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: "Research and development"

    36 publications with a total of 92 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: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should lead the development of a mechanism for interagency collaboration to determine roles and responsibilities for addressing priorities related to research on the health effects of low-dose radiation.

    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: Mike Sullivan
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD is positioned to counter both near and far term threats, consistent with its S&T framework, the Secretary of Defense should direct the new Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to annually define the mix of incremental and disruptive innovation investments for each military department.

    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 ensure that DOD is positioned to counter both near and far term threats, consistent with its S&T framework, the Secretary of Defense should direct the new Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to annually assess whether that mix is achieved.

    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 ensure that DOD is positioned to more comprehensively implement leading practices for managing science and technology programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the new Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to define, in policy or guidance, an S&T management framework that includes emphasizing greater use of existing flexibilities to more quickly initiate and discontinue projects to respond to the rapid pace of innovation.

    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 ensure that DOD is positioned to more comprehensively implement leading practices for managing science and technology programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the new Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to define, in policy or guidance, an S&T management framework that includes incorporating acquisition stakeholders into technology development programs to ensure they are relevant to customers.

    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 ensure that DOD is positioned to more comprehensively implement leading practices for managing science and technology programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the new Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to define, in policy or guidance, an S&T management framework that includes promoting advanced prototyping of disruptive technologies within the labs so the S&T community can prove these technologies work to generate demand from future acquisition programs.

    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: Michael J. Sullivan
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to develop a high-level DOD-wide strategy, in collaboration with the military services and other appropriate DOD components, to communicate strategic goals and priorities and delineate roles and responsibilities among DOD's prototyping and innovation initiatives.

    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 ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to take steps, such as adopting a "strategic buckets" approach, to help ensure adequate investments in innovation that align with DOD-wide strategy.

    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 ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to expand the Community of Interest working groups to include budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation initiatives in their science and technology planning and coordination processes or employ a similar coordination mechanism for budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation initiatives.

    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 ensure DOD takes a strategic approach for its prototyping and innovation initiatives and overcomes funding and cultural barriers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to review budget activity 6.4 funding requests to help maintain a level of investment for budget activity 6.4-funded prototyping and innovation efforts that is consistent with DOD-wide strategy.

    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: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements, the Secretary of Defense and the EPA Administrator should establish procedures to collect and submit obligations data or--through SBA, independently, or through a working group of agencies participating in the SBIR and STTR programs--propose to Congress an alternative methodology for calculating spending requirements for their agencies.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation in its comments on the draft report. In its June 2017 response to the final report, DOD stated that its position had not changed, but did not provide information on its plans for implementing the recommendation. We will continue to follow up on the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements, the Secretary of Defense and the EPA Administrator should establish procedures to collect and submit obligations data or--through SBA, independently, or through a working group of agencies participating in the SBIR and STTR programs--propose to Congress an alternative methodology for calculating spending requirements for their agencies.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on the draft report, EPA concurred with the recommendation and stated that EPA will work with SBA to develop an alternative methodology for calculating spending requirements. In its August 2017 response to the final report, EPA confirmed its intent to work with SBA to develop an alternative methodology, but did not provide plans to implement the recommendation. We will continue to follow up on the status of this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve agencies' implementation of the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements in the policy directives, the Administrator of SBA should confirm that each SBIR and STTR agency is implementing the minimum fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements in the policy directives, by, for example, requesting documentation from agencies.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on the draft report, SBA concurred with this recommendation. In its June 2017 letter on plans for implementing the recommendation, SBA stated that it will request that each participating agency confirm their implementation of its minimum fraud, waste, and Abuse prevention requirements by forwarding an email to each agency requesting confirmation of their compliance. We will review SBA's actions to address this recommendation once those actions are complete.
    Recommendation: To help improve agencies' implementation of the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements in the policy directives, the Administrator of SBA should request input from the participating agencies regarding the clarity of the requirements; review all of the SBIR and STTR minimum fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements, including the agency requirement to post information about successful SBIR or STTR fraud prosecutions; determine whether any additional guidance is needed; and revise the policy directives accordingly.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on the draft report, SBA concurred with this recommendation. In its June 2017 letter on plans for implementing the recommendation, SBA stated that it plans to discuss the issue with program managers at an upcoming meeting and will also contact all agencies in writing to inquire if additional clarity is needed regarding any of the FWA requirements. SBA said that additional guidance will be provided, if necessary. We will review SBA's actions to address this recommendation once those actions are complete.
    Recommendation: To help improve agencies' implementation of the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements in the policy directives, the Administrator of SBA should revise the fraud, waste, and abuse provisions in the policy directives to reflect the definition of essentially equivalent work used elsewhere in the policy directives and require participating agencies to check for essentially equivalent work that they fund as well as such work funded by other agencies.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on the draft report, SBA concurred with this recommendation. In its June 2017 letter on plans for implementing the recommendation, SBA stated that it will revise the SBIR and STTR Policy Directives to reflect the definition of essentially equivalent work as noted in section 3 of the policy directives. SBA also stated that it will work with all parties to determine how to best address the issue of duplication, noting that this is an important issue and a high priority for all parties involved. We will review SBA's actions to address this recommendation once those actions are complete.
    Recommendation: To help improve agencies' implementation of the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements in the policy directives, the Administrator of SBA should evaluate SBIR and STTR agencies' fraud, waste, and abuse outcomes to ensure the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements are appropriate and meet their intended purpose for the SBIR and STTR programs.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on the draft report, SBA concurred with this recommendation. In its June 2017 letter on plans for implementing the recommendation, SBA stated that it will survey the participating agencies regarding whether the requirements are necessary and meeting their intended purposes, are placing undue burdens on the agencies, or need to be revised, updated, or eliminated. We will review SBA's actions to address this recommendation once those actions are complete.
    Recommendation: To help improve the implementation of the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should direct the HHS SBIR and STTR program offices to collect copies of the self-certification forms from its SBIR and STTR awardees.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on a draft of the report, HHS did not concur with our recommendation. In its June 2017 letter on plans for implementing the recommendation, HHS stated that the National Institutes of Health will collect life cycle certifications from SBIR and STTR program recipients through its electronic reporting system, which will allow other HHS components that use that system to also collect the forms. The National Institutes of Health plans to begin collecting the life cycle certification forms in fiscal year 2018. We will review the actions to address this recommendation once they are complete.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD is implementing the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements to the OIGs, the Inspectors General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should implement the requirements themselves or delegate the implementation of the requirements to the investigative services.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation in its comments on the draft report and confirmed its concurrence in its May 2017 letter on the final report.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD is implementing the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements to the OIGs, the Inspectors General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should implement the requirements themselves or delegate the implementation of the requirements to the investigative services.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy: Naval Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation in its comments on the draft report and confirmed its concurrence in its May 2017 letter on the final report.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD is implementing the fraud, waste, and abuse prevention requirements to the OIGs, the Inspectors General of the Army, Navy, and Air Force should implement the requirements themselves or delegate the implementation of the requirements to the investigative services.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation in its comments on the draft report and confirmed its concurrence in its May 2017 letter on the final report.
    Director: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help FAA better manage and oversee its portfolio of R&D activities, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA to take a more strategic approach to identifying research priorities across the agency, including developing guidance to identify long-term priorities and emerging issue areas, as part of FAA's portfolio development process.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, FAA officials said they were redesigning the agency?s National Aviation Research Plan (NARP) to, among other things, better align research to agency outcomes. FAA officials said that the redesigned NARP will provide the agency a strategic view of R&D and a better understanding of the driving forces for research, such as longer term strategic needs and emerging issues. The officials also said that the redesigned NARP will allow for a more effective framework from which to prioritize research. FAA plans to finalize the redesign of the NARP by February 2019.
    Recommendation: To help FAA better manage and oversee its portfolio of R&D activities, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA to clarify its portfolio development guidance to call for each Program Planning Teams to disclose the process it used for prioritizing and selecting research projects so that decision-making is more transparent for FAA management.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, FAA officials said they were developing guidance that will require the Program Planning Teams to identify and document their process for prioritizing and selecting research projects. FAA plans to finalize the guidance by November 2017.
    Recommendation: To help FAA better manage and oversee its portfolio of R&D activities, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA to develop guidance to ensure that future National Aviation Research Plans (NARP) and R&D Annual Reviews meet statutory requirements to the extent practicable, including (a) The NARP lists activities that are carried under cooperative agreements. (b) The NARP describes the rationale for the prioritized research programs. (c) The NARP identifies how resources were allocated for long-term and near-term research. (d) The NARP identifies REDAC recommendations that are accepted, not accepted, and the reasons for non-acceptance. (e) The NARP provides a detailed description of technology transfer to government, industry, and academia. (f) The Annual Review describes new technologies developed and the dissemination of research results to the private sector. (g) The Annual Review allows a comparison to the NARP. (h) The Annual Review is prepared and presented in accordance with agency performance reporting requirements.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, FAA officials said they were redesigning the National Aviation Research Plan (NARP) and R&D Annual Review to include, among other things, information required by statute. FAA plans to finalize the redesign of the NARP and Annual Review by February 2019.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance interagency collaboration in the Manufacturing USA program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology to work with all non-sponsoring agencies whose missions contribute to or are affected by advanced manufacturing to revise the Manufacturing USA governance system to ensure the roles and responsibilities for how these agencies could contribute to the Manufacturing USA program are fully identified.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce responded to the recommendation with three actions. (1) Labor, DHS, and HHS were invited to participate in the Manufacturing USA program resulting in Labor, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and FDA agreeing to participate and naming representatives to the Manufacturing USA Interagency Working Team.(2) Labor was invited to present at and participate in the Spring 2017 Manufacturing USA Network meeting resulting in Labor participating in the meeting, presenting its apprenticeship programs, and continuing participation in the Manufacturing Education and Workforce Development team regular meetings. (3) The Manufacturing USA Interagency Working Team has begun discussions on expanding the Manufacturing USA network governance document to include activities, roles, and responsibilities of non-institute sponsoring agencies. Final program policy decisions will be made once the new Administration's agency leadership is in place. Completion is expected by Fall 2017.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to implement the Revitalize American Manufacturing and Innovation Act of 2014 requirements related to reporting on advanced manufacturing, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working through the National Science and Technology Council and agency leadership, as appropriate, should identify the information they will collect from federal agencies to determine the extent to which the objectives outlined in the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing are being achieved.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Status: Open

    Comments: OSTP did not state whether it agreed or disagreed with this recommendation. They provided some comments on the draft recommendation. For example, OSTP commented that the recommendation could focus on the extent to which the objectives of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) recommendations are being achieved in periodic updates to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing. However, these recommendations were not covered in the scope of our report: we focused on reporting on the progress in achieving the objectives of the strategic plan.
    Director: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The NNSA Administrator should direct the DNN R&D program to track and document the transitioned and deployed technologies that result from its research and technology development projects, to the extent practicable.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: The NNSA Administrator should direct the DNN R&D and NPAC programs to document, using a common template or other means, their assessment that compares the final results of each project against the baseline targets established in each project's initial project plan.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Director: Tim Persons
    Phone: (202) 512-6412

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Homeland Security--in consultation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation--should conduct a formal bioforensics capability gap analysis to identify scientific and technical gaps and needs in bioforensics capabilities to help guide current and future bioforensics investments and update its analysis periodically.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the ECPC's efforts, the Secretary of Homeland Security, as the administrative leader of the ECPC, should clearly document the ECPC's strategic goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the ECPC's efforts, the Secretary of Homeland Security, as the administrative leader of the ECPC, should establish a mechanism to track progress by the ECPC's member agencies in implementing the ECPC's recommendations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the ECPC's efforts, the Secretary of Homeland Security, as the administrative leader of the ECPC, should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the ECPC's member agencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CERC's performance monitoring, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that for CERC's second phase the program creates targets and tracks progress against those targets in order to measure program performance.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, DOE created a standardized reporting template with performance measures for CERC partners to complete on a quarterly basis. DOE officials informed GAO that they are working to develop targets for those performance measures. We will continue to monitor DOE's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the agency's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should develop and make public annual targets for the agency's performance measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, USTDA revised its fiscal year 2016 through 2018 strategic plan to include an annual performance target for one of its two performance measures: the value of exports generated for every program dollar. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in developing an annual performance target for its performance measure on procurements awarded to small U.S. businesses.
    Recommendation: To improve the East Asia Program's performance monitoring, the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency should ensure that the East Asia Program sets targets for its performance measures and tracks progress against those measures.

    Agency: U.S. Trade and Development Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTDA concurred with GAO's recommendation. As of October 2016, USTDA had planned to review its internal goals for the East Asia Program, and other regional programs, and to begin to track progress against those goals. We will continue to monitor USTDA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements and improve participation in the administrative pilot program, the SBA Administrator should review SBA guidance regarding when an agency is required to start up an SBIR or STTR program, and if necessary, update the guidance to provide greater clarity to agencies with research or research and development (R&D) obligations greater than the thresholds for participating.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to SBA officials, as of April 2017, SBA is working to develop language to update its policy directives to provide guidance on when an agency must start an SBIR or STTR program.
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements and improve participation in the administrative pilot program, the SBA Administrator should complete the required reporting on the administrative pilot program for fiscal year 2014, which could include an evaluation of the potential constraints that may hinder agencies' participation and any steps to address these constraints.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, SBA officials said that SBA is in the process of completing its follow-up with agencies to document agencies' utilization of the administrative pilot program. Specifically, officials said they requested that agencies that planned to participate in the pilot program complete and return a template with information on the pilot program. Once SBA receives that information, officials said they will draft a report. As of April 2017, a formal date for completing and submitting the report has not been established.
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance accountability for key risk-management activities and facilitate coordination with federal and industry stakeholders regarding electromagnetic risks, the Secretary of Homeland Security should designate roles and responsibilities within the department for addressing electromagnetic risks and communicate these to federal and industry partners.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a June 2016 update to our proposed recommendation, DHS reported that the Cyber, Infrastructure and Resilience (CIR) Policy Office within the DHS Office of Policy is working with DHS components to identify and articulate the roles of the National Protection and Programs Directorate, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Science and Technology Directorate, and others regarding to address electromagnetic risks. As part of this effort, CIR is to coordinate the development of a joint roles and responsibilities document to be communicated through existing partnership structures with internal and external entities.
    Recommendation: To more fully leverage critical infrastructure expertise and address responsibilities to identify critical electrical infrastructure assets as called for in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Energy direct responsible officials to review FERC's electrical infrastructure analysis and collaborate to determine whether further assessment is needed to adequately identify critical electric infrastructure assets, potentially to include additional elements of criticality that might be considered.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a June 2016 update to our proposed recommendation, DHS reported that the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) will increase collaborative outreach activities with FERC staff that will include a review of identified critical substations developed by FERC. The intended outcome of this review is to inform DHS activities regarding identification and prioritization of critical infrastructure assets for use during steady state and response activities. NPPD is also to inform FERC of its criticality modeling capabilities through the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC) to enhance engagement with FERC's electric power subject matter expertise and inform future capability developments regarding response to and recovery from events such as electromagnetic pulse.
    Recommendation: To more fully leverage critical infrastructure expertise and address responsibilities to identify critical electrical infrastructure assets as called for in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Energy direct responsible officials to review FERC's electrical infrastructure analysis and collaborate to determine whether further assessment is needed to adequately identify critical electric infrastructure assets, potentially to include additional elements of criticality that might be considered.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOE provided an update (60-day letter) reiterating their intent to continue with actions identified previously to address the GAO recommendation, namely that the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability was to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's electrical infrastructure analysis, and subsequently engage with FERC and DHS to identify if any additional elements of criticality should be considered.
    Recommendation: To enhance federal efforts to assess electromagnetic risks and help determine protection priorities, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary for National Protection and Programs Directorate and the Assistant Secretary for the IP to work with other federal and industry partners to collect and analyze key inputs on threat, vulnerability, and consequence related to electromagnetic risks--potentially to include collecting additional information from DOD sources and leveraging existing assessment programs such as the Infrastructure Survey Tool, Regional Resiliency Assessment Program, and DCIP.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a June 2016 update, DHS reported that the department had completed the planned refresh of the Strategic National Risk Assessment, which was intended to incorporate potential impacts to the power system from electromagnetic events. In addition, DHS reported that the Electricity Sub-sector Coordinating Council created an Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) task force, which met in April 2016 and is currently working to develop a joint industry and government approach to address EMP. It was further noted that DHS and DOE initiated a joint study on the effects of EMP on the electric power sector - led by Los Alamos National Laboratory and the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC) - to analyze the hazard environments, impacts, and consequences of EMP and GMD on U.S. electric power infrastructure. In addition, DHS noted their support of a new effort by the Electric Power Research Institute and 39 industry partners to further study EMP vulnerabilities.
    Recommendation: To facilitate federal and industry efforts to coordinate risk-management activities to address an EMP attack, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Energy should direct responsible officials to engage with federal partners and industry stakeholders to identify and implement key EMP research and development priorities, including opportunities for further testing and evaluation of potential EMP protection and mitigation options.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: On March 9, 2016 DOE provided agency comments on GAO-16-243 concurring with the recommendation and identifying related actions. Specifically, DOE reported collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a joint DOE/Industry EMP Strategy to include key goals and objectives and identification of R&D priorities. The Strategy is expected to be completed by August 31, 2016 to be followed by more detailed action plans. DOE reported that they will collaborate with DHS and DOD in development of the Strategy and action plans. DOE further noted that a report by the Idaho National Laboratory report also identifies potential technology gaps and includes recommendations for further R&D efforts, which will be incorporated when developing the forthcoming action plans.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure complete, analyzable records regarding research grant award decisions are available for management and analysis, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to lead the implementation of additional data collection efforts in coordination with DOD's grant-making components. These should include: (1) Retaining complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data, including a record of proposal disposition, in linked electronic files to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. (2) Collecting demographic, education, and career information from applicants, on a voluntary basis, that is not available to proposal reviewers but is used for analysis of success rates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with our recommendation to implement additional data collection efforts. As of August, 2017, the Basic Research Office (BRO) has drafted an implementation plan and schedule for the collection of demographic data on grant applicants and lifecycle grant data. As part of this, BRO has identified a number of issues to be addressed and resolved within DoD. One of these areas is the protection of any information collected to assess the success rates of women as Principal Investigators (PIs)/co-PIS under STEM Research grants and cooperative agreements. As a result, before BRO proceeds with its planned actions, they are working with the Office of Information Management, WHS, to ensure there are no issues related to the Privacy Act. The agency did not provide a timeline to GAO for when these actions are expected to be completed.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure complete, analyzable records regarding research grant award decisions are available for management and analysis, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's grant-making agencies to implement additional data collection efforts, which should include: (1) Retaining complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data, including a record of proposal disposition, in linked electronic files to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. (2) Collecting demographic, education, and career information from applicants, on a voluntary basis, that is not available to proposal reviewers but is used for analysis of success rates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE generally agreed with our recommendation to implement additional data collection efforts. According to DOE officials, as of September, 2017, of the four components audited at DOE, all four have taken actions toward implementing the recommendation and one component has completed its implementation. Specifically, the Office of Science began collecting investigator demographics during the second quarter of fiscal year 2015 and already retained complete records that enabled the calculation of success rates. Three additional DOE components conducted a joint feasibility study and all concur that it is feasible to collect data on demographic, education and career information of applicants. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) revised its approach to data collection and now retains complete grant life cycle information for each individual award, including complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data in linked electronic files. NE is also changing existing data systems to input/track voluntarily submitted demographic information on Principle Investigators on applications to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. The agency notes that for NE, the completion of the actions required to implement this recommendation is estimated to take up to 12 months. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) participated in the joint feasibility study regarding the collection of demographic data, but have not completed any actions to implement such data collection.
    Recommendation: As NASA begins to collect demographic data on its grant proposals and awards, the NASA Administrator should include the following key components: (1) Retain complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data, including a record of proposal disposition, in linked electronic files to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. (2) Collect demographic, education, and career information from applicants, on a voluntary basis, that is not available to proposal reviewers but is used for analysis of success rates.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA agreed with our recommendation and indicated it will begin collecting basic demographic, education, and career data from its research grant applicants on a voluntary basis by the end of fiscal year 2016. In addition, NASA noted it will explore its ability to consolidate proposal and award data as part of the ongoing update to its procurement and grants management systems. As of September 2017, NASA officials reported that the notice of grant award document (form 1687) was modified to require entry of the proposal number on the form in order to capture the linkage between proposal and award. When the transition to the new contract/grant writing system (Procurement for Public Sector) occurred in June 2017, NASA began using the amended award notice. NASA states they are continuing to investigate system options for fine tuning this cross-referencing methodology. However, as of September 2017, there were no stated plans to collect or track demographic, education, or career characteristics of grant applicants in such a way as to facilitate the analysis of success rates.
    Recommendation: To comply with Title IX enforcement requirements, the Secretary of the Department of Defense, which funds STEM research at universities, should direct the Director of the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity to ensure that Title IX compliance reviews of DOD's grantees are periodically conducted.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with our recommendation and noted it is in the process of revising current DOD guidance which will address its Title IX enforcement requirements. In a conversation with GAO in September 2017, a DOD official stated that the agency is in the process of formulating instructions related to both Title IX and Title VI that they believe will address the recommendation regarding Title IX enforcement. To date, these actions are not complete as they are still in the process of developing appropriate language.
    Recommendation: To comply with Title IX enforcement requirements, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which funds STEM research at universities, should ensure that Title IX compliance reviews of NIH's grantees are periodically conducted.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS indicated it would consult with NIH and initiate a sex discrimination compliance review program that includes grantee institutions with STEM programs. We will update the status of this recommendation when the agency provides documentation that these efforts have been completed.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to develop and periodically update a set of authoritative climate change observations and projections for use in federal decision making, which state, local, and private sector decision makers could also access to obtain the best available climate information.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to create a national climate information system with defined roles for federal agencies and nonfederal entities with existing statutory authority.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, emergency services, information technology, and nuclear sectors' cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS has released updated sector-specific plans for the chemical, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, dams, emergency services, information technology, and nuclear reactors sectors. The plans include a section on measuring effectiveness based on the plan development guidance. The plans provide expected metrics to track the progress of sector activities and state that the outcomes will be reported through the National Annual Reporting process as well as through the quadrennial plan update. Because the metrics are new and annual reporting has not yet occurred, DHS has not provided evidence of metrics data collected and reported to address the challenges. We will continue to follow-up to determine how performance measures have been implemented and what reporting is available based on those measures.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the financial services sector's cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: The 2015 sector-specific plan for the financial services sector includes a section on measuring the effectiveness of sector activities; however, the plan does not include specific metrics. The plan refers to working groups and meetings of sector stakeholders as mechanisms to track sector progress. No specific metrics and associated reports of outcomes have been provided to address overcoming the challenges of monitoring the sector's cybersecurity progress. We will continue to monitor financial services sector activities and determine any specific metrics and related reports developed and implemented to track and report on the sector's cybersecurity progress.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (as co-SSAs) should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the food and agriculture sector's cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released an update to the food and agriculture sector-specific plan for 2015. The plan states the sector's lack of an overarching mechanism to measure and evaluate risk mitigation activities and the challenge of obtaining performance measurement data from non-federal partners. However, the plan notes a goal of evaluating the progress of individual protective programs and strategies. No metrics or reports of outcomes have been provided to address the challenge of monitoring the sector's cybersecurity progress. We will continue to follow up to determine whether USDA and HHS have developed and implemented mechanisms to measure the outcomes of their sector cybersecurity-related activities.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (as co-SSAs) should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the food and agriculture sector's cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released an update to the food and agriculture sector-specific plan for 2015. The plan states the sector's lack of an overarching mechanism to measure and evaluate risk mitigation activities and the challenge of obtaining performance measurement data from non-federal partners. However, the plan notes a goal of evaluating the progress of individual protective programs and strategies. No metrics or reports of outcomes have been provided to address the challenge of monitoring the sector's cybersecurity progress. We will continue to follow up to determine whether HHS has developed and implemented mechanisms to measure the outcomes of its sector cybersecurity-related activities.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Transportation (as co-SSAs) should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the transportation systems sector's cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The co-Sector-Specific Agencies (SSAs) for the Transportation Systems Sector, DHS (TSA and Coast Guard) and the Department of Transportation, provided an update on efforts to develop sector cybersecurity metrics. The update described measures under consideration such as tracking the number of sector stakeholders receiving cybersecurity products, monitoring the usefulness of products through satisfaction surveys, and tracking attendance at sector events and seminars encompassing cybersecurity. The co-SSAs plan to report sector cyber activities, progress, and relevant metrics annually through the Critical Infrastructure National Annual Report and through quadrennial updates to the sector-specific plan. The latest sector-specific plan was released in 2015. The proposed metrics have not been formalized in a strategy or plan. We will continue to monitor and evaluate efforts to formalize and implement the proposed metrics to determine whether they address the intent of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Transportation (as co-SSAs) should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the transportation systems sector's cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The co-Sector-Specific Agencies (SSAs) for the Transportation Systems Sector, DHS (TSA and Coast Guard) and the Department of Transportation, provided an update on efforts to develop sector cybersecurity metrics. The update described measures under consideration such as tracking the number of sector stakeholders receiving cybersecurity products, monitoring the usefulness of products through satisfaction surveys, and tracking attendance at sector events and seminars encompassing cybersecurity. The co-SSAs plan to report sector cyber activities, progress, and relevant metrics annually through the Critical Infrastructure National Annual Report and through quadrennial updates to the sector-specific plan. The latest sector-specific plan was released in 2015. The proposed metrics have not been formalized in a strategy or plan. We will continue to monitor and evaluate efforts to formalize and implement the proposed metrics to determine whether they address the intent of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better monitor and provide a basis for improving the effectiveness of cybersecurity risk mitigation activities, informed by the sectors' updated plans and in collaboration with sector stakeholders, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should direct responsible officials to develop performance metrics to provide data and determine how to overcome challenges to monitoring the water and wastewater systems sector's cybersecurity progress.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The 2015 water and wastewater sector-specific plan includes a segment on measuring the effectiveness of sector activities that describes the overall principles for collecting data and using the National Annual Report data calls as a tool for assessing performance and reporting on progress within the sector. However, the plan does not state specific measures and the agency acknowledged in its response to our report that it does not collect performance metrics on the effectiveness of its cybersecurity programs for the sector. According to agency officials, the development of performance metrics in collaboration with sector partners is underway. We will continue to follow up to identify any specific metrics developed and implemented and resulting outcome-based reports.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress may wish to consider directing DOT to study and provide a report to Congress identifying approaches for extracting, storing, and analyzing electronically collected motor carrier drivers' schedule data, including the potential benefits, privacy, and cost concerns, and options for how such concerns could be mitigated.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions Congress has taken in response to this matter for consideration, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure consistent implementation and documentation of actions relating to interagency agreements, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should ensure that planned training on interagency agreements reaches the full range of program and contracting officials, particularly those who only occasionally award interagency agreements.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation, and developed training based on the revised policy on interagency agreements issued in October 2016. GAO requested information in June 2017 on how VA will ensure this training reaches the full range of program and contracting officials, but as of September 2017 we have not yet received these details.
    Director: Joseph Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the identification, alignment, and management of DOD's chemical and biological defense infrastructure and to fully institutionalize the use of risk assessments to support future investment decisions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update the roles and responsibilities guidance in DOD Directive 5160.05E to identify which organizations are responsible for conducting and participating in CBDP Enterprise risk assessments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation but has not yet completed actions to implement it. As of August 2017, DOD was still waiting to release the final version of DOO Directive 5160.05E.
    Recommendation: To improve the identification, alignment, and management of DOD's chemical and biological defense infrastructure and to fully institutionalize the use of risk assessments to support future investment decisions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update the CBDP Enterprise's portfolio planning process, to include when risk assessments will be conducted.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation but has not yet completed actions to implement it. On 6/8/16, DOD reported that the risk assessment process was initially piloted in 2014 to determine its utility for informing CBDP Enterprise portfolio planning and guidance. Moving forward, the CBDP Enterprise plans to conduct risk assessments annually to support portfolio planning and guidance. As of August 2017, DOD reported that the department was beginning an approximately 12-month process to revise the CBDP Business Plan, which would likely be published as a DOD Instruction. This plan should address the risk assessment recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the identification, alignment, and management of DOD's chemical and biological defense infrastructure and to enhance PAIO's ongoing analysis of potential infrastructure duplication in the CBDP Enterprise and gain potential efficiencies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to identify, request, and consider any information from existing infrastructure studies from other federal agencies with chemical and biological research and development and test and evaluation infrastructure.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation but has not yet completed actions to implement it. As of July 2017, DOD has requested, but not received, such studies from other federal agencies. However, DOD is currently engaged in phase two of a three-phase effort regarding its chemical and biological defense infrastructure program (CBDP), which includes a review of the department's interagency roles and responsibilities for its chemical and biological defense Infrastructure Manager. Targeted completion for this phase is December 2017, at which time, DOD may have obtained relevant information from other federal agencies.
    Director: Mak, Marie A
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order for NASA to fully implement the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 and for CASIS to fulfill its responsibility as outlined in the cooperative agreement, the NASA Administrator should direct the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to fully staff the ISS National Laboratory Advisory Committee.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA does not plan to staff the International Space Station National Laboratory Advisory Committee (INLAC) at this time. Officials stated that they continue to believe that the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Board of Directors meets the intent of the INLAC charter by providing oversight of CASIS implementation of utilization of the ISS as a national laboratory. NASA remains concerned about staffing another oversight group that may create conflicts with the existing CASIS Board of Directors. NASA is also exploring with CASIS opportunities to open portions of board meetings to the general public and interested parties in order to foster additional transparency and a broad and free exchange of ideas. In response to this recommendation, the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate indicated that NASA was seeking relief from the statutory requirement to staff the INLAC.
    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: Cristina T. Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve technology planning and ensure planning efforts are clearly aligned with the SBIRS follow-on, the Secretary of the Air Force should establish a technology insertion plan as part of the SBIRS follow-on acquisition strategy that identifies obsolescence needs as well as specific potential technologies and insertion points.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation. DOD's planned action on the scope and focus of technology insertion will be based on the direction provided in the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Follow-on Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) and will be executed through the SBIRS Space Modernization Initiative (SMI). The SBIRS AoA was completed in March 2016; however, as of June 2017, the SMI schedule has yet to show how technology will be inserted into the follow-on system.
    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: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's ability to make consistent and informed decisions in its management of the TCC program in accordance with internal control standards, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics should require the Director, Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, to track and maintain accurate records that include amounts of funds used for the TCC program, and have them readily available for examination to ensure that funding data will be accurately accounted for and reported in future reports, such as the annual budget report to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD's Corrosion Office has consistently maintained that there was initially some inconsistency in financial reporting. The office plans to implement internal controls to identify and document budget categories for each financial transaction executed which will improve timeliness of reporting.
    Recommendation: To enhance DOD's ability to make consistent and informed decisions in its management of the TCC program in accordance with internal control standards, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics should require the Director, Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, to document the procedures for selecting and approving military research labs supporting civilian and military institutions in conducting projects within the TCC program.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD's Corrosion Office has consistently maintained that its existing process is adequately documented in the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan and the Technical Corrosion Collaboration (TCC) Definitions Document. However, DOD plans to update the Appendix C "Technical Corrosion Collaboration" of the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan to add additional details regarding the procedures for selecting and approving military research labs supporting civilian and military institutions in conducting projects.
    Director: Joseph Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD's investments are being applied toward developing medical countermeasures to respond to the most serious and likely biological threat agents, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate DOD officials to develop and implement a process to update and validate DOD's list of biological threats, as required by DOD Directives 5160.05E and 6205.3, or implement a process that aligns with the department's current policies, practices, and priorities as reflected in the 2001 and 2010 Quadrennial Defense Reviews .

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation. DOD has been reviewing directives addressing biological warfare threats and is in the process of revising DOD Directive 5160.05E to ensure that the directive appropriately captures and institutionalizes the use of risk assessments to support research, development, and acquisition of chemical and biological defense capabilities. The Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP) piloted the risk assessment process in 2014 and will continue to conduct annual risk assessments to support portfolio planning and guidance. In addition to this revision, the CBDP continues to improve stakeholder awareness and discussions on threats through the utilization of an annual threat day review and on-going Joint Service discussions on chemical and biological threats and capabilities to address those threats. Alignment of the threat information and medical countermeasure capabilities are discussed through the CBDP Medical Prime/Non-Prime Working Group, which was established in February 2015 to ensure the CBDP medical portfolio is addressing the highest priority threats considering available candidates and resources. The group meets quarterly to address key programmatic changes, discuss program strategic guidance, and to address information presented and discussed at the annual threat review sessions. In total, these efforts have improved the Department's ability to ensure biological threats are aligned and considered through holistic, threat-informed, risk-based assessments. DOD is also taking actions to improve the development of medical countermeasures against priority threats through a number of actions such as developing a process guide, holding threat days, and performing in-depth analyses on medical science and technology solutions. Once DOD completes and issues Directive 5160.05E, we will assess the extent to which DOD's combined actions address the recommendation.
    Director: Sullivan, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve tracking and reporting of technology transition outcomes for SBIR projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of Small Business Programs to establish a common definition of technology transition for all SBIR projects to support annual reporting requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) officials stated they have come up with a standard definition of technology transition as the production and delivery (whether by the originating party or by others) of products, processes, technologies, or services for sale to or use by the Federal Government or a Contractor in support of a Government requirement. Despite repeated attempted at obtaining documentary evidence of this action, we have not received any response from DOD and until documentation is provided this recommendation will remain open.
    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: 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: Kohn, Linda T
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that nonmedical DOD research organizations coordinate with the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs early in the research process to understand medical research requirements and avoid inefficiencies that may lead to duplicative work, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to communicate to DOD's nonmedical research organizations the importance of coordination with the Joint Program Committee for Combat Casualty Care chair on combat casualty care issues, and require this coordination early in the research process when these organizations conduct research with implications for combat casualty care.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD took several actions in 2014 to communicate to DOD's nonmedical research organizations the importance of coordination with the Joint Program Committee for Combat Casualty Care. Specifically, DOD chartered the Armed Services Biomedical Research Evaluation and Management Community of Interest to include both medical and non-medical researchers and to improve coordination, collaboration, and cooperation. DOD also appointed senior leaders to work in both this community of interest and in other DOD research communities of interest, to improve coordination. Furthermore, DOD conducted joint research meetings to share research data across the medical and non-medical communities. As of September 2017, DOD had not indicated a requirement for this coordination to occur early in the research process, as included in GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Chairman of the FCC should formally reassess the current RF energy exposure limit, including its effects on human health, the costs and benefits associated with keeping the current limit, and the opinions of relevant health and safety agencies, and change the limit if determined appropriate.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is developing a record on radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits with a Notice of Inquiry (in dockets 13-84 and 03-137). In the Inquiry, FCC requested comment to determine whether the RF exposure limits and policies need to be reassessed. FCC has not issued any further actions related to this inquiry, and does not have a schedule to resolve the issues in the open proceeding.
    Recommendation: The Chairman of the FCC should reassess whether mobile phone testing requirements result in the identification of maximum RF energy exposure in likely usage configurations, particularly when mobile phones are held against the body, and update testing requirements as appropriate.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2013, FCC issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in ET Docket No. 03-137, proposing to update and revise its mobile phone testing procedures. FCC staff is reviewing comments on the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and developing a rulemaking for consideration by the Commission. FCC does not yet have a timeline for further action in this rulemaking.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Once the stewardship for the isotopes have been assigned, the Secretary of Energy should direct the head of the responsible office(s) to develop strategic plans that, among other things, systematically assess and document risks to managing the isotopes and supporting activities, such as not having control over the supply of these isotopes, and implement actions needed to mitigate them.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the Isotope Program, it has assessed supply and demand for some key isotopes and is working with stakeholders to manage supply and demand of isotopes for which the program does not control the supply of. We will review the program's actions and update the status of this recommendation.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to significantly reduce the uncertainty that some taxpayers have about their ability to earn credits for their research activities, the Secretary of the Treasury should issue regulations clarifying the definition of gross receipts for purposes of computing the research credit for controlled groups of corporations.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury issued proposed regulations clarifying the definition of gross receipts on December 13, 2013 and solicited public comments. During the course of 2014 tax practitioners and business executives submitted comments criticizing the regulations and asking for them to be withdrawn. As of April 2017, Treasury has yet to issue final regulations that would include responses to these criticisms. The regulations would not become effective until tax year beginning after the date on which the regulations are published in final form.
    Recommendation: In order to significantly reduce the uncertainty that some taxpayers have about their ability to earn credits for their research activities, the Secretary of the Treasury should provide additional guidance to more clearly identify what types of activities are considered to be qualified support activities.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Treasury has not issued regulations to clarify what types of activities are considered to be qualified support activities.
    Recommendation: In order to significantly reduce the uncertainty that some taxpayers have about their ability to earn credits for their research activities, the Secretary of the Treasury should provide additional guidance to more clearly identify when commercial production of a qualified product is deemed to begin.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Treasury has not issued regulations to more clearly identify when commercial production of a qualified product is deemed to begin.
    Recommendation: In order to reduce economic inefficiencies and excessive revenue costs resulting from inaccuracies in the base of the research tax credit, Congress should consider eliminating the regular credit option for computing the research credit.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation to eliminate the regular computation option for the research tax credit or add a minimum base to the ASC option, as GAO suggested in November 2009. Section 121 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 made permanent the research tax credit (Public Law 114-113). The credit designed to encourage business innovation by providing a subsidy to new research has historically been a temporary provision. However, neither this act nor other enacted legislation has adopted GAO's suggested change to the research tax credit's design. Continued use of the regular computation credit option, which arbitrarily distributes subsidies across taxpayers, can distort investment decisions so that research spending and economic activity are not allocated to sectors that offer the highest returns to society. These misallocations may reduce economic efficiency and, thereby, diminish any economic benefits of the credit.
    Recommendation: In order to reduce economic inefficiencies and excessive revenue costs resulting from inaccuracies in the base of the research tax credit, Congress should consider adding a minimum base to the ASC that equals 50 percent of the taxpayer's current-year qualified research expenses.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation to eliminate the regular computation option for the research tax credit or add a minimum base to the ASC option, as GAO suggested in November 2009. Section 121 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 made permanent the research tax credit (Public Law 114-113). The credit designed to encourage business innovation by providing a subsidy to new research has historically been a temporary provision. However, neither this act nor other enacted legislation has adopted GAO's suggested change to the research tax credit's design. Continued use of the regular computation credit option, which arbitrarily distributes subsidies across taxpayers, can distort investment decisions so that research spending and economic activity are not allocated to sectors that offer the highest returns to society. These misallocations may reduce economic efficiency and, thereby, diminish any economic benefits of the credit.
    Recommendation: If Congress nevertheless wishes to continue offering the regular research credit to taxpayers, it may wish to consider reducing inaccuracies in the credit's base and to reduce taxpayers' uncertainty and compliance costs and IRS's administrative costs by updating the historical base period that regular credit claimants use to compute their fixed base percentages.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No action taken by Congress as of February 2017 to update the historical base period that regular credit claimants use to compute their fixed base percentages.
    Recommendation: If Congress nevertheless wishes to continue offering the regular research credit to taxpayers, it may wish to consider reducing inaccuracies in the credit's base and to reduce taxpayers' uncertainty and compliance costs and IRS's administrative costs by eliminating base period recordkeeping requirements for taxpayers that elect to use a fixed base percentage of 16 percent in their computation of the credit.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No action taken by Congress as of February 2017 to eliminate base period recordkeeping requirements for taxpayers that elect to use a fixed base percentage of 16 percent in their computation of the credit.
    Recommendation: If Congress nevertheless wishes to continue offering the regular research credit to taxpayers, it may wish to consider reducing inaccuracies in the credit's base and to reduce taxpayers' uncertainty and compliance costs and IRS's administrative costs by clarifying for Treasury its intent regarding the definition of gross receipts for purposes of computing the research credit for controlled groups of corporations. In particular it may want to consider clarifying that the regulations generally excluding transfers between members of controlled groups apply to both gross receipts and QREs and specifically clarifying how it intended sales by domestic members to foreign members to be treated. Such clarification would help to resolve open controversies relating to past claims, even if the regular credit were discontinued for future years.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No action taken by Congress as of February 2017 to clarify for Treasury its intent regarding the definition of gross receipts for purposes of computing the research credit for controlled groups of corporations. In particular, it may want to consider clarifying that the regulations generally excluding transfers between members of controlled groups apply to both gross receipts and QREs and specifically clarifying how it intended sales by domestic members to foreign members to be treated. Such clarification would help to resolve open controversies relating to past claims, even if the regular credit were discontinued for future years.
    Director: Kingsbury, Nancy R
    Phone: (202)512-6570

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the information available to the Congress for reauthorization, the Secretary of Transportation should analyze and report on trends currently anticipated to affect highway safety through 2020 and beyond in a systematic fashion--including information on high-clockspeed trends, discussion of evidence about these and other individual trends, their implications and potential interactions, and DOT responses.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT has not responded to this recommendation, but DOT announced a distracted driving summit September 30-October 1, 2009, with a limited number of invitees, and invited the GAO Assistant Director on this report to participate. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that the purpose of the summit is to "to address the dangers of text-messaging and other distractions behind the wheel." The summit will include "senior transportation officials, elected officials, safety advocates, law enforcement representatives and academics" who will convene in Washington, DC "to discuss ideas about how to combat distracted driving."
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should evaluate whether or not new approaches to data collection are needed to better track new trends related to highway safety.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT has not responded to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In order to develop an approach to decision making and the development of evidence on high-clockspeed trends affecting highway safety that are characterized by uncertainty, the Secretary of Transportation should consider and evaluate practices and principles for making decisions under conditions of uncertainty and for using data in such decision making and, on that basis, develop an approach to guide decision making on high-clockspeed trends that, although somewhat uncertain, may affect highway safety.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In GAO-09-56, GAO recommended the Secretary of Transportation consider and evaluate practices and principles for making conditions under uncertainty and for using data in light of issues encountered in developing evidence on high-clockspeed trends affecting highway safety that are characterized by uncertainty. GAO had studied driver distraction involving electronic devices, in particular cell phones with texting capability and identified these evolving electronic devices as a high clockspeed trend. DOT reports several actions on distracted driving, specifically: (1) an Executive Order to federal employees not to engage in text messaging while driving government-owned vehicles; when using electronic equipment supplied by the government while driving; or while driving privately owned vehicles when they are on official business; (2) the Secretary called on state and local governments to (a) make distracted driving part of their state highway plans, (b) pass state and local laws against distracted driving in all types of vehicles, (c) back up public awareness campaigns with high-visibility enforcement actions; (3) the Secretary directed the Department to establish an on-line clearinghouse on the risks of distracted driving and also (4) pledged to continue the Department's research on how to best combat distracted driving. DOT also notes that the Department's www.distraction.gov website provides information on the latest data on distracted driving and that 34 states have passed laws against texting and driving since the 2009 announcement by the Secretary of DOT.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the information available to the Congress for reauthorization, the Secretary of Transportation should determine, in consultation with relevant congressional committees, schedules for periodic reporting that will be sufficiently frequent to update the Congress on fast-changing trends.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT has not responded to this recommendation.