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    Subject Term: "Precious metals"

    6 publications with a total of 17 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Cary Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assess and enhance the value of Pacific Pathways, and to fully determine the value of Pacific Pathways and communicate it to decision makers, the Secretary of the Army direct the Commander of U.S. Army Pacific to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the benefits of Pacific Pathways relative to its costs. Such an analysis could both: (1) incorporate financial and non-financial costs and benefits of the initiative, to include readiness benefits for logistics and sustainment units, any training efficiencies or cost avoidance resulting from Pacific Pathways, and non-financial costs, such as decreased equipment readiness rates; and (2) compare the costs with the benefits of training conducted under the Pacific Pathways initiative against that conducted through other Army trainings, such as home station training, combat training centers, or other exercises.

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

    Comments: As of June 2017, officials reiterated USARPAC's position that the command does not plan to conduct a deliberate analysis of the costs of Pacific Pathways relative to its benefits. However, USARPAC is currently studying the impacts of Pacific Pathways on sustainable readiness. Headquarters, Department of the Army has requested the results of this study by September 2018. Pending completion of that study or other related actions, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To assess and enhance the value of Pacific Pathways, and to better synchronize planning across all commands and units and thereby achieve a more cohesive operation, the Secretary of the Army direct the Commander of U.S. Army Pacific to modify existing USARPAC and I Corps planning processes and clarify guidance, as appropriate, that integrates all stakeholders and clearly identifies the objectives, assumptions, and level of authority appropriate for key decisions prior to the exercise planning cycle for each Pathway operation.

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

    Comments: As of June 2017, USARPAC officials stated that the command is still working on actions to address this recommendation, with a target completion date of September 2017. Pending those efforts, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To assess and enhance the value of Pacific Pathways, and to more fully leverage the theater-wide training value of Pacific Pathways for all participating units, the Secretary of the Army direct the Commander of U.S. Army Pacific to seek and incorporate supporting units' training objectives, as appropriate, into the Pacific Pathways planning process.

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

    Comments: As of June 2017, USARPAC officials stated that the command is still working on actions to address this recommendation, with a target completion date of September 2017. Pending those efforts, this recommendation remains open.
    Director: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the SEC's conflict minerals disclosure rule, the Secretary of Commerce should submit to the appropriate congressional committees a plan outlining steps that Commerce will take, with associated time frames, to (1) assess the accuracy of the independent private sector audits (IPSA) and other due diligence processes described under section 13(p) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; (2) develop recommendations for the process used to carry out such audits, including ways to improve the accuracy of the audits and establish standards of best practices for such audits; and (3) acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to carry out these responsibilities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Commerce agreed with this recommendation. In response to this recommendation, Commerce indicated in an October 25, 2016 letter to GAO that it has developed a three-step approach which parallels the three distinct elements of the recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, Commerce needs to submit the said three-step plan, including associated timeframes for their completion, to the appropriate congressional committees. Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act defines "appropriate committees" to mean the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives; and the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Finance, and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Gold Star Advocate Program achieves its mission and objectives and to enhance outreach for the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the service secretaries, to develop interim policies to govern the program, to include identification of roles, responsibilities, and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) is planning to incorporate policies regarding the Gold Star Advocate Program into the revision of DOD Instruction 1300,18, Department of Defense (DOD) Personnel Casualty Matters, Policies, and Procedures. The revision is anticipated to be published in 2017. In the interim, DOD is planning to establish a charter for the Gold Star Advocate Program.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Gold Star Advocate Program achieves its mission and objectives and to enhance outreach for the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the service secretaries, to determine outreach goals and metrics by which to measure progress in attaining those goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) is planning to determine outreach goals and metrics by the end of 2016. DOD is also planning to include a question concerning the Gold Star Advocate Program in its telephonic survey of survivors of deceased servicemembers to ensure awareness of the Gold Star Advocate Program amongst survivors.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Gold Star Advocate Program achieves its mission and objectives and to enhance outreach for the program, the Commandant of the Coast Guard should develop interim policies to govern the program, to include identification of roles, responsibilities, and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Coast Guard Personnel Service Center is planning to publish a policy memorandum on the Personnel Service Center Casualty Matters website announcing the establishment of the Gold Star Advocate Program and outlining the policies, procedures, and responsibilities of the Gold Star Advocate Program.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Gold Star Advocate Program achieves its mission and objectives and to enhance outreach for the program, the Commandant of the Coast Guard should determine outreach goals and metrics by which to measure progress in attaining those goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Coast Guard is planning to establish goals and metrics for the Coast Guard's Gold Star Advocate Program to include: identifying resources to support the program, creating a Gold Star Advocate Program website, updating the Coast Guard's "A Survivor's Guide to Benefits" and link it to the Gold Star Advocate Program website. The Coast Guard also plans to begin capturing addresses and other contact information for survivors of each active duty servicemember death and perform a one-time mass mailing to survivors to inform them of the program. They also plan to develop measures for outreach effectiveness and to partner with the Department of Defense to identify other ways to ensure that all survivors are contacted.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficacy of the training provided, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop indicators to help determine how casualty assistance officer training contributes to the quality of the casualty assistance program.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) is planning to develop two surveys to gauge how effective casualty assistance officers found the simulation training program that was developed by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD(P&R)).
    Director: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that material declaration standards under development by the Emerging Contaminants Governance Council include strategic and critical materials, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director, Defense Logistics Agency, to take steps to ensure that strategic and critical material needs are included in the development of department-wide material content declaration standards and any associated changes in guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. As of September 2017, this recommendation has not been implemented. We will continue to monitor the Defense Logistics Agency's efforts to ensure that strategic and critical materials are included in the department-wide material content declaration standards that are being developed by the Emerging Contaminants Governance Council. In commenting on the draft report, DOD stated that it concurs that strategic and critical materials must be included in any material declaration standard. DOD stated that the Emerging Contaminants Governance Council will work with industry in a joint effort to develop a national material content declaration standard. Specifically, DOD staff have initiated discussions with government and industry counterparts and proposed a workshop to outline the actions needed to develop the standard. DOD did not provide an estimated completion date, stating that this was contingent on the availability of other parties to meet and the time needed to reach consensus.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to take actions to improve the quality of mine plan submissions by, for example, developing guidance for mine operators and agency field officials that instructs them to hold pre-plan submittal meetings whenever possible.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in August 2017, the Department of Agriculture will provide training opportunities at all Forest Service levels in the proper administration and approval of mining plans and hold pre-planning meetings when possible. In addition, the Forest Service will promulgate regulations in the Summer of 2018 to incorporate a pre-plan submittal meeting requirement in the revision of the Forest Service regulations at 36 CFR 228 Subpart A, Locatable Minerals.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Chief of the Forest Service to issue a rule that establishes a fee structure for hardrock mine plan processing activities and request the authority from the Congress to retain any fees it collects.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in August 2017, the Forest Service is in the process of requesting authority from Congress to retain the fees it collects.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to issue a rule that assesses fees associated with reviewing hardrock mine plans that involve conducting environmental assessments.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in April 2016, BLM expressed concern about whether promulgating a rule to assess cost recovery fees for environmental assessment would result in faster permitting times and noted that such an undertaking may be challenging to complete given resource limitation as a result of other high priority rulemaking efforts currently underway by BLM. In the preamble of BLM's 2005 cost recovery rule, BLM indicated that it would consider issuing a separate rule to recover costs associated with reviewing mine plans that require an environmental assessment. BLM proposes to fulfill the intent of the preamble by conducting an internal analysis to determine whether requiring cost recovery would result in reduced permitting times. BLM will report its findings and address other options for increasing staff resources. According to agency officials in fiscal year 2017, BLM expects to complete its internal analysis and report its findings by the end of 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective oversight, strengthen internal controls, and address challenges associated with the hardrock mine plan review process, Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of BLM to create new codes in its Legacy Rehost 2000 database distinguishing between different types of mine plans to help track the length of time to complete the mine plan review process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to a letter received from the agency in fiscal year 2017, BLM expects to revise the Legacy Rehost 2000 codes by June 30, 2018.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

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