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    Subject Term: "Natural resources"

    76 publications with a total of 194 open recommendations including 18 priority recommendations
    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: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    10 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should designate a career senior-level federal government employee to serve as co-chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs' Energy Subgroup.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE stated it will work to identify a career senior-level federal government employee to serve as co-chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs' Energy Subgroup, but has not provided a timeline for completing the action. We will continue to monitor DOE's progress.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior, as Chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, should direct the co-chairs of the Council's Energy Subgroup to identify appropriate resources needed for the Subgroup to accomplish its goals, as well as a funding model.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Interior officials, they will take actions to identify staff, resources, and timelines necessary to complete or sustain projects. We will continue to monitor Interior's actions.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior, as Chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, should direct the co-chairs of the Council's Energy Subgroup to establish formal agreements with all agencies identified for inclusion in the Subgroup to encourage participation.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Interior officials, they will explore the possibility of amending the existing MOU to include other federal agencies participating in the Energy Subgroup. We will continue to monitor Interior's actions.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to include the other regulatory agencies in the Service Center, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers, so that the Service Center can act as a single point of contact or a lead agency to coordinate and navigate the regulatory process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In September 2017, a BIA official stated that the agency has initiated discussions with Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to establish formal agreements. BIA has a target of December 31, 2017, to establish these agreements.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to establish formal agreements with the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and the Department of Energy that identify, at a minimum, the advisory or support role of each office.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017 a BIA official stated the agency developed and is currently reviewing an addendum to expand an existing MOU between DOE and Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) to include the Service Center. However, the existing MOU between DOE and IEED does not identify the role for these agencies as related to the Service Center. As such, the addendum, as currently described by BIA officials, will not fully implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to establish a documented process for seeking and obtaining input from key stakeholders, such as BIA employees, on the Service Center activities.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 17, 2017, the Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that the Service Center is developing a process that allows key agencies to provide input and requests for service. We will continue to monitor BIA's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to document the rationale for key decisions related to the establishment of the Service Center, such as alternatives and tribal requests that were considered.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: BIA reported it has taken actions needed to implement our recommendation. On May 17, 2017, the Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that Interior considers this recommendation implemented because (1) the development of the Service Center was the result of a concept paper produced by a multi-agency team and (2) a multi-agency team held a tribal listening session, received written comments, and conducted conference calls in an effort to gather input from relevant stakeholders. We do not agree these actions meet the intent of the recommendation. BIA's actions have not resulted in documentation on the alternatives considered, whether tribal input and requests were considered, and the rationale for not incorporating key suggestions. We will work with the agency to identify if additional actions are planned.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to incorporate effective workforce planning standards by assessing critical skills and competencies needed to fulfill BIA's responsibilities related to energy development and by identifying potential gaps.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Interior stated the BIA is in the process of identifying and implementing a workforce plan regarding positions associated with the development of Indian energy and minerals. First, the Indian Energy Service Center will collect data directly from BIA, BLM, Office of Natural Resources Revenue, and Office of Special Trustee employees in an effort to identify workload and necessary technical competencies. Then, the Service Center will work with partner bureaus to assess skills and competencies needed for energy and mineral workforce standards. This recommendation is expected to be completed by December 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to establish a documented process for assessing BIA's workforce composition at agency offices taking into account BIA's mission, goals, and tribal priorities.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 17, 2017, the Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs testified before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that the BIA is in the process of identifying and implementing a workforce plan regarding positions associated with the development of Indian energy and minerals. Specifically, the Acting Assistant Secretary stated that the Service Center will collect data directly from BIA, the Bureau of Land Management, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, and the Office of Special Trustee employees in an effort to identify workload and necessary technical competencies. Then, the Service Center will work with partner bureaus to assess skills and competencies needed for energy and mineral workforce standards. BIA's target for completion of the activities is December 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration should develop implementing guidance to clarify how contracting officials should implement and apply the statutory authority to provide a tribal preference to future acquisitions of energy products.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: GSA stated it will coordinate with the Federal Acquisition Council to determine whether government-wide guidance should be issued. We will continue to monitor GSA's actions.
    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: Persons, Timothy M
    Phone: (202) 512-6412

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To understand the extent to which incomplete inactivation occurs and whether incidents are being properly identified, analyzed, and addressed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop clear definitions of inactivation for use within their respective guidance documents that are consistent across the Select Agent Program, NIH's oversight of recombinant pathogens, and the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) are taking steps to address this recommendation. Specifically, in January and March 2017, HHS, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued updated select agent regulations and guidance that included clear definitions of inactivation and a validated inactivation procedure that are consistent across the Federal Select Agent Program. Additionally, HHS stated in December 2016 that NIH will consider providing clear and consistent definitions of inactivation in future guidance that is harmonized with the select agent regulations. Moreover, NIH and CDC told us they plan to include a new appendix in the revised Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual that specifically addresses the development, validation, and implementation of inactivation protocols, which they anticipate releasing in 2 to 3 years.
    Recommendation: To understand the extent to which incomplete inactivation occurs and whether incidents are being properly identified, analyzed, and addressed, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct APHIS to revise reporting forms to help identify when incidents involving incomplete inactivation occur and analyze the information reported to help identify the causes of incomplete inactivation to mitigate the risk of future incidents.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, officials from the Federal Select Agent Program told us that they are in the process of modifying the program's incident reporting form to include reporting of inactivation failures, with completion anticipated by summer 2017.
    Recommendation: To understand the extent to which incomplete inactivation occurs and whether incidents are being properly identified, analyzed, and addressed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct CDC and NIH to revise reporting forms within their respective areas of oversight to help identify when incidents involving incomplete inactivation occur and analyze the information reported to help identify the causes of incomplete inactivation to mitigate the risk of future incidents.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, officials from the Federal Select Agent Program told us that they are in the process of modifying the program's incident reporting form to include reporting of inactivation failures, with completion anticipated by summer 2017. In addition, in August 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revised its template for reporting incidents subject to the NIH Guidelines to include a specific checkbox for entities to identify incidents that involve incomplete inactivation.
    Recommendation: To increase scientific information on inactivation and viability testing, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture should coordinate research efforts and take actions to help close gaps in the science of inactivation and viability testing across high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials stated that the department, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has examined current gaps related to inactivation and are in the process of taking steps to increase research on applied biosafety, in part to improve scientific understanding of processes for inactivation in high-containment laboratories. We are waiting for documentation and timeframes for implementation.
    Recommendation: To increase scientific information on inactivation and viability testing, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture should coordinate research efforts and take actions to help close gaps in the science of inactivation and viability testing across high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials stated that the department, in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has examined current gaps related to inactivation and are in the process of taking steps to increase research on applied biosafety, in part to improve scientific understanding of processes for inactivation in high-containment laboratories. We are waiting for documentation and timeframes for implementation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that inactivation protocols are scientifically sound and are effectively implemented, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct CDC and NIH to create comprehensive and consistent guidance for the development, validation, and implementation of inactivation protocols--to include the application of safeguards--across the Select Agent Program, NIH's oversight of recombinant pathogens, and the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued Federal Select Agent Program guidance on the inactivation of select agents and toxins. According to HHS, this guidance is intended to provide additional information to regulated entities to assist them in meeting new requirements for rendering samples with select agents as non-viable. HHS also stated that the Federal Select Agent Program will continue to work with other federal agencies to ensure that the federal government is addressing inactivation in a consistent manner. In addition, according to HHS, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will consider providing clear and consistent guidance related to inactivation that is harmonized with the Federal Select Agent Program as appropriate. As of March 2017, NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were in the process of revising the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual to include a new appendix that addresses the development, validation, and implementation of inactivation protocols. HHS plans to release the updated manual in 2 to 3 years.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that dangerous pathogens can be located in the event there is an incident involving incomplete inactivation, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Directors of CDC and NIH, when updating the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual, to include guidance on documenting the shipment of inactivated material.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated in March 2017 that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are in the process of revising the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual to include a new appendix that addresses inactivation methods, including guidance on documenting the shipment of inactivated material by 2020. HHS plans to release the updated manual in 2 to 3 years.
    Recommendation: To help ensure more consistent enforcement for violations involving incomplete inactivation of select agents, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct APHIS to develop and implement consistent criteria and documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations related to incidents involving incomplete inactivation.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, the Federal Select Agent Program finalized a document that provides criteria on when to refer violations and options for enforcement. The document categorizes regulatory departures, grouped by level of risk, along a spectrum of severity with associated enforcement options. The program continues to develop associated documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations.
    Recommendation: To help ensure more consistent enforcement for violations involving incomplete inactivation of select agents, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct CDC to develop and implement consistent criteria and documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations related to incidents involving incomplete inactivation.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, the Federal Select Agent Program finalized a document that provides criteria on when to refer violations and options for enforcement. The document categorizes regulatory departures, grouped by level of risk, along a spectrum of severity with associated enforcement options. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) to develop a policy document that outlines criteria for referring violations to the HHS OIG. One of the criterion for referral is any departure from the select agent regulations that creates a danger to public health and safety. This policy document was finalized in June 2017. The program continues to develop associated documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations.
    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: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USDA's ability to better manage and monitor the progress of the Blueprint, including efforts to streamline and improve administrative services, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to develop a complete list identifying all of the Blueprint efforts under way and document key information needed to monitor their progress, such as status of implementation, time frames for completion, and related performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USDA's ability to better manage and monitor the progress of the Blueprint, including efforts to streamline and improve administrative services, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to reexamine the adequacy of the staff and budget resources committed to the day-to-day management of the Blueprint, and further leverage existing departmental resources as needed.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's efforts to identify and track the benefits of the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to document the methodologies used to calculate any savings claimed for the Blueprint effort to ensure any such estimate is based on quality information.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's efforts to identify and track the benefits of the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief Financial Officer to develop a cost-effective method, using existing data systems, to collect and track USDA's spending on administrative services to identify baseline spending and target areas for future cost savings.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's efforts to identify and track the benefits of the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to systematically identify and track nonfinancial benefits from USDA's Blueprint efforts to better gauge the Blueprint's progress and more fully report its results.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USDA's efforts to share lessons learned from the Blueprint, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Assistant Secretary for Administration to maintain and promote existing web-based collaboration tools, including keeping information in these tools current, for agencies and staff offices to report their experiences and lessons learned from their Blueprint efforts to help strengthen internal information sharing and inform future efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we have requested an update from the coordinator for USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service on USDA's actions, if any, to implement 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: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the activities carried out under the ITM program do not duplicate the efforts of other federal loan guarantee programs, such as SBA's 7(a) program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct EDA to work with SBA and NIST to further identify any gaps in capital access that may be present that the program could fill, and then develop marketing materials and conduct outreach to help target those gaps.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: Partially addressed. As of November 2016 the Economic Development Administration (EDA) had begun taking action on GAO's February 2016 recommendation to work with SBA and NIST to identify gaps in capital access and develop marketing materials and conduct outreach based on any gaps identified for the Federal Loan Guarantees for Innovative Technologies in Manufacturing program (ITM). Due to delays in establishing the program, however, these efforts are still in progress. According to EDA officials, as of November 28, 2016 EDA contractors working on the ITM program had held a preliminary discussion with SBA to discuss program marketing, outreach and potential gaps in capital access that the ITM program may be able to fill, among other topics, but had not yet initiated additional coordination with NIST. We continue to believe that coordination with SBA and NIST to identify gaps in capital access, and then marketing the program to target those gaps could help EDA ensure that ITM program activities do not duplicate the efforts of other federal loan guarantee programs.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD's ability to report on and measure anticipated and actual savings from ECIP projects, and to provide guidance to inform further project selection, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) to develop and implement guidance requiring that statutory notifications to congressional committees include (1) the anticipated return on investment for all projects, including new projects added to replace canceled projects and existing projects for which there is a significant change to the cost or scope of the project; and (2) information on the estimated energy or water savings, or renewable energy production, anticipated from proposed ECIP projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD's ability to report on and measure anticipated and actual savings from ECIP projects, and to provide guidance to inform further project selection the Secretary of Defense should also direct the Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L to direct the components to include projected measurement and verification (M&V) costs--in the military construction proposal or another appropriate document--as they develop projects; in so doing, the Under Secretary might build on existing Navy guidance, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD's ability to report on and measure anticipated and actual savings from ECIP projects, and to provide guidance to inform further project selection, the Secretary of Defense should provide the components with additional guidance on the range of options available when developing M&V plans that are appropriate for different project sizes and types; and how to scope ECIP projects to conform to available funding.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD's ability to report on and measure anticipated and actual savings from ECIP projects, and to provide guidance to inform further project selection, the Secretary of Defense should review the strategic goals for the ECIP program and make any needed adjustments to reflect current DOD priorities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD's ability to report on and measure anticipated and actual savings from ECIP projects, and to provide guidance to inform further project selection, the Secretary of Defense should, after reviewing strategic goals and adjusting as needed, update installation energy management guidance and, as appropriate, annual ECIP guidance, to clarify (1) how the components-military services and defense agencies-should balance their ECIP portfolios among what DOD describes as traditional and game-changing projects to best achieve DOD's strategic vision for ECIP, (2) what constitutes a higher-return project that should be propose under alternative financing rather than ECIP, and (3) that managers proposing repair and minor construction projects should seek operation and maintenance rather than ECIP funds..

    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: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the consistency of certain data submitted by the military services and defense agencies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and reported in the Energy Report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the heads of the defense agencies, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment to work together to provide more consistent guidance to the installations, including clearly stating the energy reporting requirements for tenant and host facilities, energy projects, and end-of-fiscal-year data.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide more consistent guidance to the installations for the Energy Report. DOD stated that the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment will work with the military services in fiscal year 2016 to provide more consistent guidance to military installations. In a September 2017 follow up, DOD stated that it has draft guidance in progress and is awaiting finalization. We will continue to follow up on the status of this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services should develop detailed guidance to ensure that ORISE program coordinators, mentors, and research participants are fully informed of the prohibition on nonfederal employees performing inherently governmental functions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017 DOD developed a terms of agreement to be signed by each mentor and research participant, in which they acknowledge that they fully understand the restrictions on performing inherently governmental functions. However, DOD intended the terms of agreement to be used by a subset of the ORISE research participants at DOD (those participating in the Science and Technology Policy Fellowships program). To fully address this recommendation, DOD needs to take similar action for ORISE research participants not participating in this program.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services should develop detailed guidance to ensure that ORISE program coordinators, mentors, and research participants are fully informed of the prohibition on nonfederal employees performing inherently governmental functions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS had not provided information as of July 2017 on steps it has taken to address the 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

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve NNSA's ability to choose the best alternative that satisfies the mission need for lithium production, the Secretary of Energy should request that NNSA's Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs take steps to ensure that NNSA objectively consider all alternatives, without preference for a particular solution, as it proceeds with the analysis of alternatives process. Such steps could include clarifying the statement of mission need for lithium production so that it is independent of a particular solution.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, NNSA has not finalized its analysis of alternatives. However, documents provided and statements made by agency officials indicate that NNSA plans to construct a Lithium Production Facility. NNSA's preference for constructing a lithium production facility prior to finalizing its analysis of alternatives is not consistent with our recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    15 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help agencies more consistently perform their oversight responsibilities and oversee contractors' measurement and verification activities, the Secretary of Energy should direct FEMP to monitor agencies' oversight of ESPC projects that agencies have awarded using the DOE contract vehicle, including whether agencies witnessed the contractors' measurement and verification activities and reviewed and certified acceptance of the measurement and verification report.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on the effects of changing circumstances on the performance of their ESPC portfolios, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should establish a process to systematically evaluate their ESPC projects--including baseline assumptions about facilities' energy use, utility prices, and interest rates--to determine how their ESPC portfolios are performing and the extent to which they are achieving expected savings. Agencies could consider conducting such evaluations either after a certain number of years, or in response to events, such as changes in utility prices or market interest rates, or appropriations becoming available that could be used for modifications or terminations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with DOD officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on the effects of changing circumstances on the performance of their ESPC portfolios, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should establish a process to systematically evaluate their ESPC projects--including baseline assumptions about facilities' energy use, utility prices, and interest rates--to determine how their ESPC portfolios are performing and the extent to which they are achieving expected savings. Agencies could consider conducting such evaluations either after a certain number of years, or in response to events, such as changes in utility prices or market interest rates, or appropriations becoming available that could be used for modifications or terminations.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on the effects of changing circumstances on the performance of their ESPC portfolios, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should establish a process to systematically evaluate their ESPC projects--including baseline assumptions about facilities' energy use, utility prices, and interest rates--to determine how their ESPC portfolios are performing and the extent to which they are achieving expected savings. Agencies could consider conducting such evaluations either after a certain number of years, or in response to events, such as changes in utility prices or market interest rates, or appropriations becoming available that could be used for modifications or terminations.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Justice agreed with the recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with Department of Justice officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on the effects of changing circumstances on the performance of their ESPC portfolios, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should establish a process to systematically evaluate their ESPC projects--including baseline assumptions about facilities' energy use, utility prices, and interest rates--to determine how their ESPC portfolios are performing and the extent to which they are achieving expected savings. Agencies could consider conducting such evaluations either after a certain number of years, or in response to events, such as changes in utility prices or market interest rates, or appropriations becoming available that could be used for modifications or terminations.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed with the recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with Department of Veterans Affairs officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on the effects of changing circumstances on the performance of their ESPC portfolios, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should establish a process to systematically evaluate their ESPC projects--including baseline assumptions about facilities' energy use, utility prices, and interest rates--to determine how their ESPC portfolios are performing and the extent to which they are achieving expected savings. Agencies could consider conducting such evaluations either after a certain number of years, or in response to events, such as changes in utility prices or market interest rates, or appropriations becoming available that could be used for modifications or terminations.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, GSA agreed with the recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with GSA officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help agencies decide whether to use ESPCs to consolidate federal data centers, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should document, for the purposes of scoring ESPCs, (1) what qualifies as energy-related savings and (2) the allowable proportion of energy and energy-related cost savings.

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

    Comments: OMB did not comment on its plans to implement this recommendation in its review of a draft of the report and, as of December 2016, had not provided us with requested information on its actions to implement this recommendation. We will continue to follow-up on the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help agencies more consistently perform their oversight responsibilities and oversee contractors' measurement and verification activities, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) to evaluate existing training and determine whether additional training is needed on observing contractors' measurement and verification activities and reviewing and certifying measurement and verification reports.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should specify in the scheduled revisions to their ESPC contract vehicles or in guidance to agencies that measurement and verification reports for future projects are to include estimates of cost and energy savings that were not achieved because of agency actions. Additionally, the Department of Energy (DOE) may wish to consider periodically analyzing data on other factors that may affect savings, such as utility prices, to provide information on how savings achieved by ESPCs awarded through its contract vehicle have been affected by changing utility prices since its prior study in 2007.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with this recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with DOD officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should specify in the scheduled revisions to their ESPC contract vehicles or in guidance to agencies that measurement and verification reports for future projects are to include estimates of cost and energy savings that were not achieved because of agency actions. Additionally, the Department of Energy (DOE) may wish to consider periodically analyzing data on other factors that may affect savings, such as utility prices, to provide information on how savings achieved by ESPCs awarded through its contract vehicle have been affected by changing utility prices since its prior study in 2007.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work with contractors to determine the best way to obtain estimates of cost and energy savings that are not achieved because of agency actions in order to include these estimates in future measurement and verification reports for existing contracts, in accordance with DOE guidance, and where economically feasible.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, DOD concurred with this recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with DOD officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work with contractors to determine the best way to obtain estimates of cost and energy savings that are not achieved because of agency actions in order to include these estimates in future measurement and verification reports for existing contracts, in accordance with DOE guidance, and where economically feasible.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work with contractors to determine the best way to obtain estimates of cost and energy savings that are not achieved because of agency actions in order to include these estimates in future measurement and verification reports for existing contracts, in accordance with DOE guidance, and where economically feasible.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Justice agreed with the recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with Department of Justice officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work with contractors to determine the best way to obtain estimates of cost and energy savings that are not achieved because of agency actions in order to include these estimates in future measurement and verification reports for existing contracts, in accordance with DOE guidance, and where economically feasible.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, the Department of Veterans Affairs did not agree with the recommendation, but suggested changes, which we incorporated. As of December 2016, we were working with Department of Veterans Affairs officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work with contractors to determine the best way to obtain estimates of cost and energy savings that are not achieved because of agency actions in order to include these estimates in future measurement and verification reports for existing contracts, in accordance with DOE guidance, and where economically feasible.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of this report, GSA agreed with the recommendation. As of December 2016, we were working with GSA officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    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: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help make an informed decision, the Commission should seek input from states on its proposal to draft updated guidance on class III minimum internal control standards and withdraw its 2006 regulations.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve its ability to assess the effectiveness of its training and technical assistance efforts, the Commission should review and revise, as needed, its performance measures to include additional outcome-oriented measures.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure letters of concern are more consistently prepared and responses tracked, the Commission should develop documented procedures and guidance to clearly identify letters of concern as such and to specify the type of information to be contained in them, such as time periods for a response.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure letters of concern are more consistently prepared and responses tracked, the Commission should develop documented procedures and guidance to maintain and track tribes' responses to the Commission on potential compliance issues.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

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

    5 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should establish comprehensive NNSA policies and guidance, beyond a general framework as included in NAP-21, for using information from CAS to conduct oversight of M&O contractors, clarifying whether CAS is to cover mission-related activities, and describing how to conduct assessments of risk, CAS maturity, and the level of the contractor's past performance.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: We recommended that NNSA establish comprehensive policies and guidance, beyond a general framework, for using information from contractor assurance systems (CAS) to conduct oversight of management and operating (M&O) contractors, clarifying whether CAS is to cover mission-related activities and describing how to conduct assessments of risk, CAS maturity, and the level of the contractor's past performance. NNSA agreed with the recommendation and has taken an important step to revise its policy. However, NNSA needs to take additional action. Specifically, NNSA approved a revised corporate site governance policy in August 2016. The revised policy improves on the agency's prior policy by clarifying one element in our recommendation that CAS is to cover mission-related activities. However the policy is still a general framework and NNSA has not established associated implementing guidance. Specifically, NNSA needs to develop guidance for NNSA headquarters' and field offices' procedures to use information from CAS and appropriately balance use of information from CAS with other more direct activities to oversee M&O contractors.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should work with field office managers to establish field office procedures consistent with headquarters policy and guidance to support assessment practices for determining appropriate oversight approaches.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with GAO's recommendation. Per DOE, NNSA will require field offices to develop new or modify existing procedures as appropriate to support the new requirements. The estimated completion date for these activities is September 30, 2016. DOE has not completed these activities by the estimated date and has not issued a revised date as of October 20, 2016.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should reestablish a process for reviewing the effectiveness of field offices' oversight approaches, including their use of information from CAS.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with recommendation. NNSA's revised Supplemental Directive (SD) 226.1B provides an approach to evaluate the effectiveness of the field oversight activities. The SD requirements include a peer review process and provide attributes that when followed, may result in improved field oversight activities. As of April 2017 The first peer review, which will pilot the review process and help assess implementation, will likely occur in June 2017 and will be conducted at the Nevada National Security Site. The next review will be in November at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. GAO will monitor the results of the pilot to determine whether and how it will be permanently implemented.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should revise NNSA policy, guidance, and procedures on performance evaluation to fully address how and under what circumstances those responsible for evaluating M&O contractors' performance should use information from CAS for this purpose.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with recommendation. While NNSA's revised Supplemental Directive addresses the use of CAS information in evaluating M&O contractor performance, NNSA has not yet developed guidance or procedures for how to use information from contractor assurance systems in its performance evaluation process.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should assess NNSA's staffing needs to determine whether it has sufficient, qualified personnel to conduct oversight activities consistent with comprehensive policies and guidance, including the use of information from CAS.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with recommendation. Action in progress. NNSA will assess staffing needs and develop a staffing strategy for defensible and sustainable oversight. This strategy will implement the corporate policy and implementing guidance, while adhering to the constraints of the National Defense Authorization Act staffing ceiling. NNSA initially estimated it would complete this activity by December 31, 2016, but it has not yet been completed.
    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: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements, the SBA Administrator should assess the methodology reporting requirement to determine whether it generates adequate information for SBA to analyze the accuracy of agencies' calculations of their extramural R&D. If SBA finds that the information is inadequate, SBA should update its guidance to require adequate information.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, SBA proposed expanded guidance to agencies regarding their annual methodology reports in its update to the program policy directives. The proposed guidance required agencies to include an explanation of the calculation of the total extramural research or research and development, an itemization of excluded programs, and an explanation of why the program was excluded, as well as a review of the agency's compliance with the funding requirement for the prior fiscal year and a funding plan for the current fiscal year for how the agency plans to meet or exceed the year's expected minimum obligations requirement. However, according to SBA officials, in January 2017, the policy directive was withdrawn from the Office of Management and Budget and is under further internal consideration in light of a recent executive order. As of April 2017, SBA has not established a time frame for publication of the final policy directive.
    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: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better leverage the commissioners' expertise in the development of the annual work plan, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act, potentially with one of the identified options.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 10, 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN Act. As of December 14, 2016, the legislation had not yet been signed by the President. Section 5002 of the legislation included provisions related to the Denali Commission. If the legislation becomes law we will review it in more detail to see if it addresses this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: To address barriers to the operation of the Commission, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act to include either a holdover or delegation of authority provision when the Federal Cochair position is vacant.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 10, 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN Act. As of December 14, 2016, the legislation had not yet been signed by the President. Section 5002 of the legislation included provisions related to the Denali Commission. If the legislation becomes law we will review it in more detail to see if it addresses this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: To enhance the Commission's operations, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to consider options for fulfilling the Commission's statutory purpose and finalize that new approach in a new strategic plan.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to issue Commission-specific policies for awarding and managing grants.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to establish a documented process for ensuring that the findings of single audits of grantees are promptly resolved and take action to resolve any recent single audits that showed evidence of a potential problem.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to continue efforts to close out grants and projects, including deobligating unspent grant funds in a timely manner.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to take steps to consistently manage and retain Commission records, including implementing its record retention policy once it is approved.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To allow for greater flexibility in the Commission's operations, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act to modify or end the 5 percent cap on administrative expenditures.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 14, 2016, no legislation had been enacted to address this issue.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the usefulness of NNSA's future reports to Congress describing the costs and benefits of its competition of M&O contracts under the requirements contained in Section 3121 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013, as amended, the NNSA Administrator should take steps to ensure that future reports reflect DOE's information quality guidelines, federal cost accounting standards, and GAO's best practices guidance relevant to the clear and complete presentation of information on each of the required topics. In particular, future reports should clearly and completely describe costs and benefits, including the agency's expectations, as well as the associated analysis, assumptions, information sources, and key limitations and uncertainties about costs and benefits described. The description of uncertainties should include key excluded or unspecified costs and benefits, such as those that are anticipated but not fully known at the time of report writing.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NNSA recently awarded an M&O contract for Sandia NL. NNSA will have to produce a report on the costs and benefits of its competition, which will need to be delivered in early spring, 2017. Upon delivery to Congress, GAO will be able to assess whether NNSA fulfilled this recommendation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program and achieve budgetary savings for deficit reduction or other purposes, Congress should consider reducing premium subsidies for the highest income participants.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, we await Congressional action.
    Director: Morris, Steve D
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform Congress in the future about crop insurance program costs, reduce present costs, and ensure greater actuarial soundness, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency should monitor and report on crop insurance costs in areas that have higher crop production risks.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Risk Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, the Department of Agriculture has not taken action to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better inform Congress in the future about crop insurance program costs, reduce present costs, and ensure greater actuarial soundness, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency should, as appropriate, increase its adjustments of premium rates in areas with higher crop production risks by as much as the full 20 percent annually that is allowed by law.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture: Risk Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, the Department of Agriculture has not taken action to implement this recommendation.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and direct field office sites with responsibility for non-M&O contractor risk assessments to address risk factors as they relate to those sites and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal year 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance. The revised guidance directs field office sites with responsibility for non-M&O contractor risk assessments to address risk factors as they relate to those sites. The guidance further requires each site Chief Financial Officer to certify to the accuracy of improper payments and risk rating. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and clarify how payment sites are to address risk factors and document the basis for their risk rating determinations and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal years 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance requiring sites to prepare risk assessments using a new risk assessment format. The guidance states that the new format was developed to improve consistency among the sites and improve documentation supporting the risk ratings. In the new format, each risk factor includes a description of the risk factor, rating criteria and/or questions to consider during the evaluation to assist sites in determining a risk rating by payment type. The guidance also requires all sites to maintain supporting documentation for their risk assessment. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and clarify who is responsible at DOE for reviewing and approving risk assessments for consistency across sites and take steps to ensure those entities implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal years 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance to require site Chief Financial Officers and the Director of Risk Management of the Loan Programs Office to provide a signed certification to DOE's Director of the Office of Finance and Accounting certifying to the accuracy of improper payments and the risk assessment and rating submitted. The guidance provides templates for these certifications. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and provide specific examples of other risk factors that present inherent risks likely to contribute to significant improper payments, in addition to the eight risk factors, direct payment sites to consider those when performing their improper payment risk assessments, and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal year 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance. In addition to the required OMB risk factors, the guidance added the following additional risk factors to be included in the risk assessments: (1) contractor payment processing oversight and (2) segregation of duties. The guidance states these factors have been added to ensure that inherently high-risk areas that can contribute to a site's susceptibility to significant improper payments are properly evaluated. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To provide better transparency regarding its total known improper payments reported under IPERA, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to improve public reporting on the amount of total known improper payments by disclosing additional information regarding this amount and the extent to which improper payments could be occurring.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had added supplemental information to its fiscal year 2016 Agency Financial Report. We will continue to gather additional information from DOE to determine the extent to which this information addresses the amount of total known improper payments.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability of its cost estimates, as NRC revises its cost estimating procedures, the NRC Chairman should ensure that the agency aligns the procedures with relevant cost estimating best practices identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide and ensure that future cost estimates are prepared in accordance with relevant cost estimating best practices.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In February 2017, the NRC staff released draft updated cost-benefit guidance, with a public comment period beginning in March 2017. In January 2018, NRC staff plan to provide a draft of the final guidance to the Commission. The final updated cost-benefit guidance is expected to be issued for use in March 2018.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance NNSA's ability to develop reliable cost estimates for its projects and for its programs that have project-like characteristics, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE directives that apply to programs to require that DOE and NNSA and its contractors develop cost estimates in accordance with the 12 cost estimating best practices, including developing life-cycle cost estimates for programs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In its written comments, DOE stated that it is in the process of substantially revising the existing DOE Order 130.1, and that as part of this effort, DOE will assess the requirement for program cost estimates and will revise the order to provide more specificity on the cost estimating requirements. Further, DOE stated that the revised order will (1) define which DOE and NNSA program budget requests require cost estimates and (2) clarify that cost estimates for program budget submissions shall be conducted in accordance with the DOE cost estimating guide (or its successor policy). As of October 2016, DOE stated that it is working to implement a new funding execution system that has delayed revision of DOE Order 130.1. The new system will impact the budget practices, planning, policies and processes that will be outlined in the revised DOE 130.1. The department is in the final testing phases of the system and can now begin to initiate internal approval to update DOE Order 130.1. DOE stated that it anticipated issuance of a fully approved DOE Order 130.1 by August 30, 2017
    Recommendation: To enhance NNSA's ability to develop reliable cost estimates for its projects and for its programs that have project-like characteristics, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE requirements and guidance that apply to programs to ensure that program reviews are conducted periodically, including reviews of the life-cycle cost estimates for programs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments, DOE stated that it is in the process of substantially revising the existing DOE Order 130.1, and that as part of this effort the department will assess requirements for program reviews and the linkage between program reviews and the budget formulation process. As of October 2016, DOE stated that it is working to implement a new funding execution system that has delayed revision of DOE Order 130.1. The new system will impact the budget practices, planning, policies and processes that will be outlined in the revised DOE Order 130.1. DOE is in the final testing phases of the system and can now begin to initiate internal approval to update the order. The department anticipated issuance of a fully approved DOE Order 130.1 by August 30, 2017.
    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: 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: 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: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better prepare the Department of Energy to meet the requirement of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to deploy the NGNP prototype reactor, DOE should develop, in consultation with the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and independent nuclear experts, as appropriate, a strategy to proceed with Phase 2 of the NGNP Project, outlining conditions that will warrant a change in program direction, remaining research and development activities, projected project budget and schedule, and steps necessary to overcome barriers to successful completion of the NGNP Project.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Department of Energy officials, DOE is currently finalizing a Vision and Strategy document pertinent to advanced nuclear reactors. When this document is complete we will assess whether it meets the intent of the GAO recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better prepare the Department of Energy to meet the requirement of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to deploy the NGNP prototype reactor, DOE should provide a report to Congress complying with the statutory requirement for Phase 1 of the NGNP Project by providing initial design parameters or a date for providing them. The report should also provide an updated status of the issues DOE identified in its 2011 letter to Congress and outline any additional barriers to proceeding with Phase 2 of the project, including (1) the status of the establishment of a public-private partnership; (2) the project strategy, including conditions that would warrant restarting the project; and (3) a legislative proposal, if necessary, to address any barriers to proceeding with the project, including the site and cost-share requirements.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy stated that it "respectfully disagrees" with this recommendation and would not be taking action to address it. DOE considers this recommendation closed. However, DOE stated that it will continue to provide information to, and work with, Congress, industry, and other interested stakeholders with respect to its activities in the area of next generation reactor research and development. As such, GAO will continue to monitor any DOE action related to this recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve compliance with the Small Business Act and enhance SBA's ability to provide oversight of the programs, the SBA Administrator should revise the language in the SBIR and STTR policy directives to accurately summarize the statutory provisions that describe the program spending requirements.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, SBA proposed an update to its SBIR and STTR policy directive to state that each participating agency must spend (obligate) the required amounts on the programs, which is consistent with the statutory provisions for program spending requirements. However, according to SBA officials, in January 2017, the policy directive was withdrawn from the Office of Management and Budget and is under further internal consideration in light of a recent executive order. As of April 2017, SBA has not established a time frame for publication of the final policy directive.
    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: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that DOE is effectively monitoring its loans, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Executive Director of the Loan Programs Office to fully develop its organizational structure by staffing key monitoring positions.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, while the Loan Programs Office (LPO)had made some progress in filling key monitoring positions, several vacancies in the leadership of the Special Assets and Risk Management Divisions remained. LPO officials noted they were unlikely to fill any of these staffing vacancies given budget and program uncertainties.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure appropriate levels of employees' supervision and guidance for the workforces of USDA's service center agencies, consistent with OPM guidance, the Secretary of Agriculture, through the Chief Human Capital Officer, should revise departmental policy targeting a uniform supervisory ratio so that the service center agencies can identify appropriate supervisory ratios based on a documented analysis of their specific customer needs and workload distribution.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To ensure appropriate levels of employees' supervision and guidance for the workforces of USDA's service center agencies, consistent with federal internal control standards, the Secretary of Agriculture, through the Chief Human Capital Officer, should communicate to the service center agencies the departmental guidance for calculating supervisory ratios and ensure its use.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To help USDA's service center agencies effectively implement office closures and meet internal control standards, the Secretary should take action to amend USDA's policy on organizational changes to include such leading practices as presenting a business-case or cost-benefit analysis and using the change management practice of measuring progress toward stated goals.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to USDA the Department is in the process of revising its policy on organizational changes, but as of December 15, 2016, this revision is not yet finalized. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve the use of buyout or early retirement incentives, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct its service center agencies, FSA and RD, to document clear links between their buyout and early retirement incentives and their reshaping or overall strategic goals.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve the use of buyout or early retirement incentives, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct its service center agencies, FSA, NRCS, and RD, to establish a system for identifying and evaluating relevant data on buyout and early retirement incentive recipients.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 15, 2016, USDA has not taken action on this recommendation. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts.
    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: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In an effort to ensure that IHS has meaningful information on the timeliness with which it issues purchase orders authorizing payment under the CHS program and to improve the timeliness of payments to providers, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should direct the Director of IHS to: (1) modify IHS's claims data system to separately track IHS referrals and self-referrals, revise the Government Performance Results Act measure for the CHS program so that it distinguishes between these two types of referrals, and establish separate timeframe targets for these referral types; and (2) improve the alignment between CHS staffing levels and workloads by revising its current practices, where appropriate, to allow available funds to be used to pay for CHS program staff.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2016, HHS officials reported that they have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: As HHS and IHS monitor the effect that new coverage options available to IHS beneficiaries through PPACA have on CHS program funds, the Secretary of HHS direct should the Director of IHS to proactively develop potential options to streamline program eligibility requirements.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2016, HHS officials reported that they have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    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: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WFO program, the Secretary of Energy should require laboratories to establish and follow written procedures for developing WFO project budgets and for charging costs to WFO projects.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE, the Chief Financial Officer will address this recommendation as part of the revisions to DOE Order 520.1A. As of March 2017, DOE anticipates that the updated order will be completed in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WFO program, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that annual summary reports of WFO activities are prepared so that data on those activities are readily available for those who need this information.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 5, 2016, DOE issued revised order 481.1D, Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP) [Formerly Known as Work for Others (Non-Department of Energy Funded Work)] and has removed the requirement to issue annual summary reports of Work for Others activities. Instead, the revised order states that reports can be prepared on an "as needed" basis.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WFO program, the Secretary of Energy should establish performance measures that incorporate key attributes of successful performance measures and that address the objectives of the WFO program.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 5, 2016, DOE issued revised order 481.1D Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP)[Formerly Known as Work for Others (Non-Department of Energy Funded Work)]. DOE states that this order addresses performance measures and that the corrective action is closed. Although the order directs DOE Field Office Managers to "establish performance measures to assess the effectiveness of the procedures for SPP review, acceptance, authorization and monitoring consistent with NNSA policies and procedures", it does not further identify specific performance measures that address the objectives of the SPP program as indicated in the order.
    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: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA's investments in plutonium research facilities and capabilities result in an operationally effective and affordable solution, the Secretary of Energy should continue efforts to assess how plutonium research and other capability needs and stockpile requirements have changed, if at all, since the needs were revalidated in 2008, and develop a plan to appropriately meet the nation's near-term and longer-term plutonium needs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, NNSA is taking some actions to assess plutonium research and stockpile needs and to plan for meeting near-term and longer-term plutonium needs, but it is not certain whether these actions will address GAO's recommendation. As a result, the recommendation remains open. Since making this recommendation, GAO has conducted additional, related work (published as GAO-16-585), and NNSA's responses to recommendations made in GAO-16-585 may help satisfy this earlier recommendation. In response to recommendations for GAO-16-585, NNSA stated that it would take a number of actions related to assessing plutonium research needs and planning for longer-term needs as part of two projects: the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project and the Plutonium Modular Approach. NNSA stated that it would update the CMRR requirements document to clarify the relationship between CMRR's research capabilities and NNSA's overall plutonium strategy, estimating it would complete this action by the end of 2017. NNSA stated that it has initiated the analysis of alternatives for the Plutonium Modular Approach, which will include identifying requirements related to meeting plutonium needs. NNSA has not estimated a completion date for the analysis of alternatives. We will determine whether NNSA's actions satisfy this recommendation once the actions have been completed.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that participating agencies and SBA comply with spending and reporting requirements for the SBIR and STTR programs, the SBA Administrator should provide Congress with a timely annual report that includes a comprehensive analysis of the methodology each agency used for calculating the SBIR and STTR spending requirements, providing a clear basis for SBA's conclusions about whether these calculations meet program requirements.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to SBA officials, as of April 2017, SBA had completed a draft of its report to Congress for fiscal year 2014 and planned to send it to the participating agencies and Office of Management and Budget for review after SBA completed its internal review. The officials said that the report for fiscal year 2015 is being drafted, and SBA is in the process of reviewing the participating agencies' data for fiscal year 2016, which was due to SBA in March 2017. As of April 2017, SBA did not have an anticipated issuance date for the reports to Congress for fiscal years 2014, 2015, or 2016.
    Director: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure successful outreach efforts resulting in significant new enrollment, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to prepare for the increase in eligibility for expanded Medicaid and new coverage options, and the need for enrollment assistance and billing capacity, by realigning current resources and personnel to increase capacity to assist with these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, IHS has reported that it developed a business plan template to help maximize capacity building and enrollment activities at the local level in coordination with IHS Headquarters and Area Offices. The agency reported that it will monitor the overall implementation process through performance plan evaluations of local leadership by their respective Area Directors. Until we receive documentation of these efforts, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To help ensure successful outreach efforts resulting in significant new enrollment, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Administrator of CMS to develop a plan to educate state Medicaid agencies about when coverage status information may be shared between states and IHS facilities, tribal facilities, and urban Indian health programs (I/T/U) facilities and tribes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, CMS officials reported that the agency has implemented a plan to educate state Medicaid agencies about when coverage status information may be shared between states and I/T/U facilities on a case by case basis because of variation in how this information is shared from state to state. Until we receive documentation of the plan and its implementation, this recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Garcia-diaz, Daniel
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To further improve agency controls that help prevent payments to participants whose incomes exceed eligibility limits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FSA to implement a process to verify that accountants' and attorneys' statements accurately reflect participants' incomes as reported on income tax returns and supporting documentation or other equivalent documents.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department agreed with this recommendation at the time of our report but, as of April 2017, has not acted to implement it because of the sensitive nature of questioning accountants' and attorneys' professional judgement. However, we believe doing so would reduce the likelihood of improper payments supported by U.S. taxpayers and would be an appropriate action for the agency to take.
    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: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to oversee M&O contractor costs, including indirect costs, for its laboratories and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should take--or, as appropriate, direct the Administrator of NNSA to incorporate more specific benchmarking requirements into future laboratory contracts--similar to the benchmarking requirements used by DOE to assess and manage pension and post-retirement benefit costs--including which costs should be benchmarked, how frequently benchmarking should occur, and what process should be used to ensure corrective actions are taken, as needed.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, the Director of NNSA Office of Policy issued guidance to NNSA Laboratory Field Office Managers to update contracts to include a new clause requiring laboratory contractors to submit a strategic plan every year in accordance with guidance. Part of the annual plan requires contractors to discuss the costs of doing business and cost-increase factors at the sites, including overhead dollars. The annual strategic plan is due to the NNSA Office of Policy by August 15 each year. This plan is expected to allow NNSA to conduct the benchmarking activities recommended by our report, which can then be considered in current and future laboratory contracts.
    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: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Should the Congress decide to cap payments for physician and other nonhospital services made through IHS's CHS program, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of IHS to monitor CHS program patient access to physician and other nonhospital care in order to assess how any new payment rates may benefit or impede the availability of care.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS agreed with GAO's recommendation and indicated that monitoring patient access to care in light of any payment changes is essential to providing high-quality health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives. Since there have not been any changes to the payment rates, IHS has not yet implemented this recommendation.
    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: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to incorporate a mechanism to collect information on when AERs are used to support and inform consumer protection actions (i.e., surveillance, advisory, and regulatory actions).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will update this information.
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to establish a time frame for issuing final guidance for the draft (1) New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) guidance and (2) guidance clarifying whether a liquid product may be labeled and marketed as a dietary supplement or as a conventional food with added ingredients.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although FDA issued final guidance for distinguishing liquid dietary supplements from beverages in January 2014, it has not yet issued final guidance on new dietary ingredients (NDI). Once FDA completes the NDI guidance, we can close the recommendation.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform efforts for nuclear power plant emergency preparedness and planning, NRC Commissioners should obtain information on public awareness of radiological emergency preparedness for communities outside the 10-mile emergency planning zone and the likely response of those communities in the event of a radiological incident at a nuclear facility and consider how these results may affect estimates for shadow evacuations outside the zone.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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: King, Kathleen M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure an equitable allocation of CHS program funds, the Congress should consider requiring IHS to develop and use a new method to allocate all CHS program funds to account for variations across areas that would replace the existing base funding, annual adjustment, and program increase methodologies, notwithstanding any restrictions currently in federal law.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, Congress has not acted on this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation if Congress takes action.
    Recommendation: To make IHS's allocation of CHS program funds more equitable, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of the Indian Health Service to require IHS to use actual counts of CHS users, rather than all IHS users, in any formula for allocating CHS funds that relies on the number of active users.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To make IHS's allocation of CHS program funds more equitable, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of the Indian Health Service to require IHS to use variations in levels of available hospital services, rather than just the existence of a qualifying hospital, in any formula for allocating CHS funds that contains a hospital access component.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To make IHS's allocation of CHS program funds more equitable, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of the Indian Health Service to develop written policies and procedures to require area offices to notify IHS when changes are made to the allocations of funds to CHS programs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    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: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone:

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the effectiveness of the food safety system for catfish and avoid duplication of effort and cost, Congress should consider repealing provisions of the Farm Bill that assigned USDA responsibility for examining and inspecting catfish and for creating a catfish inspection program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: 202-512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further strengthen NRC's oversight of decommissioning funding assurance, the NRC Commissioners should better ensure that licensees are providing reasonable assurance that they will have the necessary funds and improve the consistency of information the agency collects by continuing these reviews of fund balances in a way that is most efficient and effective for the agency.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, an NRC official told us that agency staff are currently in the process of revising the agency guidance document, "Procedures for NRC's Independent Analysis of Decommissioning Funding Assurance for Operating Nuclear Power Reactors" (LIC-205) to incorporate factors to be considered by the agency as a basis of when to perform an as-needed spot-check. According to the official, agency staff reviewed the performance of the spot-check program between the period of April 2008 and June 2014, and, in June 2015, recommended that the agency use the spot-check program only on an as-needed basis. It is possible that this staff recommendation may lead to the agency conducting reviews of fund balances in an efficient and effective way. However, NRC might also choose to end the spot check program as the agency has done in the past. As of May 2017, the revised guidance was not available. We will review the revised guidance after it becomes available.
    Director: Shames, Lisa R
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the cost of the crop insurance program, Congress may wish to consider limiting the subsidy for premiums that an individual farmer can receive each year or reducing the subsidy for all farmers participating in the program, or both limiting and reducing these subsidies.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, Congress has not taken action to implement this matter.
    Director: Mackin, Michele
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of the limitations on subcontracting clause and to clarify who has responsibility for monitoring compliance with the clause, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in consultation with the Administrator of SBA, should provide specific guidance (including data collection options) to agency officials, including to contracting officers, about how to monitor the extent of subcontracting under 8(a) contracts, including for orders under indefinite quantity contracts.

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

    Comments: The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) agreed with the recommendation. In summer of 2017 we followed up to see what actions they had taken to implement the recommendation, but we did not receive any updates. GAO will continue to monitor OFPP's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of the limitations on subcontracting clause and to clarify who has responsibility for monitoring compliance with the clause, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, in consultation with the Administrator of SBA, should take actions to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to (1) direct contracting officers at agencies that have been delegated responsibility for ensuring compliance with the limitations on subcontracting clause to document in the contract file the steps they have taken to ensure compliance and (2) clarify the percentage of work required by an 8(a) participant under indefinite quantity contracts.

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

    Comments: The Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP) agreed with the recommendation. In summer of 2017 we followed up to see what actions they had taken to implement the recommendation, but we did not receive any updates. GAO will continue to monitor OFPP's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of tribal firms' participation in the 8(a) program, the Administrator of SBA should, as the new 8(a) tracking database is being developed, take steps toensure that it has the capability to (1) provide visibility to district offices into all tribal 8(a) firms' activity by tribal entity to ensure compliance with new prohibition to award sole-source 8(a) follow-on contracts to sister subsidiaries; (2) track revenue from tribal 8(a) firms' primary and secondary industry codes to ensure that subsidiaries under the same parent company are not generating the majority of their revenue from the same primary industry; and (3) track information on 8(a) contracts and task or delivery orders,including orders awarded under basic ordering agreements, tohelp ensure that district officials have information necessary toenforce the 8(a) program regulations.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Small Business Administration (SBA) neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. In June 2015, SBA officials told GAO that they will use a high risk model of random surveillance to track revenue in primary and secondary codes for entity-owned firms, such as tribal 8(a) firms. SBA will include this as a part of the continuing eligibility process, and will randomly select entity-owned firms and subsidiaries for the deep dive. As part of this effort, SBA will pull data from the Federal Procurement Data System to determine what industry codes the subsidiaries are earning revenues. SBA will look for firms generating revenue in another industry code that exceeds the revenue in their primary industry code when the revenue also aligns under the primary industry code of another subsidiary firm for two consecutive years. These firms will be notified of SBA's concern in writing during their continuing eligibility review to be vigilant to avoid further action by the SBA. In February 2016, SBA informed us that it had delayed plans for the random surveillance, and had taken steps in the interim to begin monitoring the revenue generated under a subsidiary's primary and secondary NAICS codes by tracking award obligations for all entity-owned firms in a spreadsheet. SBA officials told us that the spreadsheet is a stop gap measure until the database can be developed. We asked for updates to steps taken but as of September 2017, no updates were provided. We will continue to track progress on the development of this randomized analysis and other efforts to provide the necessary visibility to all district offices on tribal 8(a) firms participation in the 8(a) program.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide Congress with better information on the status and progress of DNN program performance and to address clarity, reliability, and balance issues in the performance measures for specific programs, the Administrator of NNSA should develop clearer measures, especially for the Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development (R&D) program and Material Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) programs, so the requirements and scope of program efforts can be more easily understood. For the MPC&A program in particular, reconsider the practice under its performance measure of counting buildings and facilities as having "completed" MPC&A upgrades, where there is additional or ongoing security work under way or planned.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to NNSA officials, neither the Nonproliferation and Verification R&D performance measure nor the MPC&A program performance measure were changed in response to our recommendation to provide further clarity it NNSA's performance reporting. Regarding the Nonproliferation and Verification R&D program performance measures, NNSA officials stated the measures as written provide sufficient information to program management to assess progress; regarding the MPC&A program performance measure, NNSA officials said that the measure, while unchanged, was being phased out as a performance measure due to the discontinuation of program work in Russia. GAO raised similar concerns regarding the clarity of the performance measures for the DNN R&D program -- the successor program to the Nonproliferation and Verification R&D program -- in a February 2017 report (GAO-17-210). GAO will will follow up with NNSA in fiscal year 2018 on both GAO-12-71 and GAO-17-210, including reviewing NNSA's fiscal year 2019 budget request, to assess any actions taken by the agency to clarify its publicly reported R&D performance measure.
    Recommendation: To streamline and eliminate potential for fragmentation and overlap among U.S. government programs involved in preventing and detecting smuggling of nuclear materials, equipment, and technologies overseas, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs should undertake--or direct and delegate an appropriate agency or agencies to undertake--a comprehensive review of the structure, scope, and composition of agencies and programs across the federal government involved in such efforts. Such a review should assess several issues, including: (1) the level of overlap and duplication among agencies and programs, especially in the provision of nuclear detection equipment and in training provided to foreign border security, customs, and law enforcement officials; (2) potential for consolidation of these functions to fewer programs and agencies; (3) the feasibility, costs, and benefits of establishing a special coordinator to preside over the allocation of U.S. counter-nuclear-smuggling assistance to foreign nations and be responsible for directing the interagency process of development, funding, and implementation of all U.S. government programs related to combating nuclear smuggling overseas; and (4) any U.S. laws that would need to be amended by Congress in order to facilitate consolidation, elimination, or other changes to existing programs.

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

    Comments: As of November 2016, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs has not demonstrated progress on comprehensively reviewing the structure, scope, and composition of agencies and programs across the federal government involved in efforts to combat nuclear smuggling overseas, as GAO recommended in December 2011. The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs did not comment on the December 2011 recommendation. The National Security Council Staff (NSCS), who assist the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, informed GAO in November 2012 that the recommendation had been provided to the appropriate NSCS directorate for consideration in the NSCS-led interagency policy committee process. However, the NSCS did not provide further information, except for stating that the issue was being addressed within the interagency process. GAO most recently contacted the NSCS for additional information in August 2016 on the actions the NSCS had taken or intended to take, if any, to implement the recommendation. In November 2016, NSCS informed GAO that they had no comments on the recommendation. In the absence of more specific information from NSCS, GAO was unable to conclude that this recommendation has been addressed.
    Recommendation: Following this review, to ensure remaining programs are being coordinated and implemented effectively, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs should issue new guidance that incorporates the elements of effective strategic plans, including clearly delineating the roles and missions of relevant programs, specific priorities and objectives, performance measures and targets, overall program cost estimates, and projected time frames for program completion.

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

    Comments: As of November 2016, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs has not demonstrated progress on issuing new guidance for federal programs combating nuclear smuggling overseas that includes the elements of effective strategic plans, as GAO recommended in December 2011. The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs did not comment on the December 2011 recommendation. The National Security Council Staff (NSCS), who assist the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, informed GAO in November 2012 that the recommendation had been provided to the appropriate NSCS directorate for consideration in the NSCS-led interagency policy committee process. However, NSCS did not provide further information, except for stating that the issue was being addressed within the interagency process. GAO most recently contacted the NSCS in August 2016 to request additional information on the actions the NSCS had taken or intended to take, if any, to implement the recommendation. In November 2016, NSCS informed GAO that they had no comments on the recommendation. In the absence of more specific information from NSCS, GAO was unable to conclude that this recommendation has been addressed.
    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: 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: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-2649

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's oversight of dietary supplements and foods with added dietary ingredients, and to better enable FDA to meet its responsibility to regulate dietary supplements that contain new dietary ingredients, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to issue guidance to clarify when an ingredient is considered a new dietary ingredient, the evidence needed to document the safety of new dietary ingredients, and appropriate methods for establishing ingredient identity.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2011, FDA published draft guidance for industry on new dietary ingredient notifications and related issues. This draft guidance includes information on when a dietary ingredient is considered new, evidence of safety, and methods for ingredient identity. We are waiting for the draft guidance to become final to close the recommendation.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA functions as a separately organized agency, the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator, NNSA, should clearly define NNSA's status as a separately organized agency within the department.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In his 31 USC Section 720 response to our report, the Deputy Secretary of Energy stated that he did not concur with this recommendation. He stated that elements of the Department and the NNSA had executed memoranda of understanding specifying how certain Department-wide functions would be performed while respecting the statutory insulation of NNSA personnel. He also stated that the Department will consider issuing circumstance-specific guidance where required to correct misperceptions about the effect of the NNSA's act limitations. NNSA's relationship with DOE continues to evolve. NNSA asserted its independence aggressively through July 2012 when an important security incident took place at the Y-12 plant. Since that time, NNSA has been less independent.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA functions as a separately organized agency, the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator, NNSA, should clearly define NNSA's status as a separately organized agency within the department.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In his 31 USC Section 720 response to our report, the Deputy Secretary of Energy stated that he did not concur with this recommendation. He stated that elements of the Department and the NNSA had executed memoranda of understanding specifying how certain Department-wide functions would be performed while respecting the statutory insulation of NNSA personnel. He also stated that the Department will consider issuing circumstance-specific guidance where required to correct misperceptions about the effect of the NNSA's act limitations. Since we received the letter, there have been instances where the DOE/NNSA relationship has become less clear.
    Director: Ragland, Susan
    Phone: (202)512-9471

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs to develop a framework for OIA employees to use in conducting site visits to help ensure objectives are achieved, to assure that relevant information is shared with responsible officials, and to allow more efficient and effective monitoring of issues.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 24, 2017, the Department of Interior (DOI) sent out an email to its staff showing the dissemination of the new format required for completing trip reports by the staff of the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). The new format requires staff to include travel justification (i.e., purpose/objective, location, and travel period) and trip report (i.e., meetings, site visits, results, and next steps, as applicable.) The intent of the recommendation is for DOI to have a framework that includes (1) status of required single audit reports; (2) the progress of actions to resolve reported internal control weaknesses; and (3) current needs for technical assistance, capacity building, and staff level expertise. Further, the intent of GAO's recommendation is that this information be integrated into a comprehensive monitoring process. We did not see these elements included in DOI's new format. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202)512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better address the purpose of the 8(a) program, meet the needs and expectations of the firms in the program, and improve SBA's ability to determine how well the program is working, the Administrator, SBA, should periodically perform a nationwide sample survey of 8(a) firms to obtain measurable program data. At a minimum, the survey should assess whether SBA assistance is meeting the firms' expectations and needs.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA drafted a plan for providing individualized business development assistance to 8(a) firms, along with an assessment tool--the 8(a) Business Development Assessment Tool (BDAT). A subsequent evaluation of BDAT revealed that the tool would not provide the expected outcome. Consequently, the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development launched a more broad modernization effort in December of 2011. One of the outcomes of that effort was the conceptualization of the One Track Certification Management System (One Track CMS), which included many of the requirements from the BDAT. However, SBA experienced some delays regarding the contract for development and the ultimate implementation of the One Track CMS. On June 3, 2015, SBA and GAO staff met to discuss the status of open SBA 8(a) program recommendations. This recommendation was mentioned, but, no updates on the current status of this recommendation were provided. The One Track CMS was not yet operational as of the date of that meeting.
    Recommendation: To better address the purpose of the 8(a) program, meet the needs and expectations of the firms in the program, and improve SBA's ability to determine how well the program is working, the Administrator, SBA, should provide a method for collecting data on each firm's training needs for tracking the assistance provided.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: With the deployment of the Business Development Management Information System on July 28, 2008, along with an 8(a) Business Development Assessment Tool (BDAT)--which will entail an enhancement of SBA's Business Development Management Information System--SBA stated that it will be able to annually collect data that will be used to assess an 8(a) participant's needs for technical assistance and training. A subsequent evaluation of BDAT revealed that the tool would not provide the expected outcome. Consequently, the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development launched a more broad modernization effort in December of 2011. One of the outcomes of that effort was the conceptualization of One Track Certification Management System (One Track CMS), which included many of the requirements from the BDAT. However, SBA experienced some delays regarding the contract for development and the ultimate implementation of the One Track CMS. On June 3, 2015, SBA and GAO staff met to discuss the status of open SBA 8(a) program recommendations. This recommendation was mentioned, but no updates on the current status of this recommendation were provided. The One Track CMS was not yet operational as of the date of that meeting.