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    Subject Term: "International relations"

    44 publications with a total of 93 open recommendations including 19 priority recommendations
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: State's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) should identify and implement a mechanism to conduct in-person monitoring visits in countries where security conditions limit such visits by PRM officials. (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: USAID's Office of Food for Peace (FFP) should identify and implement a mechanism to conduct in-person monitoring visits in countries where security conditions limit such visits by FFP officers. (Recommendation 2)

    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: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a schedule for deciding whether the volumes of "potential waste" identified in the annual TRU waste inventory report can be disposed of at WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    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 that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance that helps sites produce a more comprehensive estimate for the volumes of TRU waste that may be generated in the future from cleanup operations, including estimates of buried waste, waste that may be generated from decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and waste that may be generated past WIPP's expected closure date of 2050.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    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 that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes the need for excavating additional disposal space at WIPP and an integrated schedule that describes how DOE will complete the regulatory approval process and construction of new space before WIPP's existing space is full.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    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 that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes a timeline to help determine whether DOE can change its method of counting waste volumes to meet NNSA's 2020 milestone for resolving potential disposal space constraints at WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    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: 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: 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: 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: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    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: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    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: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    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: On October 13, 2017 USAID provided a formal response to the Congress on the recommendations included in GAO-17-640. In the response, USAID indicated that it concurred with the recommendations in the report, and USAID reported that it is updating guidance and procedures to address the recommendations. GAO will update the status of the recommendations after USAID has completed the process of updating guidance and procedures.
    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: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance interagency collaboration in the Manufacturing USA program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to work with all non-sponsoring agencies whose missions contribute to or are affected by advanced manufacturing to revise the Manufacturing USA governance system to ensure the roles and responsibilities for how these agencies could contribute to the Manufacturing USA program are fully identified.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce responded to the recommendation with three actions. (1) Labor, DHS, and HHS were invited to participate in the Manufacturing USA program resulting in Labor, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and FDA agreeing to participate and naming representatives to the Manufacturing USA Interagency Working Team.(2) Labor was invited to present at and participate in the Spring 2017 Manufacturing USA Network meeting resulting in Labor participating in the meeting, presenting its apprenticeship programs, and continuing participation in the Manufacturing Education and Workforce Development team regular meetings. (3) The Manufacturing USA Interagency Working Team has begun discussions on expanding the Manufacturing USA network governance document to include activities, roles, and responsibilities of non-institute sponsoring agencies. Final program policy decisions will be made once the new Administration's agency leadership is in place. Completion is expected by Fall 2017.
    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: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should develop and implement a system of performance measures and baselines to evaluate the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs and assess whether the programs are achieving their stated goals.

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

    Comments: U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) reported that it established a working group comprised of designated program officials from CBP's Admissibility and Passenger Programs; National Targeting Center; Planning, Program Analysis, and Evaluation; and, Preclearance offices to develop and implement a system of performance measures and baselines to evaluate the effectiveness of CBP's predeparture programs. As of July 2017, CBP reported that the working group had developed three performance measures for its predeparture programs. According to OFO officials, fiscal year 2018 will be the first complete year that each of these measures is calculated using a standardized and repeatable methodology and will thus be used as a baseline year. The baselines developed during fiscal year 2018 will then be used in future assessments of program effectiveness. To fully address this recommendation to develop and implement performance measures and baselines for evaluating its predeparture programs, GAO will review documentation from CBP, when available, on the fiscal year 2018 baselines and CBP's planned evaluation of fiscal year 2019 data against those baselines.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA's foreign offices are able to fully meet their mission of helping to ensure the safety of imported products, as the agency continues to test performance measures and evaluate its Office of International Programs (OIP) strategic workforce plan, the Commissioner of FDA should assess the effectiveness of the foreign offices' contributions by systematically tracking information to measure whether the offices' activities specifically contribute to drug safety-related outcomes, such as inspections, import alerts, and warning letters.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and stated that FDA plans to conduct internal annual reviews of its foreign offices' performances and track their contributions by type of commodity. We will assess these actions once they have been completed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA's foreign offices are able to fully meet their mission of helping to ensure the safety of imported products, as the agency continues to test performance measures and evaluate its OIP strategic workforce plan, the Commissioner of FDA should establish goals to achieve the appropriate staffing level for its foreign offices, which would include separating foreign office vacancies from the OIP-wide vacancy rate, and setting goals by position type.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. HHS said that the strategic workforce plan for FDA's foreign offices will be updated to reflect the disaggregation of performance measures that track foreign office vacancy rates and targets by position type. We will assess these actions once they have been completed.
    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. In April 2017, State reported that it was 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 had developed a plan for in-country travel and reporting by identifying key sectors and provinces that could provide additional insights on the Cuban economy. As of July 2017, State reported that the U.S. government had paused most bilateral engagement with the Cuban government while the incoming presidential administration conducted an interagency policy review. However, State noted that during this time the U.S. embassy in Havana produced several analytic cables discussing developments in the Cuban economy. With the release of the administration's National Security Presidential Memorandum "Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba" in June 2016, State reported that it would work to implement this policy and would monitor developments in U.S. engagement with the private sector and Cuban economic trends. As of November 2017, State said that it was consulting with interagency partners on developments impacting the Cuban private sector and that it was working with other U.S. agencies to determine how to most effectively redirect resources away from the Cuban government and towards the private sector as called for in the administration's Cuba policy. However, State also noted that operations at Embassy Havana had been significantly affected by Hurricane Irma and the health attacks against U.S. diplomats in Cuba. According to State, the Secretary of State's September 2017 order for all non-emergency U.S. personnel to depart Cuba has limited the ability of Embassy Havana to report on developments there, but that the department will continue to monitor and report on Cuba's private sector to the greatest extent possible and as resources permit. 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 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: 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: 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: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve management of and reporting on the Global Train and Equip program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to ensure that documentation requested in project proposal packages is complete.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation in its official comment letter included as an appendix in GAO-16-368, published in May 2016. As of June 2017, DOD had not provided us evidence that they have taken steps to ensure project proposal packages include all requested documentation. GAO will continue to monitor relevant DOD efforts in conducting related work.
    Recommendation: To improve management of and reporting on the Global Train and Equip program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to develop a process for improving the timely completion and submission of required assessment reports to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: At the time of our April 2016 report, DOD was required to complete annual assessment reports on the section 10 U.S.C. Section 2282 Global Train and Equip program. However, the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) repealed the authorization for the Global Train and Equip program, including the annual reporting requirement, effective 270 days after the NDAA's enactment on December 23, 2016, or (September 19, 2017). In February 2017, DOD submitted its assessments for fiscal year 2016.
    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: 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
    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 November 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 November 2017, GAO continues to monitor USAID's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    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 October 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. As of May 2017, MARAD officials reported that they had established a working group to identify the total number of U.S. citizen mariners in the United States who, among other things, are available to crew the U.S. flag fleet and the surge sealift fleet in times of a national emergency and planned to report to Congress in December 2017.
    Director: Gerald Dillingham
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To implement a more effective international strategy for achieving NextGen interoperability with other nations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities to NextGen interoperability and establish timeframes for periodically re-evaluating these risks.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To implement a more effective international strategy for achieving NextGen interoperability with other nations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to identify and document actions FAA will undertake to mitigate these risks, using information from the risk assessment as a basis for making management decisions about how to allocate resources for these activities.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kimberly 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: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given that countering violent extremism is a priority for the U.S. government in general and State's Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT Bureau), the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that CVE program efforts abroad are evaluated.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the CT Bureau indicated that a third-party evaluation of the CVE program has been completed. The evaluation focused on process and programming, including all CVE projects funded between fiscal years 2012 and 2016 and resulted in two related but disparate sets of recommendations and findings. The CT Bureau indicated that it has begun incorporating the recommendations made in the evaluation into its overall CVE efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve State's CT Bureau's program management efforts, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure the Bureau of Counterterrorism establishes specific time frames for addressing recommendations from program evaluations.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the CT Bureau indicated it is in the process of reviewing recommendations from the CVE evaluation, and will soon be assigning timelines to those recommendations that the bureau deems relevant and achievable. For other evaluations, the CT Bureau indicated that it has already acknowledged the need to assign specific timelines to evaluation recommendations and has adjusted accordingly.
    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 2006 Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (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. In 2017, State informed us that it was regularly reviewing lessons learned from previous reports and incorporating best practices into follow-on iterations of INKSNA reports. For example, it informed us, it had now streamlined the decision-making process to reduce the workload in making sanctions determinations by modifying the INKSNA decision and background memo to consolidate certain cases on which the interagency has achieved consensus recommendations, thereby simplifying the review and approval process. State reiterated its intention to eventually comply with INKSNA?s six-month reporting cycle as it clears the existing backlog. GAO will continue monitoring State's efforts to fully implement the 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 November 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: 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: 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: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure the safety of food imported into the United States, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs should complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. If the inspection numbers from that evaluation are different from the inspection targets mandated in FSMA, FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes.

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

    Comments: In January 2015, we recommended that the Commissioner of FDA complete an analysis to determine the annual number of foreign food inspections that is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. Additionally, if the inspection numbers from that analysis are different from the inspection targets mandated in the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), FDA should report the results to Congress and recommend appropriate legislative changes. At the time of our report, FDA was not keeping pace with FSMA's mandate to increase inspections each year from 2011 through 2016. In April 2017, FDA indicated that that it does not anticipate going significantly beyond 1,200 foreign food facilities inspections per year, based on the amount of additional funding needed to meet the foreign inspection requirement of FSMA. However, FDA has not conducted an analysis to determine whether the increased number of inspections mandated by FSMA or the lower number of inspections it is currently conducting is sufficient to ensure comparable safety of imported and domestic food. FDA noted that, in January 2017, it began an analysis to define and describe the global inventory of human and animal food firms and examine the application of regulatory oversight tools across the inventory. According to FDA, the analysis will help it assess the annual number of foreign food facility inspections as part of an overall risk-based allocation of resources for ensuring that imported foods are produced in a manner the meets applicable U.S. safety standards. We continue to believe that FDA should complete such an analysis and report the results to Congress.
    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: 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: 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: 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. In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system. As of November 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. In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to monitor and assess data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments. As of November 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 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. In 2017, USAID provided us with a statement of work to develop a prepositioning tracking system to monitor and assess costs associated with prepositioned food aid shipments. As of November 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    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: Martin, Belva M
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Recognizing that there are widespread requirements to know what is militarily critical, the Secretary of Defense should determine the best approach to meeting users' needs for a technical reference, whether it be MCTL, other alternatives being used, or some combination thereof.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet implemented it. As of August 2017, multiple approaches to maintaining a technical reference are still being considered.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that there are widespread requirements to know what is militarily critical, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that resources are coordinated and efficiently devoted to sustain the approach chosen.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, multiple approaches to maintaining a technical reference are still being considered.
    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: Caldwell, Stephen L
    Phone: (202) 512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To facilitate better agency understanding of the potential need and feasibility of expanding electronic verification of seafarers, to improve data collection and sharing, and to comply with the Inflation Adjustment Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard and Commissioner of CBP to jointly establish an interagency process for sharing and reconciling records of absconder and deserter incidents occurring at U.S. seaports.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred and stated that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Coast Guard would begin to assess the appropriate offices within each component involved in the review and to establish a working group to evaluate the current reporting process within each component, and between CBP and Coast Guard. Further, DHS noted that it was working to co-locate the Coast Guard's ICC Coastwatch and CBP's National Targeting Center-Passenger and that this would help to eliminate many of the absconder-and deserter- reporting inconsistencies GAO identified between Coast Guard and CBP. In January 2013, CBP and Coast Guard officials reported that they had studied the CBP and Coast Guard data and found that multiple factors had likely contributed to the data variances, including differences in definitions for absconders/deserters among CBP and Coast Guard field units, and the method in which field units had recorded and reported absconder and deserter incidents. Officials reported that the two agencies were planning to develop an interagency memorandum of agreement (MOA) with field guidance for reporting absconder and deserter incidents. Officials reported that they expected to finalize and implement the MOA and field guidance by November 30, 2013. In July 2014, CBP described a new process in place for interagency data reconciliation, reporting that this action was taken in lieu of previously discussed plans to develop an interagency MOU. In December 2015, CBP reported that it expected to complete the effort by March 2016. In March 2016, CBP report that it expected to complete the effort by September 2016. CBP officials reported that the Coast Guard and CBP determined that the absconder data variances were caused by the agencies using different reporting criteria. Officials reported that the two agencies were preparing a memo and guidance to issue to field units by August 31, 2016. Officials reported that the recommendation would be fully implemented by September 30, 2016. In September 2016, CBP reported that it expected to implement the effort by December 31, 2016. In December 2016, CBP reported that the agency had drafted a memo to coincide with new Coast Guard procedure for conducting asymmetric migration vetting and deconfliction. CBP was also working to require all ports of entry to report all maritime asymmetric migration events directly to Coastwatch or a Targeting Framework event. However, on October 18, 2016, the DHS Deputy Secretary issued Department Policy Regarding Investigative Data and Event Deconfliction Policy Directive 045-04 that sets forth DHS policy for investigative data and event deconfliction and the use of related deconfliction systems in the course of certain law enforcement activity. As a result of the newly published Directive, DHS requires that CBP develop and implement related policy, by January 17, 2017. The policy directive requires DHS components to develop a policy applicable to components having equities in Investigative Data and Event Deconfliction. The policy will focus on more effective coordination of investigative activity to ensure officer safety by identifying links between ongoing criminal investigations. The Policy also requires that CBP components, at a minimum, conduct deconfliction thru the Deconfliction and Information Coordination Endeavor, Regional Information Sharing Systems Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System, Secure Automated Fast Event Tracking Network or Case Explorer systems. CBP and Coast Guard are now looking at a directive which makes it a port responsibility to deconflict case related information. The timeline for drafting and finalizing that directive is January 2017. Because of this change in direction, CBP and Coast Guard are requesting an extension to March 31, 2017 to finalize and disseminate the new policy.
    Director: Crosse, Marcia G
    Phone: (202)512-3407

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FDA's overseas offices are able to fully meet their mission of helping to ensure the safety of imported products, the Commissioner of FDA should ensure, as it completes its strategic planning process for the overseas offices, that it develops a set of performance goals and measures that can be used to demonstrate overseas office contributions to long-term outcomes related to the regulation of imported products and that overseas office activities are coordinated with the centers and Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, FDA reported that it remains committed to strengthening its efforts and systematically monitoring and evaluating the overseas offices' contributions to the agency's mission and objectives. FDA also stated that it is making significant progress in several areas by enhancing strategic planning and analysis, refining the Office of International Program's (OIP) performance metrics, and designing a monitoring and evaluation plan. For example, FDA stated it has developed a framework with refined performance metrics to distinguish and assess the distinct contribution of OIP and its foreign offices towards program objectives and broader agency goals. FDA said that the performance metrics will track and monitor the quantity, quality, and timeliness of activity outputs and intermediate outcomes resulting from OIP's work. The measures have been standardized and defined, and will be further disaggregated to enable various levels of analyses, including distinguishing the unique efforts by foreign offices and product type. According to FDA, it plans to roll out its performance framework, related metrics, and monitoring and evaluation processes in fiscal year 2018. FDA said it anticipates that its performance measures, enhanced monitoring, and increased sharing of best practices across foreign offices and FDA headquarters will facilitate tracking of performance, allow greater accountability, and provide a foundation for continuous improvement. GAO will continue to monitor FDA's progress.