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    Subject Term: "Information disclosure"

    27 publications with a total of 67 open recommendations including 13 priority recommendations
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should determine the extent to which the statutorily required implementing principles apply to NCCIC's cybersecurity functions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that NCCIC is currently conducting an analysis of all mission functions to include the following goals: simplify the descriptions of NCCIC's mission functions, document all NCCIC functional capabilities, document the applicability of implementing principles to NCCIC mission functions, and map as appropriate. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should develop metrics for assessing adherence to applicable principles in carrying out statutorily required functions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that they were still in the process completing mission functional analysis described in DHS's response to Recommendation 1, which would serve as the basis of developing metrics. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should establish methods for monitoring the implementation of cybersecurity functions against the principles on an ongoing basis.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that NCCIC is updating existing policies and procedures for program management reviews (PMR) to include the metrics developed in recommendation two. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should integrate information related to security incidents to provide management with more complete information about NCCIC operations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that the NCCIC updated guidelines for incident reporting would be completed in May 2017. In addition, according to DHS, incident management system requirements were updated to support the new guidelines and are scheduled to be implemented in June 2017. DHS stated that these steps will enable the successful implementation of the new National Cyber Incident Scoring Schema (NCISS), which the NCCIC Watch Operations uses to help facilitate the timely, actionable, and relevant dissemination of information to leadership. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. As of August 2017, DHS has not provided evidence that the new guidelines have been implemented. However, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should determine the necessity of reducing, consolidating, or modifying the points of entry used to communicate with NCCIC to better ensure that all incident tickets are logged appropriately.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that NCCIC had completed initial mapping of information flows, as well as the roles and responsibilities for the incident management function. A plan to integrate or consolidate disparate incident reporting systems is scheduled to be completed in December 2017. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should develop and implement procedures to perform regular reviews of customer information to ensure that it is current and reliable.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that NPPD is gathering the requirements for a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that will support regular reviews and updates to customer information. Additionally, DHS stated that NCCIC will establish and implement a standing operating procedure for capturing and regularly updating prioritized customer information including contact information in the event of an incident. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should take steps to ensure the full representation of the owners and operators of the nation's most critical cyber-dependent infrastructure assets.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications is establishing integrated customer engagement activities that support cyber risk mitigation and incident response planning. In addition, NCCIC will develop standing operating procedures that leverage existing information sharing programs, activities and relationships to tailor engagements that support owners and operators of the most critical cyber-dependent infrastructure assets including designated lifeline sectors. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should establish plans and time frames for consolidating or integrating the legacy networks used by NCCIC analysts to reduce the need for manual data entry.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that the Assistant Secretary of Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) had consolidated the Enterprise Architecture role within the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Working across CS&C, the CTO will establish a technology roadmap, to include consolidation of networks. In addition, NCCIC is working to determine the potential impact of network consolidation on mission functions, including mapping current data sources. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Recommendation: To more fully address the requirements identified in the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should identify alternative methods to collaborate with international partners, while ensuring the security requirements of high-impact systems.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS stated that the potential reduction in sharing cybersecurity products that may result from migrating the NCCIC Portal to HSIN should be minimal. Contingency information sharing plans will be developed to mitigate potential issues through alternate information sharing practices, particularly involving an actual incident during migration transition. Foreign partnerships will continued to be maintained by exercises, analytic exchanges with our closest partners, and continued participation in multilateral and bilateral engagements. Once completed, we will analyze the output of NCCIC's efforts in this area to determine the extent to which DHS has fulfilled this recommendation. In August 2017, DHS officials stated an update on the status of the recommendations was forthcoming in September 2017. We will review the evidence provided and update the recommendation status as appropriate.
    Director: David Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration should determine whether the beneficial owner of high-security space that GSA leases is a foreign entity and, if so, share that information with the tenant agencies so they can adequately assess and mitigate any security risks.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

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

    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: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the SEC's conflict minerals disclosure rule, the Secretary of Commerce should submit to the appropriate congressional committees a plan outlining steps that Commerce will take, with associated time frames, to (1) assess the accuracy of the independent private sector audits (IPSA) and other due diligence processes described under section 13(p) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; (2) develop recommendations for the process used to carry out such audits, including ways to improve the accuracy of the audits and establish standards of best practices for such audits; and (3) acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to carry out these responsibilities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Commerce agreed with this recommendation. In response to this recommendation, Commerce indicated in an October 25, 2016 letter to GAO that it has developed a three-step approach which parallels the three distinct elements of the recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, Commerce needs to submit the said three-step plan, including associated timeframes for their completion, to the appropriate congressional committees. Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act defines "appropriate committees" to mean the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives; and the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Finance, and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate.
    Director: Diana C. Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To allow for more efficient use of data on missing and unidentified persons contained in the NCIC's Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons files and NamUs, the Directors of the FBI and NIJ should evaluate the feasibility of sharing certain information among authorized users, document the results of this evaluation, and incorporate, as appropriate, legally and technically feasible options for sharing the information.

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

    Comments: In commenting on GAO's June 2016 report, DOJ disagreed with our recommendation, because DOJ believes it does not have the legal authority to fulfill the corrective action as described in the proposed recommendation. Specifically, DOJ stated that the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) does not qualify, under federal law, for access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and is not an authorized user to receive NCIC data. Therefore, DOJ does not believe there is value in evaluating the technical feasibility of integrating these two databases. In March 2017, DOJ reiterated its position that any such sharing was prohibited by law. We understand the legal framework placed on NCIC and that it may be restricted from fully integrating with a public database. However, this statutory restriction does not preclude DOJ from exploring options to more efficiently share information within the confines of the current legal framework. Until DOJ studies whether such feasible mechanisms exist, it will be unable to make this determination, risking continued inefficiencies through fragmentation and overlap.
    Recommendation: To allow for more efficient use of data on missing and unidentified persons contained in the NCIC's Missing Persons and Unidentified Persons files and NamUs, the Directors of the FBI and NIJ should evaluate the feasibility of sharing certain information among authorized users, document the results of this evaluation, and incorporate, as appropriate, legally and technically feasible options for sharing the information.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: National Institute of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In commenting on GAO's June 2016 report, DOJ disagreed with our recommendation, because DOJ believes it does not have the legal authority to fulfill the corrective action as described in the proposed recommendation. Specifically, DOJ stated that the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) does not qualify, under federal law, for access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and is not an authorized user to receive NCIC data. Therefore, DOJ does not believe there is value in evaluating the technical feasibility of integrating these two databases. In March 2017, DOJ reiterated its position that any such sharing was prohibited by law. We understand the legal framework placed on NCIC and that it may be restricted from fully integrating with a public database. However, this statutory restriction does not preclude DOJ from exploring options to more efficiently share information within the confines of the current legal framework. Until DOJ studies whether such feasible mechanisms exist, it will be unable to make this determination, risking continued inefficiencies through fragmentation and overlap.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen DHS's ability to fulfill legislative requirements for the VWP and protect the security of the United States and its citizens, the Secretary of Homeland Security should specify time frames for working with VWP countries to institute the additional VWP security requirements, including the requirement that the countries fully implement agreements to share information about known or suspected terrorists through the countries' Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 arrangements and Preventing and Combating Serious Crime agreements with the United States.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, DHS reported that nearly all VWP countries have begun sharing information on known or suspected terrorists through Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 arrangements and that DHS also made progress in fully implementing Preventing and Combating Serious Crime agreements. According to DHS, all VWP countries were informed of the new VWP requirements in July 2016. In its initial response, DHS stated that it planned to conduct a comprehensive assessment of VWP countries' compliance with the new VWP requirements and establish a time frame for each VWP country to reach full compliance as part of each country's next formal review. However, as of November 2017, DHS needs to provide documentation to GAO to support all of these actions. GAO will continue to monitor DHS efforts to fully address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen DHS's ability to fulfill legislative requirements for the VWP and protect the security of the United States and its citizens, the Secretary of Homeland Security should take steps to improve DHS's timeliness in reporting to Congress, within the statutory time frame, the department's determination of whether each VWP country should continue participating in the program and any effects of the country's participation on U.S. law enforcement and security interests.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: Since 2016, DHS has issued several reports on VWP countries to Congress that have addressed several of the overdue reports identified in GAO-16-498, but some gaps remain. In April 2017, DHS reported plans to deliver additional reports in 2017 to address these gaps. In its initial response, DHS reported that the department had taken steps to ensure timely reporting to Congress and committed to providing Congress with advance notification of any delays in delivering future reports. As of November 2017, to fully address this recommendation, DHS needs to issue reports to Congress on VWP countries that have not been covered within the last two years. GAO will continue to monitor DHS efforts.
    Director: Joseph W. Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist U.S. installations in protecting against insider threats, the Secretary of Defense should direct the military services to share information about actions U.S. installations have taken to address insider threats by consistently using existing mechanisms--such as working groups, lessons-learned information systems, and antiterrorism web portals.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To assist DOD leadership in their oversight and decision-making process, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD leaders on the Mission Assurance Coordination Boards and the military services to take steps to improve the consistency of reporting and monitoring of the implementation of recommendations from the independent review of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting. Such steps could include DOD and the military services developing criteria for consistent reporting on the progress of recommendations and the military services providing periodic reports to the Mission Assurance Coordination Boards on the status of Fort Hood recommendations at the service level and installation level.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

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

    8 open recommendations
    including 8 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FBI whistleblowers have access to recourse under DOJ's regulations should the individuals experience retaliation, and to minimize the possibility of discouraging future potential whistleblowers, the Attorney General should clarify in all current relevant DOJ guidance and communications, including FBI guidance and communications, to whom FBI employees may make protected disclosures and, further, explicitly state that employees will not have access to recourse if they experience retaliation for reporting alleged wrongdoing to someone not designated in DOJ's regulations.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that complainants receive the periodic updates that they are entitled to and need to determine next steps for their complaint, such as whether or not to seek corrective action from OARM, Counsel, DOJ-OPR should tailor its new case management system or otherwise develop an oversight mechanism to capture information on the office's compliance with regulatory requirements and, further, use that information to monitor and identify opportunities to improve DOJ-OPR's compliance with regulatory requirements.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Inspector General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, GAO has not received information from the Department of Justice about any steps taken to address this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve internal control and promote transparency and to ensure consistency with OMB's guidance for internal control assessment, DNFSB should clearly document each step of its control assessment activities; maintain that documentation to provide evidence that assessment and control activities are being performed; and ensure that key responsibilities, such as reviewing control assessments, should be segregated among different people to help ensure that control activities are being accurately performed.

    Agency: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DNFSB officials, DNFSB has updated its policies to maintain paper and electronic documentation of its internal control activities and ensure that key responsibilities, such as reviewing internal control assessments, are segregated among different staff. In addition, DNFSB has contracted for an independent evaluation of its internal control policies. We will continue to monitor actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve internal control and promote transparency and to promote public transparency and openness, DNFSB should clearly distinguish in Federal Register notices and during the proceedings between (1) public hearings held pursuant to DNFSB's statutory authority and (2) meetings as defined by the Sunshine Act, required to be open to the public.

    Agency: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DNFSB officials, as of October 2016, the agency has taken no action in response to this recommendation. We will continue to monitor actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure data required by IMBRA are collected, maintained, and reliable, the Director of USCIS should ensure that IMBRA-required data elements will be collected in an automated manner with the release of the electronic I-129F petition.

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

    Comments: In January 2015, USCIS reported that it expected to start development for the electronic I-129F petition in March 2016. As of March 2016, USCIS officials confirmed that the electronic I-129F petition is tied to the Family-Based Adjustment of Status (AOS) product line for USCIS ELIS. USCIS officials stated that, as of March 2016, the requirements-gathering phase for this product line is underway and, as of June 2016, USCIS began the requirements-gathering phase. In October 2016, the Office of Transformation Coordination reported that there have been some delays in the product line that includes the I-129F petition and the tentative expected completion date is the second quarter of fiscal year 2018. To fully implement this recommendation, USCIS should ensure that IMBRA-required data elements are collected in an automated manner with the release of the electronic I-129F petition.
    Director: Melvin, Valerie C
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the management of DHS FOIA requests, the Secretary of DHS should direct the Chief FOIA Officer to improve reporting of FOIA costs by including salaries, employee benefits, non-personnel direct costs, indirect costs, and costs for other offices.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In responding to our recommendation, DHS said it has developed a spreadsheet that is to be used by its components to track FOIA costs. However, as of September 2017, DHS has not yet provided information containing such details as when its components will be required to use the spreadsheet and if the spreadsheet is to track all the categories of costs discussed in our report. We plan to update the status of this recommendation when DHS provides documentation that further explains, and confirms the department's use of, the spreadsheet.
    Recommendation: To improve the management of DHS FOIA requests, the Secretary of DHS should direct the Chief FOIA Officer to direct USCIS and Coast Guard to fully implement the recommended FOIA processing system capabilities and the section 508 requirement.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation, DHS issued a memo to all of the department's FOIA officers in March 2015 which focused on ensuring that each component's FOIA processing systems are 508 compliant. However, as of September 2017, DHS has not yet provided us with evidence that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Coast Guard have implemented system capabilities that are 508 compliant. When DHS provides information concerning its actions taken to make the systems compliant, we will update the status of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the management of DHS FOIA requests, the Secretary of DHS should direct the Chief FOIA Officer to determine the viability of re-establishing the service-level agreement between the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to eliminate duplication in the processing of immigration files. If the benefits of doing so would exceed the costs, re-establish the agreement.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS has stated that it is taking steps to determine if the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will re-establish the service-level agreement to process FOIA requests related to immigration files. In addition, the department has stated that duplication no longer exists in the processing of these type of requests. However, DHS has not yet provided evidence, such as a cost-benefit analysis, that could demonstrate the steps it is taking regarding the service-level agreement. Further, GAO has not yet received evidence from the department to support its assertion that duplication no longer exists in the processing of immigration files. We will update the status of this recommendation when DHS provides documentation.
    Director: Charles Jeszeck
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    6 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To better protect plan sponsors and participants who use managed account services, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) to review provider practices related to additional managed account services offered to participants in or near retirement, with the aim of determining whether conflicts of interest exist and, if it determines it is necessary, taking the appropriate action to remedy the issue.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2014, DOL agreed to include these practices in its current review of investment advice conflicts of interest, noting that such conflicts continue to be a concern. In April 2015, a proposed regulation was published in the Federal Register on the definition of a "fiduciary" of an employee benefit plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) as a result of giving investment advice to a plan or its participants or beneficiaries. The proposal would widen the array of advice relationships under which someone would be considered a fiduciary under ERISA more broadly than existing regulations. This would increase consumer protection for plan sponsors, fiduciaries, participants, beneficiaries and IRA owners. An initial comment period closed on July 21, 2015. DOL held a public hearing on August 10-13, 2015, and reopened the comment period until September 24. GAO will monitor the progress of this proposed rule.
    Recommendation: To better protect plan sponsors and participants who use managed account services, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for the EBSA to consider the fiduciary status of managed account providers when they offer services on an opt-in basis and, if necessary, make regulatory changes or provide guidance to address any issues.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOL concurred with this recommendation and agreed to review existing guidance and consider whether additional guidance is needed in light of the various business models we described. As of May 2017, DOL is continuing these efforts. To implement this recommendation, DOL should complete its efforts to consider managed account service provider practices and fiduciary roles and take any necessary action to address potential issues to ensure that sponsors and participants receive unconflicted managed account services from qualified managers.
    Recommendation: To help sponsors who offer managed account services or who are considering doing so better protect their 401(k) plan participants, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for EBSA to require plan sponsors to request from record keepers more than one managed account provider option, and notify the Department of Labor if record keepers fail to do so.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed to consider this recommendation in connection with its current regulatory project on standards for brokerage windows in participant-directed individual account plans. The project has been moved to the long-term action category of DOL's regulatory agenda. DOL will also consider the extent of its legal authority to effectively require that plans have more than one managed account service provider or to require that record keepers offer more than one managed account provider as part of their service agreements. GAO believes requiring plan sponsors to ask for more than one choice of a provider -- which is slightly different than how DOL has characterized it--may be an effective method of broadening plan sponsors' choices of managed account providers. However, GAO also agrees that DOL should examine the scope of its existing authority in considering how it might implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help sponsors and participants more effectively assess the performance of managed accounts, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for EBSA to amend participant disclosure regulations to require that sponsors furnish standardized performance and benchmarking information to participants. To accomplish this, EBSA could promulgate regulations that would require sponsors who offer managed account services to provide their participants with standardized performance and benchmarking information on managed accounts. For example, sponsors could periodically furnish each managed account participant with the aggregate performance of participants' managed account portfolios and returns for broad-based securities market indexes and applicable customized benchmarks, based on those benchmarks provided for the plan's designated investment alternatives.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed to consider this recommendation in connection with (1) its regulatory project on standards for brokerage windows in participant directed individual account plans and (2) open proposed rulemaking project involving the qualified default investment alternative and participant-level fee disclosure regulations. These projects have been moved to the long-term action category of DOL's regulatory agenda.
    Recommendation: To help sponsors and participants more effectively assess the performance of managed accounts, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for EBSA to amend service provider disclosure regulations to require that providers furnish standardized performance and benchmarking information to sponsors. To accomplish this, EBSA could promulgate regulations that would require service providers to disclose to sponsors standardized performance and benchmarking information on managed accounts. For example, providers could, prior to selection and periodically thereafter, as applicable, furnish sponsors with aggregated returns for generalized conservative, moderate, and aggressive portfolios, actual managed account portfolio returns for each of the sponsor's participants, and returns for broad-based securities market indexes and applicable customized benchmarks, based on those benchmarks provided for the plan's designated investment alternatives.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed to consider this recommendation in connection with (1) its regulatory project on standards for brokerage windows in participant directed individual account plans and (2) open proposed rulemaking project involving the qualified default investment alternative and participant-level fee disclosure regulations. These projects have been moved to the long-term action category of DOL's regulatory agenda.
    Recommendation: To help sponsors who offer managed account services or who are considering doing so better protect their 401(k) plan participants, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for EBSA to provide guidance to plan sponsors for selecting and overseeing managed account providers that addresses: (1) the importance of considering multiple providers when choosing a managed account provider, (2) factors to consider when offering managed accounts as a Qualified Default Investment Alternative or on an opt-in basis, and (3) approaches for evaluating the services of managed account providers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed to consider this recommendation in connection with its current regulatory project on standards for brokerage windows in participant-directed individual account plans. DOL intends for this project to address whether potential regulatory or other guidance for such arrangements may be appropriate. The project has been moved to the long-term action category of DOL's regulatory agenda.
    Director: Charlie Jeszeck
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve IRS's enforcement and compliance efforts, decrease the administrative and financial burden of maintaining both electronic and paper-based form processing systems, and reduce plan reporting costs, Congress should consider providing the Department of the Treasury with the authority to require that the Form 5500 series be filed electronically.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 5/31/17, Congress has taken no action.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness, reliability, and comparability of Form 5500 data for all stakeholders while limiting the burden on the filing community, the Secretaries of DOL and Treasury, and the Director of PBGC should consider implementing the findings from our panel when modifying plan investment and service provider fee information, including: (1) revising Schedule H plan asset categories to better match current investment vehicles and provide more transparency into plan investments; (2) revising the Schedule of Assets attachments to create a standard searchable format; (3) developing a central repository for EIN and PN numbers for filers and service providers to improve the comparability of form data across filings; (4) clarifying Schedule C instructions for direct, eligible indirect, and reportable indirect compensation so plan fees are reported more consistently and, as we recommended in the past, better align with the 408(b)(2) fee disclosures; and (5) simplifying and clarify Schedule C service provider codes to increase reporting consistency.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DOL in coordination with IRS and PBGC has implemented cross-year edit checks into EFAST in an effort to improve the consistency in key identifying information, such as the EIN, Plan Number and Plan Name. These checks aim to verify identifying information submitted on the Form 5500 and to notify the filer and government agencies of inconsistencies, which affords filers the ability to review and modify crucial identifying information prior to submission. Additionally, if the filer chooses to submit data that may contain inconsistent information, the edit test indicators provide government users with the ability to more readily detect filings containing potential errors in the identifying information for further review and correction. DOL has also collaborated with PBGC and IRS in issuing proposed revisions to the Form 5500 Series in a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions. The deadline for public comment ended December 5, 2016. The proposed revisions in the Notice reflect efforts of DOL, IRS, and PBGC to improve the Form 5500 reporting for filers, the public, and the agencies by among other things, (1) modernizing financial information filed by regarding plans; (2) updating fee and expense information on plan service providers with a focus on harmonizing annual reporting requirement with DOL's 408(b)(2); financial disclosure requirements; (3) enhancing the ability to mine data files on annual returns/reports; and (4) improving compliance with ERISA and the Code through selected new questions regarding plan operation, service provider relationships, and financial management of plans. Specifically, in the Notice the agencies propose that Schedule H report assets held and assets disposed of during the plan year to provide more transparency and a more complete report of plan's annual investments and that that the Schedule of Assets be revised to require reporting of assets held through direct filing entities. Additionally, the agencies are proposing revisions to the Schedule H, Schedule of Assets that require filers to complete standardized Schedules in a format enabling data to captured electronically. This requirement would enable importation of information from the Schedules of Assets into structured databases that DOL would make available to the public from each year's Form 5500 Series filing. The agencies are also proposing to add clarifying definitions and instructions to improve the consistency of Form 5000 responses. This includes clarification of conventions to identify filers by name and identifying numbers to help mitigate confusion about legal identities with which plans transact and improve comparability of form data across filings. In addition, the agencies also propose revisions to Schedule C to require reporting of indirect compensation for service provider subject to 408(b)(2) requirements and for all compensation that is required to be disclosed. Further, the Schedule C instructions would be clarified to track more closely with the language of the 408(b)(2) regulations. The agencies are also proposing to limit the codes for Schedule C and requiring the filer to more simply indicate all types of services for each provider identified. Additionally, they propose a requirement to indicate all the types of fees/compensation separately when reporting sources of compensation from parties other than plan and plan sponsor. The agencies are reviewing the public comments and expect the process to continue through 2017. While the Agencies have made considerable efforts to address our recommendation in the proposed revisions to the Form 5500, they have not made any decisions on whether to make changes to the forms or DOL regulations, and have not decided on a timeline for implementation of any changes to the form or DOL regulations that the Agencies ultimately may decide to adopt. We will close this recommendation once the revision is final.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness, reliability, and comparability of Form 5500 data for all stakeholders while limiting the burden on the filing community, the Secretaries of DOL and Treasury, and the Director of PBGC should consider implementing the findings from our panel when modifying plan investment and service provider fee information, including: (1) revising Schedule H plan asset categories to better match current investment vehicles and provide more transparency into plan investments; (2) revising the Schedule of Assets attachments to create a standard searchable format; (3) developing a central repository for EIN and PN numbers for filers and service providers to improve the comparability of form data across filings; (4) clarifying Schedule C instructions for direct, eligible indirect, and reportable indirect compensation so plan fees are reported more consistently and, as we recommended in the past, better align with the 408(b)(2) fee disclosures; and (5) simplifying and clarify Schedule C service provider codes to increase reporting consistency.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DOL in coordination with IRS and PBGC has implemented cross-year edit checks into EFAST in an effort to improve the consistency in key identifying information, such as the EIN, Plan Number and Plan Name. These checks aim to verify identifying information submitted on the Form 5500 and to notify the filer and government agencies of inconsistencies, which affords filers the ability to review and modify crucial identifying information prior to submission. Additionally, if the filer chooses to submit data that may contain inconsistent information, the edit test indicators provide government users with the ability to more readily detect filings containing potential errors in the identifying information for further review and correction. IRS has also collaborated with DOL and PBGC in issuing proposed revisions to the Form 5500 Series in a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions. The deadline for public comment ended December 5, 2016. The proposed revisions in the Notice reflect efforts of DOL, IRS, and PBGC to improve the Form 5500 reporting for filers, the public, and the agencies by among other things, (1) modernizing financial information filed by regarding plans; (2) updating fee and expense information on plan service providers with a focus on harmonizing annual reporting requirement with DOL's 408(b)(2); financial disclosure requirements; (3) enhancing the ability to mine data files on annual returns/reports; and (4) improving compliance with ERISA and the Code through selected new questions regarding plan operation, service provider relationships, and financial management of plans. Specifically, in the Notice the agencies propose that Schedule H report assets held and assets disposed of during the plan year to provide more transparency and a more complete report of plan's annual investments and that that the Schedule of Assets be revised to require reporting of assets held through direct filing entities. Additionally, the agencies are proposing revisions to the Schedule H, Schedule of Assets that require filers to complete standardized Schedules in a format enabling data to captured electronically. This requirement would enable importation of information from the Schedules of Assets into structured databases that DOL would make available to the public from each year's Form 5500 Series filing. The agencies are also proposing to add clarifying definitions and instructions to improve the consistency of Form 5000 responses. This includes clarification of conventions to identify filers by name and identifying numbers to help mitigate confusion about legal identities with which plans transact and improve comparability of form data across filings. In addition, the agencies also propose revisions to Schedule C to require reporting of indirect compensation for service provider subject to 408(b)(2) requirements and for all compensation that is required to be disclosed. Further, the Schedule C instructions would be clarified to track more closely with the language of the 408(b)(2) regulations. The agencies are also proposing to limit the codes for Schedule C and requiring the filer to more simply indicate all types of services for each provider identified. Additionally, they propose a requirement to indicate all the types of fees/compensation separately when reporting sources of compensation from parties other than plan and plan sponsor. The agencies are reviewing the public comments and expect the process to continue through 2017. While the Agencies have made considerable efforts to address our recommendation in the proposed revisions to the Form 5500, they have not made any decisions on whether to make changes to the forms or DOL regulations, and have not decided on a timeline for implementation of any changes to the form or DOL regulations that the Agencies ultimately may decide to adopt. We will close this recommendation once the revision is final.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness, reliability, and comparability of Form 5500 data for all stakeholders while limiting the burden on the filing community, the Secretaries of DOL and Treasury, and the Director of PBGC should consider implementing the findings from our panel when modifying plan investment and service provider fee information, including: (1) revising Schedule H plan asset categories to better match current investment vehicles and provide more transparency into plan investments; (2) revising the Schedule of Assets attachments to create a standard searchable format; (3) developing a central repository for EIN and PN numbers for filers and service providers to improve the comparability of form data across filings; (4) clarifying Schedule C instructions for direct, eligible indirect, and reportable indirect compensation so plan fees are reported more consistently and, as we recommended in the past, better align with the 408(b)(2) fee disclosures; and (5) simplifying and clarify Schedule C service provider codes to increase reporting consistency.

    Agency: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DOL in coordination with IRS and PBGC has implemented cross-year edit checks into EFAST in an effort to improve the consistency in key identifying information, such as the EIN, Plan Number and Plan Name. These checks aim to verify identifying information submitted on the Form 5500 and to notify the filer and government agencies of inconsistencies, which affords filers the ability to review and modify crucial identifying information prior to submission. Additionally, if the filer chooses to submit data that may contain inconsistent information, the edit test indicators provide government users with the ability to more readily detect filings containing potential errors in the identifying information for further review and correction. PBDC has also collaborated with DOL and IRS in issuing proposed revisions to the Form 5500 Series in a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions. The deadline for public comment ended December 5, 2016. The proposed revisions in the Notice reflect efforts of DOL, IRS, and PBGC to improve the Form 5500 reporting for filers, the public, and the agencies by among other things, (1) modernizing financial information filed by regarding plans; (2) updating fee and expense information on plan service providers with a focus on harmonizing annual reporting requirement with DOL's 408(b)(2); financial disclosure requirements; (3) enhancing the ability to mine data files on annual returns/reports; and (4) improving compliance with ERISA and the Code through selected new questions regarding plan operation, service provider relationships, and financial management of plans. Specifically, in the Notice the agencies propose that Schedule H report assets held and assets disposed of during the plan year to provide more transparency and a more complete report of plan's annual investments and that that the Schedule of Assets be revised to require reporting of assets held through direct filing entities. Additionally, the agencies are proposing revisions to the Schedule H, Schedule of Assets that require filers to complete standardized Schedules in a format enabling data to captured electronically. This requirement would enable importation of information from the Schedules of Assets into structured databases that DOL would make available to the public from each year's Form 5500 Series filing. The agencies are also proposing to add clarifying definitions and instructions to improve the consistency of Form 5000 responses. This includes clarification of conventions to identify filers by name and identifying numbers to help mitigate confusion about legal identities with which plans transact and improve comparability of form data across filings. In addition, the agencies also propose revisions to Schedule C to require reporting of indirect compensation for service provider subject to 408(b)(2) requirements and for all compensation that is required to be disclosed. Further, the Schedule C instructions would be clarified to track more closely with the language of the 408(b)(2) regulations. The agencies are also proposing to limit the codes for Schedule C and requiring the filer to more simply indicate all types of services for each provider identified. Additionally, they propose a requirement to indicate all the types of fees/compensation separately when reporting sources of compensation from parties other than plan and plan sponsor. The agencies are reviewing the public comments and expect the process to continue through 2017. While the Agencies have made considerable efforts to address our recommendation in the proposed revisions to the Form 5500, they have not made any decisions on whether to make changes to the forms or DOL regulations, and have not decided on a timeline for implementation of any changes to the form or DOL regulations that the Agencies ultimately may decide to adopt. We will close this recommendation once any revision are made final.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider strengthening the current consumer privacy framework to reflect the effects of changes in technology and the marketplace--particularly in relation to consumer data used for marketing purposes--while also ensuring that any limitations on data collection and sharing do not unduly inhibit the economic and other benefits to industry and consumers that data sharing can accord. Among the issues that should be considered are: (1) the adequacy of consumers' ability to access, correct, and control their personal information in circumstances beyond those currently accorded under FCRA; (2) whether there should be additional controls on the types of personal or sensitive information that may or may not be collected and shared; (3) changes needed, if any, in the permitted sources and methods for data collection; and (4) privacy controls related to new technologies, such as web tracking and mobile devices.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Congress has not taken action on this matter.
    Director: Jeszeck, Charles A
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury should consider requiring pension plan sponsors to provide participants with an opportunity to opt out of all forms of electronic delivery, including (but not limited to) disclosures sent by default electronic delivery and disclosures posted on a secure continuous access website.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2013, DOL stated that it was appropriate to consider the merits of broader rights to opt out of electronic delivery and would want to consult with the Treasury Department/IRS on the agencies' different opt-out standards. In FY14, the agency reiterated that dfferent opt-out standards may be appropriate for general plan information versus individual account or other personal information and would consult with Treasury/IRS. They will consider this matter as part of any future rulemaking that modifies or amends the current regulatory safe harbor. In FY15, Labor stated that different opt-out standards may be appropriate for general plan information versus individual account or other personal information, but that was an issue for Labor to consider in consultation with the Treasury Department/IRS should Labor pursue future rulemaking that modifies or amends the current regulatory safe harbor. In July 2016, DOL confirmed that the agency continues to plan to take the above action. As of July 2017, DOL indicated that no decisions had been made concerning future rulemaking in this area.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of the Treasury should consider requiring pension plan sponsors to send a periodic paper notice to participants reminding them of their right to change their preferred delivery method at any time and the steps they must take to make these changes.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In FY13, DOL stated that it was appropriate to obtain further input on requiring some periodic paper reminder notice. In FY14, the agency reported that the sort of periodic notice described by GAO could be a safeguard against malfunctions in the electronic communication system and act as a reminder that important plan information is being provided through electronic media. DOL will consider and obtain further input on requiring a periodic paper reminder of as part of any future rulemaking that modifies or amends the current regulatory safe harbor. In FY15, Labor stated that the agency intends to consider and obtain further input on requiring a periodic paper reminder should we pursue future rulemaking that modifies or amends the current regulatory safe harbor. In July 2016, DOL confirmed that the agency continues to plan to take the above action. As of July 2017, DOL indicated that no decisions had been made concerning future rulemaking in this area.
    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: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress may wish to consider instituting a penalty on non-material advisor promoters for failing to provide investor lists to IRS within a specified time period when requested, comparable to the 20-business-day requirement for material advisors.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, we have not identified legislative action in the 114th or 115th Congress or any enacted legislation since 2011 amending section 6111 (disclosure of reportable transactions including the definition of a material advisor), section 6112 (requirement to keep lists of investors) or section 6708 (imposing the penalty for failure to maintain and provide lists to IRS).
    Recommendation: To improve reporting on the results of examinations on ATAT issues, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should separately track the tax amounts recommended, assessed, and collected between ATAT issues and non-ATAT issues.

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

    Comments: IRS has taken steps to check whether taxpayers filed all required ATAT-related disclosure obligations, but has not taken steps to track examination results for ATAT versus non-ATAT issues, as GAO recommended in May 2011. In July 2012, IRS told GAO that although it agreed with GAO's May 2011 recommendation, resource and capability constraints preclude it from capturing information in this way. In February 2013, IRS implemented a new indicator and matching process to regularly review whether taxpayers are meeting their ATAT-related filing obligations. Additionally, IRS developed a procedure to evaluate the completeness of ATAT-related disclosure forms and follow up on incomplete forms as necessary and updated the Internal Revenue Manual to reflect these changes. Developing and implementing these new processes and procedures will provide IRS with additional information for determining whether the disclosures are made as required and are complete. However, as of August 2017, IRS did not plan on taking any further actions on tracking examination results.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should modify Form 982, Part 1 to segregate the total dollar amount of forgiven debt by exclusion type and capture the information in IRS's databases.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS has not yet revised the Form 982 consistent with our recommendation. Form 982 directs taxpayers to identify the type(s) of forgiven debt. For example, taxpayers check a box to indicate forgiven mortgage debt used to buy, build, or substantially improve a principal residence. However, the Form 982 is used to report other types of forgiven debt, such as debt related to real property used in a trade or business, and the form does not require taxpayers to report the dollar amounts for each exclusion type. This means that IRS does not necessarily know how much of the forgiven debt should be attributed to a taxpayer's principal residence. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 making it important for IRS to have more specific information from taxpayers concerning the amount of forgiven debt attributable to a taxpayer's principal residence.
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should modify the Form 982 and Form 1099-C so that filers disclose the address of the secured property for which the debt is being forgiven and capture the information in IRS's databases.

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

    Comments: While IRS has not revised the Forms 982 and 1099-C consistent with our recommendation, Congress directed IRS to collect additional information concerning mortgage interest payments, which prompted IRS to revise a related form. Congress in July 2015 enacted the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Public Law 114-41). Section 2003 of the act requires taxpayers receiving mortgage interest payments to report the origination date of the mortgage, the amount of outstanding principal at the beginning of the calendar year, and the property's address. This new reporting requirement applies to returns that would be filed in 2017. In response to the legislation, IRS updated Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement. While IRS officials have told us that they believe the new data to be collected on this form have the potential to be helpful, they will not know the extent of any benefits from this new reporting requirement for several years. As of March 2017, IRS had not yet revised two other forms to the extent we recommended--the Forms 982 and 1099-C--to collect specific information from taxpayers and lenders concerning the amount of forgiven debt attributable to a principal residence and the location of the taxpayer's principal residence. Specifically, Form 982 does not direct taxpayers to identify the address for which debt is being forgiven nor does Form 1099-C direct lenders to report the address. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, making it important for IRS to have more specific information concerning the address of the properties for which debt is being forgiven.
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should use the additional data reported on the revised Form 982 and Form 1099-C to assess the extent to which taxpayers are compliant.

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

    Comments: While IRS has not fully revised the Forms 982 and 1099-C consistent with our recommendation, Congress directed IRS to collect additional information concerning mortgage interest payments which prompted IRS to revise a related form, and IRS officials are considering how to use the additional data. As of March 2017, the Form 982 does not direct taxpayers to identify the address for which debt is being forgiven. For the Form 1099-C, IRS began requiring lenders to provide more information about the type of event that resulted in the cancellation of the debt. However, as of March 2017, the Form 1099-C does not direct lenders to report the address of the property for which mortgage debt is being forgiven. In July 2015, Congress enacted the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Public Law 114-41). Section 2003 of the act requires taxpayers receiving mortgage interest payments to report the origination date of the mortgage, the amount of outstanding principal at the beginning of the calendar year, and the property's address. This new reporting requirement applies to returns that would be filed in 2017. In response to the legislation, IRS updated Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement for the 2017 filing season. While IRS officials told us that they believe the new data to be collected on this form have the potential to be helpful, they will not know the extent of any benefits from this new reporting requirement for several years. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, making it important for IRS to use the additional data we recommended they collect in enforcement efforts.
    Director: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202) 512-4803

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of information on airline-imposed fees and government-imposed taxes and fees for consumers and improve airlines' reporting of fee revenues to the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation should improve the disclosure of baggage fees and policies to passengers, in accordance with DOT guidance, by requiring that U.S. airlines and foreign airlines that fly within or to or from the United States disclose baggage fees and policies along with fare information such that this information can be consistently disclosed across all distribution channels used by the airline.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: A DOT rulemaking (RIN-2105-AE56: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees) is ongoing and could address this recommendation. As of June 2017, the final rule is expected to be published in late 2017/early 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of information on airline-imposed fees and government-imposed taxes and fees for consumers and improve airlines' reporting of fee revenues to the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation should require U.S. passenger airlines to report to DOT all optional fees paid by passengers related to their trip in a separate account, exclusive of baggage fees and reservation change and cancellation fees.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: A DOT rulemaking (RIN-2105-AE56: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees) is ongoing and could address this recommendation. As of June 2017, the final rule is expected to be published in late 2017/early 2018.
    Recommendation: If Congress determines that the benefit of added revenue to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund from taxation of optional airline service fees, such as baggage fees, is of importance, then it may wish to consider amending the Internal Revenue Code to make mandatory the taxation of certain or all airline imposed fees and to require that the revenue be deposited in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Congress has not yet taken action regarding this matter. While amendments have been offered to change the tax treatment of airline fees, none of these amendments have been passed into law. We will continue to monitor this matter and will provide updated information.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the planning and oversight for future courthouse construction projects, to increase the efficiency of courtroom usage through courtroom sharing, and to ensure that future courthouses are built within the congressionally authorized gross square footage, the Administrator of GSA should establish sufficient internal control activities to ensure that regional GSA officials understand and follow GSA's space measurement policies throughout the planning and construction of courthouses. These control activities should allow for accurate comparisons of the size of a planned courthouse with the congressionally authorized gross square footage throughout the design and construction process.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: GSA has provided information to support closing this recommendation that GAO is evaluating.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the planning and oversight for future courthouse construction projects, to increase the efficiency of courtroom usage through courtroom sharing, and to ensure that future courthouses are built within the congressionally authorized gross square footage, the Administrator of GSA should, in order to avoid requesting insufficient space for courtrooms based on the AnyCourt model's identification of courtroom space needs, establish a process, in cooperation with the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, by which the planning for the space needed per courtroom takes into account GSA's space measurement policy related to tenant floor cuts if a courthouse may be designed with courtrooms that have tenant floor cuts.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: GSA has provided information to support closing this recommendation that GAO is evaluating.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the planning and oversight for future courthouse construction projects, to increase the efficiency of courtroom usage through courtroom sharing, and to ensure that future courthouses are built within the congressionally authorized gross square footage, the Administrator of GSA should report to congressional authorizing committees when the design of a courthouse exceeds the authorized size by more than 10 percent, including the reasons for the increase in size.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: GSA has provided information to support closing this recommendation that GAO is evaluating.
    Director: White, James
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Congress may wish to consider broadening IRS's ability to use math error authority (MEA), with appropriate safeguards against misuse of that authority.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has expanded IRS's math error authority in certain circumstances, but not as broadly as we suggested in February 2010. Congress enacted legislation in December 2015 that expands the circumstances in which IRS may use math error authority. Section 208 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) gives IRS the authority to use math error authority if (1) a taxpayer claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) during the period in which a taxpayer is not permitted to claim such credit as a consequence of either having made a prior fraudulent or reckless claim; or (2) a taxpayer omitted information required to be reported because the taxpayer made prior improper claims of the Child Tax Credit or the AOTC. While expanding math error authority is consistent with what we recommended Congress consider, we had suggested that math error authority be authorized on a broader basis with appropriate controls rather than on a piecemeal basis. Our previous work has identified additional tax provisions for which expanded math error authority would be helpful, such as the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, Individual Retirement Accounts, and Residential Energy Property Credit. While Congress expanded math error authority for the First-Time Homebuyer Credit in November 2009 and for other individual credits as previously described, we maintain that a broader authorization of math error authority with appropriate controls would enable IRS to correct obvious noncompliance, would be less intrusive and burdensome to taxpayers than audits, and would potentially help taxpayers who underclaim tax benefits to which they are entitled. If Congress decides to extend broader math error authority to IRS, controls may be needed to ensure that this authority is used properly. Our prior work identified potential controls, such as requiring IRS to report on its use of math error authority. The administration also requested that Congress grant the Department of the Treasury regulatory authority to expand IRS's use of math error authority as part of its budget submission for fiscal year 2017. The 114th Congress did not provide Treasury with such authority. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated this change could raise $274 million through fiscal years 2018 through 2026.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to better assess whether changes are needed in the way IRS administers activities not engaged in for profit provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should take steps to estimate the extent of activities not engaged in for profit noncompliance from its ongoing research programs.

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

    Comments: IRS is researching sole proprietor noncompliance, as GAO recommended in September 2009. It is focusing on those who improperly claim business losses (i.e., not profits). IRS's Office of Research, Analysis and Statistics is using the reporting compliance study of Form 1040 filers to gather the data on such noncompliant business losses. This research covered sampled tax returns filed for tax years 2009, 2010, and 2011 and used audits of the sampled tax returns that are filed for each tax year. In November 2016, IRS research officials provided the initial rough estimates of the percentage of disallowed losses and associated dollar amounts for all 3 tax years but as of March 2017, they had not yet indicated how these estimates helped IRS to understand the nature of the tax noncompliance. The officials cautioned that their ability to develop the estimates depends on the number of observations that can be applied from each tax year. This research, when completed, could help IRS to identify noncompliant sole proprietor issues and take action to reduce losses.
    Director: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202)512-4803

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help FAA improve the data on and the safety of air cargo operations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to gather comprehensive and accurate data on all part 135 cargo operations to gain a better understanding of air cargo accident rates and better target safety initiatives. This can be done by separating out cargo activity in FAA's annual survey of aircraft owners or by requiring all part 135 cargo carriers to report operational data as part 121 carriers currently do.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, FAA reported that the agency has determined that a redesign of the General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey (GA Survey) is not required to address the recommendation, as originally considered. Beginning with the GA survey for year 2016--survey results are being processed--FAA will identify aircraft certified for cargo operations and use the certificate type to break out operational data for cargo operations. FAA also discussed this plan with stakeholders, including the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association, and believe this new approach will meet the recommendation for gathering comprehensive and accurate data on all part 135 cargo operations. In June 2017, FAA informed us that the agency expects to release the 2016 GA survey by October 31, 2017.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure the most efficient, fair, and consistent administration of civil tax penalties, and that penalties are achieving their purpose of encouraging voluntary compliance, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct the Office of Servicewide Penalties (OSP) to evaluate penalty administration and penalties' effect on voluntary compliance.

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

    Comments: The Office of Servicewide Penalties (OSP) initiated a plan to comprehensively evaluate penalty administration and the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance. They stated that they understand such a plan will be useful in identifying priorities and determining additional potential resource needs. However, OSP put this plan on hold while they developed a business case for obtaining more staff and resources. OSP is in the process of obtaining feedback to refine their business case for final submission. While they await approval of the business case they have not done any work on the comprehensive plan. As the comprehensive plan remains incomplete, OSP has not yet undertaken an evaluation of penalties' effect on voluntary compliance. In December 2011 OSP formed a Civil Penalties Administrative Improvement Initiative team that has the goal of making improvements to civil penalty administration. Activities underway as of February 2013 include developing measures to improve taxpayer consistency and taking actions to improve the Reasonable Cause Assistant computer system. We learned in February 2015 that the program is now under a new executive. When we met with the new agency officials in April 2015 they told us that they had a new effort underway to develop a comprehensive strategy that examines the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance while ensuring quality. IRS finalized a Penalty Performance Plan on March 6, 2017, which we are currently reviewing.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure the most efficient, fair, and consistent administration of civil tax penalties, and that penalties are achieving their purpose of encouraging voluntary compliance, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct OSP to develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze penalty-related data. The plan should address the constraints officials have identified as impeding progress in analyzing penalties.

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

    Comments: Office of Servicewide Penalties (OSP) initiated a plan to comprehensively evaluate penalty administration and the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance. However, OSP put this plan on hold while they developed a business case for obtaining more staff and resources. As of February 2013 the business case has not progressed and OSP has taken no additional action to complete the comprehensive plan. We learned in February 2015 that the program is now under a new executive. When we met with the new agency officials in April 2015 they told us that they had a new effort underway to develop a comprehensive strategy that examines the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance while ensuring quality. IRS finalized a Penalty Performance Plan on March 6, 2017, which we are currently reviewing.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To develop timely chemical risk information that EPA needs to effectively conduct its mission, the Administrator, EPA, should require the Office of Research and Development to re-evaluate its draft proposed changes to the IRIS assessment process in light of the issues raised in this report and ensure that any revised process periodically assesses the level of resources that should be dedicated to this significant program to meet user needs and maintain a viable IRIS database.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that they are in the process of directly reviewing program and regional office priority needs annually and will then evaluate the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda and realign resources and priories as needed. EPA IRIS Program officials stated that this review will occur in 2017, and subsequently they plan to receive feedback from the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017. After the feedback is received, they will formalize this process starting in 2018. When GAO receives documentation regarding the periodic assessments of resources that should be dedicated to the program to meet user needs and to maintain a viable IRIS database, GAO will reevaluate the status of this recommendation.