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: "Identity verification"

    4 publications with a total of 24 open recommendations including 7 priority recommendations
    Director: Diana Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    6 open recommendations
    including 6 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and better ensure that face recognition capabilities are being used in accordance with privacy protection laws and policy requirements, the Attorney General should assess the PIA development process to determine why PIAs were not published prior to using or updating face recognition capabilities, and implement corrective actions to ensure the timely development, updating, and publishing of PIAs before using or making changes to a system.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOJ officials did not concur with this recommendation, and stated that the FBI has established practices that protect privacy and civil liberties beyond the requirements of the law. DOJ officials stated that it will internally evaluate the PIA process as part of the Department's overall commitment to improving its processes, not in response to our recommendation. In March 2017, we followed up with DOJ to obtain its current position on our recommendation. DOJ continues to believe that its approach in designing the NGI system was sufficient to meet legal privacy requirements and that our recommendation represents a "checkbox approach" to privacy. We disagree with DOJ's characterization of our recommendation. We continue to believe that the timely development and publishing of future PIAs would increase transparency of the department's systems. We recognize the steps the agency took to consider privacy protection during the development of the NGI system. We also stand by our position that notifying the public of these actions is important and provides the public with greater assurance that DOJ components are evaluating risks to privacy when implementing systems. As a result, the recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and better ensure that face recognition capabilities are being used in accordance with privacy protection laws and policy requirements, the Attorney General should assess the SORN development process to determine why a SORN was not published that addressed the collection and maintenance of photos accessed and used through NGI for the FBI's face recognition capabilities prior to using NGI-IPS, and implement corrective actions to ensure SORNs are published before systems become operational.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOJ agreed, in part, with our recommendation and submitted the SORN for publication to the Federal Register on April 21, 2016, and it was published on May 5, 2016. DOJ did not agree that the publication of a SORN is required by law. We disagree with DOJ's interpretation regarding the legal requirements of a SORN. The Privacy Act of 1974 requires that when agencies establish or make changes to a system of records, they must notify the public through a SORN published in the Federal Register. DOJ's comments on our draft report acknowledge that the automated nature of face recognition technology and the sheer number of photos now available for searching raise important privacy and civil liberties considerations. DOJ officials also stated that the FBI's face recognition capabilities do not represent new collection, use, or sharing of personal information. We disagree. We believe that the ability to perform automated searches of millions of photos is fundamentally different in nature and scope than manual review of individual photos, and the potential impact on privacy is equally fundamentally different. By assessing the SORN development process and taking corrective actions to ensure timely development of future SORNs, the public would have a better understanding of how personal information is being used and protected by DOJ components. As a result, the recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition capabilities are being used in accordance with privacy protection laws and policy requirements, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should conduct audits to determine the extent to which users of NGI-IPS and biometric images specialists in FACE Services are conducting face image searches in accordance with Criminal Justice Information Services Division policy requirements.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, DOJ provided us with the audit plan the CJIS Audit Unit developed in June 2016 for NGI-IPS users. In addition, DOJ reported that the CJIS Audit Unit began assessing NGI-IPS requirements at participating states in conjunction with its triennial National Identity Services audit and that, as of February 2017, the unit had conducted NGI-IPS audits of four states. Further, DOJ officials said CJIS developed an audit plan of the FACE Services Unit to coincide with the existing triennial FBI internal audit for 2018. However, DOJ did not provide the audit plan for the FACE Services Unit. DOJ officials said the methodology would be the same as the audit plan for NGI-IPS, but that methodology does not describe oversight on use of information obtained from external systems accessed by FACE Services employees. Therefore, we believe DOJ is making progress towards meeting the recommendation, but has not fully implemented our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition systems are sufficiently accurate, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should conduct tests of NGI-IPS to verify that the system is sufficiently accurate for all allowable candidate list sizes, and ensure that the detection and false positive rate used in the tests are identified.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In comments on our draft report in 2016, and reiterated during recommendation follow-up, as of March 2017, DOJ did not concur with this recommendation. DOJ officials stated that the FBI has performed accuracy testing to validate that the system meets the requirements for the detection rate, which fully satisfies requirements for the investigative lead service provided by NGI-IPS. We disagree with DOJ. A key focus of our recommendation is the need to ensure that NGI-IPS is sufficiently accurate for all allowable candidate list sizes. Although the FBI has tested the detection rate for a candidate list of 50 photos, NGI-IPS users are able to request smaller candidate lists (between 2 and 50 photos). FBI officials stated that they do not know, and have not tested, the detection rate for other candidate list sizes. According to these officials, a smaller candidate list would likely lower the detection rate because a smaller candidate list may not contain a likely match that would be present in a larger candidate list. However, according to the FBI Information Technology Life Cycle Management Directive, testing needs to confirm the system meets all user requirements. Because the accuracy of NGI-IPS's face recognition searches when returning fewer than 50 photos in a candidate list is unknown, the FBI is limited in understanding whether the results are accurate enough to meet NGI-IPS users' needs. DOJ officials also stated that searches of NGI-IPS produce a gallery of likely candidates to be used as investigative leads, not for positive identification. As a result, according to DOJ officials, NGI-IPS cannot produce false positives and there is no false positive rate for the system. We disagree with DOJ. The detection rate and the false positive rate are both necessary to assess the accuracy of a face recognition system. Generally, face recognition systems can be configured to allow for a greater or lesser number of matches. A greater number of matches would generally increase the detection rate, but would also increase the false positive rate. Similarly, a lesser number of matches would decrease the false positive rate, but would also decrease the detection rate. Reporting a detection rate of 86 percent without reporting the accompanying false positive rate presents an incomplete view of the system's accuracy. As a result, the recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition systems are sufficiently accurate, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should conduct an operational review of NGI-IPS at least annually that includes an assessment of the accuracy of face recognition searches to determine if it is meeting federal, state, and local law enforcement needs and take actions, as necessary, to improve the system.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 2017, FBI officials stated they implemented the recommendation by submitting a paper to solicit feedback from users through the Fall 2016 Advisory Policy Board Process. Specifically, officials said the paper requested feedback on whether the face recognition searches of the NGI-IPS are meeting their needs, and input regarding search accuracy. According to FBI officials, no users expressed concern with any aspect of the NGI-IPS meeting their needs, including accuracy. Although FBI's action of providing working groups with a paper presenting GAO's recommendation is a step, the FBI's actions do not fully meet the recommendation. The FBI's paper was presented as informational, and did not result in any formal responses from users. We disagree with the FBI's conclusion that receiving no responses on the informational paper fulfills the operational review recommendation, which includes determining that NGI-IPS is meeting user's needs. As such, we continue to recommend the FBI conduct an operational review of NGI-IPS at least annually.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition systems are sufficiently accurate, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should take steps to determine whether each external face recognition system used by FACE Services is sufficiently accurate for the FBI's use and whether results from those systems should be used to support FBI investigations.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In comments on our draft report in 2016, and reiterated during recommendation follow-up in 2017, DOJ officials did not concur with this recommendation and had no plans to implement it. DOJ officials stated that the FBI has no authority to set or enforce accuracy standards of face recognition technology operated by external agencies. In addition, DOJ officials stated that the FBI has implemented multiple layers of manual review that mitigate risks associated with the use of automated face recognition technology. Further, DOJ officials stated there is value in searching all available external databases, regardless of their level of accuracy. We disagree with the DOJ position. We continue to believe that the FBI should assess the quality of the data it is using from state and federal partners. We acknowledge that the FBI cannot and should not set accuracy standards for the face recognition systems used by external partners. We also do not dispute that the use of external face recognition systems by the FACE Services Unit could add value to FBI investigations. However, we disagree with FBI's assertion that no assessment of the quality of the data from state and federal partners is necessary. We also disagree with the DOJ assertion that manual review of automated search results is sufficient. Even with a manual review process, the FBI could miss investigative leads if a partner does not have a sufficiently accurate system. By relying on its external partners' face recognition systems, the FBI is using these systems as a component of its routine operations and is therefore responsible for ensuring the systems will help meet FBI's mission, goals and objectives. The recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that security-related funding is directed to programs that have demonstrated their effectiveness, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the TSA Administrator to limit future funding support for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence that demonstrates that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not concur with GAO's November 2013 recommendation to the TSA Administrator to limit future funding support for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence that demonstrates that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security. However, as of July 2017, DHS has reduced funding for its behavior detection activities and taken some steps toward identifying additional evidence to support its use of behavioral indicators. TSA officials stated that GAO's recommendation contributed to DHS's decision to reduce the number of behavior detection officers (BDO) from 3,131 full-time equivalents in fiscal year 2013 to 2,393 full-time equivalents employed in fiscal year 2016. Further, in the summer of 2016 and consistent with the Aviation Security Act of 2016, the agency began assigning BDOs to other positions at passenger screening checkpoints where they are able to observe passengers while performing screening duties. According to TSA officials, all BDOs have now been converted into transportation security officers with behavior detection capabilities, which is expected to reduce the cost of the agency's behavior detection activities. As of August 2017, TSA does not yet have an estimate of any associated cost reductions. Since GAO's 2013 report, TSA has revised its list of behavioral indicators and taken some steps to identify evidence that these indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security. Specifically, TSA hired a contractor to search available literature for sources supporting its revised list of 36 behavioral indicators. However, in 2017, GAO reviewed all 178 sources TSA identified and found that 98 percent (175 of 178) did not provide valid evidence for specific behavioral indicators in its revised list and that the remaining 3 sources could be used as valid evidence to support 8 of the 36 indicators. GAO reported that TSA should continue to limit funding for the agency's behavior detection activities until TSA can provide valid evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security, consistent with the recommendation in its November 2013 report.
    Director: Solis, William M
    Phone: (202)512-8365

    13 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD can accurately assess its delivery performance for and maintain accountability of cargo shipments to Afghanistan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander of TRANSCOM to develop an ongoing, systematic approach to identify the reasons why delivery dates for delivered shipments are not documented and implement corrective actions to improve the documentation of delivered shipments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD can accurately assess its delivery performance for and maintain accountability of cargo shipments to Afghanistan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Commander of TRANSCOM to develop an ongoing, systematic approach to investigate cases of undelivered shipments to determine their status and update the database with the most current information.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to gain better visibility over cargo in transit using RFID technology, the Secretary of Defense should direct U.S. Central Command to develop necessary policies and procedures to ensure that content-level detail is entered onto radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to gain better visibility over cargo in transit using RFID technology, the Secretary of Defense should direct U.S. Central Command to implement required data-entry training for all deploying units.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to gain better visibility over cargo in transit using RFID technology, the Secretary of Defense should direct U.S. Central Command to ensure that periodic inspections of data entries are performed.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to gain more comprehensive visibility over the status of supply and equipment, the Secretary of Defense should direct TRANSCOM, in consultation with the combatant commands, the military services, and other DOD distribution stakeholders, to evaluate the feasibility and costs of alternative approaches for developing a single user-friendly common operating picture that integrates transportation systems from the strategic, operational, and tactical levels and that is accessible by personnel at each of these levels to provide timely in-transit visibility data.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to gain more comprehensive visibility over the status of supply and equipment, the Secretary of Defense should direct TRANSCOM, in consultation with the combatant commands, the military services, and other DOD distribution stakeholders, to select and implement a cost-effective approach for improving visibility.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to expedite its processes for delivery of cargo to its final destination, the Secretary of Defense should direct Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) to develop and implement training for units on customs processes for export cargo to instill best practices for documenting cargo according to customs policies, which may mitigate customs clearance delays that cause cargo backlog.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to gain better visibility over the incidence and cost of pilferage and damage of cargo in transit to, within, and out of Afghanistan, the Secretary of Defense should direct U.S. Central Command to require units to complete mandatory training on how to report, document, and complete a transportation discrepancy report.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to gain better visibility over the incidence and cost of pilferage and damage of cargo in transit to, within, and out of Afghanistan, the Secretary of Defense should direct TRANSCOM to include host-nation truck complaints in the reported pilferage and damage calculation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to better manage its processes for managing and using cargo containers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to select a single container-management system for all DOD entities and contract carriers to track container status.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to better manage its processes for managing and using cargo containers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to create, implement, and enforce reporting requirements and procedures for tracking containers in theater.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016 DOD has not taken action and this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To enable TRANSCOM to carry out its Distribution Process Owner responsibility to oversee the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-wide distribution activities, and to include delivery from major logistics bases to outposts in Afghanistan, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Joint Staff to revise Joint Publication 4-09, to provide clear guidance on how TRANSCOM is to oversee the overall effectiveness, efficiency, and alignment of DOD-wide distribution activities, to include the fourth leg of distribution.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Joint Chiefs of Staff
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Wilshusen, Gregory C
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that PIV cards do not remain in the possession of staff whose employment or contract with the federal government is over, the Secretary of Commerce should establish controls, in addition to time frames for implementing a new tracking system, to ensure that PIV cards are revoked in a timely fashion.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Commerce had not submitted information or plans regarding revoking PIV cards in a timely fashion.
    Recommendation: To meet the HSPD-12 program's objectives of using the electronic capabilities of PIV cards for access to federal facilities, networks, and systems, the Secretary of the Interior should develop specific implementation plans for enabling PIV-based access to the department's major facilities, including identifying necessary infrastructure upgrades and time frames for deployment.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Interior had not yet provided specific implementation plans for enabling PIV access to the department's major facilities.
    Recommendation: To meet the HSPD-12 program's objectives of using the electronic capabilities of PIV cards for access to federal facilities, networks, and systems, the Secretary of Labor should ensure that the department's plans for PIV-enabled physical access at major facilities are implemented in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Labor had not provided any information about whether the department's plans for PIV-enabled physical access at major facilities were being implemented in a timely manner.
    Recommendation: To meet the HSPD-12 program's objectives of using the electronic capabilities of PIV cards for access to federal networks and systems, the Administrator of NASA should develop and implement procedures for PIV-based logical access when using Apple Mac and mobile devices that do not rely on direct interfaces with PIV cards, which may be impractical.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NASA reported that it had begun implementing procedures for PIV-based logical access for the Apple Mac computers and mobile devices in its computing environment. NASA procured software to begin the transition of the Apple computers, but due to configuration issues the transition was not scheduled to be completed until December 2017. Further, NASA had begun the transition for mobile devices, which was scheduled to be completed by September 2017.