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    Topic: "Natural Resources and Environment"

    118 publications with a total of 354 open recommendations including 27 priority recommendations
    Director: Lepore, Brian J
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment, in consultation with the Secretaries of the military departments, should identify and implement any necessary changes to DOD's environmental compliance policy to clarify DOD's reporting requirements for violations of health-based drinking water regulations. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should identify and implement actions to increase understanding at Army installations and commands about DOD's reporting requirements for violations of health-based drinking water regulations. These actions may include improved communication to or additional training for personnel. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Navy should identify and implement actions to increase understanding at Navy installations and commands about DOD's reporting requirements for violations of health-based drinking water regulations. These actions may include improved communication to or additional training for personnel. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should identify and implement actions to increase understanding at Air Force installations and commands about DOD's reporting requirements for violations of health-based drinking water regulations. These actions may include improved communication to or additional training for personnel. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment, in consultation with the Secretaries of the military departments, should (a) review reported compliance data to identify the reasons for any differences in the number of violations of health-based drinking water regulations between DOD's two types of public water systems and (b) identify and implement any actions needed to address the causes of any differences in the number of violations between DOD's two types of public water systems. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

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

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance that helps sites produce a more comprehensive estimate for the volumes of TRU waste that may be generated in the future from cleanup operations, including estimates of buried waste, waste that may be generated from decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and waste that may be generated past WIPP's expected closure date of 2050.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes the need for excavating additional disposal space at WIPP and an integrated schedule that describes how DOE will complete the regulatory approval process and construction of new space before WIPP's existing space is full.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes a timeline to help determine whether DOE can change its method of counting waste volumes to meet NNSA's 2020 milestone for resolving potential disposal space constraints at WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Water of EPA's Office of Water should require states to report available information about lead pipes to EPA's Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS)/Fed (or a future redesign such as SDWIS Prime) database, in its upcoming revision of the LCR. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Office of Water
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Water of EPA's Office of Water should require states to report all 90th percentile sample results for small water systems to EPA's SDWIS/Fed (or a future redesign such as SDWIS Prime) database, in its upcoming revision of the LCR. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Office of Water
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Water of EPA's Office of Water and the Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance should develop a statistical analysis that incorporates multiple factors--including those currently in SDWIS/Fed and others such as the presence of lead pipes and the use of corrosion control--to identify water systems that might pose a higher likelihood for violating the LCR once complete violations data are obtained, such as through SDWIS Prime. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Office of Water
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Water of EPA's Office of Water and the Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance should develop a statistical analysis that incorporates multiple factors--including those currently in SDWIS/Fed and others such as the presence of lead pipes and the use of corrosion control--to identify water systems that might pose a higher likelihood for violating the LCR once complete violations data are obtained, such as through SDWIS Prime. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency: Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to systematically review data on municipal and industrial water storage agreements stored within the OMBIL system and correct errors, as appropriate, to ensure that the data are accurate and complete.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop policy and implementing guidance directing staff to conduct systematic reviews of M&I water storage agreement data in OMBIL.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to collect and analyze data on the length of time it takes to complete the reallocation process.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to ensure that NOAA's efforts to improve its cost comparison reports include actions to fully track capital asset depreciation costs and account for ships in port undergoing major maintenance in accordance with its standard operating procedure.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, NOAA reported that it has taken steps to start developing procedures to fully track capital asset depreciation costs. NOAA expects to implement draft procedures by September 30, 2018, and fully implement them in fall 2019. In addition, NOAA stated that, by January 31, 2018, it will review and assess the current methodology it uses to account for the costs of ships in port undergoing major maintenance. NOAA intends to implement a revised methodology by February 28, 2018.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to develop a strategy for expanding NOAA's use of the private sector in its hydrographic survey program, as required by law.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, NOAA reported that it had begun developing a strategy to expand its hydrographic data collection program, and has determined that there are significant growth opportunities for private sector involvement in its program. NOAA intends to take several actions to promote the hydrographic surveying industry, and will compile the findings from the actions taken and issue a final strategy report by December 31, 2019.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help determine the extent to which the goals of the Cohesive Strategy are being met, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director of the Office of Wildland Fire, respectively, to work with WFLC to develop measures to assess national progress toward achieving the strategy's goals.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its April 2017 agency comments and a May 2017 follow up discussion, the Forest Service generally agreed with our recommendation. In August 2017, the Forest Service stated that it is working with partners to develop a framework for reporting progress toward the goals of the Cohesive Strategy, based on its own and other potential measures. The agency stated that the framework will be shared with the Wildland Fire Leadership Coalition for input and feedback and that initial meetings with partners were to occur in July 2017, with a proposal to be shared with WFLC in early fall 2017. The final framework is planned for spring of 2018.
    Recommendation: To help determine the extent to which the goals of the Cohesive Strategy are being met, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director of the Office of Wildland Fire, respectively, to work with WFLC to develop measures to assess national progress toward achieving the strategy's goals.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its April 2017 agency comments, the Department of the Interior stated that it did not concur with our recommendation. In a letter dated August 2, 2017, Interior stated that it nevertheless will work with its federal and nonfederal partners, with input from the Wildland Fire Leadership Council, to propose a framework using existing measures to assess national progress toward achieving the goals of the Cohesive Strategy. Interior expects initial meetings with partners to occur in the summer of 2017 with a proposal to be shared with WFLC by the fall of 2017 and final framework to be completed in the spring of 2018.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance DOE's ability to make risk-based decisions for the treatment of Hanford supplemental LAW, Congress should consider clarifying, in a manner that does not impair the regulatory authorities of EPA and the state of Washington, DOE's authority at Hanford to determine, in consultation with NRC, whether portions of the supplemental LAW can be managed as a waste type other than high-level waste.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to staff with the reports' addressees, Congress is considering whether to implement this Matter.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should develop updated information on the effectiveness of treating and disposing of all the different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites, and based on this information, identify potential treatment and disposal pathways for different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW, considering the risks posed by the LAW. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will address the effectiveness of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental low-activity waste with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should have an independent entity develop updated information on the lifecycle costs of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will include a cost benefit analysis for treatment and disposal alternatives.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should develop a policy to ensure that field offices consistently track exception data.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should develop bureau-wide written procedures for consistently considering and clearly documenting the information and processes used to make exception decisions.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should direct field offices to make the results of exception request decisions available to the public, such as on BLM's public website.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should clarify guidance related to documentation of environmental inspections to ensure that inspections are documented in a manner that indicates whether all permit requirements were checked as part of the inspection.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should provide additional guidance to field offices on how to collect and use data collected during monitoring inspections and, in doing so, determine and implement an approach for using the data to assess the effectiveness of the agency's mitigation efforts, including its best management practices.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Bureau of Land Management should establish a policy requiring staff responsible for conducting environmental and monitoring inspections to take standardized training.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Bureau of Land Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to direct EQIP program managers to coordinate with the leaders of USDA's CEAP to help ensure that CEAP studies consider the practical limitations and trade-offs faced by program managers and to provide program managers with better information to target EQIP funds where they will optimize environmental benefits.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to revise guidance on state offices' EQIP allocation processes, stipulating that data on environmental concerns, where available, should be a primary factor influencing allocations within states.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to establish a review process at the regional level for review and concurrence of EQIP payment rates above a threshold (e.g., rates greater than 50 percent, with justification).

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Recommendation: To help achieve EQIP's purpose of optimizing environmental benefits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to modify guidance and ranking tools so that they more accurately value an EQIP application's anticipated environmental benefits relative to estimated costs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency has not taken action.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, who oversees BSEE, to establish a mechanism for BSEE management to obtain and incorporate input from bureau personnel and any external parties, such as Argonne, that can affect the bureau's ability to achieve its objectives.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017 response to our report, Interior indicated that BSEE is developing new strategies to improve trust and foster greater collaboration for consideration by the new Director. Interior anticipates BSEE taking action by April 30, 2018.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, who oversees BSEE, to address leadership commitment deficiencies within BSEE, including by implementing internal management initiatives and ongoing strategic initiatives (e.g., Enterprise Risk Management and performance measure initiatives) in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017 response to our report, Interior indicated that BSEE will incorporate lessons learned from its first ERM cycle in future cycles and that BSEE will incorporate a performance management dashboard in fiscal year 2018. Specific completion dates were not provided.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the BSEE Director to address trust concerns that exist between headquarters and the field, BSEE should expand the scope of its employee engagement strategy to incorporate the need to communicate quality information throughout the bureau.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017 response to our report, Interior indicated that BSEE's response to this recommendation would be incorporated into its corrective actions for recommendation 1. The target completion date is April 30, 2018.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the BSEE Director to increase organizational trust in Integrity and Professional Responsibility Advisor (IPRA) activities, BSEE should assess and amend IPRA guidance to clarify (1) severity threshold criteria for referring allegations of misconduct to the IG and (2) its reporting chain.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its June 9, 2017, response to our report, Interior indicated that the BSEE Director will evaluate options for clarifying the roles, responsibilities, and processes for the IPRA. The target date for completion is December 31, 2017.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve oversight of the concessions program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the National Park Service to review the financial reporting process and make any necessary adjustments to help ensure timely and accurate reporting of data on annual financial reports.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: National Park Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its May 25, 2017 update letter, the Department of the Interior stated that the National Park Service will (1) review the current financial reporting process and take steps to improve the timeliness of concessioners' annual financial reports as outlined in their contracts, and (2) develop internal controls to ensure that concessioner data is accurate. The agency anticipates having these actions implemented by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To help improve oversight of the concessions program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the National Park Service to finalize guidance on maintenance and capital improvements and make it publicly available to concessioners.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: National Park Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its May 25, 2017 update letter, the Department of the Interior stated that the National Park Service will finalize the existing draft guidance on maintenance and capital improvements to clarify the funding sources available to concessioners for particular repairs and maintenance needs. The agency added that the finalized guidance will be made publicly available. The agency anticipates having this guidance finalized by November 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve oversight of the concessions program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the National Park Service to develop performance goals with targets and timeframes in its commercial services strategic plan.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: National Park Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its May 25, 2017 update letter, the Department of the Interior stated that the National Park Service will review the commercial services program strategic plan and develop meaningful and measurable performance goals with timeframes. The agency anticipates having this implemented by June 30, 2018.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Nuclear Energy to reassess its decision to engage in discussions with potential host communities, screen sites, or conduct other site selection activities until key prerequisites to these efforts--such as revising health and safety regulations--have been addressed.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prohibited DOE from spending money on a defense repository until the Secretary has developed an understanding of the costs and impacts to other priority programs within atomic energy defense activities. However, the President's fiscal year 2018 budget priorities include $120 million for DOE to resume licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. As of March 2017, a DOE official said they were waiting for authorization and direction on how to proceed.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Nuclear Energy to conduct a comprehensive assessment, which adheres to the Office of Management and Budget guidance and best practices, of the benefits, costs, and schedules of the options it reviewed and provided to the President in 2015, and, in light of the new information and results of its assessment, revise--if needed--the report's conclusion that a strong basis exists to find that a defense HLW repository is required.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (DOE) agreed with this recommendation in principle and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prohibited DOE from spending money on a defense repository until the Secretary has developed an understanding of the costs and impacts to other priority programs within atomic energy defense activities. However, the President's fiscal year 2018 budget priorities include $120 million for DOE to resume licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. As of March 2017, a DOE official said they were waiting for authorization and direction on how to proceed.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of EPA's internal records and the information EPA can communicate to internal and external decision makers, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) to provide clear guidance to EPA staff to help ensure that staff correctly identify all EPA discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management system.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on this report, EPA stated that there are opportunities to explore how to better develop guidance for tracking grants and determine how to make more complete information on discretionary grants publicly available. In June 2017, EPA reported that it intends to be involved in efforts in 2017 to improve the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) descriptions, which may include changes to the CFDA template language to improve clarity of discretionary grant designations. EPA stated that also in 2017 the agency will assess whether other actions are necessary to help staff better identify discretionary grant programs in the agency's internal grants management systems, including training and reconciling any inconsistencies in defining discretionary grants.
    Recommendation: To better enable Congress and other decision makers to monitor EPA's management of discretionary grants, the EPA Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to direct the Director of OGD to determine how to make more complete information on EPA's discretionary grants publicly available, such as by posting timely and complete reports on its website.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, EPA reported that in 2017 the agency will begin to examine whether and how it can use its new internal Next Generation Grants System to generate more timely and complete reports related to discretionary grants and make them publicly available. EPA also stated that it plans to explore the ability to use the system to (1) generate more timely and complete information that can be publicly posted on the number of applications received and types of entities submitting applications for open competitive opportunities, and (2) produce an annual report on the amount of funds per discretionary grant program and whether such funds were for new awards or amendments.
    Director: Brian Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide Congress with better visibility over the costs for the environmental cleanup of properties from all Base Realignment and Closure rounds to inform future funding decisions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to include in future annual reports to Congress that environmental cleanup costs will increase due to the cleanup of perfluorinated compounds and other emerging contaminants, and to include best estimates of these costs as additional information becomes available.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that information on cleanup of perfluorinated compounds would be included in the fiscal year 2017 annual report to Congress.
    Recommendation: To help the services more effectively share information and address environmental cleanups and transfers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to create a repository or method to record and share lessons learned about how various locations have successfully addressed cleanup challenges.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on a draft of this report, DOD stated that it will develop a process to record and share lessons learned in conjunction with its fiscal year 2017 annual report to Congress.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to collect and analyze data on project officer FTEs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA's December 2016 letter with comments on the draft report, EPA agrees with this recommendation and will initiate implementation in FY 2017 by developing and issuing a survey tool to collect relevant information on project officer FTE and workload. According to the letter, EPA will evaluate the survey results in FY 2018 and establish a formal process to influence out-year budget cycles, beginning with the FY 2020 budget.
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to collect and analyze data on grants management workloads.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA's December 2016 letter with comments on the draft report, EPA agrees with this recommendation and will initiate implementation in FY 2017 by developing and issuing a survey tool to collect relevant information on project officer FTE and workload. According to the letter, EPA will evaluate the survey results in FY 2018 and establish a formal process to influence out-year budget cycles, beginning with the FY 2020 budget.
    Recommendation: To help the agency make strategic decisions about how to prioritize and efficiently use available personnel, the Administrator, recognizing the agency's limited resources, should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop a documented process that can be consistently applied by regional and national program offices to use project officer FTE and workload data to inform FTE allocations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA's December 2016 letter with comments on the draft report, EPA agrees with this recommendation and will initiate implementation in FY 2017 by developing and issuing a survey tool to collect relevant information on project officer FTE and workload. According to the letter, EPA will evaluate the survey results in FY 2018 and establish a formal process to influence out-year budget cycles, beginning with the FY 2020 budget.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EPA has people with the right skills to meet the goals of its 2016-2020 Grants Management Plan, the Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management and regional and national program offices, as appropriate, to review project officer critical skills and competencies and determine training needs to address any gaps.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA's December 2016 letter with comments on the draft report, EPA agrees with this recommendation and will initiate implementation in FY 2017 by developing and issuing a project officer survey tool. According to the letter, based on the survey results, EPA will begin making enhancements to its project officer training program in FY 2018, and continue those efforts in subsequent fiscal years consistent with goal 3 of the agency's 2016-2020 Grants Management Plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance EPA's ability to identify performance shortfalls and appropriate corrective actions, the Administrator should direct the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management to develop performance measures to track the effectiveness of the recruitment and retention efforts for grant specialists and collect performance data for these measures.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA's December 2016 letter with comments on the draft report, EPA agrees with this recommendation. According to the letter, in FY 2017, EPA's Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD), with support from the agency's human resources data system, will formalize its process for collecting information on grants specialist recruitment and retention. In FY 2018, EPA will issue performance measures related to grants specialist recruitment and retention.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve FWS's ability to evaluate the effectiveness of its compensatory mitigation strategies and ensure that the agency appropriately plans the obligations necessary for this purpose, the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should establish a timetable with milestones for modifying the RIBITS database to incorporate FWS's in-lieu fee program information.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: United States Fish and Wildlife Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with this recommendation. As of March 2017, we are awaiting further information.
    Director: Heather Krause
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FLETC builds and maintains capacity to achieve its mission with existing levels of resources over the longer-term, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Director of FLETC to complete a revised strategic plan that encompasses the agency's long-term goals and objectives to address emerging challenges.

    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 FLETC builds and maintains capacity to achieve its mission with existing levels of resources over the longer-term, as part of its strategic planning process, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Director of FLETC to finalize the plan, including the steps and time frames, needed to further implement its Online Campus initiative.

    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 ETA continues to have the capacity to achieve its mission and manage changes in demand for services resulting from changes in the broader economy, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Administrator of ETA to systematically gather and evaluate information on the challenges that states faced administering the unemployment insurance program during the recession that began in 2007--such as rapidly ramping up staffing at the start of the recession and ramping down as the economy recovered--and identify and build upon any lessons learned from this experience that could be broadly shared to help the program respond to any changes in workload during a future economic downturn.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the elements of the agency's process for making asset maintenance decisions are achieving desired outcomes, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Park Service to evaluate the Capital Investment Strategy and its results to determine if it is achieving its intended outcomes or if changes need to be made.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its March 22, 2017 update, the Department of the Interior stated that they concur with this recommendation and will assign responsibility for developing and implementing corrective actions to the new Director of NPS upon his or her confirmation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has accurate information about federal water resources feasibility studies and construction projects led by nonfederal sponsors, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish documented guidance for accurate recording of transactions and other relevant information related to these projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency agreed with our recommendation. We will provide updates when the agency takes action.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gomez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help reduce federal fiscal exposure by enhancing the resilience of infrastructure to extreme weather, the Secretary of Commerce, through the Director of NIST, in consultation with MitFLG and USGCRP, should convene federal agencies for an ongoing governmentwide effort to provide the best available forward-looking climate information to standards-developing organizations for their consideration in the development of design standards, building codes, and voluntary certifications.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 5, 2017, NIST has not convened a governmentwide effort to provide the best available forward-looking climate information to standards developing-organizations.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To continue the agency's efforts to improve state and local emergency preparedness for rail accidents involving hazardous materials, the Secretary of Transportation should, after the rulemaking is finalized, develop a process for regularly collecting information from state emergency response commissions on the distribution of the railroad-provided hazardous-materials-shipping information to local planning entities.

    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: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of its available incentives, such as special salary rates, the student loan repayment program, and other incentives in hiring and retaining key oil and gas staff.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, Interior's Office of Policy, Management and Budget outlined a plan to assess the effectiveness of special salary rates, as well as recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives by tracking measures such as turnover and acceptance rates. In January 2017 Interior officials reported that the evaluation of these incentives would be conducted on a regular basis. When we confirm that the agency has implemented its evaluation plan, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget to annually evaluate the bureaus' training programs, including: (1) staff training needs, (2) training effectiveness, and (3) potential opportunities for the bureaus to share training resources.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, Interior officials said the bureaus were developing, or had developed, the means by which they would assess their training needs and review, evaluate, and update their training programs for technical staff. Interior also told GAO that as part of its quarterly review of performance data, the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget will ensure that BLM, BSEE and BOEM are coordinating their training needs. Interior officials said that their Office of Strategic Employment and Organizational Development will validate the bureaus' active engagement in this activity and provide support in the fulfillment of this recommendation where needed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management to develop technical competencies for all key oil and gas staff.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017 Interior officials reported that the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management will direct BLM, BSEE and BOEM to identify their individual bureau's respective technical competency needs for all key oil and gas staff and develop a plan with milestones for applying these competencies to recruitment, retention, and training strategies designed to address the unique requirements of each bureau.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management to evaluate the need for and viability of a certification program for BSEE inspectors.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017 Interior officials reported that the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management will direct BSEE to evaluate certification programs that are used in other federal agencies and in industry to determine whether these types of formalized verification systems could benefit the inspection program. BSEE will award an Inspector Training Program evaluation contract to independently assess the need and effectiveness of a certification program for BSEE inspectors, including benchmarking with the BLM and other federal enforcement and compliance entities with inspector workforces.
    Recommendation: To help ensure Interior can hire, retain, and train staff it needs to provide effective oversight of oil and gas activities on federal lands and waters, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget to coordinate with the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management to create or use an existing mechanism, such as the Deputies Operating Group, Principals Operating Group, or the Interior Training Directors Council, to facilitate collaboration across the three bureaus in addressing their shared hiring, retention, and training challenges.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Interior has not identified what mechanism it will use to facilitate collaboration across the three bureaus. In January 2017, Interior officials reported that as part of its quarterly review of performance data, the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget will coordinate with the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. We will provide updated information when the agency demonstrates that it has created or selected an existing mechanism to use for ongoing collaboration across the three bureaus in addressing their shared hiring, retention, and training challenges.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help NMFS and the Councils incorporate climate information into the fisheries management process and better manage climate-related risks, the Secretary of Commerce should direct National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries to develop guidance to direct the NMFS regions and Councils on how climate information should be incorporated into different parts of the fisheries management process.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce and NOAA agreed with this recommendation. On December 2, 2016, the Department of Commerce provided GAO with a letter stating that NMFS will continue to work with the Regional Fishery Management Councils and other stakeholders to identify how to best incorporate climate-related information into the fisheries management process. The letter also identified a number of NMFS' ongoing and planned efforts related to this goal. We plan to follow-up with the agency in Summer 2017 to obtain an update on the status of these efforts and the extent to which they address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help NMFS and the Councils incorporate climate information into the fisheries management process and better manage climate-related risks, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Fisheries to, in finalizing the regional action plans for implementing the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, (1) incorporate the key attributes associated with successful performance measures in the final performance measures developed for the plans and (2) assess whether agency-wide performance measures may be needed to determine the extent to which the objectives of the Strategy overall are being achieved, and develop such measures, as appropriate, that incorporate the key attributes of successful performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce and NOAA agreed with this recommendation. In a letter to GAO on December 2, 2016, the Department of Commerce identified the following two actions that NMFS plans to take to address this recommendation by the end of calendar year 2017 - (1) NMFS will review the draft regional action plans and take appropriate action to ensure, to the extent possible, the performance measures in the final plans include key attributes of successful measures; and (2) NMFS will assess the need for agency-wide measures to track and evaluate achievement of the Strategy objective, and develop such measures as appropriate. We plan to follow-up with the agency in Summer 2017 to obtain an update on the status of these efforts.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency agreed with recommendation and plans to implement it
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that CSTAG's information needs are met for update meetings, the EPA Administrator should direct CSTAG to clarify, in its operating procedures, what type of information and documentation, if any, should be prepared by regional offices and provided to CSTAG members in advance of these meetings.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA concurred with our recommendation, stating that it will revise the CSTAG operating procedures to clearly describe the types of information and data that regional offices need to provide before update meetings. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the importance of providing accurate and clear information to facilitate congressional decision making and inform the public, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services to require satellite programs to perform regular availability assessments and use these analyses to inform the flyout charts and support its budget requests.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation, but has not yet addressed it. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of providing accurate and clear information to facilitate congressional decision making and inform the public, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services to establish and implement a consistent approach to depicting satellites that are expected to last beyond their design lives.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation and has taken steps to implement it. The agency updated its flyout chart policy and is in the process of drafting a separate policy to describe how the satellite's extended life is to be predicted and to establish the agency's criteria for publishing the information. This policy is expected to be completed in Fall 2017. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of providing accurate and clear information to facilitate congressional decision making and inform the public, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services to revise and finalize the draft policy governing how flyout charts are to be updated to address the shortfalls with analysis, accuracy, consistency, and documentation noted in the above recommendations.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation and has taken steps to implement it. NOAA updated its policy governing how the flyout charts are to be updated. In doing so, the agency updated the policy's roles and responsibilities, guidelines, and its methodology for depicting extended life. However, the policy does not clearly define or describe fuel-limited life and its use, or establish standard artifacts for documenting and supporting planned changes to its flyout chart. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of providing accurate and clear information to facilitate congressional decision making and inform the public, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services to ensure that flyout chart updates are consistent with supporting data from the program and from satellite availability assessments.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation, but has not yet demonstrated the steps it is taking to ensure that flyout chart updates are consistent with supporting data. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of providing accurate and clear information to facilitate congressional decision making and inform the public, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services, for each flyout chart update, to maintain a complete package of documentation on the reasons for any changes and executive approval of the changes.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation and has taken steps to implement it. Specifically, NOAA provided its March 2017 flyout charts and the associated justification packages. However, NOAA has not established a standard set of artifacts to be included in the justification packages to support changes to its flyout charts. We are working with NOAA to obtain additional justification packages for the next iteration of flyout charts, and will continue to monitor the agency's actions on this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To fulfill the role assigned to it under the 1980 Act, the Secretary of Commerce should engage with industry stakeholders and continually identify and assess critical materials needs across a broad range of industrial sectors.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, Commerce provided information on its implementation of the recommendation from GAO-16-699. Commerce stated that it had developed an action plan consisting of the following steps: (1)consulting with relevant offices and agencies, including: OSTP, DOD, the U.S. Geological Survey, DOE, the U.S. International Trade Commission, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; (2) determining criteria to be used when it is necessary to collect information to identify and assess critical materials needs; (3) determining appropriate steps, which might include: (a) developing a summary of information that federal agencies currently collect on the domestic and international supply of critical raw materials; (b)soliciting input from a broad range of industries through a Federal Register notice; (c)assessing aggregate information, as allowable under law, that is submitted through the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process over the course of Q1-2 of fiscal year 2017; and (d)consulting with federal advisory groups for advice; (4) determining the audience for collected information and methodology for information dissemination; (5) determining the process for identifying further information collection needs and methodology for disseminating collected information; and (6) determining the timeline and responsibilities for information collection and distribution. In an April 2017 update, Commerce stated that it had identified points of contacts in 7 of the 8 agencies listed in its action plan and is in the process of contacting them for input. Commerce stated that it hoped to identify an appropriate contact in the 8th agency in the near future. Commerce stated that it had also drafted questions to ask the agencies in order to implement the action plan. Commerce did not provide a timeframe for when it expected to complete implementation of the action plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should agree on and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of member agencies and take steps to actively engage all relevant federal agencies in the Subcommittee's efforts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that an increasing number of agencies participate in Subcommittee discussions and activities, with the last several meetings having had strong engagement from agencies that had not previously been involved, including the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. OSTP indicated that when the Subcommittee's charter is considered for renewal in spring 2017, it will reach out to all federal agencies with relevant responsibilities to discuss their roles in the Subcommittee's efforts and encourage them to name a lead representative and regularly participate. However, OSTP did not provide information about any plans to more clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the Subcommittee's member agencies. OSTP stated that it prefers flexibility, as this facilitates cooperation on topics of mutual interest and better accommodates changing circumstances and areas of focus.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should develop joint strategies that articulate common outcomes and identify contributing agencies' efforts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. However, the information OSTP provided did not include any details related to developing joint strategies that articulate common outcomes and identifying contributing agencies' efforts.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should develop a mechanism to monitor, evaluate, and periodically report on the progress of member agencies' efforts.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. However, the information OSTP provided did not include any details related to developing a mechanism to monitor, evaluate, and periodically report on the progress of member agencies' efforts.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to broaden future applications of the early warning screening methodology, the Subcommittee should take the steps necessary to include potentially critical materials beyond minerals, such as developing a plan or strategy for prioritizing additional materials for which actions are needed to address data limitations.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that current efforts to update the early warning screening methodology have refined, and in some cases augmented, the materials being screened based on available, regularly collected data. The Subcommittee will continue to consider incorporation of additional materials. OSTP further stated that, with respect to data availability limitations, the report's suggestion that the Subcommittee "better work with member agencies to address existing data limitations" is sometimes not actionable because private entities and foreign governments may be unwilling or unable to provide (or even collect) such data. OSTP stated that the Subcommittee will, however, continue to explore approaches to improve data availability and granularity, such as through proposals for revisions to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule or to the North American Industry Classification System or other such systems.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to enhance the federal government's ability to facilitate domestic production of critical materials, the Subcommittee should examine approaches other countries or regions are taking to see if there are any lessons learned that can be applied to the United States.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that it concurs with the recommendation that the Subcommittee should examine approaches other countries or regions are taking to see if there are any lessons learned that can be applied to the United States. OSTP stated that the Subcommittee is sharing and discussing information on production in other regions, including a U.S.-led project (and other projects with U.S. involvement or support) under the Mining Task Force of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. OSTP stated that in the future, the Subcommittee expects to review experiences in other countries/regions to glean lessons learned. OSTP did not provide a time frame in reach it would review experiences in other countries/regions.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct Office of Environmental Management (EM) to revise its protocol governing cleanup operations activities to require use of best practices in developing cost and schedule estimates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In its written comments, DOE stated that EM is transitioning from the operations activities protocol to a new directive that is expected to include a key decision approving a cost and schedule baseline. As EM develops the guidance for this key decision, it will include the use of cost and schedule best practices. In April 2017, however, EM indicated that it plans to issue a revised EM operations activities protocol in fiscal year 2017 for use in fiscal year 2018 instead of a new directive. According to an EM official, EM will include best practices for cost and schedule estimation in the revised protocol. When EM completes the revised protocol, we will evaluate the actions taken and whether the recommendation should be closed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct EM to implement the recommendation made by DOE's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessments in its independent review of the AOA for WIPP's new permanent ventilation system to perform a cost-benefit analysis consistent with best practices for conducting an AOA, or justify and document why the office does not intend to do so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with clarification to the recommendation. In its written comments to our report, DOE stated that in accordance with GAO best practices, it will conduct further cost-benefit analysis on the WIPP ventilation system project prior to approval of Critical Decision-2, Approve Performance Baseline. DOE stated that several alternatives remain to be evaluated including the size of the ventilation system and the location of the exhaust shaft. In March 2017, a DOE Carlsbad Field Office official overseeing the project said that the project team completed an additional analysis of alternatives (AOA) for the ventilation system project at WIPP and a revised business case for the alternative to construct a safety significant confinement ventilation system and exhaust shaft that addresses the recommendations from the Department of Energy's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessment. After we obtain a copy of the completed AOA, we will evaluate the action taken to determine whether to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE to revise its Order 413.3B to require that DOE offices implement any recommendations from an independent review of the extent to which an AOA followed best practices, or justify and document the rationale for not doing so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation and in its written comments to our report stated that it will prepare a project management policy on how DOE offices should respond to recommendations from independent reviews by December 2016. In addition, DOE stated that it will update DOE Order 413.3B with the new policy at the next available opportunity. In November 2017, a DOE official from the Office of Project Management, Oversight, and Assessments (PMOA) said that PMOA developed a project management policy statement on how DOE offices should disposition recommendations from independent reviews and PMOA intended to incorporate the policy into its planned update of DOE Guide 413.3-9 Project Review Guide for Capital Asset Projects, which was to be completed by December 2016. As of April 2017, according to a DOE official, development of the updated project review guide was on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to the two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Corps and FEMA carry out the national leveesafety- related activities required in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a plan, with milestones, for implementing these activities, using existing resources or requesting additional resources as needed. This plan could be posted on the Corps' website and monitored for progress.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Corps and FEMA carry out the national leveesafety- related activities required in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a plan, with milestones, for implementing these activities, using existing resources or requesting additional resources as needed. This plan could be posted on the Corps' website and monitored for progress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve the efficiency of Corps operations at reservoir projects and to assist the Corps in meeting the requirement of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 to update the Corps' 1992 reservoir report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop guidance on what activities constitute a review of a water control manual and how to document that review.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency agreed with our recommendation. We will provide updates when the agency takes action.
    Recommendation: To help improve the efficiency of Corps operations at reservoir projects and to assist the Corps in meeting the requirement of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 to update the Corps' 1992 reservoir report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to track consistent information on the status of water control manuals, including whether they need revisions, and prioritize revisions as needed.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency agreed with our recommendation. We will provide updates when the agency takes action.
    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 its 60 day response, 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 the EPA expects to fully deploy 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 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 its 60 day response, 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. EPA anticipates completing the process for identifying where duplicative reporting can be reduced by the end of FY 2017.
    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 its 60 day response, the 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; anticipated deployment is in FY 2017.
    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 its 60 day response, 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) in FY 2017.
    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 its 60 day response, EPA reiterated its agreement with this recommendation and stated that it will make conforming changes to existing policy in FY 2017.
    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 its 60 day response, 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. The agency will initiate that process in FY 2017.
    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: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve reporting of emissions data on the OGOR, the Secretary of the Interior should direct BLM to provide additional guidance on how to estimate natural gas emissions from federal oil and gas leases.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, which became effective January 17, 2017, Interior stated that BLM will work with ONRR to issue technical guidance on acceptable methods for measuring or estimating natural gas emissions from federal oil and gas leases, including reporting on the estimation method that the operator used to generate the reported estimates. As of March 2017, BLM and ONRR have not issued additional guidance on how to estimate natural gas emissions from federal oil and gas leases. We will continue to follow up with BLM and ONRR as they continue to take action on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve reporting of emissions data on the OGOR, the Secretary of the Interior should direct ONRR to provide additional guidance on how to differentiate between combusted and noncombusted lease use volumes reported on the OGOR, which could assist Interior in measuring its progress toward greenhouse gas reduction goals.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Interior stated that the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule, which became effective on January 17, 2017, identifies unallowable and allowable lease uses, and indicates which allowable lease uses require prior BLM approval. Interior further stated that to the extent that BLM and other relevant agencies provide guidance on how to estimate or measure combusted or non-combusted volumes, as well as an allocation methodology for reporting at the lease or agreement level, ONRR will develop new disposition codes to match these uses. As of March 2017, ONRR had not provided additional guidance on how to differentiate between combusted and noncombusted lease use volumes reported on the OGOR. We will continue to follow up with ONRR as it continues to take action on this recommendation.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: Because some quantities of radioactive materials are potentially dangerous to human health if not properly handled, NRC should take action to better track and secure these materials and verify the legitimacy of the licenses for those who seek to possess them. Specifically, the NRC should take the steps needed to include category 3 sources in the National Source Tracking System and add agreement state category 3 licenses to the Web-based Licensing System as quickly as reasonably possible.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) "Proposed Staff Re-Evaluation of Category 3 Source Accountability," (SRM-COMJMB-16-0001) and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability for Category 3 sources. Among other things, this re-evaluation will consider GAO's recommendations. This re-evaluation is due to be submitted to the Commission by August 2017.
    Recommendation: Because some quantities of radioactive materials are potentially dangerous to human health if not properly handled, NRC should take action to better track and secure these materials and verify the legitimacy of the licenses for those who seek to possess them. Specifically, the NRC should at least until such time that category 3 licenses can be verified using the License Verification System, require that transferors of category 3 quantities of radioactive materials confirm the validity of a would-be purchaser's radioactive materials license with the appropriate regulatory authority before transferring any category 3 quantities of licensed materials.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) "Proposed Staff Re-Evaluation of Category 3 Source Accountability," (SRM-COMJMB-16-0001) and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability for Category 3 sources. Among other things, this re-evaluation will consider GAO's recommendations. This re-evaluation is due to be submitted to the Commission by August 2017. The License Verification and Transfer of Category 3 Sources Working Group (LVWG) evaluated this recommendation, and its analysis will be considered by the Category 3 Source Security and Accountability Working Group in the development of the notation vote paper that will be submitted to the Commission in August 2017.
    Recommendation: Because some quantities of radioactive materials are potentially dangerous to human health if not properly handled, NRC should take action to better track and secure these materials and verify the legitimacy of the licenses for those who seek to possess them. Specifically, the NRC should, as part of the ongoing efforts of NRC working groups meeting to develop enhancements to the prelicensing requirements for category 3 licenses, consider requiring that an on-site security review be conducted for all unknown applicants of category 3 licenses to verify that each applicant is prepared to implement the required security measures before taking possession of licensed radioactive materials.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) "Proposed Staff Re-Evaluation of Category 3 Source Accountability," (SRM-COMJMB-16-0001) and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability for Category 3 sources. Among other things, this re-evaluation will consider GAO's recommendations. This re-evaluation is due to be submitted to the Commission by August 2017.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, as appropriate, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to establish required time frames for the review and approval of Indian CAs to ensure a more timely CA process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BIA officials, as of March 2017 an internal subject matter expert (SME) group met and drafted a process flow chart to establish timeframes for the review and approval of Indian CAs in an effort to ensure a more timely process. These timeframes need to be submitted to the BIA Trust Director for review and approval.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, as appropriate, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop a systematic mechanism for tracking Indian CAs through the review and approval process to determine, among other things, whether the revised CA process meets newly established time frames.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: Also as of March 2017, according to officials the same SME group met and formulated a proposal to create a tracking tool for Indian CAs through the review and approval process in the BIA system of records, TAAMS. The proposal includes several components of specific fields and data that must be captured to meet our recommendation. This proposal has to be edited prior to submission to the TAAMS Change Management Board, which may take several months. In the meantime, BIA is implementing a tracking tool within google drive until the proposed updates are made to TAAMS.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, as appropriate, the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to assess whether the revised CA process is achieving its objective to improve the timeliness of the review and approval of Indian CAs, and if not, make changes as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, no additional updates were provided for this recommendation. However, Interior officials had previously noted that both BLM and BIA would use the same tracking spreadsheet mentioned above until completion of the enhanced TAAMS system in order to monitor and assess the results of their efforts to streamline the Indian CA review and approval process.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To fulfill the secretarial order's directive that FWS manage Midway in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the public, including key parties that have previously expressed interest in historic preservation issues on Midway, are notified about future FWS undertakings that may have an adverse effect on historic properties so that they have an opportunity to provide comment and input.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to establish a plan to address the limitations in the program's efforts to test security controls, including ensuring that any changes in the system's inventory do not materially affect test results.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with our recommendation and has established a plan to address the limitations we identified in the program's efforts to test security controls. NOAA's plan outlines several actions, and the agency plans to complete these actions by Summer 2017. We will continue to evaluate NOAA's progress in implementing its planned actions.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to, when establishing plans of action and milestones to address critical and high risk vulnerabilities, schedule the completion dates within 30 days, as required by agency policy.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with our recommendation and has established a plan to address it. This plan includes multiple actions that are to be completed by the end of July 2017. We will continue to evaluate NOAA's progress.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to ensure that the agency and program are tracking and closing a consistent set of incident response activities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with our recommendation and has made progress in addressing it. Specifically, NOAA developed a pilot of a new incident tracking and reporting system to manage its response activities. NOAA plans to complete additional steps to implement this recommendation. We will continue to evaluate NOAA's progress in addressing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to evaluate the costs and benefits of different launch scenarios for the Polar Follow-on program based on updated satellite life expectancies to ensure satellite continuity while minimizing program costs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation and provided some documentation on its efforts to evaluate different launch scenarios. However, the agency has not yet provided all of the documentation needed to confirm that this recommendation has been addressed. We continue to work with NOAA to obtain and review the documentation needed to address this recommendation.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    28 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Agriculture should revise existing department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories to contain specific requirements for reporting laboratory incidents to senior department officials, including the types of incidents that should be reported, to whom, and when, or direct the Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service to develop agency policies that contain these requirements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016 USDA reported that its science and safety councils chartered a joint biorisk management policy committee to oversee the revisions of existing policies to include department-wide incident reporting requirements and time frames. USDA also reported that FSIS will collaborate with the department to ensure that FSIS policies comply with USDA reporting requirements. USDA did not provide an anticipated completion date for revising departmental polices.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Agriculture should review and update outdated department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and direct the Administrators of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Agricultural Research Service to update their policies and, in the case of APHIS, establish a regular review schedule.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, USDA reported that the science and safety councils' joint biorisk management policy committee will review and update the existing outdated USDA policies. In addition, USDA reported that APHIS will review agency policies for biological laboratories every 3-5 years or sooner, if necessary, and that this schedule will be reflected in USDA policy. USDA did not provide an anticipated completion date for reviewing and updating departmental polices. USDA reported that ARS has finalized its policies for its institutional biological safety committee in April 2016. Once all USDA and component agency policies have been updated and review schedules established, we will close this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Agriculture should routinely analyze results of the department's laboratory inspections and incident reports to identify potential trends that may highlight recurring laboratory safety or security issues and share lessons learned with laboratory personnel.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, USDA reported that the joint biorisk management policy committee will oversee efforts to collect and analyze laboratory inspection and incident reports and share these reports and critical analyses with USDA senior leadership. USDA did not provide an anticipated start date for analyzing reports and sharing analyses with senior departmental officials. USDA stated that the joint biorisk committee also serves as an information-sharing platform across USDA agencies and, as such, is positioned to share lessons learned from analyses of inspection and incident reports with laboratory personnel as necessary. USDA also provided additional information on APHIS, ARS, and FSIS planned or ongoing inspection and incident report analyses.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Agriculture should require routine reporting of the results of department, agency, and select agent laboratory inspections to senior department officials.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, USDA reported that the joint biorisk management policy committee will oversee efforts to revise existing departmental regulations to include requirements for routine reporting of inspection results to senior USDA officials. USDA did not provide an anticipated completion date for revising existing departmental regulations. USDA also provided additional information on APHIS, ARS, and FSIS planned or ongoing reporting of inspection results or revisions of agency policies to require such reporting.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Agriculture should require routine reporting of incidents at agency laboratories to senior department officials.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, USDA reported that the joint biorisk management policy committee will oversee efforts to revise existing departmental regulations to include requirements for routine reporting of laboratory incidents to senior USDA officials. USDA did not provide an anticipated completion date for revising existing departmental regulations. USDA also provided additional information on APHIS, ARS, and FSIS planned or ongoing incident reporting or revisions of agency policies to require such reporting.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Defense should revise existing department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories to contain specific requirements for inventory control for all of DOD's high-containment laboratories, not just for its select agent-registered laboratories, or direct the Secretaries of the Air Force, Army, and Navy to revise their existing, respective policies to contain these requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOD noted that its comments on the final report--in which it agreed with all of our findings and recommendations for the department--had not changed. However, DOD did not provide us with an update on its status in implementing these recommendations.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force and Army to review and update their respective outdated policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOD noted that its comments on the final report--in which it agreed with all of our findings and recommendations for the department--had not changed. However, DOD did not provide us with an update on its status in implementing these recommendations.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Defense should routinely analyze agencies' inspection results and incident reports to identify potential trends that may highlight recurring laboratory safety or security issues and share lessons learned with laboratory personnel, or direct the Secretaries of the Army and Navy to do so.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOD noted that its comments on the final report--in which it agreed with all of our findings and recommendations for the department--had not changed. However, DOD did not provide us with an update on its status in implementing these recommendations.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Defense should require routine reporting of the results of Air Force, Army, and Navy inspections of non-select agent registered laboratories to senior department officials.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOD noted that its comments on the final report--in which it agreed with all of our findings and recommendations for the department--had not changed. However, DOD did not provide us with an update on its status in implementing these recommendations.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Defense should require routine reporting of laboratory incidents at Air Force, Army, and Navy non-select agent registered laboratories to senior department officials.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOD noted that its comments on the final report--in which it agreed with all of our findings and recommendations for the department--had not changed. However, DOD did not provide us with an update on its status in implementing these recommendations.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Army and Navy to require reporting of agency and select agent laboratory inspection results to senior agency officials.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOD noted that its comments on the final report--in which it agreed with all of our findings and recommendations for the department--had not changed. However, DOD did not provide us with an update on its status in implementing these recommendations.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Defense should develop time frames for the 19 specific recommendations from the July 2015 review, or direct the Secretary of the Army to do so.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOD noted that its comments on the final report--in which it agreed with all of our findings and recommendations for the department--had not changed. However, DOD did not provide us with an update on its status in implementing these recommendations.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Energy should revise existing department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories to contain specific requirements for inspections, or direct the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Director of the Office of Science to develop agency policies that contain this requirement.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, DOE reported that it is revising department policy for its select agent and toxin work to highlight oversight of facilities working with these agents and toxins. DOE will solicit input from NNSA, the Office of Science, and its biosurety executive team to determine if specific inspection requirements should be included in the select agent, or other department or agency policies. DOE provided us with information as to other department policies and regulations that allow for inspections. DOE plans to complete its efforts by the end of July 2017. We maintain that DOE should make laboratory inspection requirements explicit and that these requirements apply to all high-containment laboratories, not just those registered with the select agent program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Energy should review and update its outdated policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, DOE reported that it is updating its outdated select agent policy and plans to complete this update by the end of July 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should revise existing EPA policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories to contain specific requirements for inventory control, or direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to incorporate this requirement into its policy.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agreed with this recommendation in its February 2016 comments on the draft report, but maintains that agency, or senior-level policies, exist that include this requirement. EPA officials cited a Microbiology Laboratory Branch standard operating procedure (SOP) as containing inventory control requirements for the agency's one high-containment laboratory. However, in July 2016, EPA officials told us that it disagreed with our assessment that the SOP, as a laboratory-level document, was insufficient to meet our expectations for senior-level policies. In November 2016, EPA officials reiterated its position stating that the SOP had been approved by senior agency management and, as the requirements in it are universally applied by all laboratory staff, appropriately represents an agency-level policy. EPA further noted that the Office of Pesticide Policy, in which the Microbiology Laboratory Branch is located, is a sub-office within EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP), an Assistant Administrator-level office. We continue to believe that senior-level policies--in this case, either those policies issued at the EPA level or at the OCSPP/OPP level--that include all of the policy elements we analyzed reflect critical management commitment to and support for a culture of laboratory safety throughout the organization, regardless of the number of agency laboratories.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Administrator of EPA should review and update EPA's outdated policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and establish a regular schedule for reviewing and updating EPA and Office of Pesticide Programs policies.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, EPA reported that the policies and procedures for both the facility that houses its microbiology laboratory and the laboratory itself are reviewed and updated on a bi-yearly or yearly basis consistent with the EPA schedules for biosafety and laboratory plans set in policy. However, EPA did not provide us with the policy that sets the EPA schedules. In addition, our analysis focused on policy documents issued by EPA or its senior-level offices, such as EPA's Safety, Health, and Environmental Management Program manual, dated November 2012. When we analyzed that policy for the report, we were unable to determine whether it was up-to-date because it did not include a review and update schedule or a specific recertification date. As of November, 2016, EPA maintains that this recommendation has been completed, because the office revised the standard operating procedure that provides guidance for establishing the receipt, expiration dates, and disposal of biological inventory used in the laboratory. As of April 2017, we have reached out to EPA for documentation of the actions the agency stated it has taken. Until received, we continue to believe that EPA action on this recommendation is still needed, such as by providing an updated EPA-level safety manual that includes a schedule for reviewing and updating, or providing EPA's schedule set in policy, so long as it also applies to agency- or senior office-level policies.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Administrator of EPA should require routine reporting of the results of department, agency, and select agent laboratory inspections to senior department officials.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agreed with this recommendation in its February 2016 comments on the draft report. ?In July 2016, EPA reported that its high-containment laboratory will notify senior officials within 3 weeks of any laboratory inspection findings. ?This is a positive step. We are waiting for EPA to provide us with supporting documentation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should develop department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories that contain specific requirements for reporting laboratory incidents to senior department officials, including the types of incidents that should be reported, to whom, and when, or direct the Director of CDC and the Commissioner of FDA to incorporate these requirements into their respective policies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, HHS reported that both CDC and FDA were working to incorporate incident reporting requirements and time frames into formal agency policies and practices but did not provide an anticipated completion date. In summer 2017, CDC and FDA reported that they were continuing to incorporate incident reporting, which includes all laboratory incidents, accidents, injuries, infections, and near-misses, into formal agency policies. CDC did not provide an anticipated completion date. FDA anticipated completing the policy revisions/updates by summer 2018.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should develop department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories that contain specific requirements for training and inspections for all high-containment component agency laboratories and not just for their select-agent-registered laboratories; or direct the Director of CDC to provide these requirements in agency policies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, HHS reported that CDC plans to revise its policies to include training and inspection requirements for inspections for all high-containment laboratories but did not provide an anticipated completion date. In June 2017, HHS reported that CDC was in the process of revising its formal policies to ensure they included requirements for training and inspections for all of the agency's high-containment laboratories but did not provide an anticipated completion date.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should require routine reporting of the results of agency and select agent laboratory inspections to senior department officials.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, HHS reported that CDC was working with FDA and NIH to establish a process for notifying HHS leadership of inspection results through the department's Biosafety and Biosecurity Coordinating Council. HHS did not provide us with an anticipated time frame for implementing this notification practice or when the agencies plan to begin notifying HHS of inspection results.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of NIH and the Commissioner of FDA to require routine reporting of the results of agency laboratory inspections--and in the case of FDA, require routine reporting of select agent inspection results--to senior agency officials.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, HHS reported that FDA is working to establish a process for notifying senior agency officials of inspection results, and in August 2017, FDA reported that it was in the process of updating its policies to reflect such a notification process. FDA anticipated that the updated policies and processes would be in place by summer 2018. In August 2016, HHS reported that NIH's ongoing practice is to report the results of external inspections to senior agency officials and, in May 2016, developed a standard operating procedure that outlines this reporting process. In March 2017, NIH officials provided assurance that its Division of Occupational Safety and Health provides NIH's intramural governing body with information about NIH's safety performance at least annually; officials further assured that this information includes the overall results of annual inspections (or audits, as NIH calls them) of all NIH laboratories and discussion of the top 10 most report safety infractions for the year. GAO considers NIH to have implemented the recommended action. GAO will close the overall recommendation once FDA has taken equivalent, appropriate action.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should require routine reporting of incidents at CDC, FDA, and NIH laboratories to senior department officials.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, HHS reported that its Biosafety and Biosecurity Council is working to establish incident reporting requirements for CDC, FDA, and NIH but did not provide an anticipated completion date. HHS noted that NIH formally adopted a standard operating procedure that lays out the agency's requirements for reporting incidents to senior officials.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of the Interior should develop department policies, or direct the Directors of Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey to develop agency policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories that contain specific requirements for reporting laboratory incidents to senior department officials--including the types of incidents that should be reported, to whom, and when--and specific requirements for roles and responsibilities, training, inventory control, and inspections.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, DOI reported that the Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey will develop agency-level policies that contain the key elements GAO identified. DOI did not provide us with a time frame for these activities.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of the Interior should routinely analyze the results of the agency's laboratory inspections and incident reports to identify potential trends that may highlight recurring laboratory safety or security issues and share lessons learned with laboratory personnel, or direct the Directors of Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey to do so.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, DOI reported that its Biosafety Working Group, composed of officials across the department, including Fish and Wildlife Service and U. S. Geological Survey, is developing an automated process for analyzing results of laboratory inspections and incident reports to identify safety and security trends. The working group is also developing a process to share information gleaned from these analyses, including lessons learned, with laboratory personnel in a timely manner. DOI did not provide us with a time frame for these activities.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of the Interior should require routine reporting of the results of agency and select agent inspections to senior department officials.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, DOI reported that in according with the reporting requirements it plans to incorporate into agency-level policies in response to our first recommendation, Fish and Wildlife Service and U. S. Geological survey will be required to submit routine or periodic reports of the results of agency and select agent inspections to the department's designated agency safety and health official.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey to require routine reporting of the results of agency and select agent laboratory inspections to senior agency officials.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, DOI reported that the U. S. Geological Survey will modify and expand its existing policies to require reporting of agency and select agent inspection results to senior USGS officials.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should develop department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories that contain specific requirements for reporting laboratory incidents to senior department officials--including the types of incidents that should be reported, to whom, and when--and requirements for inventory control for all of its high-containment laboratories, including its select agent-registered clinical laboratory, or direct the Under Secretary of Health to incorporate these requirements into its policies.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, VA reported that while it has policies for reporting laboratory incidents at the local level (VA medical center or laboratory level), VA plans to develop a national level policy for reporting laboratory incidents to senior department officials, including the types of incidents to report, to whom, and when. VA will convene a task force for the purposes of developing such a policy and anticipates that the task force will finalize its policy by March 2018. In June 2017, VA reported that the task force concluded that VA's existing emergency management plan contained all of the necessary requirements for laboratory incident reporting. However, VA has not provided GAO with the emergency management plan. VA further noted that a intradepartmental memorandum was sufficient for making employees aware of such policy requirements in the emergency plan and that such a memorandum was drafted and was being processed for dissemination throughout VA, with an anticipated completion date of August 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary of Health to review and update outdated agency policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA updated and finalized its outdated policy for its clinical laboratories in February 2016. In July 2016, VA reported that it has begun updating its policies for its research laboratories and anticipated finalizing them in 6 months. In June 2017, VA reported that its policies for its research laboratories remain under review and revision, with an anticipated completion date of December 2017.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD is sufficiently informed about the availability and reliability of data from U.S. civil government and international partner satellites as it plans for future SBEM capabilities that rely on such satellites, the Secretary of Defense should ensure the leads of future SBEM planning efforts establish formal mechanisms for coordination and collaboration with NOAA that specify roles and responsibilities and ensure accountability for both agencies.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the Air Force and NOAA signed a memorandum of agreement under which the parties are to establish annexes for interagency acquisitions or support on SBEM efforts. The Air Force and NOAA are in the process of drafting two annexes for collecting SBEM data, expected to be completed by the winter of 2017, according to the Air Force. This effort does not cover collaboration between NOAA and DOD entities outside the Air Force, but NOAA is engaged in a separate memorandum of agreement with the Navy, which includes one annex that involves sharing data for SBEM-related activities. According to the Navy, additional draft annexes that would further SBEM-related data sharing are being considered. In addition, DOD and NOAA are in the process of responding to section 1607 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which directs the agencies to jointly establish mechanisms to collaborate and coordinate in defining roles and responsibilities to carry out SBEM activities and plan for future nongovernmental SBEM capabilities, and to submit a report on the mechanism established.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    26 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation (Transportation) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) was actively engaging with the department's Operating Administrations and was reconciling its original cost savings and avoidance targets to develop and update a yearly calculation as part of Transportation's multi-year strategy to consolidate and optimize its data centers. The department added that periodic updates would be provided to OCIO leadership and the CIO Council, with reconciled cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 expected to be updated by September 30, 2016. However, as of July 2017, Transportation has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to include planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation and update accordingly.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it was in the process of reviewing pending guidance on the Office of Management and Budget's Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). The department further stated that once the DCOI guidance was issued, the department would update its targets and finalize a plan to more adequately address cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. However, as of July 2017, the department has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to include planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, EPA stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to establish a single data center within each of several specific geographical areas. For each data center selected for retention, the agency stated that it planned to make upgrades to address any potential capacity or performance issues, but noted that the specific plans for each data center slated for consolidation were under development. EPA stated that the resulting total cost savings were under assessment and had not yet been determined. However, as of July 2017, EPA has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to include planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Science Foundation has not yet taken steps to implement our recommendation. As of July 2017, National Science Foundation has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to included planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Small Business Administration agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. As of July 2017, the Small Business Administration has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to included planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) developed a scorecard to track progress for each of the data center optimization areas. According the department's scorecard, the department reported meeting 3 of 10 optimization targets, but did not meet the remaining 7 targets. DHS's OCIO noted that they would update this scorecard quarterly in alignment with Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative data collection. DHS's OCIO expected to complete implementation of this recommendation by November 30, 2016. However, as of July 2017, DHS reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Agriculture generally agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. Specifically, as of July 2017, the department reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets one (server virtualization) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the department also reports that it does not yet meet the remaining four targets (server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it will work with its bureaus to develop and publish an annual strategic plan. The strategic plan will, among other things, describe a list of specific planned actions to improve data center optimization progress. For example, the department stated that, to increase facility utilization, the Bureau of Economic Analysis is co-locating computing resources within the Census Bureau's Bowie Computer Center. Further, Census planned to market the Bowie Computer Center as an opportunity for government-wide co-location. In addition, the department stated that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is building greater network capacity to National Weather Service forecast offices and will aim to reduce the number of local systems at forecast offices that are currently considered data centers (122 in total). However, as of July 2017, the Department of Commerce reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it is considering several actions to improve optimization progress in the areas that we reported as not meeting the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established targets. For example, DOD stated that it is moving toward on-premises and off-premises commercial cloud hosting services to enable migration of workloads to more efficient environments intended to improve the virtualization and density metrics. Further, the department stated that its Chief Information Officer is working directly with the services to reconcile the instances of multiple Installation Processing Nodes on individual bases, posts, camps, and stations. DOD also stated that all of these actions will enable the closure of additional data centers, increase efficiencies in all categories, and drive greater savings. However, as of July 2017, the Department of Defense reports on the OMB IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (Energy) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, Energy stated in correspondence to GAO that it had established an enterprise-wide Data Center Working Group that is chartered to identify best practices in data center metering, optimization, consolidation and cloud migration (and to support these practices throughout the department). According to Energy, this working group is intended to serve as a focus group for communicating information related to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), departmental strategy and implementation, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements for data centers, as well as to provide summary data center performance status to all members. However, as of July 2017, Energy reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it does not yet met any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its ability to attain the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established target value for the three remaining optimization metrics would require the department to further consolidate data center resources and migrate from contractor-owned and operated data centers to multi-tenant, shared data centers. The department further stated that this effort would be accomplished under the HUD Enterprise and Architecture Transition initiative that was restructuring infrastructure services and was targeting data center migrations to be completed by July 2017. The department also stated that it expected to be able to provide fiscal year 2017 optimization metrics data that met or exceeded OMB's target values by February 2018. However, as of July 2017, the department states that, due to data center migration dependencies on two smaller infrastructure transition projects, the data center migration project schedule is delayed until the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it would work to improve the data center optimization metrics that did not meet the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established targets. The department further stated that it expected to have a more detailed approach available through a Data Center Strategy, which was expected before the end of fiscal year 2016 . However, as of July 2017, the department reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets only one (power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets OMB currently requires agencies to report against. The department further reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Social Security Administration agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it was in the process of transitioning to a new data center. While undergoing this transition, the agency stated that it was working to optimize its new data center and will have the capability to report on the Office of Management and Budget's optimization targets once the transition is complete. The agency expected to complete these steps by September 2016. As of July 2017, SSA reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets three (energy metering, data center facility space and power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, SSA reports that it does not meet the remaining two targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, and server virtualization). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Interior (Interior) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) was developing data center optimization metrics to measure bureau and office progress in meeting optimization targets. The department added that these metrics would become part of the 2016 OCIO Organizational Assessment, a scorecard used to measure bureau and office progress against predefined targets. However, as of July 2017, Interior reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Justice (Justice) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, Justice stated in correspondence to GAO that it was developing plans to migrate the remaining non-core data centers to the department's three Core Enterprise Facilities (CEFs) and/or commercial cloud services by the end of fiscal year 2019. The department added that, as these migrations occur, its data center footprint and facility utilization should continue to improve and the percentage of servers and operating systems residing in the CEFs should significantly exceed federal data center consolidation targets. Justice also stated that it engaged with external representatives to perform an energy efficiency assessment at its core enterprise facility in Virginia, which resulted in significant improvements at the data center and improved the overall power usage efficiency across the department's core data centers. However, as of July 2017, Justice reported on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not meet any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation (Transportation) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, Transportation stated in correspondence to GAO that it centralized its data center consolidation efforts in fiscal year 2015 and, in early fiscal year 2016, completed reconciliation of its actual and planned data centers closures, as well as related performance data. The department also stated that it planned to continue towards measuring and making improvements to meet the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) data center optimization performance metric targets. Transportation noted that periodic updates provided to its Office of the Chief Information Officer leadership and the Chief Information Officer Council would identify challenges in meeting the Office of Management and Budget's optimization metric targets. However, as of July 2017, Transportation reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it does not meet any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (Labor) agreed with this recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it had closed 23 percent of its data centers and, by the end of 2019, the department plans to close 61 percent of its data centers. Further, Labor stated that it has made significant progress in the development of a fully virtualized common operating environment. According to the department, these efforts are designed to improve optimization metrics performance. However, as of July 2017, the department reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet met any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) generally agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. However, as of July 2017, Treasury reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) IT Dashboard that it does not met any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it had not yet taken action to improve optimization progress in the areas that we reported as having weaknesses. Specifically, the department stated that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was in the process of changing the fiscal year 2016 through 2018 closure targets and data center optimization metrics under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which it planned to complete by the end of July 2016. Upon receipt of the targets, VA stated that it needed to assess the impact on strategies already under way, which it planned to complete by mid-fiscal year 2017. As of July 2017, the department reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets only one (power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. In addition, the department reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to follow the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) guidance on optimizing data centers and would take action to improve the defined areas that Data Center Optimization Initiative identifies. Specifically, as of July 2017, the department reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets only one (power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the department reported that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it had directed data center stakeholders to place an emphasis on virtualizing physical servers and moving server-based applications to the cloud or a core data center. The agency added that the estimated increase for each optimization metric would be determined after data consolidation plans were finalized. As of July 2017, EPA reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets three (energy metering, server virtualization, and power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, EPA reports that it does not yet met the remaining two targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The General Services Administration (GSA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it had developed an action plan to improve optimization progress. For example, GSA's action plan stated that the agency planned to create a new inventory of their data centers in order to establish a baseline to help in planning for data center closures, as well as collecting more accurate data for cost saving calculations. The agency also planned to create a new and better cost saving model and noted that it planned to refresh the cost model semi-annually. Finally, GSA intended to improve the required metrics set forth by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by eliminating physical machines and increasing virtualization whenever possible. As of July 2017, GSA reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets one (server utilization and monitoring) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, GSA reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, NASA stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to develop improvement strategies for each deficient metric and hold meetings with all of the data center owners to explain the improvement strategies and further educate the data center owners on how to create efficiencies. NASA added that the anticipated completion for this is July 2017. However, as of July 2017, NASA reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not meet any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, NRC stated in correspondence to GAO that it was pursuing development of a hybrid data center that will allow many data center functions to be performed in the cloud, allowing for more optimization, including the ability to better meet optimization targets (including those related to both cost savings and optimization) established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) through the Data Center Optimization Initiative. As of July 2017, NRC reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets one (server virtualization) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the agency reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, OPM stated in correspondence to GAO that it was committed to meeting the targets associated with the agency's data center optimization efforts. The agency added that challenges would be addressed as plans evolved to meet current targets and within current funding. As of July 2017, OPM reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets only one (server virtualization) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the agency reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation and update accordingly.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, USAID stated in correspondence to GAO that it was planning to take action to improve progress in the remaining two areas that we reported as not meeting the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) optimization targets, including addressing any identifying challenges. The agency noted that its target completion date for implementing our recommendation was February 2017. However, as of July 2017, USAID reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet the server utilization and monitoring metric target, which is the only metric applicable to USAID. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should require and collect well-specific data on inspections from state and EPA-managed programs, including when the wells were inspected, the types of inspections conducted, and the results of the inspections in order to track progress toward state and EPA-managed annual inspection goals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation as open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should complete the aquifer exemption database and establish a way to update it to provide EPA headquarters and regions with sufficient information on aquifer exemptions to oversee state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, EPA published a map of aquifer exemptions online, with the exception of region 9 data. The public dataset shows the data in two dimensions and includes information such as depth of injection, surrounding geology and injectate characteristics. EPA plans to update the database annually. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes work on region 9.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should clarify guidance on what data should be reported on the 7520-4 form to help ensure that the data collected are complete and consistent across state and EPA-managed programs and to provide the information EPA needs to assess whether it must take enforcement actions.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that it is working toward establishing a complete, regularly updated data set. It will work toward expanding the agency's access to well-specific data and will expand the data it has in its national UIC database. And, the agency said that it will continue to work with DOE and the Groundwater Protection Council to develop a national oil and gas gateway for well-specific data. Until such data are made available, we will leave this recommendation open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure protection of underground drinking water from the injection of wastewater associated with domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should conduct a workforce analysis to identify the human capital and other resources EPA needs to carry out its oversight of state and EPA-managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA disagreed and said that the best approach is to expand its evaluation of agency oversight to include elements of inspection and enforcement. Once the evaluation is complete, EPA will consider its oversight of state programs. We will keep this recommendation open until EPA completes its review and determines what it will do with its oversight.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of federal efforts to monitor wild, native bee populations, the Secretary of Agriculture, as a co-chair of the White House Pollinator Health Task Force, should coordinate with other Task Force agencies that have monitoring responsibilities to develop a mechanism, such as a federal monitoring plan, that would (1) establish roles and responsibilities of lead and support agencies, (2) establish shared outcomes and goals, and (3) obtain input from relevant stakeholders, such as states.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, USDA had taken relevant and positive actions but had not yet fully implemented the recommendation related to monitoring wild, native bees. In June 2017, USDA held a stakeholder listening session to gather input to prepare for the development of a monitoring plan. Prior to that, in February 2017, USDA chaired a meeting with representatives from USDA and Interior to discuss how to proceed in replying to the native bee monitoring recommendation. According to a senior USDA official, the meeting participants agreed to form a team to address the recommendation. The participants also planned future relevant activities. These included plans to (1) hold a stakeholder listening session in June 2017 to determine what will be needed to conduct a robust native bee survey, including the identification of any non-Federal entities that might be able to contribute to a native bee monitoring initiative; (2) develop a prospectus in August 2017 that will be shared with all the agencies represented on the Pollinator Health Task Force to ensure minimal duplication of effort and to capitalize on any other activities; (3) hold a December 2017 workshop of stakeholders and scientists to write a white paper on how to combine Federal resources to address the need for a native bee survey; (4) develop the white paper in February 2018 with information on the status of monitoring efforts, current and future needs for effective and comprehensive monitoring, and the status of monitoring partnerships between Federal agencies, State agencies, and nongovernmental organizations; (5) continue bi-weekly conference calls with task teams to address what can be done with current resources; and (6)complete a gaps analysis in May 2018 to determine how to allocate additional resources.
    Recommendation: To increase the accessibility and availability of information about USDA-funded research and outreach on bees, the Secretary of Agriculture should update the categories of bees in the Current Research Information System to reflect the categories of bees identified in the White House Pollinator Health Task Force's research action plan.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the agency informed GAO that it planned to complete the recommendation by October 2017.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the effectiveness of USDA's bee habitat conservation efforts, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrators of FSA and NRCS to, within available resources, increase evaluation of the effectiveness of their efforts to restore and enhance bee habitat plantings across the nation, including identifying gaps in expertise and technical assistance funding available to field offices.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the agency had not acted on our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that EPA is reducing the risk of unreasonable harm to important pollinators, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Pesticide Programs to develop a plan for obtaining data from pesticide registrants on the effects of pesticides on nonhoney bee species, including other managed or wild, native bees.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, the agency had taken actions relevant to the recommendation but had not fully developed a plan to obtain data from pesticide registrants on the effects of pesticides on non-honey bee species. According to EPA, until suitable test methods have been developed, the agency has continued to rely on honey bees as a surrogate for the broader range of bee species that include both solitary and social non-honey bees. The agency continues to track the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD's) efforts to develop suitable test methods to evaluate the effects of pesticides on non-honey bees. EPA provided comments to the OECD on the acute oral and acute contact toxicity test guidelines developed for bumble bees, which are social non-honey bee managed bees; these test methods were recently finalized by OECD as formal test guidelines. Also, EPA staff serve as members of the International Commission on Plant-Pollinator Relationship (ICP-PR), for which a non-honey bee workgroup has been developing acute and chronic toxicity test methods for other managed non-honey bees, including the solitary mason bee. EPA researchers in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (within the Office of Research and Development) are developing methods for measuring effects of pesticides on bumble bee colonies through the use of micro-colonies, and will be participating in field studies over the next two years to determine the effectiveness of these methods in evaluating impacts to bumble bees from the use of pesticides used in horticulture. According to the agency, once sufficient data are available, EPA will be in a better position to determine the extent to which honey bees serve as reasonable surrogates for estimating the sensitivity of non-honey bees to pesticides. According to agency officials, EPA included the recent OECD acute contact and acute oral toxicity tests with bumble bees with the suite of laboratory and semi-field studies in a rulemaking effort that would codify these tests as formal data requirements for registrants. EPA had planned to solicit public comment on the proposed bumble bee testing requirements; however, the rulemaking effort has been delayed until the regulatory burden of the rule can be more thoroughly evaluated. According to agency officials, in January 2017, EPA hosted an international workshop on non-honey bees to evaluate the extent to which the primary routes of exposure for honey bees (i.e., contact and ingestion of residues in pollen/nectar) are protective and serve as suitable surrogates for evaluating exposure of non-honey bees to pesticides. Workshop participants discussed data needed to evaluate exposure for solitary and social non-honey bees. The proceedings of this workshop will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, and will inform EPA's understanding of whether additional routes of exposure need to be considered as part of EPA's risk assessment framework for pollinators. While these are positive developments, they do not constitute full implementation of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help comply with the directive in the White House Pollinator Health Task Force's strategy, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Pesticide Programs to identify the pesticide tank mixtures that farmers and pesticide applicators most commonly use on agricultural crops to help determine whether those mixtures pose greater risks than the sum of the risks posed by the individual pesticides.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA had taken actions relevant to this recommendation but had not fully implemented it. According to EPA, during February and March 2017, the Office of Pesticide Programs continued its efforts to monitor residues in honey bee colonies providing pollination services in almond orchards. In April 2017, EPA requested that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation provide Pesticide Use Reporting data, including specific formulation and quantities applied to specific sites on specific dates during almond bloom. EPA has also reached out to the Almond Board, as well as to beekeepers and almond growers, to request information on the most common tank mixes applied during almond bloom. Although EPA has previously requested Pesticide Use Reporting data from California and the state has provided preliminary data, the information was not sufficiently detailed to extract actual formulations applied on specific dates to specific areas within the almond growing region of California. The combination of information requested from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and the Almond Board is expected to provide data to evaluate and identify commonly used pesticide tank mixes applied during almond pollination as a case study. According to EPA officials, data from California indicate that the use of tank mixtures in almond orchards decreased by roughly 60 percent from 2014 through 2016, suggesting that best management practices recommended by the Almond Board may be having a positive effect on almond grower practices with respect to tank mixtures. While these are positive developments, they do not yet fully implement the recommendation. It is not yet clear that EPA has used information on the identity of the most common tank mixtures to determine whether they pose greater risks than the sum of the risks posed by the individual pesticides. In addition, it is not yet clear that EPA has identified tank mixtures commonly used on crops other than almonds.
    Recommendation: To measure their contribution to the White House Pollinator Health Task Force strategy's goal to restore and enhance 7 million acres of pollinator habitat, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrators of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop an improved method, within available resources, to track conservation program acres that contribute to the goal.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, USDA had not acted on this recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To address risks to the effectiveness of its investigations, environmental compliance, and enforcement capabilities, BSEE should complete policies outlining the responsibilities of its the Safety and Incident Investigations Division (SIID), Environmental Compliance Division, and Safety Enforcement Division and update and develop procedures to guide them.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BSEE documentation, SIID, the Environmental Compliance Division, and the Safety Enforcement Division continue work to complete foundational policies for their respective areas. The target date has been extended to June 30, 2018, due to the need to align policy development with BSEE's new Directives System outlined in Bureau Manual Chapter 380.1, signed on May 18, 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To enhance its investigative capabilities, BSEE should establish a capability to review investigation policy and collect and analyze incidents to identify trends in safety and environmental hazards.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BSEE documentation, the Safety and Incident Investigations Division (SIID) is working closely with the Office of Policy and Analysis and the Records, Delegations, and Directives Team to implement the requirements specified in the BSEE Directives System Manual Chapter and to convert a number of Bureau Interim Directives into Bureau Manual Chapters. An internal control review was initiated in fiscal year 2017 to assess compliance with the tiering process outlined in the National Investigations Handbook. SIID staff are currently reviewing the Handbook to assess the need for updates and are working with District staff to review District level investigations to determine what needs to be included in the narrative portion of District Form 2010. We anticipate completion of these actions by December 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To enhance its investigative capabilities, BSEE should clearly communicate the purpose of the Investigations and Review Unit, as it will be assumed by the SIID, to industry operators.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BSEE documentation, SIID, the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of Policy and Analysis, and regional offices will consult with the new BSEE Director to solicit input and discuss potential mechanisms for communicating the purpose of SIID to industry operators. Actions to implement this recommendation are expected to be completed by December 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To enhance its investigative capabilities, BSEE should clarify policies and procedures for assigning panel investigation membership and referring cases of suspected criminal wrongdoing to the Interior's Office of Inspector General.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2016, BSEE issued two Bureau Interim Directives (BID) regarding the assignment of panel investigation membership and referral to Interior's Office of the Inspector General. However, the BID regarding panel investigation membership is not clear regarding how disagreements between regional management and headquarters investigation management are to be adjudicated. According to BSEE documentation, BID No. 2016-003N (Designation of Panel Chair and Panel Members) is being revised to clarify how disagreements between regional management and headquarters investigation management will be adjudicated. BSEE did not provide a time frame for completion.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To enhance its environmental compliance capabilities, BSEE should conduct and document a risk analysis of the regional-based reporting structure of the Environmental Compliance Division, including actions to mitigate any identified risk.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BSEE documentation, a risk analysis of the regional-based reporting structure of the Environmental Compliance Division was initiated in fiscal year 2017 using the Department of Interior's Integrated Risk Rating Tool (IRRT). The results of the analysis are currently being reviewed to assess whether the IRRT's design and methodology actually addressed the intent of the recommendation. BSEE did not provide a time frame for completion.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To enhance its environmental compliance capabilities, BSEE should coordinate with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to consider the relevance of existing interagency agreements for monitoring operator compliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits on the Outer Continental Shelf and, if necessary, update them to reflect current oversight needs.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BSEE documentation, BSEE, in coordination with EPA, has been reviewing the agreements. Given new leadership in both agencies, this effort has been delayed. BSEE did not provide a time frame for completion.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To enhance its environmental compliance capabilities, BSEE should develop a plan to address documented environmental oversight staffing needs.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to BSEE documentation, the BSEE Director has ordered an assessment. In the meantime, inspectors are being trained to assist with environmental oversight responsibilities as appropriate. BSEE did not provide a time frame for completion.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to effectively oversee offshore oil and gas development, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to implement its restructuring effort. To enhance its enforcement capabilities, BSEE should develop a mechanism to ensure that it reviews the maximum daily civil penalty and adjust it to reflect increases in the Consumer Price Index within the time frame as directed by statute.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, BSEE issued a bureau manual chapter regarding the review and adjustment of civil penalty amounts but has not developed business practices to implement it. According to BSEE documentation, a Bureau Interim Directive, aligned with OMB guidance on Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, is currently being drafted to define business practices that include specific bureau roles, responsibilities, and timelines. This action is expected to be completed by December 31, 2017.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water and Office of Wastewater Management to continue to include questions on water utilities' use of asset management in the clean water needs assessment and consider including questions about water utilities' use of asset management in future drinking water infrastructure needs assessment surveys.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 2017, EPA has convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue tools and resources by fall 2017.
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA, and the Secretary of USDA, through the Rural Development Agency, should consider compiling into one document the existing cases and examples of the benefits and costs of asset management and widely share this information with water utilities.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, EPA has convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue tools and resources by fall 2017.
    Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA, and the Secretary of USDA, through the Rural Development Agency, should consider compiling into one document the existing cases and examples of the benefits and costs of asset management and widely share this information with water utilities.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, EPA had convened a workgroup of 40 people representing states, technical advisers, EPA, and USDA. It will develop new asset management outreach tools directed towards local decision makers. The group will meet quarterly and plans to issue a best practices document by April 2017 and a webinar by May 2017.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 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 May 2016, 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 by October 1, 2017, 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 May 2016, the Forest Service will review and evaluate all existing authorities that may allow the agency to promulgate a rule to collect and retain fees for hardrock mine plan processing activities. If authorities exist, the Forest Service will promulgate a rule by October 1, 2018. The letter also stated that the Forest Service has contacted the Office of General Counsel to aid in their review and will begin the process for requesting the authority from Congress for collecting and retaining hardrock mine plan processing fees.
    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 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 the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in April 2016, BLM agrees that pre-plan submittal meetings are worthwhile and may help prevent delays in the permitting process. The letter also stated that BLM will issue policy guidance for BLM employees regarding participation in pre-plan submittal meetings when possible and when desired by the operator. BLM will include general guidelines and will encourage each state office to create state-specific guidelines that will better meet the needs of the mining industry in each state. According to agency officials in February 2017, BLM has completed a draft of the pre-plan submittal meeting guidelines and expect to issue the final version by March 31, 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 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 February 2017, BLM expects to complete its internal analysis and report its findings by September 30, 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 April 2016, BLM will develop new LR2000 codes to differentiate between different types of operations. According to agency officials in February 2017, BLM expects to revise the LR2000 codes by June 30, 2017.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve its management of recreation fees, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Park Service to revise its guidance on recreation fees so that the agency periodically reviews its entrance fees to determine whether the fees are reasonable.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its initial response to our published report, the Park Service stated that it plans to revise Reference Manual 22A: Recreation Fee Collection (RM22A). This revision will include a requirement to reevaluate the entrance fee pricing structure every 3 years. The Park Service last reviewed and updated the fee schedule in August 2014. As of November 2016, the Park Service told GAO that it was planning to review its fee schedule on a 3-year cycle, so the next review will be in 2017. The agency also reported that it was on track to update its guidance to reflect this new schedule, but has not yet completed this effort. We will continue to monitor agency progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve cost sharing for dam safety repairs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clarify policy guidance on the types of circumstances under which the state-of-the-art provision of the Dam Safety Assurance authority might apply to dam safety repair projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA(CW)) has begun efforts to clarify policy guidance on usage of the state-of-the-art provision. GAO will continue to monitor ASA(CW) progress in this regard.
    Recommendation: To improve cost sharing for dam safety repairs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clarify policy guidance for district offices to effectively communicate with sponsors to establish and implement cost sharing agreements during dam safety repair projects. For all dams, including the three dams named in the report, this would involve communicating estimated and final cost sharing amounts, executing agreements, and engaging sponsors to ensure cost share payment.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works (ASA(CW)) has begun efforts to review and clarify policy, guidance, and business practices related to communication with all stakeholders regarding the Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) major rehabilitation and dam safety repair work. ASA(CW) is confident that these efforts will ensure those entities that are required to pay a portion of the cost of such work, or reimburse the U.S. Treasury Department, execute agreements for this payment or reimbursement prior to the initiation of any major rehabilitation or dam safety repair, with the exception of work needed to address emergency situations. With respect to water supply sponsors at the dams named in our report--Tuttle Creek Dam (KS), Rough River Dam (KY), Center Hill Dam TN)--the ASA(CW) will engage with current sponsors to establish a path forward for recouping Federal investment in the Corps' work, including finalizing cost sharing agreements. GAO will continue to monitor ASA(CW) progress in completing these actions.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve NMFS' ability to capitalize on its efforts to improve fisheries data collection for managing marine recreational fisheries, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Assistant Administrator for Fisheries to develop a comprehensive strategy to guide NMFS' implementation of its marine recreational fisheries data collection program efforts, including a means to measure progress in implementing this strategy and to communicate information to stakeholders. As part of this strategy, NMFS should clearly identify and communicate programmatic goals, determine the program activities and resources needed to accomplish the goals, and establish time frames and performance measures to track progress in implementing the strategy and accomplishing goals.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, a NOAA official stated that the agency expects to develop a strategy in accordance with our recommendation not later than July 2017.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force considers how to measure progress toward accomplishing its strategic goals, the Task Force should develop and regularly use a tracking mechanism, to include elements envisioned for an operational plan and to largely meet requirements in the 1990 Act, including: (1) specifying the roles of member agencies related to its strategic plan, (2) tracking activities to be conducted by collecting information on those activities and associated funding, (3) measuring progress member agencies have made in achieving its strategic goals, and (4) reporting to Congress annually on the progress of its program.

    Agency: Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force (ANSTF) has issued its 2015 report to Congress and has a working draft of its 2016 report, according to agency officials. The ANSTF reported that it finalized and distributed a new activity tracking tool in October 2016 to collect accomplishments for fiscal years 2015-16, and that it plans to assess and update its tool in future years to align with the development of its next strategic plan.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to develop and periodically update a set of authoritative climate change observations and projections for use in federal decision making, which state, local, and private sector decision makers could also access to obtain the best available climate information.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to create a national climate information system with defined roles for federal agencies and nonfederal entities with existing statutory authority.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance HHS's ability to protect public health from the impacts of climate change, the Secretary of HHS should direct CDC to develop a plan describing when it will be able to issue climate change communication guidance to state and local health departments, to better position relevant officials to effectively communicate about the risks that climate change poses to public health and address requirements of the Climate Ready States and Cities Initiative.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, CDC has taken steps to start developing a communications strategy, and expects this process to include the development of guidance for public health officials to help them more effectively communicate about the health effects of climate change. CDC expects the strategy to be completed by the fall of 2017.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the completeness and accuracy of cost and cost-related data for maintenance dredging contracts in the Corps' Dredging Information System database, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director of Civil Works of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to require that its district offices establish systematic quality controls to regularly verify the completeness and accuracy of their maintenance dredging contract data, including processes for ensuring that corrections are made when errors or omissions may be identified, such as through headquarters reviews.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the agencies have sufficient information to understand the effectiveness of their approach to wildland fires, and to better position them to develop appropriate and effective strategies for wildland fire management, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director of the Office of Wildland Fire to develop specific criteria for selecting wildland fires for review and for conducting the reviews as part of their efforts to improve their approach to reviewing fires.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, the Forest Service amended its policy to reflect criteria it developed for selecting wildland fires for review. In addition, in August 2017, Forest Service officials told us the agency will host a "Risk Learning Summit" in November 2017 during which they plan to begin developing criteria for conducting fire reviews. They told us that once criteria are agreed upon, they will be reflected in Forest Service policy (through the Forest Service Manual) within a year or so of the summit (around November 2018).
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the agencies have sufficient information to understand the effectiveness of their approach to wildland fires, and to better position them to develop appropriate and effective strategies for wildland fire management, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Director of the Office of Wildland Fire to, once such criteria are established, revise agency policies to align with the specific criteria developed by the agencies.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, the Forest Service amended its policy to reflect criteria it developed for selecting wildland fires for review. In addition, in August 2017, Forest Service officials told us the agency will host a "Risk Learning Summit" in November 2017 during which they plan to begin developing criteria for conducting fire reviews. They told us that once criteria are agreed upon, they will be reflected in Forest Service policy (through the Forest Service Manual) within a year or so of the summit (around November 2018).
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider the options for sustaining the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund as well as the optimal level of funding to be maintained in the Fund, in light of the expiration of the Fund's per-barrel tax funding source in 2017.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to monitor the funding status.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop a timetable with milestones and identify and allocate resources for adopting electronic records management for all 10 regional offices.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts ongoing. According to EPA officials, the Office of Grants and Debarment established an agency-wide electronic grants record workgroup in FY 16 Q1. The workgroup identified the contents of the electronic grant file, technical options and evaluation criteria. OGD has initiated an alternatives analysis and expects to present the results of that analysis to the Grants Management Council in FY 17 Q1. Once the GMC selects the technical approach, the Agency will identify available funding for implementation through the budget process.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to implement plans for adopting an up-to-date and comprehensive IT system by 2017 that will provide accurate and timely data on agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD is already underway with a multi-modular project to upgrade the agency's grants management IT system (IGMS). Module 2 of 3 is on schedule for deployment in FY17 Q1. The final Module is on schedule for deployment, in early FY18. OGD will incorporate in the project performance tracking of priority directives in accordance with the policy framework of the new Grants Management Plan.
    Recommendation: Until the new IT system is implemented, the EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop ways to more effectively use existing web-based tools to better monitor agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD has already developed the capability to provide managers cumulative annual baseline monitoring data. Further capabilities of web-based tools, namely the replacement of OGD's primary tool Quik Reports, are on schedule for deployment in FY17 Q1. This effort combined with updates to the Grants Datamart will provide valuable long term enhancements for the Agency's grant reporting needs.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to update the financial indicators guidance to include one or more of EPA's financial measures for identifying the growth of states' SRF funds.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing changes to its financial indicators to help identify the growth of states' SRF funds, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us it had established a joint EPA/state workgroup that proposed draft financial indicators for the State Revolving Funds (SRF). These draft indicators are intended to address financial sustainability and the extent to which funds are being used efficiently. EPA plans to issue a memorandum to finalize these updated indicators in the summer of 2017. GAO will review EPA's memorandum when it is issued to determine if the recommendation can be closed.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's review and oversight of the SRF program, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Water to use information on SRF funds' past performance to develop projections of SRF programs by forecasting future lending capacity during regional office reviews of states' SRF programs using factors such as future interest earnings and inflation rates.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, EPA is finalizing its tools and guidance to regional offices to forecast states' future lending capacity, according to EPA officials. EPA officials told us that it had enhanced its State Revolving Fund (SRF) Financial Planning Model to align future loan projections with target cash balances. EPA's Office of Water will work with EPA regional offices to use the updated SRF Financial Planning Model for SRF forecasts that will support annual regional reviews of state SRF programs. EPA will update its guidance to EPA regional offices to use these forecasts in their reviews of the state SRF programs beginning in 2017 or early 2018. GAO will review EPA's guidance when it is finalized to determine if this recommendation can be closed.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's controls and reasonably assure accountability over mining law program expenditures, both payroll and nonpayroll, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to establish procedures for regular and timely communication to all BLM employees on policy and procedural changes affecting the mining law program's expenditure-related processes.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In support of closing this recommendation, officials from the Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided us with an example of its timely communication (dated September 20, 2016) to BLM employees to announce the issuance of its revised Fund Code Handbook (dated August 12, 2016). They also re-iterated their policy about sending updates regarding guidance changes, which is included in its directives handbook. We reviewed the directives handbook and verified that it contains guidance for communicating policy and procedural changes affecting the mining law program's expenditure-related processes. However, we were unable to determine what procedures were established to ensure the regular and timely communication to all employees of policy and procedural changes take place. While we see the directives handbook is a good start towards meeting the intent of our recommendation, we did not see evidence within the directives handbook that requires these communications to be sent to employees within a specific timeframe (e.g., within 30 days of issuance of policy and procedural changes). We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's controls and reasonably assure accountability over mining law program expenditures, both payroll and nonpayroll, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop and implement a training program that provides all BLM employees with an understanding of the use of the mining law program funds to reasonably assure uniform application and effective execution of BLM policies and procedures. This training, to be successful, should be provided to all BLM employees who charge the program and communicate clear instructions on how employees should charge, document, and review transactions related to mining law program expenditures.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agreed with our recommendation. On September 22, 2016, DOI's BLM informed us that the training material that will address this recommendation has been developed and reviewed by the BLM's Mining Law Administration Program and Budget leads. The BLM's National Training Center is currently preparing the training to be posted to "DOI Learn", the Department of the Interior's training portal. Once the training is ready for use, BLM anticipates issuing an Information Memorandum that directs targeted staff to complete the training. At the present time, the training is expected to be ready by end of fiscal year 2017. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen BLM's controls and reasonably assure accountability over mining law program expenditures, both payroll and nonpayroll, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop and implement internal control activities for regularly monitoring compliance with expenditure-related policies and procedures in the mining law program. These activities should, at a minimum, (1) determine whether transactions were recorded to the correct subactivity and verified by an approving official and (2) assure that documentary evidence of review is maintained, as required in BLM's policies and procedures.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agreed with our recommendation. On September 22, 2016, DOI's BLM informed us that DOI's BLM is developing a repeatable standardized annual internal control process which will include validation of Mining Law Administration Program (MLAP) expenditure transactions utilizing a "canned" report that is generated from the Financial Business Management System (FBMS), which is DOI's BLM's financial accounting system. This process will be incorporated into an existing DOI's BLM-wide budgetary review cycle requirement, such as the formal mid-year or 3rd quarter fiscal year reviews. The MLAP expenditures report will be distributed to DOI?s BLM state offices with instructions to obtain an adequate sample size from which to test MLAP fund transactions for compliance with Bureau policy. State budget officials will be required to identify their findings, corrective actions and certify the results from this exercise. It is anticipated that this requirement will be disseminated to the DOI's BLM state offices by Instruction Memorandum. The source report to be used for these reviews is still in the development stage and it is expected to be completed by end of fiscal year 2017. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that complete information is available to Congress and the public about federal funding and spending for Great Lakes restoration over time, the Director of OMB should ensure that OMB includes all federal expenditures for Great Lakes restoration activities for each of the 5 prior fiscal years and obligations during the current and previous fiscal years in its budget crosscut reports, as required by Pub. L. No. 113-76 (2014).

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

    Comments: OMB's fiscal year 2017 Great Lakes Restoration Crosscut Report to Congress, dated January 2017, does not include the required information on federal agencies' expenditures and obligations. We will continue to review future years' reports to determine if they include this information.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie L
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that bonds are adequate to cover reclamation costs for wind and solar projects on federal land, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to establish data standards for the Bond and Surety System.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, BLM finalized its rulemaking effort for a competitive solar and wind energy leasing program that included requirements for bonding. In a February 2017 update, the agency said that data standards do exist for LR2000 and the agency is looking to add an appendix or section to that guidance that will clearly identify the data standards for the Bond and Surety System. They expect to do so in 2017. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in addressing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that bonds are adequate to cover reclamation costs for wind and solar projects on federal land, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to develop an LR2000 action code to automatically notify BLM staff that a right-of-way is due for a bond adequacy review.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, BLM finalized its rulemaking effort for a competitive solar and wind energy leasing program that included requirements for bonding. In a February 2017 update, an agency official said that data standards are in process of being adjusted and guidance will be provided in the coming months that clearly identify an action code for future action on bonds, including an adequacy review. Additionally, BLM is continuing to work on its Mining, Lands, and Records System as a replacement to LR2000, which will include additional capabilities and other updates that LR2000 does not have. We will continue to monitor progress made to address this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should document procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB and criteria for evaluating such requests.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB). According to EPA officials, the agency will also make modifications to the SAB charter to be consistent with the process. When the charter is updated, we will review it to determine whether clarifying language included meets the intent of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure compliance with ERDDAA when handling congressional requests for scientific advice from EPA's SAB, the EPA Administrator should clarify in policy documents when it is and when it is not appropriate for the EPA Administrator to forward advice to the requesting committee.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, EPA finalized procedures for reviewing congressional committee requests for advice from the Science Advisory Board (SAB) to determine which questions should be taken up by the SAB. These procedures, however, do not ensure compliance with ERDDAA because they fail to recognize that under ERDDAA, the SAB is required to provide requested scientific advice to select committees. The procedures lay out a process and criteria for reviewing congressional requests for SAB advice which include: 1) the scope of EPA's legal authorities; 2) whether the requested advice is related to the science and technical aspect of the environmental issue, rather than a question of public policy; and 3) EPA priorities and strategic plan. The relevant criterion for determining whether the SAB should take up a question, however, is whether it is scientific in nature. The other criteria may be relevant to EPA's prioritization of requests to the SAB in light of the SAB's limited resources.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in assessing the alternatives, revise cost and schedule estimates for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System and the Tank Waste Characterization and Staging facility in accordance with industry best practices.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will monitor the status of this proposed requirement.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should revise the statements of mission need for the two proposed projects to allow DOE to consider a variety of alternatives without limiting potential solutions, consistent with the DOE requirement that mission need statements should not identify particular solution such as equipment, facility, or technology.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE DARTS report on 5/19/16, revision of the statement of mission for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System "has become overcome by events". We will continue to follow up on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in accordance with DOE's Office of River Protection quality assurance policy, conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems that have not been reviewed by DOE.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE agreed with the recommendations and in its written responses to our report stated that it had implemented them. However, we believe additional actions are needed, as indicated in the priority recommendations letter we sent to DOE in 2017. To fully address the recommendations, DOE should conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for the High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities should be further limited until aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed to address technical challenges that DOE, the contractor, and others have identified but not yet resolved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE has noted that these activities were already limited and stated that a specific set of criteria has been established for resuming construction on the High Level Waste facility. However, as we noted in our report, an extent-of-condition review has not been performed on the remainder of the facility's systems, and recommendations from the facility's design and operability review have not been implemented. DOE also stated that construction on the Low Activity Waste facility is nearly complete, that the WTP Federal Project Director has a detailed risk register, and that each remaining risk is being proactively mitigated. This statement, however, does not fully reflect the extent or potential seriousness of the technical risks that remain. An extent-of-condition review may mean limiting the production of new design documents until this review is complete in order to avoid potential costly rework. We believe additional actions are needed. To fully address the recommendation, DOE should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for those facilities should be further limited until this review is completed and aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should enlist the services of another agency or external entity to serve as an owner's agent to assist the Office of River Protection in reviewing and evaluating the WTP contractor's design and approach to mitigating design challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress required DOE to meet this requirement in the 2016 NDAA, and DOE reports that they issued a contract to Parsons Government Services on September 29, 2015. We have requested a copy of this contract for review to ensure that the recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide the agency with better information to support its decisions when implementing the act, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to issue a rule--perhaps an interim final rule if BLM finds there is good cause to do so, given the time constraints--to require refiners to report information about signed agreements to toll less than 15 million cubic feet of helium and about refiners' attempts to negotiate tolling agreements that do not result in signed agreements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The intent of this recommendation was to ensure that BLM had the information that it needed to best implement the Helium Stewardship Act. As of April 2017, BLM provided evidence that (1) it has amended its helium reporting forms to ask the helium companies to voluntarily report this information and (2) some companies have voluntarily reported. We will continue to monitor this recommendation for 2 more years to ensure that the voluntary compliance continues.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve its production verification efforts and to increase communication among the bureau's staff with specialized knowledge on oil and gas measurement issues, improve the consistency and efficiency in both onshore and offshore measurement issues, and ensure that Interior continues the ongoing responsibilities outlined in our prior recommendations, the Secretary of the Interior should ensure the team meets in accordance with the provisions in the revised charter.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2016, officials stated that Interior had updated the Gas and Oil Measurement Team's charter. The charter, which was signed in December 2015, requires that the team meet at least twice per year. The charter further requires that the team is to periodically report progress of ongoing work to the newly established Interior oversight entity, the Onshore and Offshore Coordinating Committee. Interior provided documentation indicating that the team has met once since the charter was signed, with a meeting held in March 2016.
    Recommendation: To further improve its production verification efforts and to provide greater assurance that BLM staff are consistently applying the new guidance to commingling agreement requests and determine whether the guidance corrected deficiencies and produced improvements, the Secretary should direct BLM to schedule and complete the internal review as expeditiously as possible.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, Interior officials stated that once the new gas measurement regulations are finalized and implemented, BLM will conduct the internal review.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop reliable cost estimates for the TRU waste removal project and for the TWF construction project at LANL, the Secretary of Energy should direct NNSA and the Office of Environmental Management to revise the cost estimate for the TRU waste removal project to ensure that it uses updated assumptions based on the current understanding of project conditions, such as the status of WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Department of Energy (DOE) officials indicated that a revised life-cycle baseline cost estimate was prepared for all Office of Environmental Management mission work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, including transuranic waste removal work. DOE approved the revised cost estimate in July 2016. After we review documentation of the estimate, we will evaluate whether it is sufficient to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To develop reliable cost estimates for the TRU waste removal project and for the TWF construction project at LANL, the Secretary of Energy should direct NNSA to revise and update the TWF project's cost estimate by following all best practices for developing a reliable cost estimate that covers all life-cycle costs for better managing the project going forward.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (DOE) agreed with the recommendation. As of March 2017, DOE indicated that Los Alamos National Laboratory prepared a cost estimate for the operations and maintenance of the Transuranic Waste Facility (TWF) facility in December 2015, which was reviewed and accepted by the responsible program offices. DOE indicated that the revised estimate reflected operational costs for a seven-year window and incorporated applicable best practices, including documentation of any significant deviations and uncertainties impacting the estimate, among other things. After we obtain documentation of the estimate, we will evaluate the action to determine whether it is sufficient to close the recommendation as implemented.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve internal control and promote transparency and to ensure consistency with OMB's guidance for internal control assessment, DNFSB should clearly document each step of its control assessment activities; maintain that documentation to provide evidence that assessment and control activities are being performed; and ensure that key responsibilities, such as reviewing control assessments, should be segregated among different people to help ensure that control activities are being accurately performed.

    Agency: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DNFSB officials, DNFSB has updated its policies to maintain paper and electronic documentation of its internal control activities and ensure that key responsibilities, such as reviewing internal control assessments, are segregated among different staff. In addition, DNFSB has contracted for an independent evaluation of its internal control policies. We will continue to monitor actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve internal control and promote transparency and to promote public transparency and openness, DNFSB should clearly distinguish in Federal Register notices and during the proceedings between (1) public hearings held pursuant to DNFSB's statutory authority and (2) meetings as defined by the Sunshine Act, required to be open to the public.

    Agency: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DNFSB officials, as of October 2016, the agency has taken no action in response to this recommendation. We will continue to monitor actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that USDA has the information needed to better identify potentially contaminated sites--particularly abandoned mines--on properties it manages and, thereby, help minimize possible risks to human health and the environment, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the heads of the department's land management agencies to develop plans and procedures for completing their inventories of potentially contaminated sites.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to review available information on USDA and Interior sites where EPA's Superfund Enterprise Management System indicates that a preliminary assessment has not occurred to determine the accuracy of this information, and update the information, as needed.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, EPA Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) generated a spreadsheet with information from EPA's Superfund Enterprise Management System showing the status of USDA and Interior sites on the docket. In January 2016 FFRRO sent letters to USDA and Interior which included information from the spreadsheet showing the status of each department's sites and requested that the departments work with EPA to determine the accuracy of the data. In addition, the departments were to--for those sites where EPA believed that a preliminary assessment was needed--provide a schedule for completion of the sites. In a June 2016 letter to EPA, USDA responded that with help from EPA regions they were able to substantially reconcile the list, complete preliminary assessments or their equivalent, and provide a status to EPA on its 251 sites. In an October 2016 letter to EPA, Interior responded that 79 sites have one or more areas of uncertainty regarding their status within the Federal Facilities Docket system. Interior stated that it had developed a work plan for obtaining additional information on the sites, which is scheduled for completion in March 2018. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to work with the relevant USDA and Interior offices to obtain any additional information needed to assist EPA in determining the accuracy of the agency's data on the status of preliminary assessments for these sites.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials and documents, in response to this recommendation, EPA's Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) has been meeting quarterly with USDA and Interior to discuss, among other issues, any additional information needed to assist EPA in determining the accuracy of the agency's data on the status of preliminary assessments for these sites. According to a June 2016 letter USDA sent to EPA, preliminary assessments or their equivalent have been completed for its 251 sites. Interior informed EPA in an October 2016 letter that it has developed a plan--scheduled for completion in March 2018--for obtaining additional information on the sites. After the updated list of sites is developed, Interior plans to work with EPA to determine the final steps necessary to complete a preliminary assessment for each site. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help resolve disagreements between EPA and USDA and Interior regarding which remaining docket sites require preliminary assessments, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse to, after completing this review, inform USDA and Interior whether the requirement to conduct a preliminary assessment at the identified sites has been met or if additional work is needed to meet this requirement

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials and documents, in response to this recommendation, EPA's Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) has been meeting quarterly with USDA and Interior to discuss, among other issues, whether the requirement to conduct a preliminary assessment at the identified sites has been met or if additional work is needed to meet this requirement. According to a June 2016 letter USDA sent to EPA, preliminary assessments or their equivalent have been completed for its 251 sites. Interior informed EPA in an October 2016 letter that it has developed a plan--scheduled for completion in March 2018--for obtaining additional information on the sites. After the updated list of sites is developed, Interior plans to work with EPA to determine the final steps necessary to complete a preliminary assessment for each site. We will continue to monitor EPA's and Interior's progress to address this recommendation.
    Director: Dave Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address risks in the GOES-R program development and to help ensure that the satellite is launched on time, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to address shortfalls in defect management identified in this report, including the lack of clear guidance on defect definitions, what defect metrics should be collected and reported, and how to establish a defect's priority or severity.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation. The agency subsequently reported that contractors are required to report defects and that the agency can place a hold or put liens against contractors if defects are not addressed. NOAA also provided documentation to support its recurring meetings at which defects are addressed. Additionally, NOAA provided documentation on its defect reporting requirements and definitions. However, NOAA did not provide documentation showing what defect metrics should be collected and reported, and how to establish a defect's priority or severity. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions on this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote forward-looking construction and rebuilding efforts while FEMA phases out most subsidies, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to consider amending NFIP minimum standards for floodplain management to incorporate, as appropriate, forward-looking standards, similar to the minimum standard adopted by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the Department of Homeland Security reaffirmed that they agreed with the recommendation, and would begin implementing it after implementing the statutory mandates in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The Department estimated that it would begin implementing our recommendation in 2018 and complete its implementation by 2020.
    Recommendation: To promote greater resilience to climate change effects in U.S. agriculture, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RMA to consider working with agricultural experts to recommend or incorporate resilient agricultural practices into their expert guidance for growers, so that good farming practices take into account longterm agricultural resilience to climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, USDA issued Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry: Implementation Plan and Progress Report as USDA's framework for helping farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners respond to climate change, through voluntary and incentive-based actions. The report establishes long-term goals for improving agricultural resilience to climate change, which could reduce federal fiscal exposure for federally-insured crops. However, USDA has framed its resilience-building actions for producers as voluntary, rather than incorporating them into the good farming practices required to be eligible for insurance payouts. As a result, it is unclear to what extent federal crop insurance policyholders will use the information provided to improve their resilience.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, to improve Forest Service's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures, (3) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (4) develop a feedback mechanism to collect comments agency-wide, which should include guidance or criteria to elevate customer feedback from local and regional offices to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, Forest Service provided an update for completing the tasks necessary to respond to our recommendations. In accordance with our recommendations, for each of its customer service standards, the Forest Service has developed goals, targets and measures and we consider this part of the recommendation closed. Forest Service stated the remaining part of the recommendation will be implemented by December 2018. Specifically, the Forest Service stated by December 2018 it will begin to make standards easily publicly available on its public-facing websites. The Forest Service provided the criteria for elevating customer comments and by December 2018 stated it will begin to deploy and collect feedback forms. We will close this recommendation as implemented when standards are publicly available and customer feedback forms are deployed.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of Education should direct Federal Student Aid's Chief Operating Officer, to improve Federal Student Aid's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (2) develop a feedback mechanism that includes guidance or criteria for service providers to elevate customer feedback to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: We emailed Department of Education in June 2017 for an update on the status of this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should, to improve CBP's customer service standards: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures.

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

    Comments: In January 2017, CBP sent an email stating that the agency has done all it can to fully implement the recommendation at this time. Because CBP does not have performance goals or targets for customer service standards this recommendation remains open. In April 2016, CBP provided us with customer service survey questions they use to collect data. Based on our review of that information, we were unable to confirm CBP had established performance targets and goals for the data being collected. As we stated in the report, performance goals should be in a quantifiable and measurable form to define the level of performance to be achieved for program activities each year. Although CBP is collecting new customer service data based on survey responses, without predetermined performance targets that align with a customer service standard it is not clear what or if internal targets or customer needs are being met. In June 2017, we emailed CBP for an update on the status of this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, to improve the National Park Service's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures, (3) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (4) develop a feedback mechanism that includes guidance or criteria to review and elevate customer feedback from local and regional offices to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to NPS officials, NPS plans on defining a strategy that describes the intended customer experience for highest customer interactions such as Volunteer in Parks program and Teacher engagement program. NPS will align the strategy with overall organizational strategy, share the strategy with all employees (e.g., documentation, training), and update strategy plans to include performance targets and goals for customer service. NPS also plans on soliciting feedback from customers about their experiences with the VIP and Teacher Outreach Programs, collecting unsolicited feedback from customers about their experiences with the organization (e.g., by mining calls, emails, or social media posts), and gathering input from employees about their experiences with customers and their role in delivering the customer experience. NPS plans to share customer experience metrics and models with all employees (e.g., distribute reports and dashboards, conduct training sessions), publish customer service standards on website so that customers know what to expect, and publish customer service data to ensure actual service levels are transparent. Finally NPS plans on piloting the "Federal Feedback" Button and evaluate for expanded use in fiscal year 2018. In June 2017, we emailed NPS for an update on this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide greater awareness of and compliance with the specialty metal restrictions among DOD weapon system programs and their defense supplier-base, the Secretary of Defense should establish a mechanism for sharing and distributing non-sensitive information about national security waivers throughout the department and the defense supplier-base.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: To address the recommendation, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) is presently working on a substantive change to their internal instruction regarding the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program (GIDEP)and DCMA Forum Regarding Defective/Nonconforming Product and Process Notifications. The new version of this guidance (DCMA-INST-301), upon its planned release in March 2018, will address both specialty metals non-compliance and counterfeit occurrences. Additionally, DCMA officials stated they are communicating DCMA's specialty metals non-compliance reporting process via a Quality Technical Information Paper and the DCMA Forum (an internal DCMA communication tool). DCMA's website also includes guidance on reporting of specialty metals non-compliance issues.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help achieve and sustain public acceptance for future spent nuclearfuel management efforts, the Secretary of the Department of Energy should develop and implement a coordinated outreach strategy for providing information to specific stakeholders and the general public on federal activities related to managing spent nuclear fuel.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform users of the annual monitoring report about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its pesticide monitoring program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA posted a report summarizing the results of its Fiscal Year 2012 Pesticide Monitoring Program. The report identified which pesticides the agency tested for in FY 2012. However, the report did not identify which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances were not tested for, nor did it discuss the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology that would enable the agency, within existing resources, to gather nationally representative pesticide residue incidence and level data for both domestically produced and imported foods, or justify statistically the use of a nonprobability method that can measure the estimation error. In designing either approach, FDA should consider the extent to which the benefits exceed the costs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, FDA issued a report summarizing the results of its pesticide monitoring program for Fiscal Year 2012. This report followed by about 4 months the issuance of our report, GAO-15-38, in October 2014. The FDA report stated that the sampling methodology used in FY 2012 was not statistically based. However, in light of our recommendation that FDA design and implement a statistically valid sampling methodology, the agency could have used its February 2015 report to announce its plan to develop such a methodology for use in the future, but it did not do so. As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To gather and report reliable, nationally representative data on pesticide residue violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to report the nationally representative incidence and level data in its annual pesticide monitoring reports, including disclosing the limits of its chosen sampling methodology.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to use the incidence and level data to assess the effectiveness of FDA's targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, including its use of the Predictive Risk-based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting targeting tool for imported foods, by comparing the rate of violations detected through the program to the overall rate of pesticide residue violations within the domestic and imported food supplies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To evaluate and refine its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to identify any types of domestic and imported foods that are at high risk for pesticide residue tolerance violations to improve the ability of its targeted pesticide compliance and enforcement monitoring program to consistently identify food likely to have violations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, FDA had not provided an updated status for this recommendation. It plans to provide a status update in early calendar year 2017.
    Recommendation: To better inform the public about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the FSIS Administrator to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its National Residue Program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2015 Residue Sampling Plan for the National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. In December 2015, FSIS issued its Fiscal Year 2014 Residue Sample Results for its national residue program. The agency's report on its results did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that were not included in its testing program, nor did it report on the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides. In June 2016, FSIS issued its sampling plan for Fiscal Year 2016. The sampling plan contained information on the pesticides that FSIS would include in its residue testing program. However, the sampling plan did not identify pesticides with EPA-established tolerances that FSIS did not plan to include in its testing program. The FSIS sampling results for Fiscal Year 2015 were not available as of December 2016.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by providing more complete information on the sampling methodology the agency uses, such as how it identifies and selects states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing, and include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. As with earlier reports, this report does not provide sufficient documentation of the survey methods used in the program. In particular, the report does not provide complete information on the sampling methodology the agency used, such as how it identified and selected states, food distribution centers, and commodities for pesticide residue testing. Further, it does not include measures of sampling error for reported estimates.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by reporting on the extent to which its survey covers commodities in the U.S. food supply and any limitations associated with its survey methodology.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report has a new section titled Sampling Limitations. In that section, the agency acknowledges that the total number of distribution centers and terminal markets within the participating states is difficult to establish because existing sites may go out of business or merge and new sites may open during the course of the year. Despite this limitation, the agency concludes that the sites selected in the program are representative of all sites in these states. However, the agency has not provided sufficient documentation in the report to support the claim that its data are representative of conditions across the country for commodities in the U.S. food supply.
    Recommendation: To better meet federal standards and best practices for statistical surveys, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the AMS Administrator to provide better documentation of the survey methods used in its Pesticide Data Program in the program's annual reports by describing methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Agricultural Marketing Service published its 2015 Pesticide Data Program annual report in November 2016. This report does not describe methods users should employ to analyze the data, including obtaining margins of error for making generalizeable estimates of pesticide residues in commodities.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to work with relevant USDA agencies to develop performance measures that better reflect the breadth of USDA's climate change efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to ensure that the department's annual performance plans explain how agency actions will lead to the accomplishment of performance goals in the area of climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action
    Recommendation: To better promote agency accountability, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office and the Office of Budget and Program Analysis to use annual performance reports to provide information on the status of agency efforts toward meeting its performance measures in the area of climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Recommendation: To provide relevant information to farmers, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Climate Change Program Office to work with relevant USDA agencies to develop and provide readily accessible information to farmers on the farm-level economic costs and returns of taking certain actions in response to climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, we continue to await agency action.
    Director: Morris, Steve D
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the federal response to ocean acidification, the appropriate entities within the Executive Office of the President, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology, in consultation with the agencies in the interagency working group, should establish an ocean acidification information exchange.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency concurred with this recommendation and expects to launch the information exchange in early 2018, according to agency officials.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To address the increased risk posed by new gathering pipeline construction in shale development areas, the Secretary of Transportation, in conjunction with the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, should move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address gathering pipeline safety that addresses the risks of larger-diameter, higher-pressure gathering pipelines, including subjecting such pipelines to emergency response planning requirements that currently do not apply.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: PHMSA has drafted proposed regulations for both gas and hazardous liquid gathering pipelines. Specifically, PHMSA published Notices of Proposed Rulemaking to separately address safety issues associated with hazardous liquid gathering pipelines in October 2015 and gas gathering pipelines in April 2016. These proposed regulations partly address our recommendation by proposing new rules to address risks posed by new gathering pipeline construction, but do not fully address our recommendation to subject these pipelines to emergency response planning requirements, particularly for hazardous liquid pipelines. As of October 2016, PHMSA has determined that it needs one year's worth of data before it can begin assessing what regulations are needed to fully address the risks of hazardous liquid pipelines.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement a written policy to ensure all authorized projects are entered into the agency's database and tracked.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Corps has developed a database on authorized construction projects and has used it for deauthorization activities, but the database is not yet on an Automated Information System platform due to contract capacity constraints for the software developers. Once data are included on an Automated Information System platform, guidance will be issued on data entry and updating of the data.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine what projects are eligible for deauthorization, transmit the list to Congress, and publish projects that are deauthorized in the Federal Register once the new database includes all authorized projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement written policies and procedures documenting the project deauthorization process, from initial compilation of a list of eligible projects to submitting the list to Congress and publishing the projects that are deauthorized in the Federal Register.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement a policy for record-keeping to ensure that documents related to deauthorization are maintained as federal records.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish a mechanism for tracking all authorized studies and establish and implement a written policy to ensure all authorized studies are tracked.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will move the inventory to an automated information system platform and issue guidance on data entry and updating the data.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement policies and procedures documenting the deauthorization process for studies, from initial compilation of a list of eligible studies to submitting the list to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will develop policies and procedures for the study deauthorization process.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine what studies are eligible for deauthorization and transmit the list to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will develop policies and procedures for the study deauthorization process and those policies and procedures will be used to carry out the process of deauthorizing studies.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gomez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve future adherence to OMB guidance for conducting RIAs, the EPA Administrator should enhance the agency's review process for RIAs to ensure the transparency and clarity of information presented for selected elements in and across RIAs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 2016 EPA had not enhanced these aspects of Regulatory Impact Analyses nor did it express that it planned to do so. GAO will continue to monitor any EPA progress on this recommendation and update its status accordingly.
    Recommendation: To clarify the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and an Interagency Working Group's Technical Support document for estimating the effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions, and the approach agencies should use when informing decision makers and the public of their findings, the Director of OMB should consider continuing monitoring the economic literature and working with agencies to identify approaches for presenting social cost of carbon estimates with other analytical results that have been discounted at different rates to help agencies more transparently communicate about the circumstances unique to assessing the long-term effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions.

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

    Comments: In a March 2016 update, OMB reported that the Interagency Working Group continues to monitor the economic literature and will also consider whether there are any new approaches for presenting social cost of carbon estimates with other analytical results that have been discounted at different rates that would help agencies more transparently communicate about the circumstances unique to assessing the long-term effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions. It added that, as the National Academy of Sciences Committee may address the appropriate use of discount rates in calculating and presenting the social cost of carbon in Phase 2 of its report, it would be prudent to wait for Phase 2 of the report before making changes in this area to ensure that such changes are fully informed by any Committee recommendations. GAO will continue to monitor the Interagency Working Group's progress toward implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In addition, to enhance the usefulness of EPA's RIAs, the EPA Administrator should identify and prioritize for research key categories of benefits and costs that the agency cannot currently monetize that, once monetized, would most enhance the agency's ability to consider economic trade-offs associated with different regulatory alternatives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA is making progress in the spirit of this recommendation and GAO is keeping this recommendation open until we can determine how EPA is using the SAB's work to develop its regulatory impact analyses.
    Recommendation: To clarify the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and an Interagency Working Group's Technical Support document for estimating the effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions, and the approach agencies should use when informing decision makers and the public of their findings, the Director of OMB should consider clarifying the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and the Technical Support Document by increasing the visibility of relevant language in the Technical Support Document.

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

    Comments: In a March 2016 update, OMB said that in the Interagency Working Group's next update of the Technical Support Document, the Interagency Working Group will consider further clarification of the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and the Technical Support Document through increasing the visibility of relevant language in the Technical Support Document. OMB did not specify the time frame for the next update. GAO will continue to monitor the Interagency Working Group's progress toward implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In addition, to enhance the usefulness of EPA's RIAs, the EPA Administrator should continue efforts to update and improve the agency's approach to estimating employment effects.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA is making progress in the spirit of this recommendation and GAO is keeping the recommendation open until seeing the outcome of these efforts in the form of an updated Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analyses.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NOAA has sufficient information and analysis to guide long-term decisions regarding its aircraft, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to ensure that the agency links and integrates its multiple planning efforts as it finalizes a capital asset plan for aircraft.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations is working to complete its various planning efforts activities and integrate the key components with a comprehensive aircraft modernization plan that it expects to finalize in fall 2017.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to support nationwide reporting goals until the national UIC database is complete, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) improve the 7520 data for reporting purposes, as well as to help with quality assurance for the national UIC database, by developing and implementing a protocol for states and regions to enter data consistently and for regions to check 7520 data for consistency and completeness to ensure that data collected from state and EPA-managed class II programs are complete and comparable for purposes of reporting at a national level, and (2) in the interim, develop a method to use the 7520 database to report UIC data, including data on class II wells, until the national UIC database is fully populated with state data.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that its 7520 database is current as of 2014 and the quality assurance process has been completed. It is developing a method to use the database to report aggregated national data on the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to ensure that EPA maintains enforcement authority of state program requirements, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) conduct a rulemaking to incorporate state program requirements, and changes to state program requirements, into federal regulations, and (2) at the same time, evaluate and consider alternative processes to more efficiently incorporate future changes to state program requirements into federal regulations without a rulemaking.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agrees with GAO's analysis that state program requirements and changes should be approved and codified in federal regulations. However, EPA does not agree with GAO's recommendation to conduct one comprehensive rulemaking to achieve this. In November 2016, EPA officials said they will continue to explore alternative methods for maintaining federal enforceability under the current statutory provisions; it plans to finish its efforts in January 2017. GAO will continue to monitor this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should evaluate and revise, as needed, UIC program guidance on effective oversight to identify essential activities that EPA headquarters and regions need to conduct to effectively oversee state and EPA managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA stated that it has developed a national framework for oversight of the UIC program and to transfer knowledge to new staff. EPA said that it will continue to evaluate whether to update its guidance. We are continuing to monitor EPA's progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to facilitate the efforts of installation planners to efficiently implement the requirements of the Unified Facilities Criteria and DOD Instruction 4715.03, the Secretary of Defense--in conjunction with the Secretaries of the military departments--should provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans. At a minimum, further direction could include definitions of key terms, such as the definition of "climate change" recently included in DOD Manual 4715.03; further information about changes in applicable building codes and design standards that account for potential climate change impacts; and further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, DOD has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. For example, the Department issued DOD Directive 4715.21 (January 14, 2016), in which DOD defines climate change. Also, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program produced the report entitled Regional Sea Level Scenarios for Coastal Risk Management (April, 2016) and accompanying database, in which DOD provides regionalized sea level and extreme water level scenarios for three future time horizons (2035, 2065, and 2100) for 1,774 DOD sites worldwide. DOD intends the report and database to be used by planners to adapt to sea level rise, one impact of climate change. However, during July 2017 follow-up work, we learned that the department has not yet provided these planners with projections for the full set of expected impacts of weather effects associated with climate change.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the military services' ability to make facility investment decisions in accordance with DOD's strategic direction to include climate change adaptation considerations and additionally, to demonstrate an emphasis on proposing projects with an adaption component to installation planners, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure. DOD stated that climate change may be one of many factors that can affect facilities and impact mission and readiness, and that the department will review processes and criteria, such as the Unified Facilities Criteria, to strengthen consideration of climate change adaptation. DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, during September 2016 follow-up work, we learned that the Army has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. Specifically, in briefing slides presented to congressional staff in 2016, the Army noted that two military construction projects were sited in a manner specifically designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change. These projects were a powertrain facility at Corpus Christi Army Depot and a waste water treatment plant at West Point. However, as of July 2017, DOD had not provided us with evidence that the department's components have clarified instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding.
    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.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

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

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are working with Department of State officials to track the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the OECA GLP inspection process, the EPA Administrator should assess the authority and need for a fee-based inspection system, and if such a system is warranted, establish a user fee system, seeking additional legislative authority, if necessary, to make the laboratory inspection program self-sustaining.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, EPA officials told GAO that OECA was working with OPP and its Office of General Counsel to figure out the best mechanism for potentially accomplishing this. As of July 2017, EPA had not provided any additional information on the status of this recommendation.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop an estimate of the scope of work remaining to address uranium contamination on or near the Navajo reservation, Congress should consider requiring that the Environmental Protection Agency take the lead and work with the other federal agencies to develop an overall estimate of the remaining scope of the work, time frames, and costs.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we are not aware of any legislation being enacted to address this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to employ best practices in creating the schedule and cost estimates for the remedial action cleanup phase.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In light of the problems BIA has encountered in managing the cleanup at the Tuba City Dump site, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to identify and examine any lessons learned from managing the remedial investigation and feasibility study contract and consider these lessons as part of the acquisition planning process for the remedial action contract.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to establish a documented process that will provide reasonable assurance that oil and gas rules and guidance is reviewed and periodically updated.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are waiting to review requested documentation from BLM on actions the agency took in September 2017 that may have addressed this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to establish formal agreements with all relevant state regulatory agencies regarding oil and gas inspection activities; better leverage state inspection resources to avoid duplicative oversight activities, to the extent possible.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are waiting to review requested documentation from BLM on actions the agency took in September 2017 that may have addressed this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to identify and take necessary steps to ensure communitization agreements are reviewed within required time frames.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist the Corps in preparing sound and credible cost estimates for soliciting bids for hopper dredge work by industry, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Corps of Engineers to develop a written plan for conducting a study to obtain and periodically update data on hopper dredging costs for its cost estimates, including reliable data on industry hopper dredge equipment and labor rates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, Corps officials reported that they met with private industry officials in August 2016 to obtain updated information on the private dredge fleet, including information on private vessel upgrades. This information could help inform their cost estimates, according to the officials. The Corps has not developed a written plan for conducting a study to obtain and periodically update data on hopper dredging costs for Corps cost estimates and in October 2015 indicated that it was difficult to obtain industry-wide cost data for hopper dredges. Specifically, the Corps said that hopper dredges are unique vessels manufactured to individual company specifications, with unique components and operating costs. The Corps stated it intended to work with the dredging industry to obtain the latest hopper dredge cost information available and would update its cost and pricing data for preparing cost estimates based on that information.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To identify lessons learned from and provide assurance of preventing recurrence of cost increases for the MOX facility and WSB, and to develop reliable cost estimates for the Plutonium Disposition program, the Secretary of Energy should direct the DOE and NNSA Offices of Acquisition and Project Management and the NNSA office responsible for managing the Plutonium Disposition program, as appropriate, to revise and update the program's life-cycle cost estimate following the 12 key steps described in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide for developing high-quality cost estimates, such as conducting an independent cost estimate to provide an objective and unbiased assessment of whether the estimate can be achieved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE is currently evaluating dilute and dispose as a potential alternative approach to the MOX approach. As a result, DOE does not plan to update the Plutonium Disposition Program life-cycle estimate until a decision is made on which approach to pursue. We will continue to monitor this situation and update the status of this recommendation once DOE has made a decision on the approach taken by this program.
    Recommendation: To identify lessons learned from and provide assurance of preventing recurrence of cost increases for the MOX facility and WSB, and to develop reliable cost estimates for the Plutonium Disposition program, the Secretary of Energy should direct the DOE and NNSA Offices of Acquisition and Project Management and the NNSA office responsible for managing the Plutonium Disposition program, as appropriate, to ensure that the MOX contractor revises its proposal for increasing the cost of the MOX facility to meet all best practices for a high-quality, reliable cost estimate--for example, by cross-checking major cost elements to determine whether alternative estimating methods produce similar results.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE is currently evaluating dilute and dispose as a potential alternative approach to the MOX approach. As a result, DOE does not plan to update the proposal for increasing the cost of the MOX facility until a decision is made on which approach to pursue. We will continue to monitor this situation and update the status of this recommendation once DOE has made a decision on the approach taken by this program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that future DOE projects benefit from lessons learned that reflect the underlying causes of cost increases or schedule delays experienced by other projects, and that Congress and DOE have life-cycle cost estimates for DOE programs that include individual construction projects, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's project management order or otherwise implement a departmentwide requirement by requiring life-cycle cost estimates covering the full cost of programs that include both construction projects and other efforts and activities not related to construction.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE revised its project management order in May 2016 but did not make any changes in regards to this recommendation. We will continue to monitor DOE activities, if any, related to this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To take advantage of opportunities to collect UCMR data on additional unregulated contaminants, Congress should consider amending SDWA to give EPA the flexibility to select more than 30 contaminants for monitoring under the UCMR program if high-priority contaminants, such as those on the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) or contaminants of emerging concern, can be included at minimal cost, with minimal additional burden on public water systems, and while using analytical methods that EPA is already employing.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to address this matter; we will continue to monitor actions and provide updated information when it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To optimize the ability of the UCMR data to support regulatory determinations, Congress should consider adjusting the statutory time frames for the UCMR and regulatory determinations cycles so that EPA can use the UCMR data to support regulatory determinations in the same cycle.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to address this matter; we will continue to monitor actions and provide updated information when it becomes available.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve communication between the Corps and nonfederal sponsors of flood control projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take steps to ensure that flood control project delivery teams comply with agency guidance to develop communications plans for flood control projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should develop and issue new regulations requiring that TMDLs include additional elements--and consider requiring the elements that are now optional--specifically, elements reflecting key features identified by NRC as necessary for attaining water quality standards, such as comprehensive identification of impairment and plans to monitor water bodies to verify that water quality is improving.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials stated that they agree that broad implementation and monitoring requirements would be helpful, but disagree that they should issue regulations. Officials stated that they continue to follow the state Water Quality Management Plan requirement related to GAO's recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should ensure more consistent application of existing TMDL elements and to provide greater assurance that TMDLs, if implemented, can achieve tangible water quality results, identify regional offices with criteria for interpreting and applying such elements in reviewing and approving state-developed TMDLs and issue guidance with more specificity, directing all regional offices to follow the same criteria, including requesting that states provide more-detailed information about pollution causes and abatement actions.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials said they had created a small workgroup to assess this recommendation. The group is continuing discussions about how to enhance consistent regional review. We will continue to monitor EPA's progress.
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should place conditions on states' annual use of nonpoint source management and water pollution control grants to ensure that the funds meet the purposes for which they are awarded and achieve greater reductions in nonpoint source pollution associated with TMDL implementation, such as by targeting funds to states and projects that incorporate factors needed for effective TMDL implementation (e.g., targeting grant funds to projects where implementation plans have been developed and where external agency assistance is available).

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials said that they believe the 2013 nonpoint source guidance substantially addresses this recommendation. Specifically, in April 2013, EPA issued revised guidance for awarding section 319 grants to states to implement nonpoint source management programs and projects. The guidance updates previous guidance to EPA regional offices and states in four key areas: (1) state nonpoint source management program plans, (2) funding distribution, (3) reviews of states' watershed-based plans, and (4) regional offices' annual progress determinations. While this encourages states to target nonpoint source funding to watersheds with TMDLs, it does not incentivize it with funding. EPA continues to discuss approaches to address this recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance the likelihood that TMDLs support the nation's waters' attainment of water quality standards and to strengthen water quality management, the Administrator of EPA should obtain missing data that currently impede EPA's efforts to determine whether and to what extent TMDLs have been implemented or to what extent implemented TMDLs have helped impaired waters attain water quality standards by (1) directing states to use and report specific Geographic Information Systems data when implementing projects to which TMDLs apply and (2) requesting that USDA ask landowners who participate in conservation programs funded by the department in areas subject to a TMDL to disclose information on the location, type, and number of projects implemented under these programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA officials said that they have created the Water Quality Framework to align and integrate the variety of water quality data in different systems. The first phase focuses on improvements to ATTAINS, the TMDL tracking system, to report on the status of healthy waters and restoring and improving impaired waters. EPA officials said that they have transitioned to the use of NHDPlus catchments to report on performance measures, allowing EPA to automate the calculation of data. In addition, in June 2016, EPA requested USDA to provide data on the location, type, and number of projects implemented by USDA programs. USDA has not provided the data. We will continue to monitor EPA's progress.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address challenges the Task Force faces in producing comprehensive and useful assessments of progress and addressing factors that may limit GLRI progress, the EPA Administrator, in coordination with the Task Force, as appropriate, should establish an adaptive management plan that includes all of the key elements of adaptive management and provides details on how these elements will be implemented.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, EPA notified GAO that the final GLRI adaptive management report is due to be released in December 2017. We will review the report after it becomes available.
    Director: Gootnick, David B
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: JEMFAC accepted decrement plans from the RMI, which addressed one element of the recommendation. However, as of June 16th, 2017 the other parts of the recommendation have not been addressed.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps, including making changes to AFMSS, and in any new system that replaces AFMSS, to improve the ability of staff to identify wells that are a high priority for environmental inspection and to incorporate information on the inspection history of wells into the environmental inspection prioritization process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: BLM concurred with the recommendation and has initiated action to update its Application for permit to drill (APD) permit processing system. This new system will be known as AFMSS II and, when fully implemented, may address GAO's recommendations. Currently, BLM's actions are insufficient to close this recommendation because they have not completed the updates to AFMISS. Specifically, BLM has not completed its update of AFMSS II to cover environmental inspections. We will continue to follow up with BLM as the agency continues to take action to improve its well tracking system. As of September 2017, BLM said it intends to update AFMSS II to cover environmental issues but has not yet done so.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to ensure that environmental violations or problems and enforcement actions are documented in a consistent manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the agencies enhance their abilities to identify their firefighting aircraft needs and better ensure they obtain aircraft that meet those needs, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Safety, Resource Protection, and Emergency Services, respectively, to, subsequent to the completion of the first two recommendations, update the agencies' strategy documents for providing a national firefighting aircraft fleet to include analysis based on information on aircraft performance and effectiveness and to reflect input from stakeholders throughout the fire aviation community.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Forest Service and Interior officials, the National Interagency Aviation Committee, which includes members from both agencies, has drafted an Aviation Strategy and has solicited feedback from interagency stakeholders. The committee plans to present the strategy for senior level review in October 2017. The Forest Service additionally reports that it has begun developing its own aviation strategy for 2019-2023, and expects to certify it by September, 2018. The Forest Service strategy will be linked to the Interagency Aviation Strategy.
    Recommendation: To help the agencies enhance their abilities to identify their firefighting aircraft needs and better ensure they obtain aircraft that meet those needs, the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior should direct the Chief of the Forest Service and the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Safety, Resource Protection, and Emergency Services, respectively, to, subsequent to the completion of the first two recommendations, update the agencies' strategy documents for providing a national firefighting aircraft fleet to include analysis based on information on aircraft performance and effectiveness and to reflect input from stakeholders throughout the fire aviation community.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Forest Service and Interior officials, the National Interagency Aviation Committee, which includes members from both agencies, has drafted an Aviation Strategy and has solicited feedback from interagency stakeholders. The committee plans to present the strategy for senior level review in October 2017.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's management of the conditional registration process, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations to more readily track the status of these registrations and related registrant and agency actions and identify potential problems requiring management attention.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that until upgrades to OPP's database architecture are complete in the FY 18 timeframe, the agency cannot complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations. The agency informed us that plans are currently underway to improve the functionality and accuracy of OPP databases, including the tracking of information on conditional registration. However, until this work is complete, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the overall sustainability of the Forest Service's trail system, consistent with the vision articulated in A Framework for Sustainable Recreation, and to reduce the trail maintenance backlog, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to take several actions to improve the agency's trail maintenance approach in both the short and long terms. To improve the agency's ability to keep up with its maintenance goals in the short term and reduce its maintenance backlog, the agency should, recognizing the importance of volunteers for trail maintenance, take steps to improve management of volunteers, including by ensuring that collaboration with and management of volunteers are clear expectations of trails staff and offering relevant training.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Forest Service reported that it has taken and continues to take steps to improve management of volunteers. In particular, the agency has taken steps to reduce barriers to volunteering, such as its fiscal year 2014 implementation of a revised approach to funding volunteer worker's compensation costs from a national funding pool rather than allocating funds locally. In addition, the December 2016 national trail strategy identifies some additional key actions, such as developing and providing efficiency tools to support active partnering. The Forest Service also reported that it is developing training materials that address volunteer and partnership program management skills. The Forest Service has not, however, taken steps to ensure that collaboration with and management of volunteers are clear expectations of trails staff.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA maximizes its limited resources and addresses the statutory, regulatory, and programmatic needs of EPA program offices and regions when IRIS toxicity assessments are not available, and once demand for the IRIS Program is determined, the EPA Administrator should direct the Deputy Administrator, in coordination with EPA's Science Advisor, to develop an agencywide strategy to address the unmet needs of EPA program offices and regions that includes, at a minimum: (1) coordination across EPA offices and with other federal research agencies to help identify and fill data gaps that preclude the agency from conducting IRIS toxicity assessments, and (2) guidance that describes alternative sources of toxicity information and when it would be appropriate to use them when IRIS values are not available, applicable, or current.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of October 2016, EPA indicated that the agency evaluated user needs for toxicity assessments as part of its process for developing the Multi-Year Agenda it issued in December 2015. We will continue to review additional information and documentation on EPA's agencywide strategy to address the unmet needs of EPA program offices and regions, and will update status comments as appropriate.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Executive Director of the United States Global Change Research Program or other federal entity designated by the Executive Office of the President should work with relevant agencies to identify for decision makers the "best available" climate-related information for infrastructure planning and update this information over time.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy: U.S. Global Change Research Program
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 7/27/17, no federal entity has identified the best available climate-related information for infrastructure planning.
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Executive Director of the United States Global Change Research Program or other federal entity designated by the Executive Office of the President should work with relevant agencies to clarify sources of local assistance for incorporating climate-related information and analysis into infrastructure planning, and communicate how such assistance will be provided over time.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy: U.S. Global Change Research Program
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 7/27/17, no federal entity has comprehensively clarified sources of local assistance for incorporating climate-related information and analysis into infrastructure planning.
    Recommendation: To improve the resilience of the nation's infrastructure to climate change, the Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality should finalize guidance on how federal agencies can consider the effects of climate change in their evaluations of proposed federal actions under the National Environmental Policy Act.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Council on Environmental Quality
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 1, 2016, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) issued final guidance to federal departments and agencies on how to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change when evaluating proposed federal actions in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. However, in March 2017, the White House issued Executive Order 13783, directing CEQ to rescind the guidance, among other things. CEQ rescinded the guidance on April 5, 2017.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better position EPA to collect chemical toxicity and exposure-related data and ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, while balancing its workload, the Administrator of EPA should consider promulgating a rule under TSCA section 8, or take action under another section, as appropriate, to require chemical companies to report chemical toxicity and exposure-related data they have submitted to the European Chemicals Agency.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of July 2017, EPA is better positioned to take action to require chemical companies to report chemical toxicity and exposure-related data submitted to the European Chemicals Agency due to passage of the new TSCA law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Since the law was signed by the President on June 22, 2016, EPA finalized a rule to establish the agency's process for evaluating high priority chemicals to determine whether or not they present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment and finalized a rule to require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured or processed in the US over the past 10 years. However, EPA has not yet carried out actions consistent with the substance of our recommendation. Once EPA has carried out such actions, we will reassess the status of this open recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better position EPA to collect chemical toxicity and exposure-related data and ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, while balancing its workload, the Administrator of EPA should consider promulgating a rule under TSCA section 8, or take action under another section, as appropriate, to require chemical companies to report exposure-related data from processors to EPA.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of July 2017, EPA is better positioned to take action to require chemical companies to report exposure-related data from processors to EPA due to passage of the new TSCA law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Since the law was signed by the President on June 22, 2016, EPA has completed some implementation activities, including finalizing a rule to require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured or processed in the US over the past 10 years. However, EPA has not yet carried out actions consistent with the substance of our open recommendation. Once EPA has carried out such actions, we will reassess the status of this open recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better position EPA to collect chemical toxicity and exposure-related data and ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, while balancing its workload, and to better position EPA to ensure chemical safety under existing TSCA authority, the Administrator of EPA should direct the appropriate offices to develop strategies for addressing challenges that impede the agency's ability to meet its goal of ensuring chemical safety. At a minimum, the strategies should address challenges associated with: (1) obtaining toxicity and exposure data needed to conduct ongoing and future TSCA Work Plan risk assessments, (2) gaining access to toxicity and exposure data provided to the European Chemicals Agency, (3) working with processors and processor associations to obtain exposure-related data, (4) banning or limiting the use of chemicals under section 6 of TSCA and planned actions for overcoming these challenges--including a description of other actions the agency plans to pursue in lieu of banning or limiting the use of chemicals, and (5) identifying the resources needed to conduct risk assessments and implement risk management decisions in order to meet its goal of ensuring chemical safety.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of July 2017, EPA is better positioned to take action to require chemical companies to report chemical toxicity and exposure data, analyze the data, take necessary actions, and identify the resources needed for evaluating and managing risk to ensure chemical safety due to passage of the new TSCA law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. Since the new law was signed by the President on June 22, 2016, EPA finalized a rule to establish the agency's process for evaluating high priority chemicals to determine whether or not they present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment and finalized a rule to require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured or processed in the U.S. over the past 10 years. However, EPA has not yet carried out actions consistent with the substance of our recommendation, including actually obtaining the data necessary to make risk-informed regulatory decisions, and then making those decisions as appropriate. Once EPA has carried out such actions, we will reassess the status of this open recommendation.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can address atmospheric deposition of NOx and SO2 impairing the nation's waters, the EPA Administrator should determine whether EPA can obtain in a timely manner the data it needs to establish secondary NAAQS adequate to protect against the effects of acid rain and, if not, identify alternative strategies to do so.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA issued the final "Integrated Review Plan for the Secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Oxides of Nitrogen and Oxides of Sulfur and Particulate Mater" in January 2017. According to this plan, it serves as a public information document and as a management tool for EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment and Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards in conducting the review of the secondary national ambient air quality standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and oxides of sulfur (SOx). This plan describes the development of the Integrated Science Assessment (ISA). According to the plan, the ISA is a comprehensive review, synthesis and evaluation of the most policy-relevant science, including key science judgments. As of January 2017, EPA estimates that the first draft ISA will be available for public review in winter 2017. GAO may be able to use the ISA to determine if EPA has implemented the recommendation.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that air ventilation systems in manufactured homes perform as specified and meet the HUD Code, HUD should develop an appropriate method to test and validate the performance of the ventilation system as part of the HUD certification process.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, HUD stated that it has not developed a test to validate the performance of the whole-house ventilation specification. We continue to believe that developing such a test will better ensure that air ventilation systems in manufactured homes perform as specified and meet the HUD Code.
    Director: Gaffigan, Mark E
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EM more effectively manages all its projects, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Senior Advisor for Environmental Management and the Director of the Office of Management, as appropriate, to provide the Office of Acquisition and Project Management with information on EM's project classification decisions to ensure that all capital asset projects have been appropriately classified and are managed in accordance with DOE Order 413.3B.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When commenting on our report, DOE agreed with our recommendation. According to agency information provided in March 2017, DOE has ongoing internal discussions to develop and document a policy addressing EM capital asset project and operations activity classifications. However, DOE has not yet established and approved such a policy.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve Interior's oversight of offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico, the Secretary of the Interior should continue to evaluate ePlans and develop edit checks to improve the accuracy and completeness of operators' exploration and development plan submissions.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2016, officials stated that BOEM had made progress in evaluating ePlans, including developing specifications to include edits checks to improve the accuracy and completeness of plan submissions. Officials stated that it in working with a contractor, BOEM had (1)identified ePlans requirements, (2) developed the performance measure baseline, (3) obtained approval from Interior's Office of the Chief Information Officer to design and develop ePlans, (4) signed the ePlans Charted, (5) awarded the ePlans development contract, and (6) initiated the first module addressing exploration plans. The current development schedule estimates the development of ePlans to last through June 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve Interior's oversight of offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico, the Secretary of the Interior should enhance Interior's capacity for identifying and evaluating offshore oil and gas drilling operations according to risk, thereby allowing it to adjust and evaluate its oversight accordingly by (1) identifying and systematically collecting and maintaining reliable data on risk factors associated with drilling operations, (2) providing operators with clear definitions for significant events in the weekly well activity reports and developing a way to characterize and record these events systematically and reliably, and (3) using the risk factors and significant events data to develop a risk-based approach with clear criteria to prospectively evaluate and categorize drilling operations according to risk and retrospectively to evaluate the performance of oversight and risk mitigation activities in avoiding significant events.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Interior has taken steps to identify and evaluate drilling risks, and its work is ongoing. For example, to identify and systematically collect and maintain reliable data on risk factors associated with drilling, BSEE has implemented a voluntary near-miss reporting program developed in collaboration with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The data collected from this program should support the identification of drilling risk factors and will inform development of recommendations and guidance. Regarding data collected through the weekly well activity reports, BSEE is implementing a real time monitoring requirement through the recently promulgated Well Control Rule. According to BSEE officials, BSEE is now able to access all high risk operators' onshore facilities, which should allow them access to more comprehensive event data. This real time monitoring should also allow BSEE inspectors and engineers the capability to witness events at these facilities. Finally, BSEE has limited efforts underway to develop a risk based approach for the prospective evaluation and categorization of drilling operations by risk. A first step has been to work with a National Laboratory to develop a risk based model for production operations, with the idea that this could lead to a model for drilling operations. Additionally, the recently promulgated Well Control Rule established a baseline requirement for operators to minimize risk as low as reasonably practicable. As of October 2016, many of the efforts are only recently underway. As such, it is too soon to assess the extent to which these efforts will be successful. Until such policies are fully implemented and shown to be effective, Interior may not be able to adjust and evaluate its oversight-including inspections-in a cost-effective manner.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To help protect the quality of our nation's water resources, and to strengthen EPA's implementation of its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act's section 319 nonpoint source pollution control program, the Administrator of EPA should provide specific guidance to EPA's 10 regional offices on how they are to fulfill their oversight responsibilities, such as how to review states' plans for project feasibility and criteria to ensure that funded projects have characteristics that reflect the greatest likelihood of effective implementation and tangible water quality results.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In April 2013, EPA issued new guidance "Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories" for the nonpoint source program. The guidance includes a checklist that aligns with the intent of our recommendation to provide additional guidance to regional offices. In July 2016, we issued an update of EPA's progress on our recommendations. In it, we conclude that EPA's 2013 guidance does not provide specific instruction to the regional offices on how to review states' plans for project feasibility and criteria to ensure that funded projects have characteristics reflecting the greatest likelihood of tangible water quality results, as we recommended. In January 2017, EPA said that it looked broadly at ways to improve the program and remain committed to making technical and program changes as needed. We will continue to monitor EPA's efforts on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help protect the quality of our nation's water resources, and to strengthen EPA's implementation of its responsibilities under the Clean Water Act's section 319 nonpoint source pollution control program, the Administrator of EPA should, in revising section 319 guidelines to states, and in addition to existing statutorily required reporting measures, emphasize measures that (1) more accurately reflect the overall health of targeted water bodies (e.g., the number, kind, and condition of living organisms) and (2) demonstrate states' focus on protecting high-quality water bodies, where appropriate.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In 2013, EPA issued final "Nonpoint Source Program and Grants Guidelines for States and Territories." The guidelines require EPA regions to review some watershed-based plans in each state annually, for example. The new guidelines also require that half of a state's 319 allocation be spent on implementing watershed plans, which according to EPA, emphasizes overall health of targeted waterbodies. In July 2016, we issued an update on our recommendations saying that the EPA officials said that they plan to change the program's measures of effectiveness, but have not had time or resources to do so. EPA officials said they plan to create a workgroup to focus on creating a measure for the protection of healthy water bodies in 2017. In January 2017, EPA said that it remained committed to pursue a measure for maintaining high-quality waters. Until EPA takes concrete action on this measure, we will keep this recommendation open.
    Director: Mittal, Anu K
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight of phosphate-mining operations and reclamation and cleanup, the Administrator of EPA should ensure that the agency complete its plan to assess whether corporate guarantees are an adequate financial mechanism, including giving due consideration to the experience of EPA Region 10 and BLM in using such assurances. If EPA determines that corporate guarantees are not an appropriate form of financial assurance, then their use should be prohibited in the financial assurance regulations that the agency expects to promulgate for the mining industry.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: On January 11, 2017 EPA published proposed financial assurance regulations for the mining industry in the Federal Register. The proposal contains two alternative financial assurance provisions. The first alternative would prohibit the use of corporate guarantees and instead would require operators to obtain third-party financial assurance instruments. The second alternative would allow the use of corporate guarantees in conjunction with a financial test. EPA expects to finalize the rule in December 2017, at which time it will select one of the two alternatives.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: 202-512-9338

    5 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the credibility of IRIS assessments by enhancing their timeliness and certainty, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Research and Development to assess the feasibility and appropriateness of the established time frames for each step in the IRIS assessment process and determine whether different time frames should be established, based on complexity or other criteria, for different types of IRIS assessments.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016 we reviewed information provided by EPA related to this recommendation. While in July 2013, the EPA issued "enhancements" to the IRIS process and throughout 2016, EPA provided us with details on its online chemical information. EPA stated that the Program introduced the idea that different timelines are needed for different types of assessments based on criteria such as complexity (i.e., large database, many endpoints, complex questions about dose-response, multiple science issues, and novel approaches), potential public health impact, and the amount of new research that needs to be considered. Consequently, two sets of timelines for the IRIS assessment process were developed, one set for "standard" assessments and one set for "complex" assessments. GAO believes that this is important progress but that EPA needs to continue to determine whether different time frames should be established.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the credibility of IRIS assessments by enhancing their timeliness and certainty, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Research and Development, should different time frames be necessary, to establish a written policy that clearly describes the applicability of the time frames for each type of IRIS assessment and ensures that the time frames are realistic and provide greater predictability to stakeholders.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016 we reviewed information provided by EPA related to this recommendation. While in July 2013, EPA issued "enhancements" to the IRIS process and provided us with details on the online information available for each chemical, a written policy that is publicly available is still needed. EPA stated that the Program introduced the idea that different timelines are needed for different types of assessments based on criteria such as complexity (i.e., large database, many endpoints, complex questions about dose-response, multiple science issues, and novel approaches), potential public health impact, and the amount of new research that needs to be considered. Consequently, two sets of timelines for the IRIS assessment process were developed, one set for "standard" assessments and one set for "complex" assessments. GAO believes that EPA has made progress and we will continue to review information provided by EPA as they work to ensure that the time frames are realistic and provide greater predictability to stakeholders.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to annually publish the IRIS agenda in the Federal Register each fiscal year.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, EPA provided an update to GAO and said they believe they have met the intent of this GAO recommendation by publishing an IRIS Multi-Year Agenda in December 2015. According to EPA, the Multi-Year Agenda provides detailed information on near-term agency priorities including IRIS assessments that are ongoing and those that will be initiated over the next few years. EPA also told GAO that they are working to update the information provided on the status of each ongoing IRIS assessment. As this important work continues, GAO will monitor EPA's progress and determine if the information provides IRIS users with transparent information about assessments.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to indicate in published IRIS agendas which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, EPA provided an update to GAO and said they believe they have met the intent of this GAO recommendation by publishing an IRIS Multi-Year Agenda in December 2015. According to EPA, the Multi-Year Agenda provides detailed information on near-term agency priorities including IRIS assessments that are ongoing and those that will be initiated over the next few years. GAO still believes that annually providing current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through the IRIS program is critical for IRIS users and specifically which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to update the IRIS Substance Assessment Tracking System (IRISTrack) to display all current information on the status of assessments of chemicals on the IRIS agenda, including projected and actual start dates, and projected and actual dates for completion of steps in the IRIS process, and keep this information current.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, EPA provided an update to GAO and said they believe they have met the intent of this GAO recommendation by publishing an IRIS Multi-Year Agenda in December 2015. According to EPA, the Multi-Year Agenda provides detailed information on near-term agency priorities including IRIS assessments that are ongoing and those that will be initiated over the next few years. GAO still believes that annually providing current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through the IRIS program is critical for IRIS users. In addition, The Agenda does not identify projected start dates for new assessments, and therefore is not ensuring that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve cohesion in the management and operation of EPA's laboratories, the Administrator of EPA should establish a top-level science official with the authority and responsibility to coordinate, oversee, and make management decisions regarding major scientific activities throughout the agency, including the work of all program, regional, and ORD laboratories.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA took some steps toward establishing a top-level science official with responsibilities to coordinate and oversee the laboratories, but the agency did not expand this official's authority to make management decisions regarding scientific activities for the laboratories.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's ability to oversee the states' implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide Congress and the public with more complete and accurate information on compliance, the Administrator of EPA should resume data verification audits to routinely evaluate the quality of selected drinking water data on health-based and monitoring violations that the states provide to EPA. These audits should also evaluate the quality of data on the enforcement actions that states and other primacy agencies have taken to correct violations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, EPA reported that it had not resumed its data verification audits, but is continuing on-site file reviews, completing 5 in 2015, and planning to complete 8 in 2016. Further, EPA continues to focus on developing its SDWIS Prime, which will support electronic verification of data. It plans to have the system operational in March 2018. In the last year, EPA conducted two training events with the regional file review teams which the agency indicated helped (1) identify challenges in completing file reviews and potential solutions, and (2) share best practices to enhance the implementation of the protocol. EPA told us that as the regions build more capacity and experience in conducting these file reviews, EPA expects to gradually increase the number of file reviews completed in a year. According to OECA, who collaborates with the water office for file reviews in some regions, there were no systemic discrepancies between enforcement file contents and data reported to EPA in its test of the protocol for evaluating the quality of enforcement data in 3 states.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's ability to oversee the states' implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide Congress and the public with more complete and accurate information on compliance, the Administrator of EPA should work with the states to establish a goal, or goals, for the completeness and accuracy of data on monitoring violations. In setting these goals, EPA may want to consider whether certain types of monitoring violations merit specific targets. For example, the agency may decide that a goal for the states to completely and accurately report when required monitoring was not done should differ from a goal for reporting when monitoring was done but not reported on time.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA, it has not worked with states to establish a national goal for the quality of monitoring violations. EPA stated that without the ability to conduct on-site data verifications using a statistically-based sample size, it is unable to derive a goal that would capture both completeness of state reporting to EPA and whether the states correctly assigned a violation for missed monitoring. EPA said that it intends to work with states to evaluate the establishment of a monitoring data quality goal once the new SDWIS NextGen data system has been developed and electronic data verification functions are incorporated into the system. In April 2015, EPA indicated that the agency intends to separate monitoring violations from reporting violations in the new SDWIS Primacy Agency data system. According to EPA, this will enable the primacy agencies and EPA to better understand the nature of system violations and with the violations delineated in this manner, will allow EPA to consider developing goals for monitoring and reporting violations. In September 2015, EPA reported to GAO that it anticipated that states will begin using SDWIS Prime in September 2017 and that it will consider GAO's recommendation once SDWIS Prime is fully operational and it is able to better establish such a goal.
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's ability to oversee the states' implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide Congress and the public with more complete and accurate information on compliance, the Administrator of EPA should consider whether EPA's performance measures for community water systems could be constructed to more clearly communicate the aggregate public health risk posed by these systems' noncompliance with SDWA and progress in having those systems return to compliance in a timely manner.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA, the agency has not made any adjustments to the performance measures for community water systems. EPA told us that, as part of its periodic review of the 5-year Strategic Plan, it will consult with the states, the Office of Management and Budget, GAO and the National Drinking Water Advisory Committee (NDWAC) on how it could construct a new measure to communicate better the aggregate public health risk posed by noncompliance as GAO suggests. EPA also said that it will continue to use a variety of tools and resources to convey to the public information on drinking water quality and potential health risks associated with exposure to contaminants. In April 2015, EPA wrote: OGWDW did not make any changes in Fiscal Year 2014 to the program's current community water system-based measure which communicates the results of efforts to return systems to compliance and maintain compliance. The "person month" measure provides insight into the duration of health based violations. For FY 15, we have developed a "person month" measure for tribal community water systems. Further efforts to evaluate the current measures and consideration of GAO suggestions will continue to be part of the Agency's periodic review of the five-year strategic plan. In September 2015, EPA told GAO that it was evaluating the effectiveness of the "person month" measure and is continuing to enhance and revise the measures taking GAO suggestions into consideration.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-9338

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to systematically implement the statutory requirement to consider for regulation the contaminants that present the greatest public health concern, the EPA Administrator should require that the Office of Water to develop a coordinated process for obtaining both the occurrence and health effects data that may be needed for the agency to make informed regulatory determinations on these priority contaminants.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA has not demonstrated that it has developed a coordinated process for obtaining both occurrence and health effects data to make informed determinations on priority contaminants. EPA's response to this recommendation is that it will continue the status quo of obtaining occurrence data through UCMRs and work with the Office of Research and Development. As we reported, the approach EPA currently uses does not provide the agency with all of the data it needs in a timely manner to support determinations for some priority contaminants.
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to support the development of regulatory determinations that are transparent, clear, and consistent and that follow applicable agency policy, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Water to expeditiously develop, and make available to the public, policies or guidance that clearly articulates the agency's interpretation of the act's broad statutory criteria for making regulatory determinations and provides a protocol for making such determinations. In particular, the guidance should establish a process to ensure that the presentation of health effects and occurrence information in regulatory determination notices and support documents is comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable and that it includes clear explanations of key information, such as any exceptions to existing guidance reflected in the agency's support for its regulatory determinations.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA's Preliminary Regulatory Determinations for Contaminants on the Third Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (Reg Det 3) did not appear to include any cases in which EPA made an exception to existing guidance, negating the need for an explanation. EPA has not developed policies or guidance that establishes a process to ensure that the presentation of health effects and occurrence information in regulatory determination notices and support documents is comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable, and that it includes clear explanations of key information and the Protocol for Regulatory Determinations 3 does not appear to address this circumstance. Without policies or guidance establishing a process to ensure the comprehensive, consistent, informative, and understandable presentation of its regulatory determinations, there is no guarantee at this time that EPA would include this information in future regulatory determinations.
    Recommendation: To increase EPA's consistency, transparency, and clarity in implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act in a way that better assures the public of safe drinking water, and to support the development of regulatory determinations that are transparent, clear, and consistent and that follow applicable agency policy, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Water to expeditiously develop, and make available to the public, policies or guidance that clearly articulates the agency's interpretation of the act's broad statutory criteria for making regulatory determinations and provides a protocol for making such determinations. In particular, the guidance should specify that appropriate stakeholders--that is, EPA offices with relevant expertise such as the Office of Children's Health Protection and regional offices that have known or likely occurrence of the contaminants being evaluated in public water systems within their areas of jurisdiction--be encouraged and have the opportunity to participate in the regulatory determination work groups.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA's response to this recommendation reflects the practice that was in place at the time we issued our report including this recommendation. As a result, it does not appear that EPA has taken any additional action to satisfy this recommendation at this time.
    Recommendation: In light of EPA's decisions to issue health advisories in conjunction with determinations to not regulate certain contaminants that have been detected in some public water systems at levels of public health concern, the EPA Administrator should (1) determine whether the Office of Water's use of health advisories provides sufficient information on these unregulated contaminants to support timely and effective actions by states, localities, public water systems, and the public to ensure the safety of public drinking water, and (2) if not, direct the Office of Water to develop a plan to more effectively communicate such information to these entities.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA indicated that it has begun a process of developing concise updates to carry forward into its health advisory table and that the process will be completed gradually over the next year, with updates continuing in the future, but has not yet published any updates for non-microbial contaminants. In addition, EPA has not addressed the call in the recommendation for the documentation of the process to update the advisories. The agency did indicate its plan to update the Drinking Water Standards and Health Advisory table in the fall of 2016, so we will leave this recommendation open and continue to monitor for future actions.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's library network continues to meet its users' needs, the Administrator of EPA should, in future assistance agreements, make explicit that EPA can include in the agency's public online database, without obtaining prior permission from the copyright holder, any documents produced under the agreements.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA developed a draft agencywide implementation plan to make research publications and data resulting from contracts and assistance agreements freely available to the public. EPA is currently in the process of revising the draft plan in response to comment from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). As of September 2016, EPA plans to submit the final document to OSTP soon. In the meantime, EPA?s Office of Research and Development (ORD) began implementing increased public access to intramural research publications and associated data in January 2016. ORD has also established a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institutes of Health to use PubMed Central as the public-use repository for intramural research publications.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's library network continues to meet its users' needs, and for future assistance agreements where EPA cannot make such an arrangement, EPA should digitize documents produced under the agreements and make them available to federal employees and other authorized users for federal government purposes.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA has developed a draft agencywide implementation plan to make research publications and data resulting from contracts and assistance agreements freely available to the public. EPA is currently in the process of revising the draft plan in response to comment from the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). As of September 2016, EPA plans to submit the final document to OSTP soon.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202)512-4597

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase Interior's assurance that it is accurately measuring oil and gas produced on federal lands and waters, and to help ensure that Interior's production accountability inspection program consistently addresses key areas affecting measurement accuracy and that BLM meets its inspection goals, the Secretary of the Interior should establish goals for (1) witnessing onshore oil and gas meter calibrations, (2) witnessing onshore and offshore gas sample collections, (3) comparing onshore reported British Thermal Units (BTU) values with gas analyses, and (4) inspecting onshore and offshore orifice plates and meter tubes.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2014, BLM had not established goals for witnessing oil meter provings or gas meter calibrations. Officials stated that it would be too challenging to coordinate, as BLM inspectors would have to meet oil and gas company officials on site to witness the gas sample collection. BLM has also not established goals for comparing BTU analyses with gas analyses, though an official stated that comparisons do occur during an in office records review. For witnessing inspections of orifice plates and meter tubes, BLM officials again stated that coordinating these activities with companies would be cumbersome. Officials stated that inspectors do typically inspect the orifice plate when it is pulled for inspection by a company official during a gas meter calibration. For meter tubes, BLM has not taken any actions. BLM officials stated that when updating its oil and gas measurement regulations, it may address some of these issues. Interior officials set a time frame of 2016 to complete this effort.
    Recommendation: To increase Interior's assurance that it is accurately measuring oil and gas produced on federal lands and waters, and to improve the consistency of Interior's management of its onshore production and inspection program, the Secretary of the Interior should direct BLM to review and revise, as appropriate, its oversight of field and state offices and train managers involved in BLM's inspection and enforcement program to ensure adequate and appropriate review of personnel, processes, and production, consistent with standards for internal controls.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2014, Interior officials stated it had a completion rate of 96 percent for its two part training class called Oil and Gas Field Managers Training. Interior officials have not taken any steps to review and revise, as appropriate, its oversight of field and state offices and have not provided a time frame for when they might take any actions.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Because EPA alone cannot address the complexities of the nation's challenges in addressing environmental health risks for children, Congress may wish to consider re-establishing a government-wide task force on children's environmental health risks, similar to the one previously established by Executive Order 13045 and co-chaired by the Administrator of EPA and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Congress may wish to consider charging it with identifying the principal environmental health threats to children and developing national strategies for addressing them. Congress may also wish to consider establishing in law the Executive Order's requirement for periodic reports about federal research findings and research needs regarding children's environmental health.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we have not identified actions by the Congress to establish in law requirements such as those in EO 13025.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress may wish to consider amending CSB's authorizing statute or the Inspector General Act of 1978 to permanently give Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Inspector General the authority to serve as the oversight body for the agency.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not taken action yet.
    Recommendation: As Congress prepares the appropriation of the EPA Inspector General, it may wish to consider providing the Inspector General with appropriations and staff allocations specifically for the audit function of CSB via a direct line in the EPA appropriation.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not taken action yet.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To develop timely chemical risk information that EPA needs to effectively conduct its mission, the Administrator, EPA, should require the Office of Research and Development to re-evaluate its draft proposed changes to the IRIS assessment process in light of the issues raised in this report and ensure that any revised process periodically assesses the level of resources that should be dedicated to this significant program to meet user needs and maintain a viable IRIS database.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016 we reviewed information provided by EPA related to this recommendation. The issuance of the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program Multi-Year Agenda in December 2015 demonstrated progress in responding to this recommendation. While we are currently reviewing additional documentation on how the agenda development process assessed the level of resources needed to meet user demand and to maintain a viable IRIS database, we will reevaluate how EPA continues to document the level of resources dedicated to this program to determine whether updates are occurring periodically.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable EPA and its partner agencies to minimize the environmental risks resulting from future disasters, the EPA Administrator should work with potentially affected federal land management agencies, the Coast Guard, DHS, and FEMA to determine what actions are needed to ensure that environmental contamination on federal lands, such as national wildlife refuges, can be expeditiously and efficiently addressed in future disasters. Potential actions include the development of protocols or memorandums of understanding or amendments to the Stafford Act if the agencies determine that amendments are needed to achieve the timely availability of such funding when responding to disasters involving federal lands.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, EPA reported that the National Response Team considered this issue but decided that it was addressed by the Major Disasters, Section 405 of the Stafford Act and that no further action was needed. We will update the status of this recommendation when we complete our review of Section 405 and determine whether additional actions by EPA are needed to respond to disasters involving federal lands.
    Director: Khan, Asif A
    Phone: (202)512-8341

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to develop, document, and implement a program for financial management review, approval, assessment, and monitoring of the estimation and reporting processes for environmental liabilities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. DOD updated its November 20, 2006 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan to include a key milestone for developing a program to monitor the estimation and reporting process. It also stated that it would establish a workgroup to improve the financial reporting of environmental liabilities and to assist the military departments in meeting key milestones. The estimated completion date is June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that a program to monitor the estimation and reporting process for environmental liabilities was established by DOD. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not received supporting documentation so this recommendation remains open. We will continue to follow up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense Comptroller officials to obtain documentation and determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by including all appropriate budget elements for reporting financial liabilities for (1) the Navy's nuclear ships and submarines, (2) the Air Force's cleanup and restoration costs, and (3) all costs intended to be paid for with prior-year budgetary authority (e.g., unsigned contracts) by the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it has instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated a completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that a program to monitor the improved compliance with federal accounting standards and the DOD FMR guidance was established by DOD. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain such documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not received documentation so this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by reconciling the Army's, Navy's, and Air Force's installation-level environmental records to installation-level property records as required and then using the corrected site inventories to determine that all sites with cleanup or corrective action costs and all hazardous waste operations with cleanup or closure costs are included in financial reports of environmental liabilities and all are reported by the appropriate Defense component.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated the completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that procedures were established by the military departments to ensure that reconciliations are performed and all cleanup and closure costs are recorded in financial reports of environmental liabilities. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not obtained such documentation so this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by producing and maintaining adequate supporting documentation for Army, Navy, and Air Force environmental liabilities at all levels in accordance with internal control standards in the federal government.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated the completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that procedures were established to ensure that the military departments are producing and maintaining adequate supporting documentation for environmental liabilities at all levels in accordance with internal control standards in the Federal Government. We followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not obtained such documentation so this recommendation remains open.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should take a number of steps to further protect the American public from elevated lead levels in drinking water. Specifically, to improve EPA's ability to oversee implementation of the lead rule and assess compliance and enforcement activities, EPA should ensure that data on water systems' test results, corrective action milestones, and violations are current, accurate, and complete.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, EPA highlighted its efforts to improve accuracy and timeliness of data submissions related to the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS)and other actions. The agency's attention to data quality has been increasing for some time, and been given greater scrutiny due to recent concerns about elevated lead in drinking water. For example, EPA indicated that its SDWIS coordinators in the regions review all SDWIS data submissions for accuracy and timeliness before approving submittal to the agency. EPA provides the Regions and the States with a data quality matrix report that gives metrics on the accuracy and timeliness of the last submission, after each quarterly submission. In addition, EPA described a lead and copper report that states can use to view their data in EPA's data warehouse and compare it to what they have in their SDWIS State (or other) system. EPA described additional efforts it has had underway in recent years to improve data quality and completeness. For example, the Agency has focused on promoting electronic reporting of drinking water data through development of the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal. This is expected to be completed by September, 2016. EPA is also developing SDWIS Prime to improve state program efficiency, automate candidate violation notifications, increase data submission quality, and promote reporting of compliance monitoring data. We will continue to monitor these efforts and reevaluate whether water systems' test results, corrective action milestones and violations are current, accurate and complete subsequent to the completion of the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal and SDWIS Prime but until then the status of this recommendation remains open.