Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: "Payment errors"

    2 publications with a total of 11 open recommendations including 9 priority recommendations
    Director: Beryl Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help fulfill the IPERA and OMB requirements to submit proposals to Congress when agencies reach 3 or more consecutive years of noncompliance with IPERA criteria, the Secretary of Agriculture or a designee should submit a letter to Congress detailing proposals for reauthorization or statutory changes in response to 3 consecutive years of noncompliance as of fiscal year 2014 for its (1) Child and Adult Care Food Program; (2) School Breakfast Program; (3) National School Lunch Program; and (4) Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. To the extent that reauthorization or statutory changes are not considered necessary to bring a program into compliance, the Secretary or designee should state so in the letter.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: We provided a draft of this report to OMB, the IG offices of the 24 CFO Act agencies, and the CFO offices of those agencies with programs that were determined to be noncompliant with IPERA criteria for 3 consecutive years as of fiscal year 2014. In their e-mailed response, officials from the CFO office at USDA neither concurred nor disagreed with our recommendations. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help fulfill the IPERA and OMB requirements to submit proposals to Congress when agencies reach 3 or more consecutive years of noncompliance with IPERA criteria, the Secretary of Defense or a designee should submit a letter to Congress detailing proposals for reauthorization or statutory changes in response to 3 consecutive years of noncompliance as of fiscal year 2014 for its Department of Defense Travel Pay program. To the extent that reauthorization or statutory changes are not considered necessary to bring the program into compliance, the Secretary or designee should state so in the letter.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: We provided a draft of this report to OMB, the IG offices of the 24 CFO Act agencies, and the CFO offices of those agencies with programs that were determined to be noncompliant with IPERA criteria for 3 consecutive years as of fiscal year 2014. In their written comments, the offices of the DOD CFO and DOD IG concurred with our recommendations. The DOD CFO office noted that it does not consider reauthorization or statutory change necessary for its Travel Pay program, but will submit a letter to Congress containing planned actions for improvement by August 30, 2016. As of June 2, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Khan, Asif A
    Phone: (202)512-9869

    9 open recommendations
    including 9 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to estimating improper payments, to establish and implement key quality assurance procedures, such as reconciliations, to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the sampled populations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD), in concurring with this recommendation, stated that the Department will work with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to implement key quality assurance procedures, such as reconciliations, to ensure the completeness and accuracy of sampled populations. In June 2016, DOD officials stated that while the department is moving toward full auditability of its financial statements, the capability to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the sampled populations is still under development. As of August 31, 2017, DOD's efforts in this area were ongoing.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to estimating improper payments, to revise the procedures documented in DOD's sampling methodologies so that they (1) are in accordance with OMB guidance and generally accepted statistical standards and (2) produce statistically valid improper payment error rates, statistically valid improper payment dollar estimates, and appropriate confidence intervals for both. At a minimum, such procedures should take into account the size and complexity of the transactions being sampled.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) partially concurred with this recommendation, stating that sampling methodologies would be reviewed for all payment types and would be modified as appropriate to produce valid improper payment estimates and appropriate confidence intervals for them. In its May 2016 FIAR Plan Status Report, DOD officials stated that the department is reviewing the methodologies associated with identifying improper payments for seven improper payment programs, and if warranted, will change their sampling plans (methodologies). These seven programs are: Defense Finance and Accounting Service's Military Pay, Civilian Pay, Military Retirement, and Travel Pay; U.S. Corps of Engineers' Commercial Pay and Travel Pay; and Navy ERP commercial payments. In June 2016, DOD officials stated that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) will continue to coordinate with those DOD components currently using simple random sample designs, to develop methodologies that are stratified by an appropriate variable, such as an invoice or payment amount based on appropriate confidence intervals. As of August 31, 2017, this recommendation was still open.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to identifying programs susceptible to significant improper payments, to conduct a risk assessment that is in compliance with IPERA.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD), in concurring with this recommendation, stated that it would work collaboratively with the applicable Defense components to develop a framework to conduct a risk assessment that is in compliance with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA). Risk assessments for six DOD programs (military health benefits, military pay, civilian pay, Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) travel pay, retiree & annuitant pay, and DFAS commercial pay) complied with IPERA requirements based on documentation provided to support them. However, based on our review of documentation provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), risk assessments for the two programs it administers (USACE travel pay and USACE commercial pay) have not been performed. DOD officials stated that the risk assessment documentation for the two USACE programs is under development. In October 2016, DOD issued a remediation plan for travel pay improper payments and recovery. As of August 31 2017, this recommendation was still open.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to reducing improper payments, to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that comply fully with IPERA and OMB implementation guidance, including at a minimum, holding individuals responsible for implementing corrective actions and monitoring the status of the corrective actions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Defense, in concurring with this recommendation, stated that it would work collaboratively with applicable components to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that fully comply with the Improper Payment Elimination and Recovery Act and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance. According to DOD officials, these established procedures will include individual accountability for implementing corrective actions and monitoring the status of corrective actions. As of June 2016, DOD officials told us that department enters corrective actions plans associated with audit findings into a notice of findings and recommendations (NFR) database developed to track their status and progress. The database was deployed in May 2016. According to DOD's fiscal year 2015 Agency Financial Report, DOD's travel pay had the highest error rate among all DOD-reported improper payment programs, and therefore DOD would place its initial focus to achieve measurable progress more quickly in this area. In June 2016, DOD officials stated that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) (OUSD(C)) would revise and expand the DOD Travel Remediation Plan into a more comprehensive plan which includes establishing Senior Accountable Officials (SAOs) within each military service. OUSD(C) will collaborate with each SAO to ensure the development of standardized procedures and corrective action plans to include training, root cause identification, and quality assurance goals that comply with improper payment law and regulatory guidance. On October 7, 2016, DOD issued its remediation plan entitled "Preventing Travel Pay Improper Payments and Recovery." The remediation plan notes two primary causes of improper travel payments; each of which highlights the need for increased detail (documentation), attention to detail (accuracy), and a more regular and effective training regimen. The remediation plan includes several requirements that must be met to reinforce internal controls and accountability. Beginning in fiscal year 2017, the DOD Comptroller and component SAOs are to receive travel pay metrics reports to measure progress. The first report is intended to establish a baseline. As of April 2017, DOD officials stated that there are corrective action plans, but the implementation of these plans needs to be assigned to the individual level components. As of August 31, 2017, this recommendation was still open.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to reducing improper payments, to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that are in accordance with best practices, such as those recommended by the Chief Financial Officers Council (CFOC), and include (1) measuring the progress made toward remediating root causes and (2) communicating to agency leaders and key stakeholders the progress made toward remediating the root causes of improper payments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD), in concurring with this recommendation, stated that it would work collaboratively with the applicable components to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that incorporate best practices, including those recommended by the Chief Financial Officers Council. DOD's corrective action plans would include information on (1) measuring the progress made toward remediating root causes and (2) communicating to agency leaders and key stakeholders the progress made toward remediating the root causes of improper payments. In June 2016, DOD officials told us that department enters corrective actions plans associated with audit findings into a notice of findings and recommendations (NFR) database developed to track their status and progress. The database was deployed in May 2016. According to DOD's fiscal year 2015 Agency Financial Report, DOD's travel pay had the highest error rate among all DOD-reported improper payment programs, and therefore DOD would place its initial focus to achieve measurable progress more quickly in this area. In June 2016, DOD officials stated that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) (OUSD(C)) will revise and expand the DOD Travel Remediation Plan into a more comprehensive plan which will include establishing Senior Accountable Officials (SAOs) within each military service. OUSD(C) will collaborate with each SAO to ensure the development of standardized procedures and corrective action plans to include training, root cause identification, and quality assurance goals that comply with improper payment law and regulatory guidance. On October 7, 2016, DOD issued its corrective/remediation plan entitled "Preventing Travel Pay Improper Payments and Recovery." We plan to review this plan for consistency with OMB and IPERA guidelines. In April 2017, we learned that the Office of Management and Budget had done an assessment of this plan and provided helpful suggestions. As of August 31, 2017, this recommendation was still open.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to implementing recovery audits, to develop and implement procedures to (1) identify costs related to the department's recovery audits and existing recovery efforts and (2) evaluate existing improper payment recovery efforts to ensure that they are cost effective.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) officials concurred with this recommendation, stating that the DOD would review its procedures for improper payment recovery activities to ensure currency and accuracy and that it would also perform analyses to ensure that its recovery efforts are cost-effective. In July 2015, DOD reported that the development of cost estimates for recovery auditing was ongoing. In addition, DOD officials indicated that only the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has developed an analysis to evaluate the cost effectiveness of performing recovery audits. As of April 2017, DOD's efforts to develop cost-estimates for recovery audits were still under way. As of August 31, 2017, this recommendation was still open.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to implementing recovery audits, to monitor the implementation of the revised FMR chapter on recovery audits to ensure that the components either develop recovery audits or demonstrate that it is not cost effective to do so.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) officials, in concurring with this recommendation, stated that DOD would work with the applicable components to monitor the implementation of the revised Financial Management Regulation (FMR) chapter on recovery audits. According to DOD officials, this action would help to ensure that recovery audits are developed, or will demonstrate that it is not cost-effective to do these audits. In July 2015, DOD was working to update the FMR chapter on recovery audits to reflect revised Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance issued in October 2014. DOD issued its revised FMR chapter in November 2015. This chapter requires components to develop cost-effective payment recapture audits or to submit a quantitative justification to the Office of the Under Secretary (Comptroller) for approval. However, we consider this recommendation to be open because DOD did not provide documentation demonstrating that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) is monitoring component implementation of recovery auditing. Further, as of April 2017, DOD's efforts to develop cost-estimates for recovery audits were still under way. As of August 31, 2017, this recommendation was still open.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to implementing recovery audits, to develop and submit to OMB for approval a payment recapture audit plan that fully complies with OMB guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) officials, in concurring with this recommendation, stated that DOD would develop and submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a payment recapture plan that fully complies with OMB guidance and is informed by a cost-effectiveness analysis. In July 2015, DOD's Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) efforts to develop a payment recapture audit plan to ensure cost-effectiveness were ongoing and these efforts must be completed before a plan can be submitted to the OMB. In June 2016, DOD officials stated that the Comptroller's efforts to develop a payment recapture audit plan to ensure cost-effectiveness were ongoing. As of August 31,2017, the department's efforts to implement this recommendation are continuing.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to reporting, to design and implement procedures to ensure that the department's annual improper payment and recovery audit reporting is complete, accurate, and in compliance with IPERA and OMB guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) officials, in concurring with this recommendation, stated that DOD would design and implement procedures to further ensure that its annual improper payment and recovery audit reporting is complete, accurate, and in compliance with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) requirements and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance. In June 2015, DOD revised its FMR chapter on improper payments to require components to provide information needed to report on improper payment and recovery audit activities in its annual financial report (AFR) in accordance with IPERA requirements and OMB guidance. DOD's fiscal year 2015 AFR reflected its implementation of the revised FMR. We found that DOD's improper payment reporting in its fiscal year 2015 AFR had improved. However, we were not provided with evidence that Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) is performing oversight and monitoring activities to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the improper payment and recovery audit data submitted by DOD components for inclusion in the AFR. As of April 2017, DOD is continuing to work on procedures for ensuring that its reporting on improper payment and recovery audits is accurate, complete, and in compliance with IPERA and OMB guidance. As of August 31, 2017, this recommendation was still open.