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    Results:

    Subject Term: "Information access"

    17 publications with a total of 43 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve students' access to information so that they can make well-informed transfer decisions, the Secretary of Education should require schools to (1) disclose the list of schools with which they have articulation agreements online if the school has a website, and (2) clearly inform students, on the school's website if it has one, when no articulation agreements on credit transfer are in place. If the department determines that it does not have the authority to require this, it should nonetheless encourage schools to take these actions (through guidance or other means).

    Agency: Department of Education
    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 improve students' access to information so that they can make well-informed transfer decisions, the Secretary of Education should provide students and their families with general transfer information, for example by developing a consumer guide and posting it on Education's website or augmenting transfer information already provided on the website, to help increase awareness of key considerations when transferring schools.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to assess and document how the alternative technological solutions being considered will fully meet operational needs related to ultralight aircraft.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and stated that it plans to assess and document requirements related to ultralight aircraft threats and how technological solutions will address these requirements as part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations air domain awareness efforts. DHS plans to complete these efforts by July 2018.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP and the Director of ICE to jointly establish and monitor performance measures and targets related to cross-border tunnels.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and stated that U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will review available information and develop performance measures and targets as deemed appropriate by February 2018.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to establish and monitor performance targets related to ultralight aircraft.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred and stated that within U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations and the U.S. Border Patrol are developing a joint performance measure and targets for interdicting ultralight aircraft. DHS plans to complete these efforts by October 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tunnel committee to convene and establish standard operating procedures for addressing cross-border tunnels, including procedures for sharing information.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS did not concur with this recommendation. However, CBP and ICE agreed that strengthening operational procedures may be beneficial and stated that they will jointly review procedures and discuss revising and/or consolidating the procedures. We continue to believe that the recommendation is valid and will monitor DHS's efforts to address it.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective and that managers and stakeholders have the information needed to make decisions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Commissioner of CBP, and the Director of ICE to establish and monitor Regional Coordinating Mechanisms performance measures and targets related to panga boat and recreational vessel smuggling.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS did not concur with this recommendation. DHS stated that that it believes that by establishing common terminology to address our first recommendation, the RECOMs will have more reliable, usable analyses to inform their maritime interdiction efforts. However, DHS did not believe that performance measures and targets related to smuggling by panga boats would provide the most useful strategic assessment of operations to prevent all illicit trafficking, regardless of area of operations or mode of transportation. DHS also cited the recent creation of the DHS Office of Policy, Strategy, and Plans that is to work with U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and other components and offices to better evaluate the effectiveness of all operations that work to prevent the illegal entry of goods and people into the country, as appropriate. We continue to believe that the recommendation is valid and will monitor DHS's efforts to address it.
    Director: Carolyn Yocom
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that its efforts to increase patients' electronic access to health information are successful, the Secretary of HHS should direct ONC to develop performance measures to assess outcomes of key efforts related to patients' electronic access to longitudinal health information. Such actions may include, for example, determining whether the number of providers that participate in these initiatives have higher rates of patient access to electronic health information.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    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 its efforts to increase patients' electronic access to health information are successful, the Secretary of HHS should direct ONC to use the information these performance measures provide to make program adjustments, as appropriate. Such actions may include, for example, assessing the status of program operations or identifying areas that need improvement in order to help achieve program goals related to increasing patients' ability to access their health information electronically.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

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

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Attorney General should instruct the Director of the Marshals Service to ensure that the improvements being made to the Marshals Service's information on the security concerns of individual buildings allow the Marshals Service to understand the concerns across the portfolio.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the Marshalls Service has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA and the Director of the AOUSC, on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States, in conjunction with the Marshals Service and FPS, should improve CSP documentation in order to improve transparency and collaboration in the CSP program.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions GSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA and the Director of the AOUSC, on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States, in conjunction with the Marshals Service and FPS, should improve CSP documentation in order to improve transparency and collaboration in the CSP program.

    Agency: Administrative Office of the United States Courts
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions AOUSC has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA--in conjunction with AOUSC, the Marshals Service, and FPS--should establish a national-level working group or similar forum, consisting of leadership designees with decision-making authority, to meet regularly to address courthouse security issues.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions GSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: William B. Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help business disaster victims and resource partners better access information about the disaster loan process, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should integrate information resources such as the fact sheet, reference guide, and three-step process flier into its disaster loan assistance web portal and Partner Training Portal in a way that is more accessible to users.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the disaster loan assistance portal includes links to various loan-related resources and a link to SBA.gov, where users can access the SBA Disaster Loan Program Reference Guide and online learning center. We will continue to follow up with SBA on whether the agency plans to centrally integrate the links to loan-related resources into its disaster loan assistance web portal and Partner Training Portal, so resources can be more accessible to users.
    Recommendation: To help reduce confusion about the disaster loan process and the time frames applicants may experience, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should ensure the consistency of content across its disaster loan process resources by including in these written and online resources, as appropriate, the following: (1) the three-step process; (2) the types of documentation SBA may request and the general reasons why such information may be requested; and (3) estimates of loan processing time frames applicants might experience and external factors, such as the severity of a disaster, that may affect these time frames using, for example, estimates from its forecasting and related planning tools.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the agency has provided a consistent messaging about the timeframe for making approval decisions on disaster loan applications: SBA's goal is to make a decision on all home and business disaster loan applications within 2-3 weeks, and this loan approval timeframe also is referenced in other loan-related resources and media interviews. We will continue to follow up with SBA on whether the agency plans to (a) ensure informational content is consistent across written and online resources, (b) also include in written and online resources the types of documentation SBA may request and general reasons for the information requests, and (c) tailor the general 2-3 week loan decision timeframe to the each disaster, including the severity of the disaster and other factors that may affect the timeframe, by using the agency's forecasting and related planning tools.
    Recommendation: To further assist disaster business loan applicants, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should define technical terminology related to financial statements and other finance terminology on the disaster business loan application forms, in both electronic and paper format. For example, in the online application portal, SBA could incorporate a glossary in the "help" feature. Additionally, SBA could include a glossary in the paper application, so that business applicants who apply by mail can access the definitions as well as the general reasons why such information may be requested.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the agency is developing a glossary of business financial terms to clearly define terminology used in SBA home and business disaster loan applications and required supporting financial documents. Once completed, SBA stated that it will make the glossary available through the agency's disaster loan assistance portal and the SBA.gov website. We will follow up with SBA once the agency completes the glossary of business financial terms.
    Director: A. Nicole Clowers
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen CMS's efforts to improve the usefulness of the Nursing Home Compare website for consumers, the Administrator of CMS should establish a systematic process for reviewing potential website improvements that includes and describes steps on how CMS will prioritize the implementation of potential website improvements.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and reported that CMS is working to develop a method that would track potential changes to Nursing Home Compare. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive further information.
    Recommendation: To help improve the Five-Star System's ability to enable consumers to understand nursing home quality and make distinctions between high- and low- performing homes, the Administrator of CMS should add information to the Five-Star System that allows consumers to compare nursing homes nationally.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS did not concur with this recommendation. However, we maintain that adding national comparison information is important.
    Recommendation: To help improve the Five-Star System's ability to enable consumers to understand nursing home quality and make distinctions between high- and low- performing homes, the Administrator of CMS should evaluate the feasibility of adding consumer satisfaction information to the Five-Star System.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and reported that CMS is evaluating the feasibility of adding consumer satisfaction to Nursing Home Compare. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive further information.
    Recommendation: To help improve the Five-Star System's ability to enable consumers to understand nursing home quality and make distinctions between high- and low- performing homes, the Administrator of CMS should develop and test with consumers introductory explanatory information on the Five-Star System to be prominently displayed on the home page. Such information should explain, for example, how the overall rating is calculated, the importance of the component ratings, where to find information on the timeliness of the data, and whether the ratings can be used to compare nursing homes nationally.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and reported that CMS is in the process of revising the explanatory language on Nursing Home Compare and plans to implement those changes on the website in late 2017. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive further information.
    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: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should develop a risk-based, cost-effective strategy to verify that states are implementing a process for assessing whether any teacher preparation programs are low-performing.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education reported adding additional questions about states' processes for identifying low-performing and at-risk programs to its annual state data collection form. The Department reported that this revised data collection form was submitted to OMB in April 2016 and was still undergoing OMB review as of September 2017. In the meantime, Education reported that it is conducting a temporary risk-based monitoring approach to determine how states report information on low-performing teacher preparation programs. GAO will monitor Education's efforts to finalize and implement these initiatives.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should study the usefulness of Title II data elements for policymakers and practitioners, and, if warranted, develop a proposal for Congress to eliminate or revise any statutorily-required elements that are not providing meaningful information.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education reported that its regulations published in October 2016 included new Title II data elements related to program quality. However, this action is distinct from our recommendation to assess whether existing fields required by law should be eliminated or revised. During our review, Education officials noted that such data elements could only be eliminated or revised through legislation, rather than regulation. Therefore, we continue to believe that it would be valuable for Education to review the existing data elements required by law and submit a proposal to Congress to eliminate or revise any of these fields, if warranted.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should develop and implement mechanisms to systematically share information about teacher preparation program quality with relevant Department of Education program offices and states (including state Independent Standards Boards).

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education reported that, subject to available staff resources, the agency would be designing an internal work group to increase information-sharing about teacher preparation program quality within and outside the Department. As of August 2017, ED reported that actions on this recommendation were pending. GAO will monitor Education's continued steps to design and implement this working group.
    Director: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency of DOD's conventional demilitarization efforts, including systematically collecting and maintaining key information about the items in its CAD stockpile and sharing information on excess items with other government agencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to improve the completeness and accuracy of information on the weight of items in the CAD stockpile--the key measure used by DOD to manage the conventional ammunition demilitarization operation--establish a plan to (1) identify and record, to the extent possible, the missing or inaccurate weight information for existing ammunition records in the CAD stockpile and (2) ensure that all items transferred to the CAD stockpile, including for example components removed from larger weapons and nonstandard ammunition, have the appropriate weight data.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Officials with the Joint Munitions Command stated that they continually monitor the inventory and correct any erroneous or missing data, which includes weight data. However, they had not yet developed a plan specifically focused on correcting weight data for ammunition in the Conventional Ammunition Demilitarization (CAD) stockpile.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency of DOD's conventional demilitarization efforts, including systematically collecting and maintaining key information about the items in its CAD stockpile and sharing information on excess items with other government agencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to improve the visibility and awareness of serviceable excess ammunition in the CAD stockpile that could potentially be transferred to other government agencies, develop a systematic means to make information available to other government agencies on excess ammunition that could be used to meet their needs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, according to Department of Defense (DOD) officials, the department has made progress in developing a systematic process for sharing information on excess serviceable ammunition and plans, as GAO recommended in July 2015, but has not fully implemented that process. Specifically, the Army?s Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics signed a memorandum of understanding with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Disposition Services that established a process where DLA will assist the Army in transferring some excess DOD ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Annually, the Army will provide DLA with a list of available types and quantities of excess ammunition that is 7.62 millimeters and smaller. DLA Disposition Services will inform participating law enforcement agencies of the ammunition available, screen all requests received from law enforcement agencies, and forward all approved law enforcement agency requests to the Army. The Army will prepare all necessary issue documents; pack and ship, on a reimbursable basis, ammunition to law enforcement agencies identified by DLA; and notify DLA and law enforcement agencies of any changes in condition of the ammunition. DOD and DLA conducted a pilot of this process from November 2016 to June 2017 in which DOD, through DLA, shared information on excess small arms ammunition with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. As a result, DOD transferred 1,209,095 rounds of 5.56-millimeter ammunition and 200,000 rounds of 9-millimeter ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Since DOD was able to transfer this ammunition to another government agency, it does not have to pay to demilitarize (i.e. dispose of) the ammunition, which saved DOD about $60,000 in demilitarization costs. DOD officials stated that they are currently updating the Joint Conventional Ammunition Policies and Procedures (JCAPP) to formalize the procedures to accurately identify, execute, and track future transfers of excess small arms ammunition to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Once JCAPP is updated, this recommendation would be considered fully implemented.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve disposition reporting that would help states update and complete criminal history records, the Director of the FBI should task the FBI Advisory Policy Board to establish a plan with time frames and milestones for achieving its Disposition Task Force's stated goals.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better equip states to meet the regulatory requirement to notify individuals of their rights to challenge and update information in their criminal history records, and to ensure that audit findings are resolved, the Director of the FBI--in coordination with the Compact Council-- should determine why states do not comply with the requirement to notify applicants and use this information to revise its state educational programs accordingly.

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

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that application of UBP for fixed Internet access does not conflict with the public interest, the FCC should make use of existing data collection sources to track fixed-Internet UBP implementation and its effects on consumers nationwide so that FCC can take actions, if necessary, to protect consumer interests.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions FCC has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to work with relevant USDA agencies to develop performance measures that better reflect the breadth of USDA's climate change efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to ensure that the department's annual performance plans explain how agency actions will lead to the accomplishment of performance goals in the area of climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to use annual performance reports to provide information on the status of agency efforts toward meeting its performance measures in the area of climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Recommendation: To provide relevant information to farmers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office to work with relevant USDA agencies to develop and provide readily accessible information to farmers on the farm-level economic costs and returns of taking certain actions in response to climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Director: Wilshusen, Gregory C
    Phone: (202)512-6244

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To effectively implement key components of the IRS information security program, the Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue should update policies and procedures to ensure that they address (1) both methods available for granting all users access to mainframe resources, (2) audit and monitoring of access from one processing environment to another, (3) use of appropriate accounts by multiple databases on a single server, (4) data storage shared between systems, (5) out-of-date security standards, and (6) reconciliation of access privileges.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are evaluating IRS's implementation of this recommendation as part of the audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements.
    Recommendation: To effectively implement key components of the IRS information security program, the Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue should update mainframe test and evaluation processes to improve periodic monitoring of compliance with IRS policies.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are evaluating IRS's implementation of this recommendation as part of the audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements.
    Director: Williamson, Randall B
    Phone: (206)287-4860

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that servicemembers have equitable access to the military services' wounded warrior programs, including the RCP, and to establish central accountability for these programs, the Secretary of Defense should establish or designate an office to centrally oversee and monitor the activities of the military services' wounded warrior programs to include the following: (1) Develop consistent eligibility criteria to ensure that similarly situated recovering servicemembers from different military services have uniform access to these programs; (2) Direct the military services' wounded warrior programs to fully comply with the policies governing care coordination and case management programs and any future changes to these policies; (3) Develop a common mechanism to systematically monitor the performance of the wounded warrior programs--to include the establishment of common terms and definitions--and report this information on a biannual basis to the Armed Services Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOD did not concur with our part (1) of our recommendation to develop consistent eligibility criteria, explaining that the three military department secretaries should have the ability to control entrance criteria into their wounded warrior programs and that varying eligibility criteria have not resulted in noticeable differences in access to these programs by recovering servicemembers or their families. In attachments to a memo dated April 8, 2014, DOD provided an update on progress made to implement parts (2) and (3) of the DOD-specific recommendation made in GAO-13-5. Regarding part (2), DOD reported that budget constraints had delayed its plan to conduct oversight visits to 63 service sites over a 12-month period to ensure that military wounded warrior programs were operating in compliance with DOD Recovery Coordinator Program policy. DOD stated that the Warrior Care Policy office, in coordination with the military service branches, had intended to begin these oversight visits and interviews in September 2013; that as of March 2014, five sites had been reviewed; and that results of the compliance visits would be available upon completion. Regarding part (3) of the recommendation, DOD's memo stated that DOD and VA continue work on developing policies on clinical and non-clinical care coordination. It also noted that interagency metrics for monitoring complex care coordination performance were under development by the DOD/VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee. Further, DOD stated that because the Joint Executive Council publishes an annual report, that reporting the progress in developing common terms and definitions used by wounded warrior programs to congressional committees would be of limited value. As of October 2016, when we determine what additional steps the agency has taken to implement this recommendation, we will update this information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that persistent challenges with care coordination, disability evaluation, and the electronic sharing of health records are fully resolved, the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs should ensure that these issues receive sustained leadership attention and collaboration at the highest levels with a singular focus on what is best for the individual servicemember or veteran to ensure continuity of care and a seamless transition from DOD to VA. This should include holding the Joint Executive Council accountable for (1) ensuring that key issues affecting recovering servicemembers and veterans get sufficient consideration, including recommendations made by the Warrior Care and Coordination Task Force and the Recovering Warrior Task Force; (2) developing mechanisms for making joint policy decisions; (3) involving the appropriate decision-makers for timely implementation of policy; and; (4) establishing mechanisms to systematically oversee joint initiatives and ensure that outcomes and goals are identified and achieved.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of October 2016, under the joint DOD/VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee, the departments have made progress to improve nonclinical care coordination procedures, primarily through the development of two initiatives?the Lead Coordinator initiative (in which a single care coordinator serves as the primary point of contact for a recovering servicemember) and through the use of a single, interagency care plan (ICP) for each recovering servicemember. As of March 2016, the departments were continuing the national rollout of the Lead Coordinator initiative and had trained nearly 3,700 DOD and VA personnel on the new process. In addition, DOD and VA continued the development of the ICP initiative, which will depend upon their ability to electronically exchange the information needed to implement servicemembers' care plans. In December 2015, DOD awarded a contract to support the ICP and to create electronic interoperability with VA. The departments anticipate testing their ability to exchange information digitally in June 2016 and achieving full operational capability by September 2016. We will continue to monitor progress to implement the joint Lead Coordinator and the ICP care coordination initiatives.
    Recommendation: To ensure that persistent challenges with care coordination, disability evaluation, and the electronic sharing of health records are fully resolved, the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs should ensure that these issues receive sustained leadership attention and collaboration at the highest levels with a singular focus on what is best for the individual servicemember or veteran to ensure continuity of care and a seamless transition from DOD to VA. This should include holding the Joint Executive Council accountable for (1) ensuring that key issues affecting recovering servicemembers and veterans get sufficient consideration, including recommendations made by the Warrior Care and Coordination Task Force and the Recovering Warrior Task Force; (2) developing mechanisms for making joint policy decisions; (3) involving the appropriate decision-makers for timely implementation of policy; and; (4) establishing mechanisms to systematically oversee joint initiatives and ensure that outcomes and goals are identified and achieved.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2016, under the joint DOD/VA Interagency Care Coordination Committee, the departments have made progress to improve nonclinical care coordination procedures, primarily through the development of two initiatives?the Lead Coordinator initiative (in which a single care coordinator serves as the primary point of contact for a recovering servicemember) and through the use of a single, interagency care plan (ICP) for each recovering servicemember. As of March 2016, the departments were continuing the national rollout of the Lead Coordinator initiative and had trained nearly 3,700 DOD and VA personnel on the new process. In addition, DOD and VA continued the development of the ICP initiative, which will depend upon their ability to electronically exchange the information needed to implement servicemembers' care plans. In December 2015, DOD awarded a contract to support the ICP and to create electronic interoperability with VA. The departments anticipate testing their ability to exchange information digitally in June 2016 and achieving full operational capability by September 2016. We will continue to monitor progress to implement the joint Lead Coordinator and the ICP care coordination initiatives.
    Director: Kohn, Linda T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As HHS implements its current and forthcoming efforts to make transparent price information available to consumers, HHS should determine the feasibility of making estimates of complete costs of health care services available to consumers through any of these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2013, CMS released average inpatient hospital charge information for more than 3,000 hospitals that receive Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System payments for the 100 most frequently billed discharges using DRGs from FY2011 and corresponding average Medicare payments. Shortly thereafter CMS also released outpatient charges. In April 2014, CMS also released data on payments to physicians under Medicare part B. This represents an effort to provide price transparency, although these are not complete cost estimates according to our definition in this report. As of September 2015, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: As HHS implements its current and forthcoming efforts to make transparent price information available to consumers, HHS should determine, as appropriate, the next steps for making estimates of complete costs of health care services available to consumers.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2015, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Mctigue, James R Jr
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that economically similar outcomes are taxed similarly and minimize opportunities for abuse, the Secretary of the Treasury should undertake a study that compares the current approach to alternative approaches for the taxation of financial derivatives. To determine if changes would be beneficial, such a study should weigh the tradeoffs to IRS and taxpayers that each alternative presents, including simplicity, administrability, and economic efficiency.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury disagreed with this recommendation based on the fact that many outside studies already exist and IRS did not comment. While Treasury disagreed with the recommendation, debate on tax reform, both in Congress and within IRS, continues and actions to ensure that economically similar outcomes are taxed similarly seem likely. GAO continues to maintain that further study is needed in coordination with IRS. If financial derivatives are included in tax reform, this could lead to savings for the federal government. GAO will continue to monitor progress on tax reform and whether it includes changes to the taxation of financial derivatives consistent with the recommendation.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's library network continues to meet its users' needs, the Administrator of EPA should, in future assistance agreements, make explicit that EPA can include in the agency's public online database, without obtaining prior permission from the copyright holder, any documents produced under the agreements.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA developed a draft agencywide implementation plan to make research publications and data resulting from contracts and assistance agreements freely available to the public. EPA is currently in the process of revising the draft plan in response to comment from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). As of September 2016, EPA plans to submit the final document to OSTP soon. In the meantime, EPA?s Office of Research and Development (ORD) began implementing increased public access to intramural research publications and associated data in January 2016. ORD has also established a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institutes of Health to use PubMed Central as the public-use repository for intramural research publications.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's library network continues to meet its users' needs, and for future assistance agreements where EPA cannot make such an arrangement, EPA should digitize documents produced under the agreements and make them available to federal employees and other authorized users for federal government purposes.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA has developed a draft agencywide implementation plan to make research publications and data resulting from contracts and assistance agreements freely available to the public. EPA is currently in the process of revising the draft plan in response to comment from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). As of September 2016, EPA plans to submit the final document to OSTP soon.