Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: "International organizations"

    18 publications with a total of 37 open recommendations including 8 priority recommendations
    Director: John H. Pendleton
    Phone: (404) 679-1816

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOD can target resources to its most critical initiatives and establish priorities across its base budget and overseas contingency operations budget, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense prioritize posture initiatives under ERI relative to those funded in its base budget as part of its established posture-planning processes. (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: To better enable decision makers to evaluate the full long-term costs of posture initiatives under ERI, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct EUCOM and the military services to develop estimates for the sustainment costs of prepositioned equipment and other infrastructure projects under ERI and ensure that the services plan for these long-term costs in future budgets. (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: To support congressional decision making, we recommend that the Secretary of Defense provide to Congress, along with the department's annual budget submission, estimates of the future costs for posture initiatives funded under ERI and other enduring costs that include assumptions such as those pertaining to the level of host nation support and burden sharing. (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.
    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: In its written comments on our report, State concurred with this recommendation. State noted its agreement with the need for outcomes and accountability and stated that the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC) working groups aim to draft mission statements and objectives.
    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: In its written comments on our report, State concurred with this recommendation. State noted that following the adoption of the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC) working groups' mission statements and objectives, State foresees clarifying roles and responsibilities of CHCC participants.
    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: In its written comments on our report, State concurred with this recommendation. State noted that once participants reach accord on the goals of the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC) and its working groups, State could foresee documenting such goals through memoranda of understanding.
    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: 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 Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

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

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brian Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable DOD to provide congressional decision makers with complete and reliable information on the total anticipated costs for the JIAC consolidation efforts, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment's Basing Office--in coordination with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Installations, Environment and Energy-- should update future construction cost estimates for consolidating the JIAC at RAF Croughton using best practices for cost estimating as identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide. Specifically, cost estimates for the JIAC consolidation should fully incorporate all four characteristics of a high-quality, reliable estimate.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Secretary of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics: Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD did not concur with our recommendation. DOD agreed that many components in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide are broadly applicable in the decision process leading up to a military construction budget request. However, DOD further stated that once military construction funds are authorized and appropriated by Congress, the department transitions to a project management mode, and it would be a waste of resources to continue to generate cost estimates once they have transitioned to managing project execution using actual cost data. However, as we note in the report, DOD guidance for estimating construction costs, DOD?s Unified Facilities Criteria 3-740-05, states that in the MILCON program, construction cost estimates are prepared throughout the planning, design, and construction phases of a construction project to account for the refinement of the project?s design and requirements. The final estimate should document the department?s assessment of the program's most probable cost and ensure that enough funds are available to execute it. As of October 2016, the military construction funds had not been authorized by Congress for the third phase of the JIAC construction project. According to DOD officials, construction is not scheduled to begin until fall of 2017, and the contract has not yet been awarded. Further, the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide states that regardless of whether changes to the program result from a major contract modification or an overtarget budget, the cost estimate should be regularly updated to reflect all changes. This is also a requirement outlined in OMB?s Capital Programming Guide. The purpose of updating the cost estimate is to check its accuracy, defend the estimate over time, and archive cost and technical data for use in future estimates. After the internal agency and congressional budgets are prepared and submitted, it is imperative that cost estimators continue to monitor the program to determine whether the preliminary information and assumptions remain relevant and accurate. Keeping the estimate updated gives decision makers accurate information for assessing alternative decisions. Cost estimates must also be updated whenever requirements change, and the results should be reconciled and recorded against the old estimate baseline. Therefore, we continue to believe that DOD?s implementation of our recommendation to update future JIAC cost estimates using the best practices identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide would assist in ensuring that decision makers have complete and reliable information about costs associated with the JIAC consolidation and as the third phase of the JIAC project is authorized. Implementing our recommendation would also ensure that DOD develops a reliable historical record for the cost of the JIAC that can be used to estimate other similar projects in the future. As of June 2017, the agency had not taken any action to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To aid DOD in conducting future AOA processes that fully follow best practices, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and the Environment to develop guidance requiring the use of AOA best practices, including those practices we have identified, and in this guidance, the Assistant Secretary should define the types of military construction decisions for which these AOA best practices should be required.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments, DOD did not concur with our recommendation. Specifically, DOD disputes that our 22 best practices for a reliable Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) process apply to basing or military construction decision-making processes and therefore does not believe that the department should incorporate these best practices into its military construction decision-making process. We continue to believe that our AOA best practices can be applied to a wide range of activities in which an alternative must be selected from a set of possible options, as well as to a broad range of capability areas, projects, and programs including DOD's military construction decision-making processes. As of June 22, 2017, DOD had not taken any action to implement this recommendation.
    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: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    4 open recommendations
    including 4 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 November 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 November 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 November 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 November 2017, USAID has yet to implement the recommendation. We will continue to track the status of this recommendation.
    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: 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: 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: 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 December 2017, State noted that its position regarding this recommendation and the deliberative nature of the talking points document remains unchanged.
    Director: Stephen L. Caldwell
    Phone: (202) 512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that efforts to counter piracy and maritime crime are coordinated and prioritized to effectively address the evolving threat, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, in collaboration with the Secretaries of Defense and State, should work through the Counter-Piracy Steering Group or otherwise collaborate with the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Transportation, and the Treasury, and the Attorney General to determine whether additional actions to address counterpiracy and maritime security, such as developing an action plan that includes elements of a strategic approach, are needed to guide and coordinate activities.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2014, the Executive Office of the President issued the United States Counter Piracy and Maritime Security Action Plan, which includes an annex specific to activities in and around the Gulf of Guinea. While the plan outlines some of the planned indicators of effectiveness for activities in and around the Gulf of Guinea, the extent to which the agencies have assessed or plan to assess costs and benefits are not explicitly addressed. The plan states that the Counter Piracy Steering Group will coordinate, implement, and monitor the objectives outlined in the plan and will assess methods and agency activities to reduce risk and protect the maritime industry from acts of piracy and related maritime crime. The plan identifies an increase in investigating and prosecuting cases and a reduction in the trend of piracy and related maritime crime as tangible indicators of successful implementation of the plan. However, GAO's past work on piracy off the Horn of Africa recommended that, as part of a strategic approach, agencies (1) identify the costs of U.S. counterpiracy efforts including operational, support, and personnel costs; and (2) assess the benefits, and effectiveness of U.S. counterpiracy activities. The 2014 plan and its Gulf of Guinea annex do not include a discussion of these elements of a strategic approach. In August 2017, neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of State (the co-chairs of the Counter Piracy Steering Group) provided an update on the extent to which they have collectively or individually addressed the assessment of costs and benefits for activities in and around the Gulf of Guinea. Including these elements in the plan can help assess the effectiveness of current efforts, prioritize future efforts, and leverage resources. GAO will continue to monitor progress in this area.
    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: 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: 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 November 3, 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 November 3, 2017, the nomination has been referred to the full Senate for confirmation. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Chairman of the FCC should formally reassess the current RF energy exposure limit, including its effects on human health, the costs and benefits associated with keeping the current limit, and the opinions of relevant health and safety agencies, and change the limit if determined appropriate.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is developing a record on radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits with a Notice of Inquiry (in dockets 13-84 and 03-137). In the Inquiry, FCC requested comment to determine whether the RF exposure limits and policies need to be reassessed. FCC has not issued any further actions related to this inquiry, and does not have a schedule to resolve the issues in the open proceeding.
    Recommendation: The Chairman of the FCC should reassess whether mobile phone testing requirements result in the identification of maximum RF energy exposure in likely usage configurations, particularly when mobile phones are held against the body, and update testing requirements as appropriate.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2013, FCC issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in ET Docket No. 03-137, proposing to update and revise its mobile phone testing procedures. FCC staff is reviewing comments on the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and developing a rulemaking for consideration by the Commission. FCC does not yet have a timeline for further action in this rulemaking.