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    Subject Term: "Overhead costs"

    8 publications with a total of 27 open recommendations
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of NSF should require staff to follow written internal guidance for (1) using tools and templates NSF has developed for the process for setting indirect cost rates and (2) updating the agency's database to reflect the status of awardees for which NSF has cognizance and of indirect cost rate proposals. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of NSF should add details to NSF's internal guidance for setting indirect cost rates specifying (1) the criteria to be used by the supervisor for assessing the level of risk and steps for mitigating the risks at each level and (2) the steps for supervisory review of the process for setting indirect cost rates and documentation of the results of the review. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Director of NSF should add procedures to NSF's internal guidance for (1) implementing the applicable new provisions of the Uniform Guidance, including updating links to Office of Management and Budget guidance, and (2) monitoring the indirect cost rates that the Department of Interior sets on NSF's behalf. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Andrew J Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To minimize unnecessary overlap and duplication and more efficiently use DOD's U.S. distribution centers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (or the subsequent Under Secretary for Acquisition and Sustainment), in conjunction with the Director of DLA, and the Secretaries of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy, to assess and direct the implementation of actions, as appropriate, that can be taken using existing authorities to close, realign, or dispose of existing infrastructure.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are awaiting confirmation from the agency on what actions have been taken in response to this recommendation. Once received, we will provide the updated information.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    11 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of CAS should develop a standardized checklist and document procedures in its internal guidance instructing negotiators to use the checklist during negotiation.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Cost Allocation
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that its Cost Allocation Services (CAS) will update and complete standardized checklists and that staff will be instructed to use these checklists by December 31, 2016. We are currently reviewing support received from HHS to determine if we can close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of CAS should develop detailed internal guidance for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiation process to provide reasonable assurance that key control activities have been performed by the negotiators.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Cost Allocation
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that by December 31, 2016, its Cost Allocation Services (CAS) will establish a document outlining standardized review procedures for supervisory review of workpapers and rate agreements. We are currently reviewing support received from HHS to determine if we can close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of CAS should develop internal guidance for negotiating indirect cost rates with all types of research organizations, including hospitals, as well as universities using the simplified method.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Cost Allocation
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that its Cost Allocation Services (CAS) will update internal guidance for negotiating indirect cost rates with universities using the simplified method by December 31, 2016. This guidance will include an example under the two types of direct cost bases, a salary and wage base and a modified total direct cost base. CAS will develop internal guidance for negotiating with hospitals as soon as possible. We are currently reviewing support received from HHS to determine if we can close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: As NIH-DFAS begins formalizing its internal guidance, the Director of NIH-DFAS should update internal guidance to include key characteristics, such as policy number, purpose of the policy, effective date, and approving official, that are normally included in formal policy and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: National Institutes of Health: Office of Management: Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management: Office of Acquisition Management and Policy: Division of Financial Advisory Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that by December 31, 2016, National Institute of Health's Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS) will update internal guidance to include key characteristics that are normally included in formal policy and procedures. NIH-DFAS has finalized three of the five polices, which are effective as of July 1, 2017. The remaining two policies will be finalized by August 31st, 2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: As NIH-DFAS begins formalizing its internal guidance, the Director of NIH-DFAS should develop detailed procedures for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiation process to provide reasonable assurance that key control activities have been performed by the negotiator.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: National Institutes of Health: Office of Management: Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management: Office of Acquisition Management and Policy: Division of Financial Advisory Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In response, HHS stated that the National Institute of Health's Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS), will develop detailed procedures for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiations process. NIH-DFAS has developed draft internal guidance to address the supervisory review of the indirect cost negotiation process. NIH-DFAS plans to finalize these procedures by August 31, 2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: As NIH-DFAS begins formalizing its internal guidance, the Director of NIH-DFAS should establish a mechanism for tracking key milestones in the indirect cost rate-setting process, such as when indirect cost rate proposals are due.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: National Institutes of Health: Office of Management: Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management: Office of Acquisition Management and Policy: Division of Financial Advisory Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendations. In response, HHS stated that National Institute of Health's Division of Financial Advisory Services (DFAS) will establish a mechanism for tracking key milestones in the indirect cost rate-setting process. NIH-DFAS has initiatives underway that include moving from paper to electronic submissions of indirect cost proposals and developing a replacement to its Commercial Rate Agreement Distribution Services website. DFAS is looking into the feasibility of incorporating key milestones into these two major initiatives. NIH-DFAS is currently working with a contractor to develop a web based system that will establish a tracking system to account for when indirect cost proposal are due from organizations. The original initiative to enable the electronic submission of indirect cost proposals was modified to incorporate this new requirement. NIH-DFAS anticipates the planned date for implementation of this system to be October 1, 2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should implement the May 2014 policy requiring an annual review of guidance so that internal guidance is updated when changes are made to applicable regulations and procedures to reasonably assure that the guidance reflects current requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) will comply with its requirement for an annual review of its internal policy on negotiating indirect costs. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should include in its internal guidance acceptable Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) audit completion time frames and identify supplemental procedures to be performed by negotiators if DCAA cannot perform its audits timely or if DCAA issues a qualified opinion or rescinds one of its previously issued audit opinions, to reasonably assure that the indirect cost rate proposal has been adequately reviewed and the negotiated rate complies with applicable regulations.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research's (ONR) internal guidance will be updated to provide more realistic audit report due dates and will include general procedures to be performed by negotiators in the case of untimely audits, qualified opinions, or rescinded opinions. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should develop detailed procedures for the completion and documentation of supervisory review of the indirect cost rate negotiation process to provide reasonable assurance that required certifications and assurances are obtained and follow-up with the research organization is documented.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. DOD did not agree that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) lacks procedures to ensure supervisors confirm that negotiators adequately performed and documented key controls. DOD noted that both the primary and secondary supervisors are required to review and approve the Business Clearance Memorandum, which records steps performed by the negotiator. While we agree that the Business Clearance Memorandum documents steps performed by the negotiator, these steps are documented at a high level and do not include detailed procedures for supervisors to follow to reasonably assure that the negotiator has performed and documented all key control activities, such as obtaining all required certifications and assurances. DOD agreed in its response that ONR's Business Clearance Memorandum can be improved and stated that ONR will update it to require the negotiator to cross-reference the review steps to the proposal to facilitate the supervisor's review process. However, it is not clear whether the planned Business Clearance Memorandum revisions will include providing detailed procedures for supervisory review as we recommended. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should finalize and issue internal guidance for negotiating indirect cost rates with universities and nonprofit organizations, including establishing a time frame for issuance of the internal guidance, to help ensure that the procedures are implemented in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is currently updating its internal guidance and currently plans to issue this guidance by December 31, 2016. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the design of internal controls over the indirect cost rate-setting process, the Director of ONR should update ONR's existing process for tracking key milestones in the indirect cost rate-setting process to include information such as when indirect cost rate proposals are overdue and when DCAA's audit reports are due.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Office of Naval Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOD stated that the Office of Naval Research will update its existing processes for tracking key milestones to include information such as due dates for rate proposals and DCAA audit reports. As of June 15, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Andrew Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to document the processes and analyses for assessing and, as appropriate, for managing the difference between program costs and collections and document resulting decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS's Fee Governance Council, led by the Deputy CFO plans to draft and publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to documenting the processes and analyses for assessing and managing the difference between program costs and collections and document resulting decisions. The Council is currently working to establish interim milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to establish processes for managing unobligated carryover balances, to include targets for minimum and maximum balances for programs that lack such processes and targets.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Fee Governance Council will draft and publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to managing unobligated carryover balances. The Council is currently working to develop specific milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to conduct reviews to identify any management and operational deficiencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The DHS Fee Governance Council plans to publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to how components conduct studies of fee programs to identify any management or operational deficiencies. The Council is currently working to establish specific milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to take action to track and report on management and operational deficiencies--including reasons supporting any decisions to not pursue recommended actions--identified in fee reviews or through other means.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The DHS Fee Governance Council will publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to how regular biennial reviews are conducted at DHS and how any findings and recommendations on management and operational deficiencies identified in these fee studies are tracked and reported.
    Director: Heather Krause
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help enhance efforts to expand shared services and improve the management of the Administrative Services Franchise Fund (ASFF), the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to make pricing information, such as ranges of prices, for the ASFF's lines of business publicly available, as appropriate, to help potential customers and agency decision makers understand prices and different choices of services.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FAA concurred with the recommendation. According to FAA, representatives from FAA's Administrative Services Franchise Fund are serving on the Office of Management and Budget's Shared Services Governance Board--a decision-making body for government-wide shared services initiatives. The Board is working with the General Services Administration's Unified Shared Services Management office on the standardization of publicly available pricing information for the FAA fund and other funds across the government and the forum in which to publish such information. FAA expects to provide an update on how it is addressing this recommendation by November 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To help enhance efforts to expand shared services and improve the management of the ASFF, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to make the ASFF's strategic goals and performance metrics publicly available to help potential customers and agency decision makers understand how the fund is performing on the services provided.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FAA concurred with the recommendation. According to FAA, representatives from FAA's Administrative Services Franchise Fund are serving on the Office of Management and Budget's Shared Services Governance Board--a decision-making body for government-wide shared services initiatives. The Board is working with the General Services Administration's Unified Shared Services Management office on the standardization of performance metrics for shared service providers (including the FAA fund) and the forum on which to publically share such information. FAA expects to provide an update on how it is addressing this recommendation by November 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To help enhance efforts to expand shared services and improve the management of the Treasury Franchise Fund (TFF), the Secretary of the Treasury should make pricing information, such as ranges of prices, for the Administrative Resource Center Information Technology Services and Shared Services Programs (SSP) lines of business publicly available, as appropriate, to help potential customers and agency decision makers understand prices and different choices of services.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury concurred with the recommendation. In March 2017, GAO contacted Treasury for a status update on how the recommendation is being addressed. We will update the status when the update is received.
    Recommendation: To help enhance efforts to expand shared services and improve the management of the TFF, the Secretary of the Treasury should develop a more complete set of performance metrics for the TFF's SSP line of business to help managers of the SSP line of business, current and potential customers, and agency decision makers monitor and oversee how the fund is performing on the services provided.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury concurred with the recommendation. In March 2017, GAO contacted Treasury for a status update on how the recommendation is being addressed. We will update the status when the update is received.
    Recommendation: To help enhance efforts to expand shared services and improve the management of the TFF, the Secretary of the Treasury should develop an operating reserve policy that documents all existing review processes that relate to management of the TFF's operating reserves. These documented policies should include information on how fund managers are to assess the operating reserves, including guidelines to evaluate, use, and maintain the operating reserves over time.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury concurred with the recommendation. In March 2017, GAO contacted Treasury for a status update on how the recommendation is being addressed. We will update the status when the update is received.
    Director: Pendleton, John H
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To facilitate oversight of the size of DOD's reserve-component headquarters and ensure that they have the minimum personnel needed to complete their assigned missions, and to minimize the potential for gaps or overlaps at the National Guard's state Joint Force headquarters, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to assess and validate all personnel requirements at the state Joint Force headquarters to include the Army staff element and Air staff element.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the National Guard Bureau (NGB) had not assessed and validated personnel requirements at the state Joint Force headquarters. In August 2017, NGB officials told us that they had not taken steps to establish manpower requirements documents for the state and territory joint force headquarters and that NGB had not validated their personnel requirements. As a result NGB has not taken the steps necessary to address our recommendation.
    Director: Kohn, Linda T
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help address the uncertainty NIH faces, related to the potential impact of increasing indirect costs on its funding of future research, the Director of NIH should assess the impact of growth in indirect costs on its research mission, including, as necessary, planning for how to deal with potential future increases in indirect costs that could limit the amount of funding available for total research, including the direct costs of research projects.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: National Institutes of Health
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 7, 2015, NIH provided some information indicating that it had taken action to address our recommendation by tracking the size of indirect costs as a proportion of NIH's overall budget as part of the agency's annual budget planning process and risk assessment program. However, we determined that the actions did not fully address the recommendation because they focus on the agency's overall budget and do not assess the potential ongoing impact of indirect costs for universities on its mission. As of August 2017, NIH officials have not informed us of any additional actions taken to implement this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    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.