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    Subject Term: "Metropolitan areas"

    6 publications with a total of 16 open recommendations including 7 priority recommendations
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure future large-scale rehabilitation projects are in line with leading project management practices, WMATA should develop a policy that requires and includes relevant procedures specifying that, prior to starting large-scale projects, WMATA should use detailed data on the conditions of assets to develop project objectives and scope.

    Agency: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure future large-scale rehabilitation projects are in line with leading project management practices, WMATA should develop a policy that requires and includes relevant procedures specifying that, prior to starting large-scale projects, WMATA should evaluate and compare alternative ways of accomplishing the project objectives, including estimates for the alternatives' costs and impacts.

    Agency: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure future large-scale rehabilitation projects are in line with leading project management practices, WMATA should develop a policy that requires and includes relevant procedures specifying that, prior to starting large-scale projects, WMATA should develop a comprehensive project management plan for the selected alternative--to include key elements such as detailed plans for managing the project's scope, schedule, and cost--for those projects that may not be designated major capital projects.

    Agency: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase the completeness of information on the federal government's real property holdings and improve the coordination among federal entities that lease real property, the Deputy Director of the OMB--as chair of the FRPC--should establish efficient methods for including data from non-FRPC member entities in the FRPP.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To increase the completeness of information on the federal government's real property holdings and improve the coordination among federal entities that lease real property, the Deputy Director of the OMB--as chair of the FRPC--should establish efficient methods for increasing collaboration between FRPC member and non-member entities, including sharing leading real-property management practices.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that WIC participants are aware of the prohibition against selling WIC formula, and to assist states' efforts to prevent and address online formula sales, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to require state agencies to articulate their procedures for identifying attempted sales of WIC food benefits in their WIC state plans and analyze the information to ascertain the national extent of state efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation and reported that in April 2015 the agency revised the guidance for WIC state plans to include policies on informing participants that the sale of WIC benefits is a program violation. As part of that document, state agencies were required to report/articulate their policies and procedures for identifying and monitoring online sales of WIC benefits. In October 2015, USDA contracted a study to determine 1) the national extent of WIC state agency policies and procedures intended to prevent, monitor, and take administrative action related to online sales of WIC infant formula; and 2) effective preventative, monitoring, and investigative approaches to address the online sale of WIC infant formula. USDA reported that a narrative state plan report, based on the contractor's review of 2016 and 2017 state plans, is expected to be completed by the end of FY 2017. GAO will close this recommendation once USDA has issued its report.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that WIC participants are aware of the prohibition against selling WIC formula, and to assist states' efforts to prevent and address online formula sales, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to collect information to help assess the national extent of attempted online sales of WIC formula benefits and determine cost-effective techniques states can use to monitor online classified advertisements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA agreed with this recommendation and reported that it would explore options for using available resources to assess the extent of online sales of WIC formula and to identify and share best practices, cost-effective techniques, or new approaches with state agencies to use in monitoring online advertisements. In October 2015, USDA contracted a case study analysis of two state agencies in order to provide examples of prevention, monitoring, investigation, and sanctioning practices related to the online sale of WIC infant formula. As part of this study, the contractor sought to identify cost-effective techniques State agencies can use to monitor sales of WIC infant formula. USDA reported that the Case Study Analysis Report is expected to be completed by the end of FY 2017, and after it is completed, USDA will work to disseminate the study results to state agencies. GAO supports these efforts and will close this recommendation when the study is completed, providing the study identifies cost-effective techniques states can use to monitor online sales of infant formula.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    6 open recommendations
    including 5 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Homeland Security should designate the headquarters consolidation program a major acquisition, consistent with DHS acquisition policy, and apply DHS acquisition policy requirements.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In alignment with GAO's recommendation, on September 16, 2014, DHS issued an Acquisition Decision Memorandum designating the DHS-funded portions of the headquarters consolidation program as a Major Acquisition Program to be overseen by the departmental Acquisition Review Board (ARB). DHS made further progress implementing this recommendation by conducting and documenting an ARB of the program on November 15, 2016. The ARB process provided DHS greater oversight of headquarters consolidation, and provided a forum for officials to consider a wide range of issues affecting consolidation efforts, such as funding and project scope. However, DHS and General Services Administration (GSA) were required to revise their cost and schedule estimates subsequent to the ARB's review. In addition, as of March 2017, DHS, in coordination with GSA, had not submitted the report to Congress on DHS Headquarters Consolidation mandated by Pub. L. No. 114-150. GAO will reassess the status of this recommendation after cost and schedule estimates are finalized and DHS and GSA submit the required report to Congress, i.e., when there is more certainty about the future direction of the project overall and DHS's funded portion in particular.
    Recommendation: In order to improve transparency and allow for more informed decision making by congressional leaders and DHS and GSA decision-makers, before requesting additional funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work jointly to conduct the following assessments and use the results to inform updated DHS headquarters consolidation plans: (1) a comprehensive needs assessment and gap analysis of current and needed capabilities that take into consideration changing conditions, and (2) an alternatives analysis that identifies the costs and benefits of leasing and construction alternatives for the remainder of the project and prioritizes options to account for funding instability.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015 (Pub. L. No. 114-150) was enacted on April 29, 2016. Among other things, the act requires DHS, in coordination with GSA, to submit information to Congress about DHS headquarters consolidation efforts not later than 120 days of enactment. As of March 2017, DHS and GSA had not submitted the information to Congress required by Pub. L. No. 114-150. Officials stated that the information would be submitted as soon as possible, but exact timeframes were uncertain given ongoing project deliberations and internal reviews. Required information includes a comprehensive assessment of property and facilities utilized by DHS in the National Capital Region, and an analysis that identifies the costs and benefits of leasing and construction alternatives for the remainder of the consolidation project. DHS and GSA have made significant progress in developing a revised plan for headquarters consolidation since 2014, including the completion of a business case analysis to support the new plan. GAO will review the latest information on DHS headquarters consolidation efforts when it is provided to Congress, and will assess the materials in the context of this recommendation at that time. Continued DHS and GSA attention to following leading capital planning practices is critical given the project's multi-billion dollar cost and impact on future departmental operations.
    Recommendation: In order to improve transparency and allow for more informed decision making by congressional leaders and DHS and GSA decision-makers, before requesting additional funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work jointly to conduct the following assessments and use the results to inform updated DHS headquarters consolidation plans: (1) a comprehensive needs assessment and gap analysis of current and needed capabilities that take into consideration changing conditions, and (2) an alternatives analysis that identifies the costs and benefits of leasing and construction alternatives for the remainder of the project and prioritizes options to account for funding instability.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: GSA agreed with both recommendations to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment and gap analysis and to update cost and schedule estimates. The Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015 (Pub. L. No. 114-150), enacted on April 29, 2016, mirrors GAO recommendations in this area. Among other things, the act requires DHS, in coordination with GSA, to submit information to Congress about DHS's headquarters consolidation efforts not later than 120 days of enactment. As of March 2017, DHS and GSA had not submitted the information to Congress required by Pub. L. No. 114-150. Officials stated that the information would be submitted as soon as possible, but exact timeframes were uncertain given ongoing project deliberations and internal reviews. Required information includes a comprehensive needs assessment, a costs and benefits analysis, and updated cost and schedule estimates. Furthermore, the act requires the Comptroller General to evaluate the cost and schedule estimates not later than 90 days after their submittal to Congress. DHS and GSA have made significant progress in developing an Enhanced Plan for headquarters consolidation since 2014, including the completion of a business case analysis to support the new plan. In addition, GSA is leading efforts to revise the project's cost and schedule estimates, and according to GSA officials, the revised figures will take into account GAO's leading cost-estimation practices. We will review the latest information on DHS's headquarters consolidation efforts when it is provided to Congress, and will assess the materials in the context of these recommendations at that time. Continued DHS and GSA attention to following leading practices for capital planning and cost and schedule estimation is critical given the project's multi-billion dollar cost and impact on future departmental operations.
    Recommendation: In order to improve transparency and allow for more informed decision making by congressional leaders and DHS and GSA decision-makers, before requesting additional funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project, after revising the DHS headquarters consolidation plans, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work jointly to develop revised cost and schedule estimates for the remaining portions of the consolidation project that conform to GSA guidance and leading practices for cost and schedule estimation, including an independent evaluation of the estimates.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015 (Pub. L. No. 114-150) was enacted on April 29, 2016. Among other things, the act requires DHS, in coordination with GSA, to submit information to Congress about DHS headquarters consolidation efforts not later than 120 days of enactment. As of March 2017, DHS and GSA had not submitted the information to Congress required by Pub. L. No. 114-150. Officials stated that the information would be submitted as soon as possible, but exact timeframes were uncertain given ongoing project deliberations and internal reviews. Required information includes updated cost and schedule estimates for the consolidation project that are consistent with GAO's recommendations in GAO-14-648. Furthermore, the act requires the Comptroller General to evaluate the cost and schedule estimates not later than 90 days after their submittal to Congress. GSA is leading efforts to revise project cost and schedule estimates, and according to GSA officials, the revised figures will take into account GAO's leading estimation practices. GAO will review the latest DHS headquarters consolidation cost and schedule estimates when they are provided to Congress, and will assess the materials in the context of this recommendation at that time. Continued DHS and GSA attention to following leading cost and schedule estimation practices is critical given the project's multi-billion dollar cost and impact on future departmental operations.
    Recommendation: In order to improve transparency and allow for more informed decision making by congressional leaders and DHS and GSA decision-makers, before requesting additional funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project, after revising the DHS headquarters consolidation plans, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work jointly to develop revised cost and schedule estimates for the remaining portions of the consolidation project that conform to GSA guidance and leading practices for cost and schedule estimation, including an independent evaluation of the estimates.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015 (Pub. L. No. 114-150) was enacted on April 29, 2016. Among other things, the act requires DHS, in coordination with GSA, to submit information to Congress about DHS headquarters consolidation efforts not later than 120 days of enactment. As of March 2017, DHS and GSA had not submitted the information to Congress required by Pub. L. No. 114-150. Officials stated that the information would be submitted as soon as possible, but exact timeframes were uncertain given ongoing project deliberations and internal reviews. Required information includes updated cost and schedule estimates for the consolidation project that are consistent with GAO's recommendations in GAO-14-648. Furthermore, the act requires the Comptroller General to evaluate the cost and schedule estimates not later than 90 days after their submittal to Congress. GSA is leading efforts to revise project cost and schedule estimates, and according to GSA officials, the revised figures will take into account GAO's leading estimation practices. GAO will review the latest DHS headquarters consolidation cost and schedule estimates when they are provided to Congress, and will assess the materials in the context of this recommendation at that time. Continued DHS and GSA attention to following leading cost and schedule estimation practices is critical given the project's multi-billion dollar cost and impact on future departmental operations.
    Recommendation: Congress should consider making future funding for the St. Elizabeths project contingent upon DHS and GSA developing a revised headquarters consolidation plan, for the remainder of the project, that conforms with leading practices and that (1) recognizes changes in workplace standards, (2) identifies which components are to be colocated at St. Elizabeths and in leased and owned space throughout the National Capital Region, and (3) develops and provides reliable cost and schedule estimates.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015 (Pub. L. No. 114-150) was enacted on April 29, 2016. Among other things, the act requires DHS, in coordination with GSA, to submit information to Congress about DHS headquarters consolidation efforts not later than 120 days of enactment. As of March 2017, DHS and GSA had not submitted the information to Congress required by Pub. L. No. 114-150. Officials stated that the information would be submitted as soon as possible, but exact timeframes were uncertain given ongoing project deliberations and internal reviews. Required information includes: a comprehensive assessment of property and facilities utilized by DHS in the National Capital Region; an analysis that identifies the costs and benefits of leasing and construction alternatives for the remainder of the consolidation project; and updated cost and schedule estimates for the project that are consistent with GAO's recommendations in GAO-14-648. Furthermore, the act requires the Comptroller General to evaluate the cost and schedule estimates not later than 90 days after their submittal to Congress. A comprehensive report to Congress on DHS headquarters consolidation, along with reliable project cost and schedule estimates, could inform Congress's funding decisions.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

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

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

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

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which is responsible for providing a unified national framework for export promotion, have taken some steps to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion, as GAO recommended in May 2014 and as called for in a subsequent law. In February 2016, Congress passed The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Public Law 114-125, which according to the State International Development Organizations (SIDO), contained provisions intended to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion. First, the act directs the President to establish a state and federal export promotion coordination working group as a subcommittee of the TPCC and appoint at least one representative from a state trade promotion agency to the TPCC. Second, beginning in February 2017, the act requires Commerce to annually submit to the TPCC a federal-state export strategy for each state that submits its export strategy to Commerce for that year that, among other things, addresses efforts to reduce duplication. Third, the act requires Commerce and state trade promotion agencies to develop a coordinated set of performance metrics, and report to Congress on these metrics within a year of the law's enactment. Fourth, the act mandates an annual survey and analysis, in coordination with state trade promotion agencies, of the overall effectiveness of federal-state coordination in export promotion. In April 2016 Commerce and SIDO signed a memorandum of intent to develop joint strategies and implement activities to enhance federal and state agency coordination and cooperation . In September 2016 Commerce issued a Federal Register Notice announcing the establishment of a state and federal export promotion coordination working group under the TPCC. The Secretary of Commerce appointed 14 members to this new working group in January 2017, which has met several times according to Commerce officials. The working group is developing a federal-state export coordination strategy that is expected to define roles and responsibilities, among other things. Successfully completing these activities is important, because without joint federal-state planning, programs at different levels of government will likely continue to be duplicative, and effective resource planning will likely be hampered.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: If Congress agrees that significant paid preparer errors exist, it should consider legislation granting IRS the authority to regulate paid tax preparers.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, several bills were introduced in Congress that would authorize the Department of Treasury to regulate paid tax return preparers. As of September 2017, no action has been taken on any of the bills. GAO testified on October 1, 2015 on improper payments and the tax gap before Senate Finance and on December 10, 2015 on GAO recommendations before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, US Senate. Both hearings increased attention to GAO's matter to Congress that tax preparers be regulated. Paid preparer regulation may increase the accuracy of tax returns and potentially reduce the tax gap.