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    Results:

    Topic: "International Affairs"

    91 publications with a total of 231 open recommendations including 36 priority recommendations
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should take steps to ensure the implementation of revised standard operating procedures for collecting electronic ATA course and participant data. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 28, 2017, having reviewed a draft version of GAO-17-704, State concurred with this recommendation and noted that ATA had revised its standard operating procedures for collecting data and shared the document with us. We will follow-up with ATA regarding steps taken to ensure the implementation of those procedures.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should develop and implement a process to confirm and document whether future ATA participants return to their home countries following the completion of ATA training and, for any participants trained in the United States who do not, share relevant information with the Department of Homeland Security. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 28, 2017, having reviewed a draft version of GAO-17-704, State concurred with this recommendation and stated that, by the end of the year, it will implement a process to ensure that participants sent to ATA training in the United States return to their home countries. We will follow-up with ATA regarding the implementation of such a process for participants sent to ATA training in the United States or other locations outside of their home countries.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs should work with other U.S. federal entities participating in the CHCC to develop goals for the CHCC and its working groups. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs should work with other U.S. federal entities participating in the CHCC to clarify participants' roles and responsibilities in the CHCC and its working groups. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs should work with other U.S. federal entities participating in the CHCC to document agreement about how the CHCC and its working groups will collaborate, such as their goals and participants' roles and responsibilities. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Courts, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Allowances (ALS) should clearly document how the conditions at relevant posts meet the criteria for Director Points to ensure that hardship pay rates for overseas posts are consistently determined across posts and tenures of ALS Directors. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Undersecretary of Management should assess the cost-effectiveness of State's policies and procedures for stopping and starting hardship pay for employees who temporarily leave their assigned overseas posts. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Department's Comptroller should analyze available diplomatic cable data from overseas posts to identify posts at risk of improper payments for hardship pay, identify any improper payments, and take steps to recover and prevent them. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Acting Director of DSCA should take steps to ensure the collection of data measuring the timeliness of the delivery of equipment and services to recipient countries. (Recommendation 1)

    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: The Acting Director of DSCA should analyze data on all performance metrics to better identify deficiencies. (Recommendation 2)

    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: The Acting Director of DSCA should develop a workforce plan. (Recommendation 3)

    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: The Acting Director of DSCA should develop workload measures for its FMS workforce. (Recommendation 4)

    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: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help increase efficiency when defining FMS requirements to be placed on contract, the Secretary of Defense should issue department-wide guidance for the military departments and DOD components to expand the use of requirements checklists to develop more comprehensive letters of request for FMS cases.

    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: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that current pilot programs related to electronic advance data provide insights that help in assessing USPS's effectiveness at providing mail targeted by CBP for inspection, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to, in conjunction with USPS, (1) establish measureable performance goals for pilot programs and (2) assess the performance of the pilots in achieving these goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide information on the costs and benefits of collecting electronic advance data for use in targeting inbound international mail for screening, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of CBP to, in conjunction with USPS, evaluate the relative costs and benefits of collecting electronic advance data for targeting mail for inspection in comparison to other methods.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    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

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better assess whether RSCs are meeting USRAP objectives, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration should develop outcome-based indicators, as required by State policy.

    Agency: Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
    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 assess whether RSCs are meeting USRAP objectives, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration should monitor RSC performance against such indicators on a regular basis.

    Agency: Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
    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 ensure that USCIS officers effectively adjudicate applications for refugee status, the Director of USCIS should develop and implement a plan to deploy officers with national security expertise on circuit rides.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration 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 better ensure that USCIS officers effectively adjudicate applications for refugee status, the Director of USCIS should conduct regular quality assurance assessments of refugee application adjudications across USCIS's Refugee Affairs Division and International Operations Division.

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

    Comments: USCIS provided documentation that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials conducted a quality assurance assessment of refugee adjudications in July 2017 and has plans to conduct an additional quality assurance assessment in January or February 2018. To fully address this recommendation, USCIS should demonstrate a continued commitment to conducting regular quality assurance assessments of refugee application adjudications.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that USRAP applicant fraud prevention and detection controls are adequate and effectively implemented, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State should conduct regular joint assessments of applicant fraud risk across USRAP.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that USRAP applicant fraud prevention and detection controls are adequate and effectively implemented, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State should conduct regular joint assessments of applicant fraud risk across USRAP.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To support efforts to reduce staff fraud at RSCs, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to actively pursue efforts to ensure that RSCs comply with required, applicable measures in the Program Integrity Guidelines.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation and agreed with GAO's assessment that these measures will support efforts to reduce staff fraud at Resettlement Support Centers (RSC). According to State officials, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) has developed new guidance to enhance monitoring of RSCs. They explained that a new monitoring and evaluation framework serves as the foundational document for this guidance, which has incorporated and formalized PRM's existing RSC monitoring practices and established further requirements to address gaps identified by internal and external evaluative processes. According to the officials, the framework outlines roles, responsibilities, and tools for program officers and refugee coordinators. These responsibilities include formalizing and expanding monitoring of RSC compliance with the Program Integrity Guidelines. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better identify risks from RSC staff fraud, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to update guidance, such as the Program Integrity Guidelines, to require each RSC to conduct regular staff fraud risk assessments that are tailored to each RSC's specific operations.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation and agreed with GAO's assessment that this requirement would strengthen Resettlement Support Centers' (RSCs) ability to identify risks of staff fraud. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that control activities are designed to mitigate identified RSC staff fraud risks, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to regularly review RSC staff fraud risk assessments and use them to examine the suitability of existing staff fraud controls and revise controls as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation and agreed with GAO's assessment that this would help ensure that control activities are designed to mitigate identified Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) staff fraud risks. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that sufficient due diligence is undertaken by implementing partners of U.S. democracy assistance in Burma, where appropriate, to help ensure that assistance is not made available to prohibited entities or individuals, the Administrator of USAID should direct the Mission in Burma to review its procedures and practices regarding due diligence for democracy projects to determine whether additional guidance or reviews of implementing partners' due diligence procedures would be appropriate.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation. As of September 2017, USAID is reviewing its due diligence procedures, and will determine if additional guidance for implementing partners is required. USAID plans to develop and issue any guidance accordingly.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that sufficient due diligence is undertaken by implementing partners of U.S. democracy assistance in Burma, where appropriate, to help ensure that assistance is not made available to prohibited entities or individuals, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to review its procedures and practices regarding due diligence for Burma democracy projects to determine whether additional guidance or reviewing implementing partners' due diligence procedures would be appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with the recommendation. As of September 2017, State is reviewing its due diligence procedures, and will consider whether additional guidance for implementing partners is needed.
    Director: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's ability to assess and respond to compliance risks across the FTZ program, the Commissioner of CBP should centrally compile information from FTZ compliance reviews and associated enforcement actions so that standardized data are available for assessing compliance and internal control risks across the FTZ program.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and identified steps it intends to take in response to the recommendation. Specifically, CBP stated that it intends to prepare and disseminate a summary template for compiling FTZ compliance reviews and internal control risks across the FZ program. When we confirm the steps CBP has taken to address this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's ability to assess and respond to compliance risks across the FTZ program, the Commissioner of CBP should conduct a risk analysis of the FTZ program using data across FTZs, including an analysis of the likelihood and significance of compliance violations and enforcement actions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and identified steps it intends to take in response to the recommendation. Specifically, CBP stated that it will conduct a risk analysis across the FTZ program. When we confirm the steps CBP has taken to address this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's ability to assess and respond to compliance risks across the FTZ program, the Commissioner of CBP should utilize the results of the program-wide risk analysis to respond to identified risks, such as updating risk assessment tools and developing best practices for CBP's FTZ compliance review and risk categorization system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and identified steps it intends to take in response to the recommendation. Specifically, CBP responded that it will finalize a compliance review handbook that incorporates risk assessment tools and best practices for FTZ compliance reviews and risk categorization. When we confirm the steps CBP has taken to address this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should ensure that Bellmon determinations are documented for all food assistance projects prior to the provision of commodities, consistent with agency guidance.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    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, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should update guidance on Bellmon determinations to reflect current policies and procedures.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    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, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should monitor markets during implementation of development projects to identify any potential negative effects, such as unusual changes in prices.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    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, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the USAID Administrator should evaluate markets after development projects are completed to determine whether markets were negatively affected during project implementation or after project completion.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure the transparency and accountability of USDA's selection of countries to receive in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should develop guidance to require documentation of the reasons for providing funding to countries that were not on the priority list.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    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, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that Bellmon determinations are documented for all food assistance projects prior to the provision of commodities, consistent with agency guidance.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    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, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should monitor markets during implementation of McGovern-Dole projects to identify any potential negative effects, such as unusual changes in prices.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    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, consistent with the Bellmon amendment, the provision of U.S. in-kind food aid does not result in a substantial disincentive to, or interference with, domestic production or marketing in countries receiving in-kind food aid, the Secretary of Agriculture should evaluate markets after the completion of McGovern-Dole and Food for Progress projects to determine whether markets were negatively affected during project implementation or after project completion.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's trade enforcement efforts, the Commissioner of CBP should direct the Office of Trade to include performance targets, when applicable, in addition to performance measures in its Priority Trade Issue strategic and annual plans.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2017, CBP indicated that CBP's Office of Trade has been performing biweekly reviews of current performance measure results and had scheduled a management planning meeting to closeout FY 2017. CBP indicated that these efforts will help establish the performance target baselines for FY 2018. CBP indicated that it plans to establish the FY 2018 priorities and Priority Trade Issue strategic and annual plans, but as of September 2017 has not provided timeframes for project completion.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CBP's trade enforcement efforts, the Commissioner of CBP should direct the Office of Trade and the Office of Field Operations to develop a long-term hiring plan that articulates how CBP will reach its staffing targets for trade positions set in the Homeland Security Act and the agency's resource optimization model.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2017, CBP indicated that, in order to develop a long-term hiring plan, CBP's Office of Trade (OT), Office of Field Operations (OFO), and Human Resources Management (HRM) established a working group of key stakeholders to define the hiring challenges related to the trade positions. CBP identified the key stakeholders for the working group and was planning its first meeting for the working group. In the interim, CBP indicated that it was actively addressing trade hiring gaps through a variety of mechanisms that includes building recruiting partnerships with universities as well as closely tracking and monitoring the hiring of import specialists from initial announcement through entrance on duty.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of airport wait time data that CBP currently reports on its public website, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to report airport wait time data for different categories of travelers.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to address persistent gaps in foreign language proficiency at overseas posts and make informed future resource investments, the Secretary of State should evaluate the effectiveness of efforts implemented under the "Strategic Plan for Foreign-Language Capabilities."

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In his May 25, 2017 letter to the relevant congressional committees leadership, the Department of State reiterated its concurrence with this recommendation and stated that the department will develop a process to evaluate implementation of the 2011 Strategic Plan and future plans, and will report on results of the evaluation by the end of fiscal year 2018.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should determine whether the existing OBO program performance measure and annual target of moving 1,500 people into safe, secure, and functional facilities is still appropriate or needs to be revised.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: OBO stated that it would perform a multi-year, comprehensive evaluation of this performance metric and determine whether the target remains appropriate. As of October 2017, OBO anticipated this evaluation to be completed in fiscal year 2019.
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should establish additional performance measures applicable to the new goals of the Excellence approach in support of the Capital Security Construction Program.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, OBO had stated it would develop Excellence-related performance metrics to assess the execution and delivery of its projects. Specifically, these would be tied to the Bureau's strategic plan, which is reviewed annually and updated every three years. The next strategic plan update was estimated to occur in early 2020.
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should finalize the mechanisms OBO will use to better track and evaluate the actual operations and maintenance performance of its buildings--whether Excellence or SED--and document through appropriate policies, procedures, or guidance.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, OBO was engaged in a life cycle cost analysis methodology project intended to take an in-depth look at OBO's processes, practices, and procedures, compare and contrast them with best industry practices, and make recommendations to the bureau. OBO anticipated finalizing this by early 2018.
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should finalize the mechanisms OBO will use to centrally manage project management data (to include project cost and schedule information), currently termed the Ideal Operational State, and document through appropriate policies, procedures, or guidance.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, OBO was working on the implementation of its Ideal Operational State initiative, which it envisioned as a multi-year effort subject to budget realities. OBO anticipates having an integrated program schedule by early 2018, although full implementation would take longer.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should develop, document, and implement a process for periodically conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews of Title II development and emergency projects. Such reviews should include efforts to verify that actual costs incurred for these projects align with planned budgets.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is exploring options to develop a new process for conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should ensure that its requirements for implementing partners to provide monitoring data on an ongoing basis on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement are consistent for Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has updated its Food for Peace development award template, and programs are now required to provide quarterly reports on cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement. As of September 2017, we are following up with USAID to confirm the actions taken in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should take steps to ensure that it collects complete and consistent monitoring data from implementing partners for Title II development and emergency projects on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement as well as data on the use of Title II funding for internal transportation, storage, and handling (ITSH) costs, in accordance with established requirements.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has taken actions in response to this recommendation including hiring staff and providing training to support adherence to award requirements. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should update key guidance and systems to consistently reflect allowable uses of ITSH funds in Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is updating guidance and exploring other options to further clarify ITSH and 202(e) funding distinctions, in response to this recommendation. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should establish a requirement for Title II development project partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for cash transfers and food vouchers funded by 202(e), and take steps to ensure that implementing partners adhere to the requirement.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has inserted a requirement for partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for activities including cash transfers and food vouchers into its FY 2017 Request for Applications for Food for Peace development activities, and that new Title II development awards will require partners to adhere to the requirement. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions taken in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    10 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Millennium Challenge Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in May 2017, MCC stated that it had responded to our finding that MCC needed to more clearly document the independence of its evaluators and fully disclose any potential conflicts of interest in the published final evaluations. In response to this recommendation, MCC revised its standard evaluator contract language and now requires the evaluator's independence, and any potential conflicts of interest, be fully documented in the published evaluation report. GAO will follow up on documentation of this and any other steps responsive to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, DOD provided a response to our final report, dated March 30, 2017. The response noted that, in January 2017, the Department established policy on assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AM&E) for security cooperation with the goal of improving the quality of program evaluation across the Department. DOD also stated that it would review best practices for AM&E to determine those that are best suited for security assistance, and will discuss our findings and recommendations with the independent evaluator who conducts security assistance evaluations and encourage them to consider the recommendations in future evaluations. GAO will review the January 2017 guidance and will follow-up on specific steps taken by the DOD to incorporate best practices.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a response to GAO in May 2017, HHS stated that the CDC Operationalization of the Evaluation Standards of Practice (ESOP) was updated in January 2017 and provides guidance on evaluation planning, protocol development, implementation, reporting, dissemination, and use of evaluation results, as well as reporting requirements. HHS also stated that it now reviews all evaluation and performance monitoring plans and assess report quality at several stages prior to publication and has begun to provide webinars and templates for evaluators to ensure that standards are addressed and reflected in the report. GAO will review the updated documents and request documentation of the actions taken for responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. The policy and its implementation, along with the recently published Program Design and Performance Management toolkit, as well as updated policy guidance, constitute State's plan to improve evaluations. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in follow-up to our report, USAID stated that steps already taken include (1)recently updating and clarifying the requirements and quality standards for evaluations and (2) working to ensure that staff has the skills they need to manage evaluations through training and other capacity building actions. As of September 2017, GAO is reviewing the updated guidance and actions against the specific findings in our report to assess their responsiveness in addressing our findings.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its guidance and practices on the posting of evaluations to require President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) evaluations to be posted within the timeframe required by PEPFAR guidance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a response to GAO in May 2017, HHS stated that the CDC, as of December 2016, now provides guidance noting that each new evaluation protocol specifically state that a report on the main findings of an evaluation will be produced in alignment with the PEPFAR ESOP and posted (in English) on a publically accessible website within 90 days of completion. GAO will review the updated document for responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC should adjust MCC evaluation practices to make evaluation reports available within the timeframe required by MCC guidance.

    Agency: Millennium Challenge Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in May 2017, MCC stated that it had initiated a re-design of its evaluation monitoring information system to provide MCC with detailed timelines of each component of the evaluation review and publication process. GAO will follow up on documentation of this and any other steps responsive to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of State should amend State's evaluation policy to require the completion of dissemination plans for all agency evaluations

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. State reported that it would add a requirement for dissemination plans to the new policy. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of Agriculture should implement guidance and procedures for making FAS evaluations available online and searchable on a single website that can be accessed by the general public.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    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

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality and transparency of statistical reporting of international government procurement by GPA and U.S. FTA parties to fulfill their commitments under these agreements, the U.S. Trade Representative should prepare and submit a proposal to the WTO GPA working group on statistical reporting established by the Committee on Government Procurement that aims to improve the quality of statistical reporting by WTO parties to address the weaknesses we identified.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said the United States has long struggled with the challenges associated with comparing statistics produced by the United States with statistics provided by U.S. trading partners where there are inconsistencies in statistical reporting. To respond to this known challenge, USTR led an effort to establish a work program on statistical reporting during the revised GPA negotiations. The WTO GPA statistical work program calls for parties to make recommendation on four issues: 1) whether the GPA Parties should adopt a common method for collection of statistics; 2) whether the GPA Parties are able to standardize the classifications in the statistical data reported to the GPA Committee; 3) means for facilitating the collection of country of origin of goods and services covered by the agreements; and 4) other technical issues in government procurement data reporting raised by any GPA Party. In 2017, USTR assumed the chair of the work program as part of its effort to ensure that the GPA Parties continue to make progress in their work on these recommendations. On April 27, 2017, USTR tabled a proposal that identifies outstanding issues preventing GPA Parties from improving the quality of statistical reporting. GPA Parties have agreed to discuss these issues at another work program meeting chaired by USTR in June 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the quality and transparency of statistical reporting of international government procurement by GPA and U.S. FTA parties to fulfill their commitments under these agreements, the U.S. Trade Representative should resume the annual exchange of statistical data on covered government procurement with the other NAFTA parties as NAFTA requires.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said they support resuming the annual exchange of statistical data under NAFTA, given the importance of high quality and transparent statistical reporting of government procurement and the significance of the trade relationships with Canada and Mexico. The Administration is currently reassessing NAFTA. USTR will seek to ensure that the exchange of procurement statistics is considered as part of the ongoing reevaluation.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, improve the U.S. methodology for providing federal government procurement statistics to the WTO to ensure both accurate and more timely reporting, consistent with GPA requirements--for example, by providing preliminary estimates and updated values of covered federal procurement or by using an alternative methodology that bases measures of covered government procurement on actual annual obligations, if USTR determines that such an approach is consistent with WTO obligations.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials the revised U.S. approach for reporting GPA-covered procurement adopted in 2015 provides significantly more accurate statistics, but at the cost of timeliness. USTR, in coordination with DOC, is working to further revise the methodology for the preparation and submission of statistics on federal procurement covered by the GPA. They expected that this revised methodology will include both preliminary estimates and updated values of covered federal procurement, per the GAO recommendation.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, in consultation with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, develop a methodology for reporting statistics on state governments' covered procurement to the WTO consistent with GPA requirements.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said that despite noting significant challenges in preparing accurate U.S. state-level statistics on government procurement, we did not identify any concrete steps to improve the accuracy of state-level statistics. Officials have begun to research the issue and found eight states covered by the GPA currently make procurement statistics available in an on-line searchable format, but none of those states indicates the value of procurements covered by trade agreements. Nonetheless, USTR, in consultation with DOC (ITA and Census), is assessing methods for preparing more accurate state-level statistics.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, in consultation with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, ensure that methodologies and data sources used to prepare GPA statistical notifications are documented.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said as USTR and DOC work to develop new methodologies for federal and state-level statistical submissions, they are documenting the decision-making process and the final methodology. Additionally, as part of the data documentation process, DOC has agreed to maintain a database of the source data used in the preparation of both federal and state-level statistics. DOC and USTR are also taking additional steps to ensure the accuracy of all statistics submitted to the WTO.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, in consultation with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, ensure that calculations using U.S. procurement statistics and other data are reviewed for accuracy before reporting them to the WTO.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said as USTR and DOC work to develop new methodologies for federal and state-level statistical submissions, they are documenting the decision-making process and the final methodology. Additionally, as part of the data documentation process, DOC has agreed to maintain a database of the source data used in the preparation of both federal and state-level statistics. DOC and USTR are also taking additional steps to ensure the accuracy of all statistics submitted to the WTO.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that all relevant U.S. agencies have information on the effect of changes in U.S. policy related to Cuba, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other relevant agencies, should take steps to identify and begin to collect the information that would allow them to monitor changes in economic engagement, including with the Cuban private sector.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation. As of April 2017, State reported that it is taking steps to identify and collect information that would enable it to monitor the Cuban economy and changes in the economic environment, including with the Cuban private sector. For example, State noted that Embassy Havana has developed a plan for in-country travel and reporting by identifying key sectors and provinces that can provide additional insights on the Cuban economy. GAO will continue to monitor State's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD successfully achieves the goal of supporting foreign nations in upholding the rule of law, the Secretary of Defense should assess the extent to which the size of DIILS's workforce is aligned with the scope of its mission, including whether DIILS has sufficient staff to complete required after action reports and to increase its resident course capacity.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. As of October 2017, DOD stated that its position on the report has not changed. When we confirm what actions DOD has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and described steps it is taking to more systematically assess the effectiveness of the Trafficking in Persons Report in encouraging governments to address human trafficking, including the recent establishment of a monitoring and evaluation position in the Trafficking Office. GAO will continue to monitor State's implementation efforts.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should reverse reimbursements that were not made to the same appropriation account as the account from which USAID obligated the funds.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that it is examining whether sufficient appropriate resources exist to support all of the obligations against the accounts that were improperly reimbursed. As of September 2017, USAID is in the process of reversing the improper reimbursements. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should reverse reimbursements for which there is no documentary evidence that the obligation was incurred to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Ebola outbreak.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID stated that it would reverse reimbursements for which the documentation was lacking that the obligation was incurred to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Ebola outbreak. As of September 2017, USAID is in the process of reversing the reimbursements. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should determine whether reversing any of these reimbursements results in the obligation of funds in excess of appropriations in violation of the Antideficiency Act and, if so, report any violations in accordance with law.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that USAID's Office of the Chief Financial Officer has been notified of a potential funds control violation and that USAID's ongoing review will determine whether an Antideficiency Act violation occurred. USAID further noted that, in the event it finds an Antideficiency Act violation, the agency would notify the violation in accordance with the law. In September 2017, USAID told GAO that it is finalizing the determination regarding the potential Antideficiency Act violation. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that USAID complies with reimbursement provisions that may arise in future appropriations laws, the Administrator of USAID should develop written policies and procedures for the agency's reimbursement process.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that the agency will develop written policies and procedures that adequately address reimbursement provisions of applicable appropriations laws. In September 2017, USAID told GAO that it is in the process of finalizing the written policies and procedures for the agency's reimbursement process. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Director: Merritt, Zina Dache
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To implement DOD guidance requiring the military departments to prepare readiness and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) budget impact assessments during drawdown planning, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to develop guidance that assigns responsibility for the preparation of impact assessments and includes direction on how such assessments should be conducted as part of drawdown planning.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, DOD concurred with the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To implement DOD guidance requiring the military departments to prepare readiness and O&M budget impact assessments during drawdown planning, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, DSCA, to develop an internal control mechanism to determine whether the military departments have completed the required impact assessments before moving forward with drawdown planning and execution.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the draft report, DOD concurred with the recommendation.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    5 open recommendations
    including 5 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to create consolidated guidance for RSOs that specifies required elements to include in post travel notification and transportation security policies. For example, as part of its current effort to develop standard templates for certain security directives, DS could develop templates for transportation security and travel notification policies that specify the elements required in all security directives as recommended by the February 2005 Iraq ARB as well as the standard transportation-related elements that DS requires in such policies.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in October 2016 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of March 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to clarify whether or not the FAH's armored vehicle policy for overseas posts is that every post must have sufficient armored vehicles, and if DS determines that the policy does not apply to all posts, articulate the conditions under which it does not apply.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in October 2016 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of March 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to develop monitoring procedures to ensure that all posts comply with the FAH's armored vehicle policy for overseas posts once the policy is clarified.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in October 2016 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of March 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to clarify existing guidance on refresher training, such as by delineating how often refresher training should be provided at posts facing different types and levels of threats, which personnel should receive refresher training, and how the completion of refresher training should be documented.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, State concurred with this recommendation and plans to clarify its guidance on refresher training. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to improve guidance for RSOs, in coordination with other relevant State offices and non-State agencies as appropriate, on how to promote timely communication of threat information to post personnel and timely receipt of such information by post personnel.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in October 2016 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of March 2017, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide a basis for comparing actual results with intended results that can generate more meaningful performance information, the Secretaries of the Interior and State and the Attorney General of the United States should jointly work with the Task Force to develop performance targets related to the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking Implementation Plan.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency agreed with recommendation and plans to implement it
    Recommendation: To provide a basis for comparing actual results with intended results that can generate more meaningful performance information, the Secretaries of the Interior and State and the Attorney General of the United States should jointly work with the Task Force to develop performance targets related to the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking Implementation Plan.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency agreed with recommendation and plans to implement it
    Recommendation: To provide a basis for comparing actual results with intended results that can generate more meaningful performance information, the Secretaries of the Interior and State and the Attorney General of the United States should jointly work with the Task Force to develop performance targets related to the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking Implementation Plan.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency agreed with recommendation and plans to implement it
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's monitoring and evaluation of cash transfer and food voucher projects and help ensure improved program oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should take steps to ensure that final reports submitted for cash transfer and food voucher projects comply with USAID's minimum data requirements.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USAID said it had entered into an institutional support contract in December 2016 to address this recommendation. Support staff under this contract will be responsible for assisting each geographic team to ensure that implementing partners adhere to existing award processes and procedures, including compliance with reporting on minimum data requirements. USAID noted that the revised target completion date is 9/30/2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's monitoring and evaluation of cash transfer and food voucher projects and help ensure improved program oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should strengthen the indicators USAID uses to measure the timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and appropriateness of Emergency Food Security Program cash transfer and food voucher projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USAID stated that it released an updated Annual Program Statement for Emergency Food Assistance Programs in December 2016, which addresses this recommendation. As implementation provides data to support a closure request, USAID anticipates completing this recommendation in Fiscal Year 2017. The revised target completion date is 9/30/2017.
    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: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, undertake a review of the efforts to date on ensuring data quality

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and noted that it will continue to work with USAID in consultation with OMB to assess whether additional existing resources are required to meet the goals of ForeignAssistance.gov. As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of June 2017, GAO was following up with State to obtain additional information on how the established review process would or has helped improve the quality of the data reported on Foreignassistance.gov.
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, develop additional guidance that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of June 2017, GAO was following up with State to determine if additional guidance has been developed that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    5 open recommendations
    including 5 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should update guidance to require non-governmental organizations to conduct risk assessments addressing the risk of fraud.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with our recommendation; however, as of April 2017, it has yet to fully implement this recommendation. In December 2016, the Office of Food for Peace updated its annual program statement to include language requiring organizations to complete an analysis of risks related to fraud, corruption, and mismanagement, with relevant mitigation measures. However, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has yet to officially update its guidance, although USAID has previously noted that OFDA will require all organizations seeking funding to address fraud risks and submit a detailed mitigation plan in their proposal package. We will continue to update the status of this recommendation as we receive information.
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should use risk assessments submitted by implementing partners to inform USAID oversight activities, for example, using information from assessments to ensure that control activities for programs are designed to mitigate identified risks.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with our recommendation, stating that they plan to tailor their oversight activities to mitigate risks identified in the fraud risk mitigation plans that organizations will submit as part of their funding proposal packages in the future. In addition, USAID noted that it planned to hire a compliance officer by October 2016 to manage fraud mitigation and other compliance issues for OFDA and FFP's Syria and Iraq portfolios. However, as of April 2017, USAID has yet to fill this position. We will continue to track the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should ensure that field monitors in Syria are trained on assessing and identifying potential fraud risks.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with our recommendation, but has yet to implement this recommendation, as of April 2017. USAID has previously stated that it would work to provide the third-party monitoring organization with information specific to the Syria context that identifies methods to detect fraud. USAID also stated that it would work with the third-party monitoring organization to ensure that data collectors are trained on fraud risks and methods for identifying fraud. We will continue to track the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should instruct the third party monitoring organization monitoring Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance programs in Syria to modify the site visit forms to include specific guidance for documenting incidents of potential fraud.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation, stating that it would seek to have site visit forms revised to include indications of fraud, waste, and abuse. However, as of April 2017, USAID has yet to implement the recommendation. We will continue to track the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that State has a comprehensive understanding of the risks facing its implementing partners providing humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the Secretary of State should include in its voluntary contribution agreements with implementing partners a requirement that the partner conduct risk assessments addressing the risk of fraud.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with GAO?s recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, in March 2017, State officials informed GAO that it began including this requirement in all of its 2017 voluntary contribution award letters to public international organizations. For one of the three public international organizations under consideration in our report, State provided GAO with an award letter including the updated language. According to Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration officials, the Bureau has not yet completed voluntary contributions for the other two public international organizations conducting activities inside Syria. We will continue to track relevant Bureau funding agreements to ensure that future awards to fund activities inside Syria contain similar language on fraud risk assessments.
    Director: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better manage the AD/CV duty liquidation process, CBP should issue guidance directing the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralization Team to (a) collect and analyze data on a regular basis to identify and address the causes of liquidations that occur contrary to the process or outside the 6-month time frame mandated by statute, (b) track progress on reducing such liquidations, and (c) report on any effects these liquidations may have on revenue.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. As of July 10, 2017, CBP was waiting for the results of its FY 2017 self-inspection to determine the extent to which it has made progress toward reducing liquidations that occur contrary to the process or outside the 6 month time frame mandated by statute. In addition, CBP was in the process of calculating the revenue effect of entries processed for deemed liquidation during FY 2017. We will continue to monitor CBP's progress towards closing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve risk management in the collection of AD/CV duties and to identify new or changing risks, CBP should regularly conduct a comprehensive risk analysis that assesses both the likelihood and the significance of risk factors related to AD/CV duty collection. For example, CBP could construct statistical models that explore the associations between potential risk factors and both the probability of nonpayment and the size of nonpayment when it occurs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. As of July 10, 2017, CBP had produced a risk analysis model consisting of a regression analysis to determine the probability of non-payment for type 3 AD/CVD entries. CBP plans to begin testing the accuracy of the model through testing of recently occurred transactions. CBP also plans to refine the model. CBP estimates that it will complete the development of the model by September 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve risk management in the collection of AD/CV duties, CBP should, consistent with U.S. law and international obligations, take steps to use its data and risk assessment strategically to mitigate AD/CV duty nonpayment, such as by using predictive risk analysis to identify entries that pose heightened risk and taking appropriate action to mitigate the risk.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: CBP concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. As of July 10, 2017 CBP planned to use the model it is in the process of developing to improve risk management in the collection of AD/CVD duties. CBP expects to begin using the risk-based model that it is developing as part of an approach targeting high risk AD/CVD entries by October 31, 2018. Separately, a March 31, 2017 executive order requires CBP to develop a strategy and plan for covered importers that, based on an assessment of risk, pose a risk to the revenue of the United States. As of July 11, 2017, the strategy and plan had not been published.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CERC's performance monitoring, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that for CERC's second phase the program creates targets and tracks progress against those targets in order to measure program performance.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, DOE created a standardized reporting template with performance measures for CERC partners to complete on a quarterly basis. DOE officials informed GAO that they are working to develop targets for those performance measures. We will continue to monitor DOE's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should develop and make public annual targets for the agency's performance measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, USTDA revised its fiscal year 2016 through 2018 strategic plan to include an annual performance target for one of its two performance measures: the value of exports generated for every program dollar. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in developing an annual performance target for its performance measure on procurements awarded to small U.S. businesses.
    Recommendation: To improve the East Asia Program's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should ensure that the East Asia Program sets targets for its performance measures and tracks progress against those measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation. As of October 2016, USTDA had planned to review its internal goals for the East Asia Program, and other regional programs, and to begin to track progress against those goals. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    10 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM/C among visa recipients, the Secretary of State should update the Foreign Affairs Manual to require posts located in countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced to directly provide information about FGM/C to nonimmigrant visa recipients in the same manner as is done for immigrant visa recipients.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will expand the pool of visa applicants who will receive information on FGM/C. Specifically, once its transition to providing paperwork electronically during the visa application process is complete, State will directly distribute the fact sheet on FGM/C to both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients. According to State, both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients will have to certify that they have read and understood the fact sheet on FGM/C before signing and submitting their respective visa applications. As of August 2017, State has not yet completed these actions.
    Recommendation: To increase awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM/C among visa recipients, the Secretary of State should update the Foreign Affairs Manual to require posts located outside of the countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced to directly provide information on FGM/C to immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients who are nationals of countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will expand the pool of visa applicants who will receive information on FGM/C. Specifically, once its transition to providing paperwork electronically during the visa application process is complete, State will directly distribute the fact sheet on FGM/C to both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients who are from or were nationals of a country where FGM/C is commonly practiced. State noted that this change will ensure the widest distribution possible by providing all individuals from countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced with access to the fact sheet on FGM/C regardless of place of application or visa recipient type. As of August 2017, State has not yet completed these actions.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will develop a written plan for disseminating relevant FGM/C resources to the agency?s key stakeholder groups. As of August 2017, Education reported that action is still pending.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that various HHS offices and agencies are working together to develop a written plan for its approaches to addressing FGM/C. In August 2017, HHS reported that once a key leadership position has been filled, it will provide more information on developing a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Justice (DOJ) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of its Criminal Division is taking the lead on developing a written plan on its FGM/C outreach and awareness efforts. As of August 2017, DOJ has not yet developed a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) did not concur with our recommendation, and, as of August 2017, has not indicated that it would implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will develop a written plan for disseminating relevant FGM/C resources to the agency?s key stakeholder groups and will explore how to best communicate and coordinate efforts at the federal level. As of August 2017, Education reported that action is still pending.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that various HHS offices and agencies are working together to develop a written plan for its approaches to addressing FGM/C. HHS also noted that it would share this plan with other federal partners and key stakeholders. In August 2017, HHS reported that once a key leadership position has been filled, it will provide more information on disseminating a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Justice (DOJ) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section of its Criminal Division is taking the lead on developing a written plan on its FGM/C outreach and awareness efforts. DOJ also noted that it would communicate its written plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate. As of August 2017, DOJ has not yet disseminated a written plan.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) did not concur with our recommendation, and, as of August 2017, has not indicated that it would implement this recommendation.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    13 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Agriculture should describe the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of USDA's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, USDA had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Commerce should describe the Department of Commerce's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of the Department of Commerce's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the Department of Commerce' action plan to address GAO's recommendations, it will begin including a description of the Department's major management challenges, as well as related performance goals, performance milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges, in the Department's annual performance plan reporting, starting with the report to be issued concurrent with final fiscal year 2018 Congressional Budget Justifications (CBJ). As of August 2017, Commerce has not taken action to implement our recommendation. Our review of the Department of Commerce's 2018 CBJ found that it did not include recommended information. When the 2019 CBJ is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Defense should include planned actions for each of the Department of Defense's (DOD) major management challenges and ensure that required information about its major management challenges, currently in DOD's Agency Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2015-2018, be included in its agency performance plan so that progress toward resolving each of its major management challenges is transparent and reported annually.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Department of Defense had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Energy should describe the Department of Energy's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of the Department of Energy's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Department of Energy had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Attorney General should describe the Department of Justice's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones, planned actions and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of the Department of Justice's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the Department of Justice's action plan to address GAO's recommendations, it will report the Office of Inspector General Top Management Challenges in both the Annual Financial Report (AFR) and the Annual Performance Report(APR)/Annual Performance Plan(APP). For the APR/APP, the Department of Justice will also include the appropriate performance goals, performance measures, milestones, planned actions addressing the challenges and the name(s) of agency official(s) responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges. As of August 2017, however, the Department of Justice had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Labor should describe the Department of Labor's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones, planned actions, and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of the Department of Labor's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the Department of Labor's action plan to address GAO's recommendations, it will comply with the updated Circular A-11 guidance to report on major management challenges in its next Annual Performance Report (APR), published with the FY 2018 Congressional Budget Justification. In its most recent APR, the Department of Labor took steps to implement this recommendation by including planned actions and an agency official responsible for each of the three issues it identified as a major management challenge. Further action is needed to establish performance goals, performance measures, and milestones. When the Fiscal Year 2017 APR is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Transportation should describe the Department of Transportation's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones, planned actions and an agency official responsible for resolving major management challenges as part of the Department of Transportation's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Department of Transportation had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of the Treasury should include performance goals, performance measures, milestones, and an agency official responsible for resolving major management challenges as part of the Department of the Treasury's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, Treasury had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should include performance goals, performance measures, milestones, planned actions and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of EPA's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its Fiscal Year 2018 APP, EPA took steps to implement this recommendation by clearly identifying its major management challenges and including planned actions for resolving them. Further action is needed to establish performance goals, performance measures, milestones, and identify an agency official responsible for resolving the challenge. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) should describe GSA's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of GSA's agency performance plan.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its Fiscal Year 2018 APP, GSA took steps to implement this recommendation by clearly identifying three major management challenges and including planned actions, performance measures, milestones, and an agency official responsible for resolving them. Further action is needed to establish performance goals. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should include performance goals, milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of HHS's major management challenges as part of HHS's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to its website, for fiscal year 2018, HHS is meeting its performance reporting requirements as designated in the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 and OMB Circular A-11 through the program performance information provided in the FY 2018 HHS Budget Justifications to Congress. As of August 2017, however, HHS has not taken action to implement our recommendation. Our review of HHS' 2018 Congressional Budget Justification found that it did not include recommended information. When the 2019 CBJ is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of the Interior should describe the Department of Interior's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, planned actions, milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of the Department of the Interior's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Department of Interior had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. It is unclear in the APP what Interior considers to be its major management challenges and, if there are such issues, which performance information aligns with resolving those issues. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) should describe NSF's major management challenges and identify performance goals, performance measures, milestones, and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of NSF's agency performance plan.

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its Fiscal Year 2018 APP, NSF took steps to implement this recommendation by clearly identifying its major management challenges and including planned actions for resolving them. Further action is needed to establish performance goals, performance measures, milestones, and identify an agency official responsible for resolving the challenge. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Steve Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further enhance FDA's PREDICT tool and its ability to ensure the safety of imported food, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to document the process for identifying the type of open source data to collect, obtaining such data, and determining how PREDICT is to use the data.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, GAO was awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    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 April 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 2016, but some gaps remain. As of 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. 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: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure vulnerable unaccompanied children receive child advocate services, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct ORR to develop a monitoring process that includes: (1) regularly reviewing referrals to the program contractor, including identifying which care providers in locations with a child advocate program do not make referrals; and (2) reviewing information on the children the program contractor determines it is unable to serve.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) reported that it is working with the child advocate contractor to develop standard operating procedures (SOP) to assign child advocates for children as well as address issues identified in the report and monitor the referral and selection process. ORR also reported that its field staff are working with care providers to ensure that care providers are making referrals for child advocates where a local program exists. In July 2017, ORR reported that new SOPs are under development and the program continues to deny cases when child advocates are unavailable due to the limited number of child advocates. Finalizing standard operating procedures for program referrals and developing a process to review information on the children the program contractor determines it is unable to serve would be positive steps towards addressing the recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To strengthen compliance with the Leahy laws and implementation of State's human rights vetting process and to help ensure that U.S. funded assistance is not provided to Egyptian security forces that have committed gross violations of human rights, as State works to implement a revised version of the International Vetting and Security Tracking system (INVEST) system that is expected to help facilitate equipment vetting, the Secretary of State should develop time frames for establishing corresponding policies and procedures to implement a vetting process to help enable the U.S. government to provide a more reasonable level of assurance that equipment is not transferred to foreign security forces, including those in Egypt, when there is credible information that a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State acknowledged challenges identifying recipients of equipment across the range of assistance activities, but noted that it would continue to update its systems and procedures to facilitate human rights vetting for recipients of equipment. In April 2017, State reported that it had provided finalized guidance on vetting Egyptian recipients of Foreign Military Financing-funded equipment to Embassy Cairo. These procedures have been incorporated into a revised version of Embassy Cairo's guide for conducting human rights vetting. According to State, Embassy Cairo has implemented these procedures. Also, as of June 2017, State has added new features to INVEST to help facilitate vetting of equipment recipients. However, State has not yet provided information on its plans for adopting the procedures used in Egypt more broadly in other countries that also receive equipment through the Foreign Military Financing account or through other U.S. assistance programs. In addition, State has not established requirements for posts to use the new equipment vetting features in INVEST. We will continue to monitor agency efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Congress has the information it needs on the President's use of drawdown authority, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Defense Security Cooperation Agency to report more frequently to Congress on information outlined in Section 506(b)(2) of the Foreign Assistance Act, as amended, even if delivery of all the articles and services authorized has not been completed, or if the crisis is still ongoing.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Secretary of Defense agreed with this recommendation. In December 2016, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency provided 506 reports to Congress. As of April 2017, there were no additional uses of the 506 authority.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) ability to make more effective business decisions across immigration detention facilities with respect to the provision of medical care, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct ICE to track inspection results and conduct analyses of oversight data over time, by standards, and by facility type.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, ICE has not provided a status update regarding the implementation of this recommendation. We will provide updated information after confirming any agency actions.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability of the annual official U.S. estimate of remittances, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the BEA Director to conduct additional analyses of BEA's estimates using estimation techniques appropriate for dealing with the shortcomings of the data. Analyses should also be conducted to understand the effect of various assumptions behind and limitations of the data on the estimates.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and quality of BEA's international remittances estimate, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the BEA Director to follow established BEA best practices, OMB policies, and NRC guidance for documenting BEA's methods and analyses used to revise its model for estimating remittances and for producing its annual estimates.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

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

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

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

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) created a new section in its unaccompanied children's policy guide that, among other things, includes case reporting, records management, retention, and information sharing requirements for post-release service providers. Post-release service providers are required to maintain this information in an ORR-provided database. Also, the section requires that all reports made to ORR's National Call Center be documented and reported in accordance with mandatory reporting laws, state licensing requirements, federal laws and regulations, and ORR policies and procedures. Lastly, in May 2016, ORR released data for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016 on Safety and Well-Being (SWB) follow-up calls that were made to children and their sponsors.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. agencies' performance monitoring of counter-firearms trafficking activities, the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should establish and document performance targets for the bureau's key counter-firearms trafficking activities in Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
    Status: Open

    Comments: ATF concurred with this recommendation and stated that it plans to implement it. According to ATF officials, ATF has engaged in an overview of performance measures in Mexico and, when applicable, in Guatemala and Belize, and planned to implement a more structured annual system of performance targeting and evaluation for operations in these jurisdictions in fiscal year 2017. As of October 2017, we are continuing to follow up with ATF on its efforts to implement the new performance evaluation system.
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. agencies' performance monitoring of counter-firearms trafficking activities, the Secretary of State should work with other U.S. agencies and implementers to help ensure that quarterly progress reports identify key challenges and plans to address them.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with this recommendation and stated that it planned to work with other agencies to implement it. State officials noted that the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau's quarterly reporting template for interagency partners currently contains a segment entitled "Problems or Challenges and Corrective Action Plan/Risk Identification Mitigation" in which the interagency partner is expected to detail any problems or challenges in implementing any of the program components and activities. State officials stated they will continue to remind interagency partners of this requirement and assist with correct completion of the reporting templates.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective implementation of the strategic objective of the Weapons Chapter of the Strategy, the ONDCP Director should establish a more comprehensive indicator, or set of indicators, that more accurately reflects progress made by ATF and ICE in meeting the strategic objective.

    Agency: Office of National Drug Control Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As part of ONDCP's comments on our draft report, the agency concurred with our recommendation to establish a more comprehensive set of indicators for the Weapons Chapter of the National Southwest Border Counternarcotic Strategy. ONDCP indicated that it would work with ICE and ATF to develop additional indicators to evaluate their progress. ONDCP agreed that the indicators developed through this collaborative process would be used in future iterations of the Strategy. However, in its July 26, 2017 letter to the relevant congressional committees leadership ONDCP explained that a decision has not been made on whether a new iteration of Strategy will be released, or if the current Administration will take different approach to address this issue. We will need to wait until an update of the Strategy is available for us to review to determine if our recommendation has been implemented.
    Director: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve OPIC's monitoring processes, the President and CEO of OPIC should assess the current monitoring processes to ensure that the risk associated with the use of client-reported data and limited site visits for monitoring is acceptable for meeting OPIC's program goals.

    Agency: Overseas Private Investment Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on the draft report, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) concurred with the recommendation. In February 2017, OPIC executed two contracts with an external group to assist it in assessing the Office of Information Policy's current monitoring processes to ensure that the risks associated with the use of client-reported data and limited site visits for monitoring are acceptable and meet OPIC's program goals. The work is currently underway.
    Director: Courts, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand the costs and effectiveness of actions to mitigate the effects of Afghan staff attrition, and to inform future workforce planning efforts, the Secretary of State should evaluate these actions.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2016, The Department of State reported that Embassy Kabul and the Department will develop a plan to weigh the costs of programs designed to mitigate the effects of Afghan staff attrition with the benefits of these programs to determine which strategies are most effective in handling Afghan staff attrition.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to monitor Title II conditional food aid and evaluate food-for-assets activities' impact on reducing food insecurity, the USAID Administrator should establish a mechanism to readily identify all Title II projects that include conditional food aid activities and systematically collect information about the type of conditional activity included in each project.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, USAID concurred with the recommendation and stated its intention to establish a mechanism to readily identify all Title II projects that include conditional food aid activities and to collect information about the type of conditional activity in each project through the Food for Peace Management Information System. USAID also noted that it is already collecting such information for the Emergency Food Security Program, another food assistance program. As of May 2017, GAO continues to monitor USAID's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to monitor Title II conditional food aid and evaluate food-for-assets activities' impact on reducing food insecurity, the USAID Administrator should systematically assess the effectiveness of food-for-assets activities in development projects in achieving project goals and objectives.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, USAID concurred with the recommendation. In September 2016, USAID stated that it had undertaken relevant reviews of the effectiveness and sustainability of Title II development projects and that it is considering expanding evaluations of completed projects to assess sustainability of results over time. As of May 2017, GAO continues to monitor USAID's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve State's processing of nonimmigrant visas, the Secretary of State should evaluate the relative impact of efforts undertaken to reduce nonimmigrant visa interview wait times to help managers make informed future resource decisions.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to State officials, State's Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is committed to putting procedures in place that will provide all of the necessary management information to assess the relative impact of process improvement efforts. State officials said that CA has expanded collection of detailed nonimmigrant visa productivity data from posts that account for nearly 65 percent of the worldwide NIV workload. That data will provide a basis for future analysis of the impact of process or program changes on adjudicator productivity. State, however, has not completed an evaluation of the relative impact of their efforts.
    Recommendation: To further improve State's processing of nonimmigrant visas, the Secretary of State should document a plan for obtaining end user (i.e., consular officers) input to help improve end user satisfaction and prioritize enhancements to information technology systems.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State informed GAO that it has taken some steps to gather additional end-user input, such as centrally tracking and then prioritizing input and expanding the use of Agile development methodology that will permit more frequent updates of software that end users desire. State, however, has not provided evidence of a documented plan for obtaining end user input to help improve end user satisfaction and prioritize enhancements to information technology systems.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: While recognizing that cargo preference serves policy goals established by Congress with respect to the U.S. merchant marine, including maintenance of a fleet capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, Congress should consider clarifying cargo preference legislation regarding the definition of "geographic area" to ensure that agencies can fully utilize the flexibility Congress granted to them when it lowered the CPFA requirement.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: We did not receive comments on the Matter for Congressional Consideration. As of March 2017, no legislation had been introduced to clarify the definition of 'geographic area' with regard to cargo preference laws.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of MARAD to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. In the study, MARAD should identify potential solutions to address the mariner shortfall if one is still identified.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments, DOT concurred with our recommendation to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. DOT stated that MARAD has been reviewing the adequacy of existing plans to recruit mariner volunteers to crew the full reserve fleet. Furthermore, DOT noted that 13,000 mariners are required to crew all the vessels in the fleet for sustained operations. On June 15, 2016, GAO contacted MARAD officials to clarify the current status of the National Maritime Strategy, which DOT officials had stated would contain the results of their review. The officials said that the Strategy is still in the interagency process for approval and is not likely to be published until the end of 2016. DOT told GAO in December 2016 that it had conducted an exercise in September 2016 to test mariner availability for an initial activation of the full fleet. However, this exercise did not fully address GAO's recommendation, as it did not test for a full and prolonged activation of the fleet. Furthermore, DOT officials told GAO in April 2017 that the National Maritime Strategy has not been released and is awaiting review from the current Administration.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202)512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen agency performance measurement related to deterring child smuggling, the Secretary of Homeland Security should instruct DHS's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to establish annual performance targets associated with the performance measures it has established for its Transnational Criminal Investigative Units.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on the report in July 2015, the Department of Homeland Security stated that it concurred with this recommendation, and that it would work with host nation partners to establish goals to measure these units' investigative activities and capacity development. In September 2015, DHS noted that it planned to use law enforcement data to measure TCIU success rates and inform efforts going forward. GAO has followed up with DHS--most recently in June 2017--on the status of its efforts to establish performance targets, but has not yet received a response.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to institute procedures to improve posts' compliance with requirements for conducting residential security surveys.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To improve posts' compliance with residential survey requirements, State is developing a global standardized residential survey program that, according to DS, will give DS officials at State headquarters and security officers at posts the ability to access and audit security surveys for all residential holdings. As of April 2017, DS estimated a 12-month development cycle for this program beginning in February 2017. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to take steps to clarify existing standards and security-related guidance for residences. For example, DS could conduct a comprehensive review of its various standards and security-related guidance for residences and take steps to identify and eliminate gaps and inconsistencies.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State conducted a review of existing standards and identified numerous gaps, inconsistencies, and standards receiving exceptions more than being followed. As of April 2017, State was in the process of updating these standards. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to develop procedures for ensuring that all residences at posts overseas either meet applicable standards or have required exceptions on file.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To ensure residences meet applicable standards, State is developing a global standardized residential survey program that, according to DS, will give DS officials at State headquarters and security officers at posts the ability to access and audit security surveys for all residential holdings. DS has estimated a 12-month development cycle for this program beginning in February 2017. As of April 2017, DS had also launched a system to track exception requests and approvals. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Lawrance Evans
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance and sustain future U.S. participation in the development of international capital standards for insurers, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Director of FIO, in consultation with the Federal Reserve and NAIC, to enhance future collaborative interagency efforts by following additional leading practices for collaboration, such as taking steps to sustain leadership over the long term and publicly reporting on their efforts, for example in annual reports.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although Treasury publicly reported on collaboration efforts between the Federal Insurance Office, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and state insurance regulators in its most recent annual report, it has not taken other steps to ensure that leadership will be sustained over the long term.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should reconsider State's INKSNA process to ensure that it (1) complies with INKSNA's 6-month reporting cycle, and (2) minimizes delays in its ability to opt to impose sanctions.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments on the draft report, the Department of State concurred with our recommendation while expressing concerns about what it referred to as the inherent difficulties of producing INKSNA reports every six months as required by law. In a July 2016 letter, State noted that it had worked to minimize delays in its ability to impose sanctions pursuant to INKSNA reports and that it aims to eventually comply with INKSNA's six-month reporting cycle as it clears the existing backlog of INKSNA cases. Moreover, it noted that State had transmitted three INKSNA reports covering three years of activity (the latest covering calendar year 2013) within the last 18 months as evidence that it was making progress towards meeting the GAO recommendation. GAO will continue monitoring State's efforts to fully implement the recommendation.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve Transformation Program governance, the Secretary of DHS should direct the Under Secretary for Management to ensure that the Acquisition Review Board is effectively monitoring the Transformation Program's performance and progress toward a predefined cost and schedule; ensuring that corrective actions are tracked until the desired outcomes are achieved; and relying on complete and accurate program data to review the performance of the Transformation Program against stated expectations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had demonstrated that it had taken steps to address this recommendation, but additional steps were needed. Since we issued this recommendation in May 2015, the Office of Program Accountability and Risk Management (PARM), which serves as the Acquisition Review Board (ARB) executive secretariat and is to oversee DHS's acquisition portfolio, in coordination with the Office of the Chief Information Officer, has actively increased program oversight. For example, beginning in May 2015, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) demonstrated that it submitted data supporting cost, schedule, and technical performance metrics to DHS on a monthly basis. The ARB has also held a number of meetings to discuss the Transformation Program and issued associated Acquisition Decision Memoranda with related action items. In addition, in February 2016, PARM demonstrated that DHS developed a procedure to help ensure acquisition decision memorandum actions, including corrective actions, are tracked until the desired outcomes are achieved. However, as of August 2017, the USCIS Transformation Program was in breach of its previously approved schedule expectations and was taking a strategic pause in developing new software while working to re-baseline cost and schedule expectations. During this strategic pause, the program is working to complete various action items assigned by the Acquisition Review Board, including completing an updated Release Roadmap and submitting it to PARM no later than December 29, 2017; updated Lifecycle Cost Estimate and providing it to the Cost Analysis Division no later than December 29, 2017; updated Test and Evaluation Master Plan and submitting it to the Office of Test and Evaluation no later than January 31, 2018; and an updated Acquisition Program Baseline and providing it to PARM no later than December 29, 2017. We will continue to monitor DHS?s efforts to re-baseline the USCIS Transformation Program and the Acquisition Review Board's efforts to monitor the Transformation Program's performance and progress toward a predefined cost and schedule; ensure that corrective actions are tracked until the desired outcomes are achieved; and rely on complete and accurate program data to review the performance of the Transformation Program against stated expectations until and after a new baseline is established.
    Recommendation: To improve Transformation Program governance, the Secretary of DHS should direct the DHS Under Secretary for Management, in coordination with the Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, to ensure that the Executive Steering Committee is effectively monitoring the Transformation Program's performance and progress toward a predefined cost and schedule and relying on complete and accurate program data to review the performance of the Transformation Program against stated expectations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had demonstrated that it had taken steps to address this recommendation, but additional steps were needed. More specifically, as of July 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Transformation program office provided evidence that the Executive Steering Committee (ESC) continued to discuss cost, schedule, and operational performance metrics as part of the program's ESC meetings. However, as of August 2017, the USCIS Transformation Program was in breach of its previously approved schedule expectations and was taking a strategic pause in developing new software while working to re-baseline its cost and schedule expectations. During this strategic pause, the program is working to complete various action items assigned by the Acquisition Review Board, including completing an updated Release Roadmap and submitting it to the Office of Program Accountability and Risk Management (PARM) no later than December 29, 2017; updated Lifecycle Cost Estimate and providing it to the Cost Analysis Division no later than December 29, 2017; updated Test and Evaluation Master Plan and submitting it to the Office of Test and Evaluation no later than January 31, 2018; and an updated Acquisition Program Baseline and providing it to PARM no later than December 29, 2017. In addition, according to the program?s August 2017 Acquisition Decision Memorandum, the ESC has been transformed into a component-only body with no headquarters involvement, and the program was to establish a Program Management Integrated Product Team, which was to meet bi-weekly beginning in September 2017. We will continue to monitor DHS's efforts to re-baseline the USCIS Transformation Program, the impact of changes to the ESC, and the ESC?s efforts to effectively monitor the Transformation Program's performance and progress toward a predefined cost and schedule and rely on complete and accurate program data to review the performance of the Transformation Program against stated expectations until and after a new program baseline is established.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that assessments prepared by the Office of the Chief Information Officer in support of the department's updates to the federal IT Dashboard more fully reflect the current status of the Transformation Program, the Secretary of DHS should direct the department's Chief Information Officer to use accurate and reliable information, such as operational assessments of the new architecture and cost and schedule parameters approved by the Under Secretary of Management.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had demonstrated that it had taken steps to address this recommendation, but additional steps were needed. In particular, in February 2016, the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), in coordination with the Office of Program Accountability and Risk Management (PARM), had consolidated the department's Investment Management System and Next Generation Periodic Reporting System tools into a single enterprise information management and repository system named Investment Evaluation, Submission, and Tracking (INVEST). According to the department, this effort should improve the reliability of the metrics used by OCIO's Enterprise Business Management Office (EBMO), as well as the other line of business and component program offices, and ensure data integrity. The data reported in INVEST include cost, schedule, and operational performance metrics that are to align with the OMB's Information Technology (IT) Dashboard reporting requirements. In addition, as of September 2017, the program was listed as a high-risk program on the federal IT dashboard, in contrast to its April 2015 rating of medium risk. However, as of August 2017, the program was in breach of its previously approved schedule expectations and was taking a strategic pause in developing new software while working to re-baseline its cost and schedule expectations. We will continue to monitor DHS?s efforts to re-baseline the USCIS Transformation Program and the Office of the Chief Information Officer's efforts to use accurate and reliable information to update the federal IT dashboard until and after a new program baseline is established.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve USAID's ability to measure progress in achieving a quantitative reading goal in any future education strategy, the Acting USAID Administrator should ensure that the future strategy includes targets that will allow USAID to monitor interim progress toward its goal in comparison with planned performance.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on the report, USAID agreed to implement GAO's recommendation. USAID told GAO in August 2015 that a new Education Strategy will continue to focus on primary grade reading through 2020. The current strategy was scheduled to end in December 2015. USAID noted that as it expands its body of knowledge surrounding achievements of current reading projects, it will be better able to set achievable project and country level targets and report interim progress toward the new strategy's aggregate primary grade reading goal. USAID announced on August 28, 2017 that it has extended the 2011-2015 Education Strategy until December 2017, to allow adequate time for development of a new strategy with "the full backing and ownership of the new Administration." This recommendation will be applicable once USAID establishes a new strategy with new targets. According to a USAID official, as of September 14, 2017, the current strategy remains extended through December 2017. We will continue to monitor this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve the ability of U.S. government agencies and others to assess the timeliness of U.S. security assistance to Yemen, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to improve the accuracy of data used to track when Section 1206 projects are congressionally cleared for implementation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD officials indicated that they will correct the historical congressional notification clearance data for Yemen and ensure it is correct going forward, with the goal of having correct data by May, 2015. They also noted there is a policy in place requiring the congressional notification clearance date entered into the database to be drawn from the e-mail from the DOD Comptroller's office indicating the clearance date. In order to correct the historical data, DOD will try to find documents showing the actual clearance dates, but when those are unavailable, DOD will add fifteen days to the date of the congressional notification. As of June 2017, DOD had not provided documentation in response to our requests for a status update regarding this recommendation. We will monitor these efforts to determine when they have been completed.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that OBO fully documents and keeps readily available the basis for its planning decisions according to State's policy for new embassy compounds and major renovation projects, such as decisions to construct a building on-site or lease space off-site.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: Beginning in 2016, major programmatic decisions related to choosing new embassy construction projects for award each fiscal year will be documented using a risk-based decision-making model. This model incorporates concepts of multi-attribute decision analysis and risk analytics to suggest an ideal project sequencing. Model inputs and outputs are stored on the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OB0) SharePoint directory. State expects to develop a similar method for the major rehabilitation program that may be implemented as early as 2017. Major project level decisions are documented through a variety of methods. OBO and other offices at State develop new embassy compound alternative analyses to document decisions about whether to pursue new construction, renovate and stay-in-place, or relocate to new leased space. Warehouse business cases document decisions to build on, or lease off compound. Those are kept, readily available, in OBO's SharePoint Directory. As projects proceed further through design and construction phases, any major decisions required are generally documented in decision memoranda and saved in OBO Link.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should develop policy and comprehensive guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In June 2016, USAID reported that it would work with the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) on the development and dissemination of policy and guidance related to financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects. In April 2017, USAID stated that it is continuing to work with CaLP and provide training for FFP staff and implementing partners for the oversight and management of cash-based food assistance programs, including courses related to the financial oversight. However, as of April 2017, USAID had not completed any guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should require USAID staff to conduct systematic financial oversight of USAID's cash-based food assistance projects in the field.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In January 2017, USAID stated that it was continuing to pursue training opportunities for staff in response to this recommendation. However, USAID, as of April 2017, had not completed efforts to address the recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to require staff to conduct systematic financial oversight and determine the extent to which the training and third monitoring will address this issue.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

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

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

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

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

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL indicated that it was considering the utility of collecting these data in light of the fact that the new H-2B regulations that were issued in April 2015 eliminated the 2-year statute of limitations for the H-2B program. We continue to believe, however, that this data collection would be valuable given that the H-2A program is still subject to the 2-year statute of limitations. The department indicated it is undertaking a modernization of its data systems--by implementing a data governance structure that will manage its data as a business asset--and our recommendation for the collection of these data will be vetted through this process.
    Director: Cary B. Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to ensure SPOT-ES cost estimates are accurate and comprehensive, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness should, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics direct the system's program office to regularly update its life-cycle cost estimate to include defining and assessing its plans for SPOT-ES.

    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 help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to help improve timeliness and reliability of data in SPOT-ES, the Secretary of Defense should direct Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy officials, through the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to ensure that contracting officers use available mechanisms to track contractor performance of SPOT data entry, such as its Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System or other appropriate performance systems or databases.

    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 help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to enhance the value of SPOT-ES data, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to fully register SPOT-ES data in the DSE to make data visible and trusted, including taking the necessary steps related to authoritative data sources.

    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 help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to help ensure that DOD possesses the capability to collect and report statutorily required information and to clarify responsibilities and procedures, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update SPOT provisions during the process of updating operational contract support guidance.

    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 help improve DOD, State, and USAID's ability to track contracts and contractor personnel in contingency operations and to provide clarity about expectations for the Joint Asset Movement Management System (JAMMS) that can help improve the timeliness and reliability of data for SPOT-ES from JAMMS uploads, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in coordination with the combatant commanders, to develop comprehensive guidance regarding the purpose of JAMMS and its role in supporting plans for different types of missions. Such guidance could include direction on the number and location of JAMMS terminals and how frequently JAMMS's data should be uploaded into SPOT-ES to meet DOD's information needs.

    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: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish a mechanism to ensure that sponsors provide complete and consistent lists of fees that participants must pay.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish a mechanism to ensure that sponsor provide complete and consistent lists of fees that exchange visitors on the Summer Work Travel program must pay, State acknowledged it collected such fee information in 2016. As of August 3, 2017, we are awaiting State's review and analysis of this information to ensure the price lists are consistent and comprehensive.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish a mechanism to establish a mechanism to ensure that information about these participant fees is made publicly available.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish a mechanism to ensure that information about Summer Work Travel participant fees is made publically available, State noted that it had published a notice for proposed rulemaking on January 12, 2017. When finalized, this would require would require each sponsor to include in its recruiting material, and post on its main Web site (e.g., with a visible link to such a page on the sponsor?s homepage), examples of the typical monthly budgets of exchange visitors placed in various regions of the United States to illustrate wages (based on the required weekly minimum of 32-hours of work at a typical host placement) balanced against itemized fees and estimated costs. Until State finalizes this rule, they cannot enforce this requirement. As of July 27, 2017, this information was not available to the public on the six sponsor websites we checked.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish detailed criteria that will allow State to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of opportunities for cultural activities outside the workplace that sponsors provide to SWT participants.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish detailed criteria that will allow it to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of opportunities for cultural activities outside the workplace that sponsors provide to Summer Work Travel participants, State published a notice for proposed rulemaking on January 12, 2017. When finalized, this would require sponsors and their host entities to create cultural opportunities at least once per month. The proposed rule also notes that State will issue guidance outlining best practices for cross-cultural programming. As of July 27, 2017 this is not finalized.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the timely completion of an evaluation of security assistance to Egypt that is required by State policy, the Secretary of State should establish specific time frames for completing such an evaluation.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State noted that while evaluation of security assistance to Egypt poses challenges, it views evaluation as a critical tool for accountability and program improvement and will continue to pursue a formal evaluation of security assistance to Egypt. As of August 2017, State had not established specific time frames for such an evaluation. However, according to State officials, the department had begun preliminary data collection in anticipation of an evaluation at some point in the future. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct State's Office of the Procurement Executive to incorporate leading practices into any future single insurer solicitations by determining whether existing guidance could be used, or by developing guidance based on leading practices in federal and State Department acquisition regulations and State internal control standards.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with the recommendation and said it would incorporate leading practices into any future single insurer solicitation if a determination is made to pursue a single insurer program. However, as of 4/7/2017 State had not made a determination to pursue a single insurer program. GAO will continue monitor State's effort to implement the 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: Johnson Jr, Charles M
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the definition of the GSCF program and assist stakeholders in assessing whether GSCF is meeting its goals, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense should provide a range of time to clarify the time frames associated with near- to mid-term GSCF projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) partially agreed that the departments should clearly define what time frames constitute "near- to mid-term" for GSCF projects. As of September 2015, DOD has not published a definition for what time frame constitutes "near to mid-term" for GSCF projects.
    Recommendation: To enhance the definition of the GSCF program and assist stakeholders in assessing whether GSCF is meeting its goals, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense should provide a range of time to clarify the time frames associated with near- to mid-term GSCF projects.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State did not agree that the departments should define what time frames constitute "near- to mid-term" for GSCF projects. As of September 2015, State has not published a definition for what time frame constitutes "near to mid-term" for GSCF projects.
    Recommendation: To enhance the definition of the GSCF program and assist stakeholders in assessing whether GSCF is meeting its goals, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense should track GSCF projects against established time frames.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense agreed that the departments should track GSCF projects against established time frames and said in its response that the departments plan to track the projects against the congressional notification timelines and plan to continue holding biweekly calls with project implementers to identify and address implementation considerations. As of September 2015, DOD has not tracked GSCF projects against time frames.
    Recommendation: To enhance the definition of the GSCF program and assist stakeholders in assessing whether GSCF is meeting its goals, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense should track GSCF projects against established time frames.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed that the departments should track GSCF projects against established time frames. As of September 2015, State is not tracking GSCF projects against time frames.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

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

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of the report, the Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation and indicated that it would update the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) accordingly once the final Federal Acquisition Regulation on Ending Trafficking in Persons had been published. In January 2015, DOD updated the DFARS to include a sample checklist for auditing compliance with Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) policy. This checklist reiterates the U.S. government's zero tolerance policy regarding trafficking in persons and includes, among other items, questions regarding contractors' treatment of employee passports and other identification documents. In addition, in September 2017, DOD reported that it had developed and mandated acquisition training for DOD military and civilian contracting employees. U.S. Central Command has also created a CTIP Program Manager position in Afghanistan, which ensures that CTIP training is provided to contracting officials in that country. GAO is monitoring these efforts and will provide an update on DOD's progress as more information becomes available.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should establish time frames and develop performance indicators to assess the extent to which Peru's actions are meeting the commitments of the U.S.-Peru bilateral action plan to address specific challenges in Peru's forestry sector.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO met with USTR staff in July 2016 to discuss detailed a number of actions USTR has taken, with its partners on the interagency partners, including members on the Interagency Committee on Trade in Timber Products from Peru (timber committee), to develop appropriate benchmarks to measure Peru's progress in implementing commitments under the bilateral forestry action plan. USTR officials explained that they continue to work with the timber committee in regards to developing appropriate indicators to monitor the bilateral plan. In addition, USTR staff provided us with documentation containing actions aligned with the objectives of the bilateral plan, potential indicators for monitoring Peru?s activities in regards to the action plan, and potential sources for information collection to update the potential indicators. While we are encouraged by these actions, we will continue to periodically review USTR?s implementation of its instrument to monitor actions taken by Peru in response to the bilateral action plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should work with its interagency monitoring subcommittee to establish time frames and performance indicators to implement its plan for enhanced monitoring of implementation of FTA environmental commitments across all FTA partner countries.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, GAO met with USTR staff to discuss its efforts for ensuring that U.S. trading partners implement and comply with their international trade obligations, including obligations under the environment chapters of our free trade agreements. According to USTR staff, they continue to work with the interagency monitoring committee to systematically monitor environmental issues with its free trade partners, although staff reiterated that this is not a blanket approach to search for infractions. In addition, according to USTR staff, they have used systematic methods to monitor issues with illegal fishing with Korea and Mexico, and logging issues with Peru, for example. GAO will continue to evaluate USTR's progress in executing its procedures, which includes applying benchmarks and indicators where appropriate, in its updated monitoring.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, should establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOL concurred with GAO recommendation and stated that it regularly coordinates monitoring and enforcement activities related to assessing and ensuring the consistency of FTA partner countries' labor laws, regulations, and practices with FTA labor provisions with USTR and State. In March 2017, the Monitoring and Enforcement of Trade Agreements Division (META) in DOLs Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) finalized Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for monitoring FTA labor provisions and engaging with partner country governments and stakeholders. These SOPs involve a renewed emphasis on monitoring trips to FTA partner countries to meet with government officials and in-country stakeholders to gather information on potential FTA violations and make key contacts with stakeholders to encourage direct communication going forward. The SOPs also include provisions regarding coordination with USTR and State in the monitoring and enforcement of FTA labor provisions. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by DOL and USTR.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, should establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a correspondence dated January 12, 2015, USTR concurred with GAO's recommendation that USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns. USTR stated that it is constantly exploring strategies to monitor and analyze information on labor issue more effectively and take action to implement those strategies. To implement GAO's recommendation, USTR is increasing the level and frequency of interagency monitoring through the Trade Policy Staff Committee, Subcommittee on Labor Monitor and Enforcement. Additionally, with DOL, USTR is exploring ways to improve engagement with U.S. Embassies in trade partner countries to monitor labor conditions. For example, DOL is funding the placement of labor officers in certain priority U.S. Embassies to collect and assess facts and to support the implementation of USTR and DOL's efforts. To date, according to USTR, DOL has placed labor officers in Colombia, Honduras, and Bangladesh. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by USTR and DOL.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR should ensure that the Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreement Programs, which USTR provides each year to Congress, includes results of USTR's and DOL's efforts to proactively monitor partner countries' compliance with FTA labor provisions.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a correspondence dated January 12, 2015, USTR concurred with GAO's recommendation that USTR should ensure that the Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreement Programs, which USTR provides each year to Congress, includes results of USTR's and DOL's efforts to proactively monitor partner countries' compliance with FTA labor provisions. USTR stated that its annual report already provides country-specific information on labor issues and that USTR regularly engages with Congress to provide detailed information on labor issues via meetings and phone conferences. Nonetheless, USTR recognizes that meaningful engagement with Congress is an indispensable part of monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions. To implement GAO's recommendation, USTR agreed to continue to identify more effective ways of communicating with Congress, including USTR's committees of jurisdiction, with respect to the Administration's FTA monitoring and enforcement efforts. Furthermore, USTR stated that it will solicit congressional advice and input to inform its efforts. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by USTR.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: For elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, the Secretary of State should provide the relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In the absence of such information, State should explain to the congressional committees why it was not included in the strategy.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated December 23, 2014, the Department of State (State) noted that the elements identified in the GAO report as not being adequately addressed by State were matters where the consensus of the intelligence community was that there was not an identifiable threat to counter. GAO's report assessed that State did not address four specific elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012. State's December 2014 letter provided explanations for these four elements, including the availability of information on existing agency websites, briefings provided to Congress, and State's lack of finding that foreign governments showed clear threats. We continue to maintain that the strategy did not include all of the elements that the law stated should be included, and State did not demonstrate that it provided relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In December 2015, State noted that it remains in close contact with the relevant congressional committees across a range of security, economic and political with regard to the Western Hemisphere on a regular and continuing basis. State further noted that it provided an oral briefing along with its original submission of the report to Congress and answered questions posed by Congress. State officials said that they stand ready to provide further information in the appropriate setting should it be requested. However, State did not provide GAO with information about whether it had provided information to Congress specifically for the elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, nor provide additional information about whether State explained to the congressional committees why any absence of such information was not included in the strategy. Furthermore, GAO learned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff that State and the Office of the Director for National Intelligence provided a briefing to the committee regarding Iranian activities in Latin America on February 25, 2016. As of August 2016, GAO did not receive any documents related to the briefings because, according to State, the talking points document was considered deliberative and therefore could not be shared. According to State officials, they continue to monitor the issue and brief Congress as appropriate. As of June 2017, State noted that its position regarding this recommendation and the deliberative nature of the talking points document remains unchanged.
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enable the Army to address the requirement to identify and track personnel with SFA-related experience, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to develop and implement a plan with goals and milestones for how it will develop the means for systematically identifying and tracking personnel with SFA-related experience.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a TRADOC official, TRADOC has reviewed the CJCSI on Irregular Warfare (Sept. 2015) as well as the recently published DoDI 3000.11 - Management of DoD Irregular Warfare (IW) and Security Force Assistance (SFA) Capabilities (dated 3 May 2016). Based on that recently published DoDI, TRADOC (along with the other services) are coordinating with the Office of the Secretary of Defense - Force Training to prepare an initial briefing at the next Irregular Warfare Executive Steering Committee chaired by both ASD SO/LIC and JS J7 (tentatively scheduled for Jan. 2017). The briefing will cover how TRADOC plans to identify and track SFA and IW capabilities and where they are in starting that tracking process, to include any significant issues or best practices. TRADOC will then be prepared to provide a report on those skills, training and education programs and experiences every two years in conjunction with the IW assessment as required by the Instruction. In preparation for that briefing, TRADOC conducted a meeting the first week of August with both the G1 (Personnel) and Force Modernization Division to discuss the current Service personnel systems and wargame a best way to capture those skills, training and experiences. According to the official, a potential solution may be the development of an Additional Skill Identifier (ASI) vice creating a separate MOS, to allow the most effective means of being able to capture those SFA and IW skills experiences and training and the identification of a Proponent/authority for the awarding of the ASI.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that the security of radiological sources at industrial facilities is reasonably assured, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should conduct an assessment of the T&R process--by which licensees approve employees for unescorted access--to determine if it provides reasonable assurance against insider threats, including (1) determining why criminal history information concerning convictions for terroristic threats was not provided to a licensee during the T&R process to establish if this represents an isolated case or a systemic weakness in the T&R process; and (2) revising, to the extent permitted by law, the T&R process to provide specific guidance to licensees on how to review a employee's background. NRC should also consider whether certain criminal convictions or other indicators should disqualify an employee from T&R or trigger a greater role for NRC.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: On December 14, 2016, the NRC provided Congress with a report detailing its review of the effectiveness of the requirements in 10 CFR Part 37 to determine whether any additional security measures, guidance updates, rulemaking changes, or licensee outreach efforts are appropriate. The completion of the 10 CFR Part 37 program review included insights into the effectiveness of the T&R process. Specifically, the review generated recommendations for enhancements in the area of T&R, including, among other things, increased controls for protection of information related to individuals having access to Category 1 and 2 quantities of radioactive materials; improved guidance related to information individuals must disclose when applying for unescorted access; development of sample forms or templates for use in T&R evaluations; and improved coordination efforts with the FBI to share potential terrorist threat information involving individuals seeking approval for new or continued unescorted access to Category 1 and 2 quantities of radioactive materials. However, certain aspects of the NRC staff's assessment of the T&R process remain ongoing. Specifically, on November 25, 2016, the staff closed Temporary Instruction (TI) 2800/042, "Evaluation of Trustworthiness and Reliability Determinations," and is using the information gained from the TI to consider additional enhancements to the T&R process. As part of this continuing effort, the NRC will evaluate the potential use of disqualifying criteria in making T&R determinations and the incorporation of additional insider mitigation program features, such as requiring the self-reporting of legal actions, into the T&R process to which the individual has been subject. The NRC expects this evaluation to be completed in December 2017.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To reduce uncertainty about the expected cost and schedule of the U.S. ITER Project and its potential impact on the U.S. fusion program, once the ITER Organization completes its reassessment of the international project schedule, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Associate Director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to use that schedule, if reliable, to propose a final, stable funding plan for the U.S. ITER Project, approve a performance baseline with finalized cost and schedule estimates, and communicate this information to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of June 2017, the ITER Council had approved a revised international project schedule through the achievement of first plasma, and DOE had used that revised schedule to establish a performance baseline for the first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE had also communicated that performance baseline to Congress through its fiscal year 2018 budget request. However, DOE has not yet set a performance baseline for the post-first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE officials told us they planned to do so once the Secretary of Energy has made a decision on whether the U.S. would continue to participate in ITER, a decision which officials expected to happen at the end of 2017.
    Recommendation: To reduce uncertainty about the expected cost and schedule of the U.S. ITER Project and its potential impact on the U.S. fusion program, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Associate Director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to direct the U.S. ITER Project Office to revise and update the project's cost estimate to meet all characteristics of high-quality, reliable cost estimates. Specifically, the U.S. ITER Project Office should revise the project's cost estimate to ensure it is credible by including a comprehensive sensitivity analysis that includes all significant cost elements and conducting an independent cost estimate.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, DOE had revised and updated the cost estimate for the first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. Officials reported that, as part of that update, the U.S. ITER Project Office had completed a comprehensive sensitivity analysis and that the Office of Science's Office of Project Assessment had conducted a review of the revised cost estimate. However, DOE had yet to revise and update the cost estimate for the post-first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE officials told us they planned to do so when they set a performance baseline for that portion of the project, which they expected to do once the Secretary of Energy has made a decision on whether the U.S. would continue to participate in ITER. Officials expected that decision to happen at the end of 2017.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve federal-state collaboration in providing export promotion services in accordance with the National Export Initiative, and the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, the Secretary of Commerce, as Chair of the TPCC, should take steps consistent with key practices to enhance, where possible, federal information sharing with state trade offices on Commerce's export promotion activities. This could include more formal guidance to Commerce staff regarding the circumstances, in light of legal restrictions, in which information can be shared with state trade offices and other nonfederal entities, and exploring ways for clients to give permission to release information useful to such nonfederal entities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) notified GAO that it did not fully concur with GAO's May 2014 recommendation, preferring instead to maintain a case-by-case approach rather than issuing more formal guidance on federal information sharing with state trade offices. According to Commerce, as of March 2016, the agency was in the process of implementing a new client relationship management system. Commerce officials said that as future iterations of this system and public websites come online, they would seek to identify ways for clients to give permission to release information useful to other federal agencies, state trade offices, and other local service providers. In February 2016, Congress passed The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Public Law 114-125, which requires that within a year of the act's passing, Commerce must develop a federal-state export promotion coordination plan that addresses, among other things, information sharing between federal and state trade offices. The act also requires Commerce and state trade promotion agencies to develop a framework to share information on export successes, and report to Congress on this framework within a year of the law's enactment. Later in 2016, Commerce officials began holding monthly calls with SIDO and state trade offices to share information on topics such as client intake, performance measures, and new federal export promotion activities. In March 2017, Commerce officials informed GAO that after further review of information-sharing limitations under the Trade Secrets Act, Commerce has determined that Written Impact Narratives (WINs) that have been approved for public use by the clients can be shared with State trade agencies. Commerce is currently developing a policy to ensure they are shared in a timely manner. In addition, the newly formed Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) state and federal export promotion working group is expected to create a framework for information sharing. Without greater information sharing in the provision of similar services, Commerce will likely be limited in its ability to help ensure that export promotion services are efficiently managed across federal and state efforts, and that resources are appropriately leveraged.
    Recommendation: To improve federal-state collaboration in providing export promotion services in accordance with the National Export Initiative, and the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, the Secretary of Commerce, as Chair of the TPCC, should take steps consistent with key practices for collaboration to enhance TPCC agencies' partnering on export promotion with nonfederal entities, such as State International Development Organizations and Global Cities. This could include reassessing and strengthening the TPCC's intergovernmental partnerships by clarifying expected outcomes, defining roles and responsibilities, monitoring results, and planning resource needs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which is responsible for providing a unified national framework for export promotion, have taken some steps to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion, as GAO recommended in May 2014 and as called for in a subsequent law. In February 2016, Congress passed The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Public Law 114-125, which according to the State International Development Organizations (SIDO), contained provisions intended to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion. First, the act directs the President to establish a state and federal export promotion coordination working group as a subcommittee of the TPCC and appoint at least one representative from a state trade promotion agency to the TPCC. Second, beginning in February 2017, the act requires Commerce to annually submit to the TPCC a federal-state export strategy for each state that submits its export strategy to Commerce for that year that, among other things, addresses efforts to reduce duplication. Third, the act requires Commerce and state trade promotion agencies to develop a coordinated set of performance metrics, and report to Congress on these metrics within a year of the law's enactment. Fourth, the act mandates an annual survey and analysis, in coordination with state trade promotion agencies, of the overall effectiveness of federal-state coordination in export promotion. In April 2016 Commerce and SIDO signed a memorandum of intent to develop joint strategies and implement activities to enhance federal and state agency coordination and cooperation . In September 2016 Commerce issued a Federal Register Notice announcing the establishment of a state and federal export promotion coordination working group under the TPCC. The Secretary of Commerce appointed 14 members to this new working group in January 2017, which has met several times according to Commerce officials. The working group is developing a federal-state export coordination strategy that is expected to define roles and responsibilities, among other things. Successfully completing these activities is important, because without joint federal-state planning, programs at different levels of government will likely continue to be duplicative, and effective resource planning will likely be hampered.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help clarify the direction of future U.S. participation and position the United States for a successful Arctic Council chairmanship, the Secretary of State should assess the status of recommendations adopted through the Council, and strengthen the Council's ability to address Arctic issues within its purview. As a part of its responsibilities in assuming the Council chair in 2015 and in collaboration with other relevant agencies, the Secretary of State should develop a joint strategy for U.S. participation in the Council that outlines a clear direction for the agencies and identifies resources needed to sustain collaborative efforts and consistent participation in the Council.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are working with Department of State officials to track the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's tracking and reporting on progress of its Local Solutions initiative, the USAID Administrator should identify additional indicators to better capture Local Solutions progress toward the initiative's goals.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As part of a three-tier approach to integrate more strategic monitoring efforts, USAID is conducting an internal review of the department's best practices, processes, and procedures for promoting the goals of the Local Solutions initiative, which are to strengthen capacity, promote ownership, and increase sustainability. Through this review, the agency expects to identify ways of monitoring the Local Solutions initiative that will more accurately capture the underlying models of change and help identify indicators that will help capture progress toward the initiative's goals. In October 2016, USAID officials said that the agency is in the process of developing a menu of potential indicators and will request missions to provide feedback on these indicators. Agency-wide indicators for local ownership are expected no sooner than spring of 2017. In April 2017, officials stated that the agency is working on finalizing draft indicators for local ownership. The expected date of completion is now late summer 2017.
    Director: Mak, Marie A
    Phone: (202) 512-2527

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure consistent implementation of NASA's export control program, the NASA Administrator should establish guidance defining the appropriate level and organizational placement of the CEA function.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA concurred with the recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, NASA needs to complete a planned update to its NASA Procedural Requirement (NPR) 2190.1B concerning NASA's export control program to further codify this structure and provide us with the documentation for review.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, according to USDA officials, they are aware that USAID is working on a Statement of Work for a system to track prepositioned commodity inventory data.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USAID plans to have a contract to develop a system to track prepositioned commodity inventory data, by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USDA has held multiple meetings with USAID as part of its Business Management Improvement initiative, to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and have documented some of the results of some of those meetings.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USAID has participated in multiple meetings with USDA to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and are gathering documentation from this process. According to USAID officials, they plan to submit documentation to GAO to close this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    4 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should identify a mechanism to readily determine the universe of assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation, but has not yet identified a mechanism to readily determine the universe of assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training. As of March 2017, GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that management personnel responsible for assigning personnel to designated high-threat countries consistently verify that all assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training have completed it before arrival in the designated high-threat countries.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with the recommendation, and on July 7, 2014--subsequent to our report issuance and addressing this finding--State issued a memo to all agencies that states that it is the responsibility of each agency to ensure its employees are in compliance with FACT training requirements prior to travel to the relevant posts. The memo also requires employees to provide a FACT completion certificate to posts upon request. In October 2016, State officials reported that State had rolled out a ClassNet SharePoint site, and that they expected that the site would include Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs posts by January 1, 2017. The SharePoint site allows designated users in Washington, D.C. and at posts to access the Foreign Service Institute's training records database. As of March 2017, GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that management personnel responsible for granting country clearance consistently verify that all short-term TDY U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training have completed it before arrival in the designated high-threat countries.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In response to GAO's recommendation, as of March 2017, State had taken several steps to ensure that the electronic Country Clearance (eCC) is easier for personnel to use, but these steps do not ensure that the personnel responsible for verifying FACT training before deployment are doing so. For instance, State updated the current eCC to require personnel traveling to High Threat, High Risk Posts to certify FACT training, with radio buttons for the following: (1) whether the stay is greater than 45 days; (2) whether the traveler has spent more than 45 total days at a High Threat, High Risk Post within the last 365-days; and (3) whether the traveler has completed FACT. If the eCC user responds that the traveler has not taken FACT, he or she must provide a justification. In addition, the eCC system requires personnel traveling to High Threat, High Risk Posts to certify whether they have completed FACT and to provide the completion date. When the eCC user enters this information, he or she is prompted with a box that instructs him or her to "provide documentation of FACT Training (e.g. Certificate) upon arrival at Post" and to click OK to continue. Since May 2016, the agency had been developing a new eCC application that will include automated checks of training records. Agency officials expect to produce this new application in the summer of 2017. GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should monitor or evaluate overall levels of compliance with the FACT training requirement among U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are subject to the requirement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of May 2015, State officials said that they are developing a plan to utilize various electronic systems to monitor overall levels of compliance for assigned and short-term TDY personnel. The plan is being developed iteratively and is subject to change based on findings and lessons learned from each stage as well as constraints based on cyber security compliance. As of March 2017, State did not report further progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically collect, and ensure the reliability and validity of, data on delivery time frames for all emergency food aid shipments, including prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that Food for Peace (FFP) was reviewing what actions are needed to ensure that reliable data on delivery time frames for all emergency aid is collected from cooperating sponsors. In 2015, USAID officials noted that they were exploring options for developing a prepositioning tracking system, but were still in the early stages. As of April 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the timeliness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. As of April 2017, USAID has yet to address this recommendation of systematically monitoring and assessing data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess costs associated with commodity procurement, shipping, and storage for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. As of April 2017, USAID has yet to address this recommendation on systematically monitoring and assessing costs associated with commodity procurement, shipping, and storage for prepositioned food aid shipments.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve policymakers' and the public's understanding of progress through bilateral dialogues in increasing access to China's markets, the U.S. Trade Representative, in conjunction with the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Treasury, should work to provide clearer and more comprehensive reporting on the status of China's implementation of its JCCT and S&ED trade and investment commitments. This reporting should include more complete information on the status of implementation of these commitments, as well as a more clearly identified source for consolidated information, which could be an existing report.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTR has taken steps to implement this recommendation, but additional information on the status of specific commitments would further improve understanding of progress in these bilateral dialogues. USTR made changes to the Chinese trade barriers reporting in its 2014 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE report) to align more closely with other Congressional reports prepared by USTR on related issues. USTR also provided updated information in that NTE report on China's compliance with a commitment that had not been reported on in earlier reports. Further, USTR identified the Report to Congress on China's WTO Compliance as the one report among the various annual reports prepared by USTR that provides comprehensive information on the status of the trade and investment commitments that China has made through the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). As of July 2017, GAO is continuing to track agency progress in reporting on these commitments.
    Director: Gootnick, David B
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the ability of the U.S. agencies participating in the Joint Economic Management Committee (JEMCO) and Joint Economic Management and Financial Accountability Committee (JEMFAC) to conduct required oversight of compact funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of Insular Affairs, as Chairman of JEMCO, to coordinate with other JEMCO-member U.S. agencies to have JEMCO take all necessary steps, or, as the administrator of compact grants, to directly take all necessary steps, to ensure that the FSM (1) completes satisfactory plans to address annual decrements in compact funds, (2) produces reliable indicator data used to track progress in education and health, and (3) addresses all single audit findings in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: JEMCO accepted decrement plans from the FSM which addressed one element of the recommendation. However, as of June 16th, 2017 the other parts of the recommendation have not been addressed.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the ability of the U.S. agencies participating in the JEMCO and JEMFAC committees to conduct required oversight of compact funds, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of Insular Affairs, as Chairman of the JEMFAC, to coordinate with other JEMFAC-member U.S. agencies to have JEMFAC take all necessary steps, or, as the administrator of compact grants, to directly take all necessary steps, to ensure that the RMI (1) completes satisfactory plans to address annual decrements in compact funds, (2) produces reliable indicator data used to track progress in education and health, and (3) addresses all single audit findings in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: JEMFAC accepted decrement plans from the RMI, which addressed one element of the recommendation. However, as of June 16th, 2017 the other parts of the recommendation have not been addressed.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should identify and carry out steps that can be taken to help CBP port officials overcome challenges to consistent implementation of existing wait time estimation methodologies. Steps for ensuring consistent implementation of these methodologies could include, for example, implementing the fiscal year 2008 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative report recommendations to use closed-circuit television cameras to measure wait time in real time and provide a standardized measurement and validation tool.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP officials report that in order to avoid further investment in a manual wait time methodology, the agency plans to focus resources on developing an enterprise-wide solution for automating the measurement of border delays. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should, in consultation with Federal Highway Administration and state DOTs, assess the feasibility of replacing current methods of manually calculating wait times with automated methods, which could include assessing all of the associated costs and benefits, options for how the agency will use and publicly report the results of automated data collection, the potential trade-offs associated with moving to this new system, and other factors such as those influencing the possible expansion of existing automation efforts to the 34 other locations that currently report wait times but have no automation projects under way.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports working to identify a feasible and cost effective wait time solution to measure commercial vehicle delays along the southern border. Specifically, CBP officials report that they have been partnering with the Federal Highway Administration and the Texas A&M's Transportation Institute on the deployment of an automated radio-frequency identification measurement solution to measure commercial delays at eight crossings. To verify the accuracy of the automated wait time data, CBP officials report that in June 2016 they conducted a ground-truth analysis with mixed results. CBP officials report DHS Science and Technology directorate delivered their final report in February 2017 and by the end of September 2017, pending review and acceptance of the report's findings, CBP will coordinate efforts to develop the required communication protocols and data schematics for near real-time commercial vehicle wait time updates to the CBP Border Wait Time website and Border Wait Time app. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that CBP's Office of Field Operations' (OFO) staffing processes are transparent and to help ensure CBP can demonstrate that these resource decisions have effectively addressed CBP's mission needs, the Commissioner of CBP should document the methodology and process OFO uses to allocate staff to land ports of entry on the southwest border, including the rationales and factors considered in making these decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports that they have adopted a workload staffing model to identify CBP staffing requirements at land ports of entry. CBP officials report that the workload staffing model provides senior leadership with a decision-support tool to identify the number of required resources for each location and accounts for distinct operating environments, unique variables, and major functions and activities. CBP officials report that they use the workload staffing model results in its budget requests and when allocating staff to the ports of entry. However, CBP has not provided GAO with documentation showing how staff are allocated among land ports of entry including how workload staffing model results are used in this process. CBP officials report that in May 2017 OFO began working with contracted experts to synthesize the quantitative and qualitative data available and develop a comprehensive CBP position allocation methodology. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in March 2018.
    Director: Gianopoulos, Kimberly M
    Phone: (202)512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the consistency, comprehensiveness, and transparency of information provided to Congress and policymakers on the federal investment in export promotion programs, the Secretary of Commerce, as chair of the TPCC, should report in its National Export Strategies on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with priorities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) has not yet reported in its National Export Strategies (NES) on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with the strategy's priorities. The TPCC did not issue National Export Strategies in fiscal years 2014 or 2015, but did issue one in 2016, but it did not include any budget information. According to TPCC Secretariat officials, as of June 2017 they had collected budget information arrayed by strategic categories from most of the principle TPCC agencies and were considering sending it to congressional stakeholders outside of an NES. However, the new 2017 budget and proposed 2018 budget from the new administration may make the information they have collected out of date.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202)512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. efforts to promote international religious freedom, the Secretary of State and the Chair of USCIRF should jointly define how State and USCIRF should interact in their efforts to promote international religious freedom, paying particular attention to defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom as a nonvoting USCIRF member.

    Agency: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2015, officials from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL) said that the DRL Front Office and senior management have yet to approve a joint letter between State's Office of International Religious Freedom and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that addresses GAO's recommendation. According to the officials, the DRL front office wanted to revisit the letter given the recent appointment of a new Ambassador-at-Large. According to the Ambassador, he met with USCIRF and wanted to provide input to the joint letter, but as of March 2015, the letter had not been approved by State. We followed up again in both August 2015 and August 2016 and were told that no progress on the letter or a joint understanding had been made. In July 2017, the President announced his nominee to be the new Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. As of August 15, 2017, the nomination is pending. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. efforts to promote international religious freedom, the Secretary of State and the Chair of USCIRF should jointly define how State and USCIRF should interact in their efforts to promote international religious freedom, paying particular attention to defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom as a nonvoting USCIRF member.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: After the report was issued, in a letter dated May 28, 2013, the State Department said it has met with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to discuss a plan for better systematizing the interactions between the entities, including by more clearly defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large. In October 2013 and again in March 2014, State said it continued to discuss this plan with USCIRF. In October 2014, State said it had drafted a joint letter with USCIRF in response to our recommendation, but that it was awaiting a Front Office signature. In March 2015, officials from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL) said that the DRL Front Office and senior management have yet to approve a joint letter between State's Office of International Religious Freedom and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that addresses GAO's recommendation. According to the officials, the DRL front office wanted to revisit the letter given the recent appointment of a new Ambassador-at-Large. According to the Ambassador, he met with USCIRF and wanted to provide input to the joint letter, but as of March 2015, the letter had not been approved by State. We followed up again in both August 2015 and August 2016 and were told that no progress on the letter or a joint understanding had been made. In July 2017, the President announced his nominee to be the new Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. As of August 15, 2017, the nomination is pending. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation.
    Director: Yager, Loren
    Phone: (202)512-4347

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To more effectively implement SBA's expansion of OIT field staff as required by the SBJA, the Administrator of the SBA should update SBA's plan for additional OIT staff to include funding sources and time frames, as well as possible efficiencies from clearly defining roles and responsibilities and leveraging other entities' export assistance resources.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: SBA concurred with our recommendations and noted that SBA would work to implement the recommendations. SBA agreed that it intends to respond to staffing requirements of the SBJA while acknowledging resource constraints in its next annual report to Congress. In November 2014, SBA officials said that SBA was in the process of evaluating the impact of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) retirements that took place at the end of September 2014 and was developing a plan for reallocating full-time employees (FTEs). They said that at the end of this process, SBA would have a better understanding of the impact on current and future USEAC staffing levels. In September 2015, SBA stated that it was still in the process of evaluating the impact of the VERA/VSIP retirements that took place at the end of September 2014, and was developing a plan for current and future FTEs. In February 2016, SBA's Office of International Trade (OIT) reported that in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, it was able to fill the 21st of 30 USEAC-based Export Finance Specialist positions. OIT also reported that it has prepared an updated staffing proposal for the remaining nine positions called for under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. OIT noted that filling the remaining nine positions would depend on their receiving additional agency funding. SBA needs to provide documentation of its plan for complying with staffing requirements in the Small Business Jobs Act, or provide evidence that they have reallocated resources to actually do so. As of March 2017, SBA's new leadership was reviewing agency budget and staffing needs and had not provided us with a proposal for filling the remaining positions.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more effectively manage NDF's resources, increase program accountability, and ensure that NDF has the information necessary to improve program performance, the Secretary of State should direct ISN and NDF to periodically and systematically conduct and document program evaluations of NDF.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with the recommendation. We contacted State in September 2016 to ascertain what it has done to address this recommendation. State responded on February 17, 2017. The Department responded by saying that to date, it has not conducted a formal evaluation of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund as called for under the Department's evaluation policy.
    Director: Martin, Belva M
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform management and resource allocation decisions, effectively manage limited export control enforcement resources, and improve the license determination process, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, as they implement efforts to track resources expended on export control enforcement activities, should use such data to make resource allocation decisions.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOJ had identified plans to make continual improvements to the investigative and prosecutorial data to allow better tracking and refined resource allocation decisions going forward. However, we have not been able to obtain status information from Justice despite our attempts.
    Recommendation: To better inform management and resource allocation decisions, effectively manage limited export control enforcement resources, and improve the license determination process, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the departmental representatives of the Export Enforcement Coordination Center, including Commerce, Justice, State, and the Treasury should (1) leverage export control enforcement resources across agencies by building on existing agency efforts to track resources expended, as well as existing agency coordination at the local level; (2) establish procedures to facilitate data sharing between the enforcement agencies and intelligence community to measure illicit transshipment activity; and (3) develop qualitative and quantitative measures of effectiveness for the entire enforcement community to baseline and trend this data.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: To help track resources expended and coordination of enforcement resources, the E2C2 has ratified and implemented the investigative deconfliction protocol. The Export Enforcement Coordination Center (E2C2) has also ratified and implemented the dispute resolution protocol and it is being used by all E2C2 partners. These are two of seven standard operating procedures planned to be in use by the E2C2. The Intelligence Community engagement/information protocols are being addressed through the E2C2 Export Enforcement Intelligence Working Group to help facilitate data sharing, and ICE, through the E2C2, is still in the process of establishing interagency agreement on procedures to facilitate data sharing between the enforcement agencies and intelligence community to assist in measuring illicit transshipment activity. The E2C2 Intel Cell White Paper is complete, but the Cell is not staffed or operational. This Cell is to serve as the primary interagency conduit for defining, establishing, and implementing protocols and facilitating information sharing between the IC and export enforcement community. The white paper outlines the E2C2 Intel Cell's mission, general roles and functions, recommended tasks and structure to facilitate enhanced coordination and intelligence sharing. When established, the Cell will develop standard operating procedures but this has not yet occurred. In late August 2016, the Department of Commerce assigned a new Assistant Director and one analyst to the E2C2. Efforts to formalize an intelligence analytical unit and draft a corresponding SOP are ongoing as of the summer of 2017.
    Director: Courts, Michael J
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to contain costs and reduce duplication of administrative support services overseas, Congress may wish to consider requiring agencies to participate in ICASS services unless they provide a business case to show that they can obtain these services outside of ICASS without increasing overall costs to the U.S. government or that their mission cannot be achieved within ICASS.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, no legislative action has yet been taken. Congress has not required agencies to participate in ICASS absent a business case that shows that they can obtain services outside ICASS without additional cost to the U.S. government, as GAO suggested in January 2012. In July 2013, legislation was introduced in the Senate directing the Secretary of State to develop a process that any agency participating in the ICASS program shall use to provide a cost analysis and justification for the agency's decision to opt out, in whole or in part, of ICASS services. Congress did not pass this legislation, passing in its stead the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, which contained no language related to ICASS. In January 2014, the joint explanatory statement regarding the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, included a direction that the Secretary of State develop, in coordination with the ICASS Service Center and participating agencies, an efficient process by which an agency participating in the ICASS program provides a cost analysis and justification for the agency's decision to opt out of any ICASS services. However, this direction does not speak to a requirement that agencies participate in ICASS absent such a justification. Action on this matter is important because continued duplication of administrative services limits ICASS's ability to achieve economies of scale and deliver services more efficiently.
    Director: Gootnick, David B
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to strengthen its ability to collect, evaluate, and transmit reliable information to Congress, the Secretary of the Interior should disseminate guidelines to the affected jurisdictions that adequately address concepts essential to producing reliable impact estimates, and call for the affected jurisdictions to apply these guidelines when developing compact impact reports.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a January 13, 2012 letter, Interior provided a status update to GAO and the Congress on this recommendation. Interior stated that it generally concurred with the recommendation and that it would advise the governors of affected jurisdictions of possible guidelines to develop compact reports. In addition, Interior officials met with staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and GAO representatives on January 17, 2012 to discuss approaches to preparing this guidance. Interior targeted a completion date of September 15, 2012 for the guidance at that time. In March 2012, Interior met with three of the four governors of affected jurisdictions, Hawaii, the CNMI, and Guam. According to Interior, the governors reached the consensus that Hawaii would develop a template for developing guidelines by December 2012. Although the completion date was revised, such guidance was not prepared. Section 13 of S. 1237, as introduced June 27, 2013, would have required Interior to identify the amount of compact impact costs in affected jurisdictions for the purpose of permitting the amount of impact cost to be used as in-kind contributions for federal grants. In its statement at a July 11, 2013 Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing on S. 1237, Interior stated that it "has urged the governors [of affected jurisdictions] to develop consistent standards of reporting among themselves, including the definition of FAS migrants, accurate accounting of migrant costs to the affected government, and benefits received by the affected jurisdiction from employment, taxation and consumption." but that it opposed the enactment of Section 13. On August 20, 2013, Interior sent letters to all four governors of affected jurisdictions stating that it was available to provide comments on any guidelines for measurement that the governors may choose to develop and present. Simultaneously, Interior sent a letter to GAO stating that the governing law, P.L. 108-188, does not give Interior authority to mandate either measurement processes or the reporting of impacts to the Congress. Therefore, Interior stated that it was unable to ensure that guidelines for reports to Congress are completed by the affected jurisdictions and that it can take no further action. However, our report found that, though the guidelines were not required under the law, without such guidelines, there were a number of weaknesses in affected jurisdictions' reporting of compact impacts to Interior from 2004 through 2010 related to accuracy, adequacy of documentation, and comprehensiveness. Interior prepared draft guidelines in late 2014, but these were not issued. In March 2016, Interior stated that OIA, in consultation with the leaders from the affected jurisdictions, would develop guidelines for measuring compact impact and that the guidelines would be completed in December 2016. In August 2016, Interior again stated to GAO that the guidelines would be completed by the end of the year, but they were not completed. In September 2017, Interior provided GAO with a draft template for recording costs but stated that, given new leadership at Interior and in the affected jurisdictions, more discussion would be needed before the template can be finalized. We continue to believe that providing more rigorous guidelines to the affected jurisdictions and promoting their use for compact impact reports would increase the likelihood that Interior can provide reliable information on compact impacts to Congress.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202)512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand the extent to which deployed DOD civilian employees have access to needed medical care, as appropriate, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Combatant Commander of U.S. Central Command to clarify the level of care that deployed DOD civilian employees can expect in theater, including their eligibility for routine care.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, DOD has not taken all the steps to close this recommendation. A DOD official stated that, as a result of changes in theater, there have been changes in guidance regarding medical care and they believe the guidance is clear, but they have not received guidance from the Secretary of Defense directing them to clarify the level of care that deployed civilian employees can expect in theater, including their eligibility for routine care.
    Director: Sherrill, Andrew
    Phone: (202)512-7252

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the number of new H-1B workers who are subject to the cap--both entering the United States and changing to H-1B status within the United States--does not exceed the cap each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should take steps to improve its tracking of the number of approved H-1B applications and the number of issued visas under the cap by fully leveraging the transformation effort currently under way, which involves the adoption of an electronic petition processing system that will be linked to the Department of State's tracking system. Such steps should ensure that linkages to the Department of State's tracking system will provide Homeland Security with timely access to data on visa issuances, and that mechanisms for tracking petitions and visas against the cap are incorporated into U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' business rules to be developed for the new electronic petition system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, USCIS officials reported that, according to their current timeframes, the business rules associated with the nonimmigrant visa petition process (including Form I-129) in the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) were slated to be developed in late 2017, with implementation projected for the beginning of 2018. They stated that during the requirements-gathering phase, the Service Center Operations officials and the Office of Transformation Program officials planned to discuss potential options for improving the tracking of the number of approved H-1B applications and the number of issued visas under the cap, including assessing the feasibility of linking DHS and State Department data. GAO will follow-up with USCIS on the status of this recommendation when business rules for the nonimmigrant line of the ELIS are developed and released.