actions, as needed.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA officials provided a corrective action plan that included interim actions and milestones leading to the establishment of procedures and training to assist in implementing policy changes through the end of calendar year 2016. In September 2016, FEMA issued new policies to establish minimum standards for Public Assistance projects that are intended to promote resilience and achieve risk reduction. The April 2017 update indicates that FEMA plans to complete actions to implement this recommendation by May 2017. GAO will assess the actions taken when they are complete.
    Recommendation: To help the federal, state, and local governments plan for and invest in hazard mitigation opportunities to enhance resilience against future disasters, the Director of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group, in coordination with other departments and agencies that are MitFLG members, should supplement the National Mitigation Framework by establishing an investment strategy to identify, prioritize, and guide federal investments in disaster resilience and hazard mitigation-related activities and make recommendations to the President and Congress on how the nation should prioritize future disaster resilience investments. Such a strategy could address, among other things, (1) the extent to which current hazard mitigation and disaster resilience programs are adequately addressing critical lifelines and critical infrastructure, (2) an approach to identifying information on what disaster resilience and hazard mitigation efforts are most effective against known risks and their potential impacts on the nation's fiscal exposure, (3) the balance of federal and nonfederal investments, and (4) the balance of pre- and postdisaster resilience investments.

    Agency: Mitigation Framework Leadership Group
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2016, officials from FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration told us they are working with the Office of Management and Budget to implement this recommendation and shared a high-level work plan designed to guide MitFLG through the creation of a disaster resilience investment strategy. According to this plan, the strategy is to be complete in October 2017.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that DOT produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, as applicable to each administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrators of the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Transit Administration to revise their policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) clearly identifying roles and responsibilities for estimating improper payments; (2) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (3) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (4) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates; (6) requiring that the sampling methodologies meet the precision requirements outlined in OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; and (7) requiring a consultation with a statistician to ensure the validity of sample design, sample size, and measurement methodology.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: On April 14, 2017, we were informed that the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has oversight over the Department of Transportation's (DOT) improper payments implementation and is revising DOT's policies for estimating improper payments. DOT plans to complete this action by 10/31/2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct appropriate officials to revise its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by (1) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (IPIA), as amended, and (2) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: Overall, we believe the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is on track for taking corrective actions that meet the intent of GAO recommendation. For example, we believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to HUD revising its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments. Specifically, we have reviewed HUD's updated recapture audit plan dated June 26, 2015, and verified it requires payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing. However, we do not believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested. Specifically, we have not seen where HUD's policies and procedures show how HUD ensures that it is selecting from a complete list of grantee files when conducting tests related to estimating improper payments. On July 19, 2017, a HUD official explained that HUD does not have controls in place to ensure that the grantee files are complete. Further, the HUD official indicated that the grantee files come from the grantee, and HUD relies on the grantees to provide a complete list of files. However, HUD does not currently have a way to verify that this list is complete. According to the HUD official, HUD he will explore options HUD can implement for ensuring that grantee files are complete, including possibly having grantees to sign a statement certifying that their grantee files are complete when provided to HUD. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE to revise policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (2) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (3) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (4) providing sufficient procedures for determining an error and what documentation is necessary to substantiate payment; and (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 5, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Seto J. Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help FEMA prevent improper payments, the Administrator of FEMA should assess the cost and feasibility of addressing limitations in FEMA's control for identifying duplicate information in applications in high-risk data fields--such as SSN, bank-account information, address, and phone number--that may currently allow individuals or households to improperly receive multiple payments, and if determined to be costbeneficial take steps to address the system design limitation.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA reported that the agency had reviewed its software system's controls for identifying duplicate SSNs, bank account, address, and phone information. FEMA reported that it would be cost effective and feasible to improve its software system's controls for identifying duplicate address information, and the agency expects to deploy these system changes in the summer of 2017. FEMA also reported that, based on its review of the cases GAO referred to FEMA, errors in SSN and bank account information were related to human casework processing rather than software system limitations. Consequently, FEMA reported that it was reviewing and updating its casework training, guidance, and quality control documentation. We will continue to monitor FEMA's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help FEMA prevent improper payments, the Administrator of FEMA should collaborate with SSA to assess the cost and feasibility of checking recipient SSNs against the Enumeration Verification System and the full death file to more accurately identify recipients who used Social Security numbers (SSNs) that were ineligible or belonged to likely deceased individuals, document the results of this assessment, and if determined to be cost-beneficial take steps to implement a partnership to use SSA data.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA reported that the agency completed a cost estimate for system changes needed to include a direct data exchange with SSA. FEMA further reported that the agency was continuing to explore alternative means of conducting a direct data exchange that would help FEMA verify if an SSN belongs to a deceased person. We will continue to monitor FEMA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the Secretary of Homeland Security's ability to assess national preparedness and provide management oversight of federal interagency efforts to close previously identified capability gaps, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA--in coordination and collaboration with the National Security Council Staff and other federal departments and agencies--to collect information on and regularly report to the Secretary the status of federal interagency implementation of corrective actions identified (1) through prior national-level exercises and (2) following real-world incidents, specifically major disasters.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, FEMA officials reported that the agency had developed an approach for collecting and reporting on the status of federal interagency corrective actions from Level I disasters to add to the current practice of reporting on national level exercises. According to officials, the proposed approach was under review and the agency plans to coordinate with the other federal departments and agencies before submitting their proposal to DHS for final approval. In August 2017, FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate reported an expected completion date of December 29, 2017. Pending completion of this effort, this recommendation remains open.