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    Subject Term: "Laws and regulations"

    28 publications with a total of 93 open recommendations including 9 priority recommendations
    Director: Malenich, J Lawrence
    Phone: (202) 512-3406

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to develop a mechanism that captures all of the key factors to be considered, such as materiality and risk, when designing the evaluation of internal control over financial reporting and collaborate, as appropriate, with the Inspector General to develop a similar mechanism for use by FHFA-OIG.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. FHFA is in the process of developing a mechanism that captures key factors, including risk and materiality, when designing the evaluation of internal control over financial reporting. This mechanism will be documented for the FY 2017 evaluation of internal control over financial reporting. FHFA and FHFA OIG are collaborating in these efforts.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to coordinate with the Inspector General, as appropriate, when calculating materiality thresholds to reasonably assure that materiality determinations are appropriate for the agency as a whole and rationale is adequately documented.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. During the FY 2017 evaluation of internal control over financial reporting, FHFA will coordinate with the FHFA OIG when calculating materiality thresholds to reasonably assure that materiality determinations are appropriate for the Agency as a whole and the rationale is adequately documented.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to coordinate with the Inspector General, as appropriate, to assess and document the aggregate effect of all deficiencies identified at the agency-wide level during the evaluation of internal control over financial reporting.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. FHFA will coordinate with the FHFA OIG during the FY 2017 evaluation of internal control over financial reporting to assess and document the aggregate effect of all deficiencies identified at the Agency-wide level.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to (1) summarize in sufficient detail by internal control principle those activities from the program offices that have an effect on internal control over financial reporting to reasonably assure the consideration of all internal control components and related principles; (2) collaborate, as appropriate, with the Inspector General to implement corresponding actions at FHFA-OIG; and (3) document how that information is used to conclude on the internal control components and related principles for financial reporting.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. During the FY 2017 evaluation of internal control over financial reporting, FHFA will summarize by internal control principle those activities from the program offices that have an effect on internal control over financial reporting to reasonably assure the consideration of all internal control components and related principles. FHFA will also document how information is used to conclude on the internal control components and related principles for financial reporting activities that are evaluated. FHFA will collaborate with FHFA OIG in these efforts.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to enhance the evaluation of internal control over financial reporting by identifying and testing all key control activities, including those related to the preparation of the financial statements.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. FHFA will enhance the FY 2017 evaluation of internal control over financial reporting by identifying and testing all key control activities, including those related to the preparation of the financial statements.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to (1) thoroughly document FHFA's review of SSAE No. 16 reports issued for the period under evaluation by reasonably assuring that all applicable control objectives and related control activities are clearly identified and described and the evaluation of user entity controls is adequately explained and (2) collaborate, as appropriate, with the Inspector General to implement corresponding actions at FHFA-OIG.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. During the FY 2017 evaluation of internal control over financial reporting, FHFA will thoroughly document FHFA's review of SSAE No. 16 reports issued for the period under evaluation by reasonably assuring that all applicable control objectives and related control activities are clearly identified and described and the evaluation of user entity controls is adequately explained. FHFA will collaborate with the FHFA OIG during these efforts.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to (1) clearly define and document an approach that identifies the information systems that are key to financial reporting, the process areas these information systems support, the key control activities for each information system, and how the key control activities are evaluated and (2) collaborate, as appropriate, with the Inspector General to implement corresponding actions at FHFA-OIG.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. During the FY 2017 evaluation of internal control over financial reporting, FHFA will clearly define and document an approach that identifies the information systems that are key to financial reporting, the process areas these information systems support, the key control activities for each information system, and how the key control activities are evaluated. FHFA will collaborate with the FHFA OIG in these efforts.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to collaborate, as appropriate, with the Inspector General to (1) develop a complete list of the specific provisions of laws and regulations that may have an effect on material amounts and related disclosures in the financial statements that are applicable to FHFA-OIG and (2) prepare documentation that clearly links each applicable provision of law or regulation to the key control activities tested.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. FHFA will collaborate with the FHFA OIG to develop a complete list of the specific provisions of laws and regulations that may have an effect on material amounts and related disclosures in the financial statements that are applicable to the FHFA OIG and prepare documentation that clearly links each applicable provision of law or regulation to the key control activities tested.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency should direct the Chief Financial Officer to design an evaluation process that reasonably assures assignment of independent roles between the implementation and monitoring of control activities that are significant to the evaluation of internal control over financial reporting.

    Agency: Federal Housing Finance Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHFA agreed with this recommendation. FHFA is designing an evaluation process that reasonably assures assignment of independent roles between implementation and monitoring of control activities that are significant to the evaluation of internal control over financial reporting. To this end, FHFA has hired an independent contractor to aid in the evaluation process for FY 2017, and has involved staff from FHFA's Office of Quality Assurance in the FY 2017 evaluation process to reasonably assure independent roles between monitoring and implementation going forward.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help state credit union supervisors and privately insured credit unions better interpret Regulation I and inform consumers when an institution is not federally insured, CFPB should issue guidance to clarify whether drive-through windows require disclosures.

    Agency: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    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 state credit union supervisors and privately insured credit unions better interpret Regulation I and inform consumers when an institution is not federally insured, CFPB should issue guidance to describe what constitutes clear and conspicuous disclosure, including minimum signage dimensions and font size for disclosures.

    Agency: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    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 state credit union supervisors and privately insured credit unions better interpret Regulation I and inform consumers when an institution is not federally insured, CFPB should issue guidance to explain and provide examples of which communications are advertising.

    Agency: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to fulfill its role as the facilitator of cross-sector collaboration and best-practices sharing, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary of Infrastructure Protection, Office of Infrastructure Protection, to explore with key critical infrastructure partners, whether and what opportunities exist to harmonize federally-administered screening and credentialing access control efforts across critical infrastructure sectors.

    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 help ensure that SCO uses its time and resources to pursue the most efficient and effective screening and credentialing harmonization goals on behalf of the department, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Screening Coordination, Office of Policy, to establish goals and objectives to support its broader strategic framework for harmonization.

    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: Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D.
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To respond to changes in the aviation and commercial space-transportation industries, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to fully examine and document whether the current regulatory framework is appropriate for aircraft that could be considered space support vehicles, and if not, suggest legislation or develop regulatory changes, or both, as applicable.

    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: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure spaceport operators' understanding of FAA's financial responsibility regulations for commercial space launches, the Secretary of Transportation should ensure that the FAA Administrator provides additional communication to clarify FAA's interpretation of the financial responsibility regulations for commercial space launches. The forms of communication could include, among other things, issuing additional guidance or using other forums to clarify when a spaceport operator is a third party to a launch and when it is not.

    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: Brown Barnes, Cindy S
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to make changes to the contractor scheduling list development process so that compliance efforts focus on those contractors with the greatest risk of not following equal employment opportunity and affirmative action requirements.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed with this recommendation and is taking steps to address it. DOL noted its past work to improve its ability to identify federal contractor establishments under its jurisdiction. The agency is also committed to improving the scheduling process and using its resources more efficiently. DOL noted that its recently proposed EEO-1 pay data collection will provide more detailed information on federal contractor compensation disparity patterns, which they believe will strengthen the selection process. Finally, the agency reported that it is committed to improving its ability to focus on contractors with the greatest risk of noncompliance.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to develop a mechanism to monitor AAPs from covered federal contractors on a regular basis. Such a mechanism could include electronically collecting AAPs and contractor certification of annual updates.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation and reported that it will fully explore the operational implications and funding requirements.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to make changes to the current scheduling list distribution process so that it addresses changes in human capital and does not rely exclusively on geographic location.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed with this recommendation. DOL reported that it will explore the logistics of non-geographically based compliance evaluations in its review of contractors with Functional Affirmative Action Programs. The agency will also explore establishment based cross-regional case transfers, and continue to implement improved case distribution approaches in future scheduling lists.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to provide timely and uniform training to new staff, as well as provide continuing training opportunities to assist compliance officers in maintaining a level of competence to help ensure quality and consistency of evaluations across regions and district offices.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation and noted past and future efforts to address it. To date, the agency has conducted many webinars to build staff knowledge and skills; implemented a Front Line Manager Leadership Development Program to enhance leadership and technical skills; hosted an all-staff regional training in FY16 to hone the staff's technical skills; developed a training plan in FY16 to assess employee training needs and address the needs of compliance officers at various stages of their careers; and conducted a training needs assessment in FY16 to identify the performance requirements and competencies needed by agency staff. Based on the results of the needs assessment, the agency plans to develop the "Compliance Officer Continuous Education Success Program," a three-year program to ensure that compliance officers receive timely and consistent instruction. They will also formalize its use of training-related work groups to ensure training is responsive to employer needs, and leverage different instructional methods, such as classroom and web-based training.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to review outreach and compliance assistance efforts and identify options for improving information provided to federal contractors and workers to enhance their understanding of nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements to ensure equal employment opportunities for protected workers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed with this recommendation and is taking steps to address it. The agency plans to expand stakeholder engagement practices, such as consultations with federal contractors, to determine what additional guidance is needed to support contractor compliance with OFCCP regulations and increase contractor awareness of resources, such as its Help Desk and EEO Tabulation. OFCCP will also build on prior outreach that has included live and virtual events (e.g., focus groups, round tables) and explore ways to disseminate promising practices.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to assess existing contractor guidance for clarity to ensure that contractors have information that helps them better understand their responsibilities regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements to ensure equal employment opportunities for protected workers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted past efforts demonstrating its commitment to quality guidance, such as by increasing online resources and tools available to stakeholders, and revising outdated regulations and guidance with input from stakeholders.
    Director: Cary B. Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to better integrate virtual training devices into operational training, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to specify in Army guidance for developing virtual training device requirements that training developers consider and document the time available to train with the devices and intended usage rates to achieve training tasks and proficiency goals during operational training.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) partially concurred with this recommendation. As of August 2017, the Army reported taking limited steps to address this recommendation. Army officials stated that the Army has established target usage rates for existing virtual training devices, and has promulgated guidance and tracking tools for recording usage. However, the Army has not modified its guidance for developing new virtual training devices to reflect consideration of time available to train with a new device or expected usage rates to achieve training tasks and proficiency goals during operational training, as GAO recommended in August 2016.
    Recommendation: In order to better integrate virtual training devices into operational training, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to provide additional guidance on how to use virtual non-system training devices in operational training and explore opportunities to incorporate virtual training devices more fully into training strategies.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation. As of August 2017, the Army has taken steps towards addressing it. Specifically, during the period May to November 2017, Headquarters, Department of the Army is leading an in-depth analysis of regular Army formations' readiness training models in support of operational demand. The outcome of this analysis will be viable and executable training models which will also inform future budget requests. According to Army officials, key stakeholders and relevant subject matter experts will identify and update unit training models to reflect training events and tasks to achieve training proficiency, to include key virtual training capabilities that enable specified training events. Key virtual training capabilities will be reflected for each collective and individual training event/task, which will better incorporate virtual training devices into training strategies, as GAO recommended in August 2016.
    Director: Robert Goldenkoff
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To help strengthen the government's ability to compete in the labor market for top talent, and to improve the federal hiring process, for hiring authorities for which OPM oversees, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) Council, should conduct a study or assessment of specific hiring authorities and/or processes to gain insight into why these agencies relied on the authorities, the relationship between the agencies' choices and the agency mission and broader public policy goals, consistent with merit systems principles, and determine whether modernization is necessary. For agency-specific hiring authorities and/or processes, OPM should collaborate with the CHCO Council to obtain similar insights agencies may have regarding their authorities and/or processes and to determine whether there are lessons learned which may be relevant to government-wide modernization efforts.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, OPM has undertaken or completed some reviews of agency use of hiring authorities. In August 2016, OPM published the findings of a recent study on the use and effectiveness of the Pathways Programs' hiring authorities. In October 2016, OPM issued a report on hiring authorities used by the National Park Service to help meet its seasonal workforce needs. In August 2017, OPM said it had started a study of agencies' use of excepted service hiring authorities and it plans to issue a report in fiscal year 2018. We will continue to monitor OPM's efforts to assess the use and effectiveness of hiring authorities and any determination of the need for modernization.
    Recommendation: To help strengthen the government's ability to compete in the labor market for top talent, and to improve the federal hiring process, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council, should use this information to determine whether opportunities exist to refine, consolidate, eliminate, or expand agency-specific authorities to other agencies and implement changes where OPM is authorized, including seeking presidential authorization (as necessary) in order to do so. In cases where legislation would be necessary to implement changes, OPM should work with the CHCO Council to develop legislative proposals.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, OPM said it plans to explore opportunities for improving the hiring system by analyzing and reviewing existing hiring authorities with an eye towards modernization. For example, OPM said it plans to use information from its current study of excepted service hiring authorities to consider changes or refinements to these authorities once that study has been completed in fiscal year 2018. OPM also said its future plans to improve the hiring system will be informed by its current strategic planning efforts.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate expanded search capability features, such as keyword searches, into its proposed web-based portal for collecting and accessing performance reports to improve their accessibility.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation. EPA also stated that its vision for grants management includes having grant recipients submit performance reports and other information to the agency through a web-based portal. The portal would incorporate capabilities such as key word searches to allow for easier access to performance report information. However, the portal is a long-term initiative, subject to the agency's budget process, and dependent on the completion of the Next Generation Grants System, which EPA expects to fully deploy in fiscal year 2018. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials stated that the agency has not started any work for the centralized grantee portal project, which is subject to available funds.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to identify grant programs where existing program-specific data reporting can meet EPA's performance reporting requirements for grants management purposes to reduce duplicative reporting by grantees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated it will work with recipient partners to identify where duplicative reporting can be reduced. However, EPA also noted that program-specific data cannot be relied upon to meet all grants management requirements, and performance reports often contain other information that allows project officers to monitor a recipient's progress. Further, EPA will need to consider the feasibility of expanding project officer access to certain program databases to enhance grant performance monitoring. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that the agency is on track to complete the process for identifying where duplicative reporting can be reduced.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, once EPA's new performance system is in place, to ensure that the Office of Water adopts software tools, as appropriate, to electronically transfer relevant data on program results from program-specific databases to EPA's national performance system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will apply it, where appropriate and cost effective, to program-specific databases, not only the Office of Water databases. EPA noted that not all data from program-specific databases may be appropriate for direct electronic transfer to the national performance system; some individual grant data may need to be analyzed before being rolled up into national data. Additionally, implementation of this recommendation will depend upon the agency's program offices modifying their databases to interface with the new performance system. Further, implementation of this recommendation is dependent upon completion of EPA's new performance system, currently under development. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that continued work on this effort was subject to the availability of funds.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to clarify the factors project officers should consider when determining whether performance reports are consistent with EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to the implementation guidance for the Environmental Results Order (directive). During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that they agency is on track to make the necessary changes.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to expand aspects of EPA's policy for certain categorical grants, specifically, the call for an explicit reference to the planned results in grantees' work plans and their projected time frames for completion, to all grants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to existing policy. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that this effort will be completed in fiscal year 2018.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD and program and regional offices, as appropriate, as part of EPA's ongoing streamlining initiatives and the development of a grantee portal, to incorporate built-in data quality controls for performance reports into the planned web-based portal based on EPA's environmental results directive.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In correspondence to GAO, EPA reiterated its general agreement with this recommendation. However, EPA emphasized that identifying and deploying appropriate data quality controls is a long-term effort subject to budgetary considerations, completion of the Next Generation Grants System, and extensive collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. Specifically, the report's vision for built-in data quality controls involves the use of electronic templates and reduced reliance on manual data entry--which would require standardized work plan and performance report formats subject to clearance by the Office of Management and Budget. Further, EPA noted that both grant recipients and EPA program offices generally have not supported standardizing the format of work plan and progress reports in the past. Accordingly, as a first step, EPA will seek feedback from the recipient and program office community. During fiscal year 2017, EPA officials said that it plans to complete the first phase of its work within the year.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address a potential challenge for consumers who wish to opt for private flood insurance and who must have insurance under the mandatory purchase requirement, the FEMA Administrator should consider reinstating the cancellation reason code allowing policyholders to cancel their NFIP policy and be eligible for premium refunds, on a prorated basis, if they obtain a non-NFIP policy after their NFIP policy became effective. If changes are needed to NFIP's standard flood insurance policy to allow such refunds, FEMA should take the necessary steps to amend its standard flood insurance policy.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA agreed with our recommendation and stated it would reinstate the cancellation code allowing policyholders to cancel their NFIP policy and be eligible for premium refunds in an April 2017 bulletin, effective October 1, 2017, followed up by a subsequent rulemaking. However, as of November 2017, the bulletin had not been issued. In May 2017, FEMA officials noted that the reinstatement of the cancellation code would be part of a proposed regulation package to be completed over the next several years.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's ability to evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of policies that call for all organizations, including contractors, to embrace a strong safety culture and create a work environment that encourages a questioning attitude by all employees, the Secretary of Energy should develop and implement an independent evaluation process for routinely and accurately measuring contractor employees' willingness to raise safety and other concerns without fear of retaliation. This process should ensure that an independent third party develops, conducts, and consistently applies the evaluation methodology--which should include safeguards that protect anonymity. The process should also enable DOE to oversee and ensure that appropriate corrective actions are taken in response to evaluation results.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In December 2016, the Office of Enterprise Assessments formed a working group to address our recommendations. According to DOE, as of March 2017 the working group developed a strategy and plan to independently analyze data associated with willingness to raise concerns within contractor organizations at DOE sites with high hazard nuclear facilities. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the organizational placement and practices of DOE- and contractor- provided Employee Concerns Programs (ECP) do not inhibit contractor employees from raising safety and other concerns, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's ECP order and guidance to (1) require that the organizational placement and practices of contractor ECP's do not compromise or impair their independence, (2) clarify the circumstances under which DOE's ECP is permitted to transfer and refer concerns to contractors, and notify or require approval of the contractor employee raising the concern, and (3) provide criteria for overseeing and evaluating the effectiveness and independence of contractor-provided ECPs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. To address this recommendation, DOE planned to update DOE Order 442.1A, Department of Energy Employee Concerns Program, to (1) address the potential for conflicts of interest that could affect the independence of contractor ECPs, (2) clarify the circumstances under which an employee concern can be referred or transferred from a DOE ECP to a contractor ECP, and (3) specify that the processes already identified in DOE Order 226.1B, Implementation of Department of Energy Oversight Policy, be used as part of the oversight processes for contractor-provided ECPs, to include evaluation of their effectiveness and independence. According to DOE, the draft order was affected by a Presidential Memorandum issued in January 2017, which put a temporary stop to the DOE directives process. We will continue to monitor the status of DOE's implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Congress has the information it needs as it considers whether or not to make permanent the enhanced whistleblower pilot program and that DOE has assurance that contractor employees have an effective mechanism to seek remedy for unlawful retaliation, the Secretary of Energy should fully evaluate the extent to which the pilot program has been implemented and whether its provisions will mitigate challenges associated with DOE's 708 program. This evaluation should include, at a minimum, an assessment of (1) contractors that have adopted the pilot program and the date they did so; (2) contractors that have not adopted the pilot program and an explanation of why not; (3) cases filed under the pilot program, if any; and (4) the pilot program's potential for mitigating challenges associated with the 708 program.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred in principle with the recommendation. In response to this recommendation, the Office of Hearings and Appeals conducted a review of the Part 708 program that, according to DOE, evaluated each of the areas of concern and compared current part 708 regulations with the pilot program. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the resulting report.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should expedite the department's time frames for codifying in regulatory language its policy that retaliation for nuclear safety-related disclosures is a nuclear safety violation and develop a specific schedule for issuing the proposed and final rules.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation and planned to amend its regulations to clarify which DOE regulations constitute DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. DOD planned to expedite the schedule for this rulemaking. We will update the status of this recommendation after we confirm DOE's actions
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's Office of Enforcement to routinely collect information from the Department of Labor and other sources regarding substantiated cases of retaliation and take appropriate enforcement action.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE, the Office of Enforcement has revised its internal implementing procedure to require that a review of DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals whistleblower cases, Department of Labor complaints submitted under the Energy Reorganization Act, and an online legal research service (for court decisions) be conducted each quarter to identify cases wherein a DOE contractor may have retaliated against an employee for reporting a safety concern and evaluate the information for potential enforcement action. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the updated procedure.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's Integrated Safety Management policy and guidance to clarify what constitutes evidence of a chilled work environment and define the appropriate steps DOE should take to hold contractors accountable for creating a chilled work environment.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. DOE officials said that the department was revising the Integrated Safety Management policy but the revisions are currently on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of BLM's efforts to track and deter unauthorized grazing, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to amend the regulations on unauthorized grazing use--43 C.F.R. Subpart 4150 (2005)--to establish a procedure for the informal resolution of violations at the local level, or follow the existing regulations by sending a notice of unauthorized use for each potential violation as provided by 43 C.F.R. 4150.2(a) (2005).

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of BLM's efforts to track and deter unauthorized grazing, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to record all incidents of unauthorized grazing, including those resolved informally.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of BLM's efforts to track and deter unauthorized grazing, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to revise the agency's Unauthorized Grazing Use Handbook to make it consistent with 43 C.F.R. pt. 4100 (2005).

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the Forest Service's efforts to track and deter unauthorized grazing, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to amend the regulations on range management--36 C.F.R. pt. 222--to provide for nonmonetary settlement when the unauthorized or excess grazing is non-willful and incidental, or follow the existing regulations by determining and charging a grazing use penalty for all unauthorized and excess use when it is identified as provided by 36 C.F.R. 222.50(a) and (h).

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the Forest Service's efforts to track and deter unauthorized grazing, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to record all incidents of unauthorized grazing, including those resolved informally.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the Forest Service's efforts to track and deter unauthorized grazing, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to adopt an unauthorized grazing penalty structure that is based, similar to BLM's, on the current commercial value of forage.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Diana C. Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to help ensure that ATF adheres to its policies and facilitates industry compliance with requirements, the Deputy Director of ATF should align the MS deletion policy, MS system design, and the timeliness of deletion practices to improve ATF's compliance with the policy.

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

    Comments: In September 2016, ATF reported that it deleted all purchaser names within those multiple sale records GAO identified as having been retained beyond time limits specified by ATF?s policy. In addition, ATF stated that it is in the process of implementing protocols to ensure that purging purchaser names within multiple sale records aligns with ATF policy. As of March 2017, ATF reported changing its query code to result in an improved match ratio with the MS system. In July 2017, ATF reiterated its deletion of affected purchaser names and its change in query code. However, given the longstanding nature of this issue, ATF needs to provide more documentation to demonstrate that the change in query code will identify all records eligible for deletion.
    Director: Carolyn L. Yocom
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of states' and plans' Medicaid managed care (MMC) plan provider screening efforts, the Acting Administrator of CMS should consider which additional databases that states and MMC plans use to screen providers could be helpful in improving the effectiveness of these efforts and determine whether any of these databases should be added to the list of databases identified by CMS for screening purposes.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. CMS analyzed 22 databases that were reported to GAO as being used by Medicaid managed care plans to screen providers. It determined that several were already in use by CMS and mentioned in its guidance, several required more study by CMS, and others were not reliable. In April 2017, we reviewed CMS's analysis. For 8 of the databases, CMS noted that more information is needed, including the availability of the data and whether CMS would need an identifier to link providers to the data. CMS has requested additional information for these databases and has not yet concluded whether the databases should be added to the list of databases it has identified for screening purposes. To close the recommendation, CMS will need to determine whether the remaining databases it has studied should be added to the CMS list of databases to be used for provider screening and take the appropriate action.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of states' and plans' MMC plan provider screening efforts, the Acting Administrator of CMS should collaborate with SSA to facilitate sharing CMS's Death Master File subscription with state Medicaid programs.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. CMS has signed an Interagency Agreement that provides for the states' ability to access the SSA Death Master File. CMS said that it will provide Death Master File information to specific individuals within each state in the near future. To close the recommendation, CMS will need to begin to provide the states with access to Death Master File data and provide us with documentation that it has done so.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of states' and plans' MMC plan provider screening efforts, the Acting Administrator of CMS should coordinate with other federal agencies, as necessary, to explore the use of an identifier that is relevant for the screening of MMC plan providers and common across databases used to screen MMC plan providers.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with the recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: James Cosgrove
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to assess the feasibility of updating the agency's study on the effect of VA-provided Medicare-covered services on per capita county Medicare FFS spending rates by obtaining VA utilization and diagnosis data for veterans enrolled in Medicare FFS under its existing data use agreement or by other means as necessary.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reiterated its disagreement with our recommendation. HHS stated that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) uses Medicare fee-or-service(FFS) spending rates when setting the benchmark, which excludes services provided by Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. In addition, HHS stated that incorporating VA utilization and diagnosis data into CMS's analysis may not materially improve the analysis and the resulting adjustment. HHS indicated that it will continue to review the need for incorporating additional data or for methodology changes in the future. As we note in the report, only VA's utilization and diagnosis data can account for services provided by and diagnoses made by VA. Depending on the number and mix of services provided by and the diagnoses made by VA, risk-adjusted Medicare FFS spending for veterans may either be higher or lower than it would be if CMS accounted for VA-provided services and diagnoses. Therefore, relying exclusively on Medicare FFS spending to estimate the effect of VA spending on Medicare FFS-enrolled veterans could result in an inaccurate estimate of how VA spending on services for Medicare FFS-enrolled veterans affects per capita county Medicare FFS spending. While there may be challenges associated with incorporating VA utilization and diagnosis data into CMS's analysis, we maintain that CMS should work to do so given the implications that not incorporating the data may have on the accuracy of payment to MA plans.
    Recommendation: If CMS makes an adjustment to the benchmark to account for VA spending on Medicare-covered services, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to assess whether an additional adjustment to MA payments is needed to ensure that payments to MA plans are equitable for veterans and nonveterans.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)has proposed adjusting the benchmark for 2017 to account for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spending on Medicare-covered services. As of July 2016, HHS had not yet completed its assessment of whether an additional adjustment to MA payments is needed to ensure that payment to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are equitable for veterans and nonveterans. In order to close this recommendation, CMS will need to complete its assessment.
    Director: Daniel Bertoni
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that it provides all eligible populations access to its services and that its eligibility requirements are consistent with currently accepted practices, the Library of Congress should re-examine and potentially revise its requirement that medical doctors must certify eligibility for the NLS program for those with a reading disability caused by organic dysfunction.

    Agency: Library of Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has contracted for a study of how eligibility based on reading disability should be certified. This study will look at medical advances in the diagnosis of reading disabilities, the NLS authorizing statute, and the potential impact of a regulatory change on the program. The expected completion date is December 2017. To close this recommendation, the Library of Congress must demonstrate that this study has been completed and that NLS has determined whether a change in its requirements is warranted.
    Recommendation: To ensure funds are directed to the most cost-effective outreach efforts, NLS should evaluate the effectiveness of its outreach efforts, including the extent to which different outreach efforts have resulted in new users.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has begun revising the program application form so that it captures information on how applicants were referred to the program. NLS expects to have all libraries nationwide using this revised application by sometime in 2018. In addition, the Library of Congress indicated that NLS has contracted for a multi-year, multi-media advertising campaign. This effort will assess the effectiveness of different approaches by connecting direct responses to ads with verified program enrollment. The campaign is expected to be fully underway by January 2018. To close this recommendation, the Library of Congress will need to demonstrate that NLS has fully implemented one or more of its planned new approaches for evaluating outreach.
    Recommendation: To help it determine the most cost-effective approach for its next audio player, NLS should comprehensively assess the alternatives of designing its own specialized audio player versus providing commercially available players to its users.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has contracted for a study of the different commercially available audio players for their usability, life-cycle costs, maintenance needs, and durability. The study is expected to be completed by December 2017, and will guide NLS in its decision about how to develop its next generation of audio players. To close this recommendation as implemented, the Library of Congress will have to demonstrate that this study has been conducted and that NLS has considered its findings in making a decision about its next generation audio player.
    Recommendation: To help it determine whether to supplement its collection of human-narrated audio materials with text-to-speech materials, NLS should thoroughly assess the text-to-speech option versus continuing to provide only human-narrated materials.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has developed a library of 100 text-to-speech (synthetic speech) talking books. In September 2017, NLS will begin a 3-month pilot in which a group of NLS users try out these talking books and provide input to NLS. Also, NLS will require that its next generation of audio players have the capacity to play synthetic speech talking books, and the study it has contracted of commercially available players will consider this requirement among other factors. To close this recommendation as implemented, NLS needs to demonstrate that it has completed its text-to-speech pilot and has decided on an approach going forward with regards to expanding this program.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to take actions to improve the quality of mine plan submissions by, for example, developing guidance for mine operators and agency field officials that instructs them to hold pre-plan submittal meetings whenever possible.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in August 2017, the Department of Agriculture will provide training opportunities at all Forest Service levels in the proper administration and approval of mining plans and hold pre-planning meetings when possible. In addition, the Forest Service will promulgate regulations in the Summer of 2018 to incorporate a pre-plan submittal meeting requirement in the revision of the Forest Service regulations at 36 CFR 228 Subpart A, Locatable Minerals.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to issue a rule that establishes a fee structure for hardrock mine plan processing activities and request the authority from the Congress to retain any fees it collects.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in August 2017, the Forest Service is in the process of requesting authority from Congress to retain the fees it collects.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to issue a rule that assesses fees associated with reviewing hardrock mine plans that involve conducting environmental assessments.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in April 2016, BLM expressed concern about whether promulgating a rule to assess cost recovery fees for environmental assessment would result in faster permitting times and noted that such an undertaking may be challenging to complete given resource limitation as a result of other high priority rulemaking efforts currently underway by BLM. In the preamble of BLM's 2005 cost recovery rule, BLM indicated that it would consider issuing a separate rule to recover costs associated with reviewing mine plans that require an environmental assessment. BLM proposes to fulfill the intent of the preamble by conducting an internal analysis to determine whether requiring cost recovery would result in reduced permitting times. BLM will report its findings and address other options for increasing staff resources. According to agency officials in fiscal year 2017, BLM expects to complete its internal analysis and report its findings by the end of 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to create new codes in its Legacy Rehost 2000 database distinguishing between different types of mine plans to help track the length of time to complete the mine plan review process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in fiscal year 2017, BLM expects to revise the Legacy Rehost 2000 codes by June 30, 2018.
    Director: Carolyn L. Yocom
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of its oversight of eligibility determinations, the Administrator of CMS should conduct reviews of federal Medicaid eligibility determinations to ascertain the accuracy of these determinations and institute corrective action plans where necessary.

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

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken some steps to improve the accuracy of Medicaid eligibility determinations, as GAO recommended in October 2015, but has not conducted a systematic review of federal eligibility determinations. In March 2017, HHS reported that it is reviewing federal determinations of Medicaid eligibility in two of the nine states that have delegated eligibility determination authority to the federal marketplace and HHS is planning to include reviews of federal determinations as part of its future Payment Error Rate Measurement (PERM) reviews, which will resume in 2018 pending final publication of the proposed PERM rule (81 FR 40596). In October 2016, HHS officials provided information indicating that the Department is relying upon operational controls within federally marketplaces to ensure accurate eligibility determinations as well as new processes that would identify duplicate coverage. These actions have value, however, they are not sufficient to identify other types of erroneous eligibility determinations. Without a systematic review of federal eligibility determinations, HHS lacks a mechanism to identify and correct errors and associated payments.
    Recommendation: To increase assurances that states receive an appropriate amount of federal matching funds, the Administrator of CMS should use the information obtained from state and federal eligibility reviews to inform the agency's review of expenditures for different eligibility groups in order to ensure that expenditures are reported correctly and matched appropriately.

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

    Comments: As of April 2017, HHS is establishing a process to make the eligibilty and expenditure reviews interact with one another. GAO will work with the agency to determine if these actions address the recommendation.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA OCPO and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should establish a plan to ensure that the agreement is reviewed on an annual basis as intended.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should direct OCPO and the regional administrators to revisit the 2011 service level agreement to: add details about the extent of operational control headquarters and regional supervisors should exercise to minimize potential competing interests experienced by regional contracting officers; further detail headquarters and regional supervisors' roles and responsibilities for managing regional contracting officers to improve coordination and communication; and ensure that the agreement reflects any new requirements, including recent changes in training that may require travel funds.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To address PKEMRA, the Secretary of Homeland Security should take action to address the requirements of Section 692 to implement subcontractor limitations or request that Congress amend the law to delete Section 692.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DHS took steps to ask Congress to repeal PKEMRA Section 692, which prohibits the use of subcontracts for more than 65 percent of the cost of cost-reimbursement type contracts that exceed the simplified acquisition threshold. DHS submitted a legislative change proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who approves such proposals before they are submitted to Congress. OMB approved the proposed change for PKEMRA Section 692 in April 2016. We will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand attributable costs for individual Parcel Select NSAs, the Postmaster General should direct the appropriate staff to identify and implement cost-effective methods, such as using a sample, to collect and study information on the costs of delivering Parcel Select packages of varying characteristics in order to develop contract-specific attributable cost estimates.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: USPS developed analysis in response to this recommendation by using a proxy for package dimension rather than a sample of customer-specific dimension data, as GAO recommended. The assumptions used in the methodology by USPS result in only minor cost differences regardless of the dimension or weight of packages shipped under individual Parcel Select NSAs. As of June 13, 2017, this recommendation remains open pending additional discussions with USPS about its methodology and results.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

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

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

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

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

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL indicated that it was considering the utility of collecting these data in light of the fact that the new H-2B regulations that were issued in April 2015 eliminated the 2-year statute of limitations for the H-2B program. We continue to believe, however, that this data collection would be valuable given that the H-2A program is still subject to the 2-year statute of limitations. The department indicated it is undertaking a modernization of its data systems--by implementing a data governance structure that will manage its data as a business asset--and our recommendation for the collection of these data will be vetted through this process.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that DOT produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, as applicable to each administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrators of the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Transit Administration to revise their policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) clearly identifying roles and responsibilities for estimating improper payments; (2) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (3) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (4) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates; (6) requiring that the sampling methodologies meet the precision requirements outlined in OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; and (7) requiring a consultation with a statistician to ensure the validity of sample design, sample size, and measurement methodology.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: On April 14, 2017, we were informed that the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has oversight over the Department of Transportation's (DOT) improper payments implementation and is revising DOT's policies for estimating improper payments. DOT plans to complete this action by 10/31/2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct appropriate officials to revise its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by (1) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (IPIA), as amended, and (2) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: Overall, we believe the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is on track for taking corrective actions that meet the intent of GAO recommendation. For example, we believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to HUD revising its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments. Specifically, we have reviewed HUD's updated recapture audit plan dated June 26, 2015, and verified it requires payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing. However, we do not believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested. Specifically, we have not seen where HUD's policies and procedures show how HUD ensures that it is selecting from a complete list of grantee files when conducting tests related to estimating improper payments. On July 19, 2017, a HUD official explained that HUD does not have controls in place to ensure that the grantee files are complete. Further, the HUD official indicated that the grantee files come from the grantee, and HUD relies on the grantees to provide a complete list of files. However, HUD does not currently have a way to verify that this list is complete. According to the HUD official, HUD he will explore options HUD can implement for ensuring that grantee files are complete, including possibly having grantees to sign a statement certifying that their grantee files are complete when provided to HUD. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE to revise policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (2) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (3) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (4) providing sufficient procedures for determining an error and what documentation is necessary to substantiate payment; and (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 5, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve stewardship over the nation's highways and bridges, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to conduct a study on state oversize- and overweight-permitting practices, including automated vehicle routing and escort driver certification, to identify areas of best practice and share the results with states.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concurred with this recommendation. According to an FHWA letter, they will conduct a review of permitting practices, which will include findings from several recent and ongoing research projects related to oversize and overweight permitting. FHWA plans to complete this review by September 30, 2017, and share the results with states through peer exchanges and forums.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

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

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

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

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

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

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal regulators have better information about lump sum windows and to better ensure that participants have ready access to key information they need to make a decision when presented with a lump sum offer, the Department of Labor should require plan sponsors to notify DOL at the time they implement a lump sum window offer, including the number and category of participants being extended the offer (e.g., separated vested; retiree) as well as examples of the materials provided to them.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed that this type of information may be helpful in determining the extent to which lump sum window offers are made, as well as the types of disclosures the participants receive. However, DOL reported that it has not identified authority under ERISA for it to impose such a requirement on plan sponsors either before or shortly after the plan offers the lump sum window. The agency states that ERISA expressly provides specific reporting and disclosure requirements. These include various filings, such as annual financial reports, reports upon plan termination, and reports upon making certain transfers of pension plan assets to health benefit accounts. The agency believes ERISA does not require plans to notify them regarding the benefit distribution options they offer or changes in those options, and does not read the broad rulemaking authority in ERISA in Section 505 (general regulations) and Section 110 (pension reporting and disclosure) as authorizing EBSA to establish the notice filing requirement GAO recommended. The agency also commented that ERISA expressly requires that most pension plans file a Form 5500 annual report with the statute specifying the required contents of this annual report in some detail and requiring ?such other financial and actuarial information as the Secretary may find necessary or appropriate.? Although the agency noted it could, by regulation, require reporting on lump sum window offers on the Form 5500, there would be a substantial time lag because ERISA by statute establishes the reporting cycle for the Form 5500 -- the report is not due until 210 days (7 months) after the plan year closes (e.g., for calendar year plans, July 31st of the following year). The agency recognizes that this might not be responsive to the recommendation, which appears to envision a notification system that is relatively contemporaneous with the lump sum window being offered to participants and beneficiaries.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal regulators have better information about lump sum windows and to better ensure that participants have ready access to key information they need to make a decision when presented with a lump sum offer, the Department of Labor should coordinate with the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to clarify the guidance regarding the information sponsors should provide to participants when extending lump sum window offers and place the guidance on the agency's website. Guidance should include clear and understandable presentations of information, such as the relative value of the lump sum, the role and level of protections provided by PBGC, and the positive and negative ramifications of accepting the lump sum. Such guidance could also include promising practices for information materials from plan sponsors which are particularly effective in facilitating informed participant decision-making.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation, noting it is important to coordinate with the Treasury Department/IRS and PBGC to clarify the guidance regarding the information sponsors and other plan fiduciaries should provide to participants and beneficiaries when extending lump sum window offers. In 2016, the agency noted that the manner of publishing that guidance would be part of that coordination process. They may consider some formal public request for input (such as publishing a Request for Information in the Federal Register) and focus group or other field testing work. In addition, the agency noted that the 2015 ERISA Advisory Council announced that one of its projects this year concerns how to give participants effective notices and disclosures concerning lump sum window offers, including possible development of model participant notices. The 2015 Council developed recommendations and model notices on lump sum window offers in "pension risk transfer transactions," and suggested that DOL make the Model Notices available on its web site to plan sponsors and participant advocates and that plan sponsors use the Model Notices when engaging in risk transfer transactions. Similar to other model communications developed by the 2015 Council, the agency believes the model notice could be further enhanced if subjected to broader public input from, for example, plan sponsors, participant advocates, communications experts, and academics. Subject to the limits on its authority in this area and resource constraints. They are considering efforts to obtain public input on the Council's recommendations and model notice. They also intend to contact the Treasury Department/IRS and PBGC to discuss the Council's recommendations.
    Recommendation: To provide participants with useful information and to provide for lump sums that are based on up-to-date assumptions, Treasury should review its regulations governing the information contained in relative value statements to ensure these statements provide a meaningful comparison of all benefit options, especially in instances where the loss of certain additional plan benefits may not be disclosed.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury generally agreed with this recommendation but did not provide specific comments on plans to address it.
    Recommendation: To provide participants with useful information and to provide for lump sums that are based on up-to-date assumptions, Treasury should review the applicability and appropriateness of allowing sponsors to select a "lookback" interest rate for use in calculating lump sums associated with a lump sum window that can serve to advantage the interests of the sponsor.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury generally agreed with this recommendation but did not provide specific comments on plans to address it.
    Recommendation: To provide participants with useful information and to provide for lump sums that are based on up-to-date assumptions, Treasury should establish a process and a timeline for periodically updating the mortality tables used to determine minimum required lump sums-- including a means for monitoring when experts' views may indicate that mortality tables may have become outdated, and for taking expedited action if warranted.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury generally agreed with this recommendation but did not provide specific comments on plans to address it.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable NCA to meet its mission of providing reasonable access to burial options at veterans cemeteries, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs to use the capability of NCA's existing software to estimate the served and unserved veteran populations using census tract data.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: On Nov 12, 2014, VA provided an update on the actions taken in response to the recommendation contained in "VETERANS AFFAIRS: Data Needed to Help Improve Decisions Concerning Veterans' Access to Burial Options" (GAO-14-537) released to the Department, September 9, 2014. In its letter, VA noted that it non-concurred with this recommendation, and identified no actions being taken.
    Recommendation: To better enable NCA to meet its mission of providing reasonable access to burial options at veterans cemeteries, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs to develop and implement a plan to fully address all the elements required by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, in VA's Rural Veteran Burial Access Strategy, including the estimated number and location of unserved veterans and a national map of cemeteries.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: On Nov 12, 2014, VA provided an update on the progress it has made in implementing this recommendation, contained in "VETERANS AFFAIRS: Data Needed to Help Improve Decisions Concerning Veterans' Access to Burial Options" (GAO-14-537) released to the Department, September 9, 2014. VA stated that, as previously reported in its response to VA's Office of Inspector General recommendations, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) is developing a methodology to identify Veterans living in rural areas. VA also stated that NCA was in the process of establishing a new database intended to enable analysis of Veteran demographics at the county, state, regional, and national levels, including identifying each county in the country as either being served (within the 75-mile service area) or unserved by a VA national or VA-funded state Veterans cemetery and the specific cemeteries that provide service to each served county. In its November 2014 response to GAO, VA stated that NCA had completed the development of the new database and was able to produce a preliminary national map. VA stated that NCA management and staff were in the process of validating the accuracy of the information in the database, and that NCA expected to complete that process by the end of the second quarter of FY 2015. After that point, VA stated that it believed that NCA would then be able to publish the national map and address the other remaining elements required by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013.
    Director: Charles Jeszeck
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOL agreed to consider this recommendation in connection with its current regulatory project on standards for brokerage windows in participant-directed individual account plans. DOL intends for this project to address whether potential regulatory or other guidance for such arrangements may be appropriate. The project has been moved to the long-term action category of DOL's regulatory agenda.
    Director: Brown Barnes, Cindy S
    Phone: (202) 512-9345

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to take steps to identify high risk facilities working with ammonium nitrate and develop options to target them for inspection.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In 2016, OSHA officials reported that implementation of their planned local emphasis programs focused on safe use and storage of ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia at fertilizer facilities was delayed due to litigation regarding process safety management enforcement in the fertilizer industry. As of July 2017, OSHA officials stated that with the recent conclusion of that litigation, OSHA is considering initiation of local emphasis programs focused on the storage and handling of ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia at fertilizer facilities. Once initiated, a local emphasis program requires a focused inspection program with facilities chosen at random from the list of facilities in appropriate industry codes. OSHA previously (December 3, 2014) issued guidance to Regional Administrators to assist OSHA officials in enforcing the ammonium nitrate storage requirements in the Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard. We will close this recommendation when the local emphasis programs are initiated.
    Recommendation: To strengthen federal oversight of facilities with ammonium nitrate, the Secretary of Labor and the Administrator of EPA should direct OSHA and EPA, respectively, to consider revising their related regulations to cover ammonium nitrate and jointly develop a plan to require high risk facilities with ammonium nitrate to assess the risks and implement safeguards to prevent accidents involving this chemical.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 9, 2013, OSHA issued a Request for Information seeking, among other things, comments on potential revisions to its Process Safety Management standard and its Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard. The Request for Information specifically invited comments on safe work practices for storing, handling, and managing ammonium nitrate and on regulatory requirements to improve its approach to preventing the hazards associated with ammonium nitrate. As of July 2017, OSHA reports it has completed a Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Review Act panel to gather feedback from small businesses on updating its Process Safety Management (PSM) regulation. During the panel, the agency discussed the option of adding ammonium nitrate to the list of chemicals covered by PSM and collected comments. Currently, the PSM rulemaking is on the regulatory agenda under Long Term Action. According to OSHA officials, the agency will continue to collect comments on the option of adding ammonium nitrate to the list of highly hazardous chemicals covered by the PSM regulations as dictated by the rulemaking process. We will close this recommendation when OSHA decides what action to take as a result of the requests for information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen federal oversight of facilities with ammonium nitrate, the Secretary of Labor and the Administrator of EPA should direct OSHA and EPA, respectively, to consider revising their related regulations to cover ammonium nitrate and jointly develop a plan to require high risk facilities with ammonium nitrate to assess the risks and implement safeguards to prevent accidents involving this chemical.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, EPA issued a final rule to modify its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations. The agency decided not to propose any revisions to the list of regulated substances and therefore, did not address ammonium nitrate in the revised regulations. In a June 2016 update from EPA, EPA stated that OSHA is considering whether ammonium nitrate should be added to the list of chemicals subject to OSHA Process Safety Management regulations. According to the June 2016 update, EPA stated that while the agency is not presently proposing that ammonium nitrate be added to the list of substances subject to the RMP rule, the agency may elect to propose such a listing at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to consider updating regulations for the storage of ammonium nitrate taking into consideration, as appropriate, other related standards and current practices.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: OSHA previously (December 3, 2014) issued guidance to Regional Administrators to assist OSHA officials in enforcing the ammonium nitrate storage requirements in the Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard. In addition, on December 9, 2013, OSHA issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking, among other things, comments on potential revisions to the Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard, which includes ammonium nitrate storage requirements. The RFI specifically invited comments on safe work practices for storing, handling, and managing ammonium nitrate and on regulatory requirements to improve its approach to preventing the hazards associated with ammonium nitrate. As of July 2017, this rulemaking is on the regulatory agenda under Long Term Action. We will close this recommendation when the agency decides what action to take as a result of the request for information.