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    Subject Term: "Nongovernmental organizations"

    6 publications with a total of 17 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and clarity of the Trafficking in Persons Report and improve its usefulness as a diplomatic tool to encourage countries to address trafficking, the Secretary of State should improve explanations in narratives for Tier 1 rankings, including using consistent language, as feasible, in the Trafficking in Persons Report.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and said that it seeks to make the Trafficking in Persons Report as useful as possible to a broad array of stakeholders and will continue its commitment to ensure each narrative better serves this purpose. GAO will continue to monitor State's efforts to fully implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and clarity of the Trafficking in Persons Report and improve its usefulness as a diplomatic tool to encourage countries to address trafficking, the Secretary of State should take actions, such as tracking the recommendations in the Trafficking in Persons Report, to assess the effectiveness of the report as a tool to encourage countries to address human trafficking.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and described steps it is taking to more systematically assess the effectiveness of the Trafficking in Persons Report in encouraging governments to address human trafficking, including the recent establishment of a monitoring and evaluation position in the Trafficking Office. GAO will continue to monitor State's implementation efforts.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's monitoring and evaluation of cash transfer and food voucher projects and help ensure improved program oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should take steps to ensure that final reports submitted for cash transfer and food voucher projects comply with USAID's minimum data requirements.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USAID said it had entered into an institutional support contract in December 2016 to address this recommendation. Support staff under this contract will be responsible for assisting each geographic team to ensure that implementing partners adhere to existing award processes and procedures, including compliance with reporting on minimum data requirements. USAID noted that the revised target completion date is 9/30/2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's monitoring and evaluation of cash transfer and food voucher projects and help ensure improved program oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should strengthen the indicators USAID uses to measure the timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and appropriateness of Emergency Food Security Program cash transfer and food voucher projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USAID stated that it released an updated Annual Program Statement for Emergency Food Assistance Programs in December 2016, which addresses this recommendation. As implementation provides data to support a closure request, USAID anticipates completing this recommendation in Fiscal Year 2017. The revised target completion date is 9/30/2017.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    4 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should update guidance to require non-governmental organizations to conduct risk assessments addressing the risk of fraud.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with our recommendation; however, as of April 2017, it has yet to fully implement this recommendation. In December 2016, the Office of Food for Peace updated its annual program statement to include language requiring organizations to complete an analysis of risks related to fraud, corruption, and mismanagement, with relevant mitigation measures. However, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) has yet to officially update its guidance, although USAID has previously noted that OFDA will require all organizations seeking funding to address fraud risks and submit a detailed mitigation plan in their proposal package. We will continue to update the status of this recommendation as we receive information.
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should use risk assessments submitted by implementing partners to inform USAID oversight activities, for example, using information from assessments to ensure that control activities for programs are designed to mitigate identified risks.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with our recommendation, stating that they plan to tailor their oversight activities to mitigate risks identified in the fraud risk mitigation plans that organizations will submit as part of their funding proposal packages in the future. In addition, USAID noted that it planned to hire a compliance officer by October 2016 to manage fraud mitigation and other compliance issues for OFDA and FFP's Syria and Iraq portfolios. However, as of April 2017, USAID has yet to fill this position. We will continue to track the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should ensure that field monitors in Syria are trained on assessing and identifying potential fraud risks.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with our recommendation, but has yet to implement this recommendation, as of April 2017. USAID has previously stated that it would work to provide the third-party monitoring organization with information specific to the Syria context that identifies methods to detect fraud. USAID also stated that it would work with the third-party monitoring organization to ensure that data collectors are trained on fraud risks and methods for identifying fraud. We will continue to track the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the financial oversight of U.S. programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people inside Syria, the USAID Administrator should instruct the third party monitoring organization monitoring Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance programs in Syria to modify the site visit forms to include specific guidance for documenting incidents of potential fraud.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation, stating that it would seek to have site visit forms revised to include indications of fraud, waste, and abuse. However, as of April 2017, USAID has yet to implement the recommendation. We will continue to track the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

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

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

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

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

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOL indicated that it was considering the utility of collecting these data in light of the fact that the new H-2B regulations that were issued in April 2015 eliminated the 2-year statute of limitations for the H-2B program. We continue to believe, however, that this data collection would be valuable given that the H-2A program is still subject to the 2-year statute of limitations. The department indicated it is undertaking a modernization of its data systems--by implementing a data governance structure that will manage its data as a business asset--and our recommendation for the collection of these data will be vetted through this process.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should establish time frames and develop performance indicators to assess the extent to which Peru's actions are meeting the commitments of the U.S.-Peru bilateral action plan to address specific challenges in Peru's forestry sector.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO met with USTR staff in July 2016 to discuss detailed a number of actions USTR has taken, with its partners on the interagency partners, including members on the Interagency Committee on Trade in Timber Products from Peru (timber committee), to develop appropriate benchmarks to measure Peru's progress in implementing commitments under the bilateral forestry action plan. USTR officials explained that they continue to work with the timber committee in regards to developing appropriate indicators to monitor the bilateral plan. In addition, USTR staff provided us with documentation containing actions aligned with the objectives of the bilateral plan, potential indicators for monitoring Peru?s activities in regards to the action plan, and potential sources for information collection to update the potential indicators. While we are encouraged by these actions, we will continue to periodically review USTR?s implementation of its instrument to monitor actions taken by Peru in response to the bilateral action plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should work with its interagency monitoring subcommittee to establish time frames and performance indicators to implement its plan for enhanced monitoring of implementation of FTA environmental commitments across all FTA partner countries.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, GAO met with USTR staff to discuss its efforts for ensuring that U.S. trading partners implement and comply with their international trade obligations, including obligations under the environment chapters of our free trade agreements. According to USTR staff, they continue to work with the interagency monitoring committee to systematically monitor environmental issues with its free trade partners, although staff reiterated that this is not a blanket approach to search for infractions. In addition, according to USTR staff, they have used systematic methods to monitor issues with illegal fishing with Korea and Mexico, and logging issues with Peru, for example. GAO will continue to evaluate USTR's progress in executing its procedures, which includes applying benchmarks and indicators where appropriate, in its updated monitoring.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202)512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. efforts to promote international religious freedom, the Secretary of State and the Chair of USCIRF should jointly define how State and USCIRF should interact in their efforts to promote international religious freedom, paying particular attention to defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom as a nonvoting USCIRF member.

    Agency: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2015, officials from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL) said that the DRL Front Office and senior management have yet to approve a joint letter between State's Office of International Religious Freedom and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that addresses GAO's recommendation. According to the officials, the DRL front office wanted to revisit the letter given the recent appointment of a new Ambassador-at-Large. According to the Ambassador, he met with USCIRF and wanted to provide input to the joint letter, but as of March 2015, the letter had not been approved by State. We followed up again in both August 2015 and August 2016 and were told that no progress on the letter or a joint understanding had been made. In July 2017, the President announced his nominee to be the new Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. As of August 15, 2017, the nomination is pending. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. efforts to promote international religious freedom, the Secretary of State and the Chair of USCIRF should jointly define how State and USCIRF should interact in their efforts to promote international religious freedom, paying particular attention to defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom as a nonvoting USCIRF member.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: After the report was issued, in a letter dated May 28, 2013, the State Department said it has met with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to discuss a plan for better systematizing the interactions between the entities, including by more clearly defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large. In October 2013 and again in March 2014, State said it continued to discuss this plan with USCIRF. In October 2014, State said it had drafted a joint letter with USCIRF in response to our recommendation, but that it was awaiting a Front Office signature. In March 2015, officials from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL) said that the DRL Front Office and senior management have yet to approve a joint letter between State's Office of International Religious Freedom and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that addresses GAO's recommendation. According to the officials, the DRL front office wanted to revisit the letter given the recent appointment of a new Ambassador-at-Large. According to the Ambassador, he met with USCIRF and wanted to provide input to the joint letter, but as of March 2015, the letter had not been approved by State. We followed up again in both August 2015 and August 2016 and were told that no progress on the letter or a joint understanding had been made. In July 2017, the President announced his nominee to be the new Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. As of August 15, 2017, the nomination is pending. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation.