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    Topic: "Science and Technology"

    34 publications with a total of 138 open recommendations including 11 priority 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: Kirschbaum, Joseph W
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, in coordination with the DOD Chief Information Officer, the Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy; Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; and Personnel and Readiness; and with military service and agency stakeholders, should conduct operations security surveys that identify IoT security risks and protect DOD information and operations, in accordance with DOD guidance, or address operations security risks posed by IoT devices through other DOD risk assessments.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Principal Cyber Advisor, in coordination with the DOD Chief Information Officer; the Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy; Intelligence; Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; and Personnel and Readiness; and with military service and agency stakeholders, should (1) review and assess existing departmental security policies and guidance--on cybersecurity, operations security, physical security, and information security--that may affect IoT devices; and (2) identify areas where new DOD policies and guidance may be needed--including for specific IoT devices, applications, or procedures--and where existing security policies and guidance can be updated to address IoT security concerns.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Principal Cyber Advisor to the Secretary 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: 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: 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: 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: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To fulfill the role assigned to it under the 1980 Act, the Secretary of Commerce should engage with industry stakeholders and continually identify and assess critical materials needs across a broad range of industrial sectors.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2016, Commerce provided information on its implementation of the recommendation from GAO-16-699. Commerce stated that it had developed an action plan consisting of the following steps: (1)consulting with relevant offices and agencies, including: OSTP, DOD, the U.S. Geological Survey, DOE, the U.S. International Trade Commission, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; (2) determining criteria to be used when it is necessary to collect information to identify and assess critical materials needs; (3) determining appropriate steps, which might include: (a) developing a summary of information that federal agencies currently collect on the domestic and international supply of critical raw materials; (b)soliciting input from a broad range of industries through a Federal Register notice; (c)assessing aggregate information, as allowable under law, that is submitted through the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process over the course of Q1-2 of fiscal year 2017; and (d)consulting with federal advisory groups for advice; (4) determining the audience for collected information and methodology for information dissemination; (5) determining the process for identifying further information collection needs and methodology for disseminating collected information; and (6) determining the timeline and responsibilities for information collection and distribution. In an April 2017 update, Commerce stated that it had identified points of contacts in 7 of the 8 agencies listed in its action plan and is in the process of contacting them for input. Commerce stated that it hoped to identify an appropriate contact in the 8th agency in the near future. Commerce stated that it had also drafted questions to ask the agencies in order to implement the action plan. Commerce did not provide a timeframe for when it expected to complete implementation of the action plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should agree on and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of member agencies and take steps to actively engage all relevant federal agencies in the Subcommittee's efforts.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that an increasing number of agencies participate in Subcommittee discussions and activities, with the last several meetings having had strong engagement from agencies that had not previously been involved, including the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. OSTP indicated that when the Subcommittee's charter is considered for renewal in spring 2017, it will reach out to all federal agencies with relevant responsibilities to discuss their roles in the Subcommittee's efforts and encourage them to name a lead representative and regularly participate. However, OSTP did not provide information about any plans to more clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the Subcommittee's member agencies. OSTP stated that it prefers flexibility, as this facilitates cooperation on topics of mutual interest and better accommodates changing circumstances and areas of focus.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should develop joint strategies that articulate common outcomes and identify contributing agencies' efforts.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. However, the information OSTP provided did not include any details related to developing joint strategies that articulate common outcomes and identifying contributing agencies' efforts.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to strengthen the federal approach to addressing critical materials supply issues through enhanced interagency collaboration, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, working with the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains and agency leadership, as appropriate, should develop a mechanism to monitor, evaluate, and periodically report on the progress of member agencies' efforts.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. However, the information OSTP provided did not include any details related to developing a mechanism to monitor, evaluate, and periodically report on the progress of member agencies' efforts.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to broaden future applications of the early warning screening methodology, the Subcommittee should take the steps necessary to include potentially critical materials beyond minerals, such as developing a plan or strategy for prioritizing additional materials for which actions are needed to address data limitations.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that current efforts to update the early warning screening methodology have refined, and in some cases augmented, the materials being screened based on available, regularly collected data. The Subcommittee will continue to consider incorporation of additional materials. OSTP further stated that, with respect to data availability limitations, the report's suggestion that the Subcommittee "better work with member agencies to address existing data limitations" is sometimes not actionable because private entities and foreign governments may be unwilling or unable to provide (or even collect) such data. OSTP stated that the Subcommittee will, however, continue to explore approaches to improve data availability and granularity, such as through proposals for revisions to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule or to the North American Industry Classification System or other such systems.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ability of the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal agencies to carry out the national materials policy outlined in the 1980 Act, and to enhance the federal government's ability to facilitate domestic production of critical materials, the Subcommittee should examine approaches other countries or regions are taking to see if there are any lessons learned that can be applied to the United States.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OSTP provided information on its efforts to implement recommendations from GAO-16-699. OSTP stated that it concurs with the recommendation that the Subcommittee should examine approaches other countries or regions are taking to see if there are any lessons learned that can be applied to the United States. OSTP stated that the Subcommittee is sharing and discussing information on production in other regions, including a U.S.-led project (and other projects with U.S. involvement or support) under the Mining Task Force of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. OSTP stated that in the future, the Subcommittee expects to review experiences in other countries/regions to glean lessons learned. OSTP did not provide a time frame in reach it would review experiences in other countries/regions.
    Director: Persons, Timothy M
    Phone: (202) 512-6412

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To understand the extent to which incomplete inactivation occurs and whether incidents are being properly identified, analyzed, and addressed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop clear definitions of inactivation for use within their respective guidance documents that are consistent across the Select Agent Program, NIH's oversight of recombinant pathogens, and the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) are taking steps to address this recommendation. Specifically, in January and March 2017, HHS, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued updated select agent regulations and guidance that included clear definitions of inactivation and a validated inactivation procedure that are consistent across the Federal Select Agent Program. Additionally, HHS stated in December 2016 that NIH will consider providing clear and consistent definitions of inactivation in future guidance that is harmonized with the select agent regulations. Moreover, NIH and CDC told us they plan to include a new appendix in the revised Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual that specifically addresses the development, validation, and implementation of inactivation protocols, which they anticipate releasing in 2 to 3 years.
    Recommendation: To understand the extent to which incomplete inactivation occurs and whether incidents are being properly identified, analyzed, and addressed, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct APHIS to revise reporting forms to help identify when incidents involving incomplete inactivation occur and analyze the information reported to help identify the causes of incomplete inactivation to mitigate the risk of future incidents.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, officials from the Federal Select Agent Program told us that they are in the process of modifying the program's incident reporting form to include reporting of inactivation failures, with completion anticipated by summer 2017.
    Recommendation: To understand the extent to which incomplete inactivation occurs and whether incidents are being properly identified, analyzed, and addressed, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct CDC and NIH to revise reporting forms within their respective areas of oversight to help identify when incidents involving incomplete inactivation occur and analyze the information reported to help identify the causes of incomplete inactivation to mitigate the risk of future incidents.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, officials from the Federal Select Agent Program told us that they are in the process of modifying the program's incident reporting form to include reporting of inactivation failures, with completion anticipated by summer 2017. In addition, in August 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) revised its template for reporting incidents subject to the NIH Guidelines to include a specific checkbox for entities to identify incidents that involve incomplete inactivation.
    Recommendation: To increase scientific information on inactivation and viability testing, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture should coordinate research efforts and take actions to help close gaps in the science of inactivation and viability testing across high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials stated that the department, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has examined current gaps related to inactivation and are in the process of taking steps to increase research on applied biosafety, in part to improve scientific understanding of processes for inactivation in high-containment laboratories. We are waiting for documentation and timeframes for implementation.
    Recommendation: To increase scientific information on inactivation and viability testing, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Agriculture should coordinate research efforts and take actions to help close gaps in the science of inactivation and viability testing across high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials stated that the department, in coordination with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has examined current gaps related to inactivation and are in the process of taking steps to increase research on applied biosafety, in part to improve scientific understanding of processes for inactivation in high-containment laboratories. We are waiting for documentation and timeframes for implementation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that inactivation protocols are scientifically sound and are effectively implemented, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct CDC and NIH to create comprehensive and consistent guidance for the development, validation, and implementation of inactivation protocols--to include the application of safeguards--across the Select Agent Program, NIH's oversight of recombinant pathogens, and the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued Federal Select Agent Program guidance on the inactivation of select agents and toxins. According to HHS, this guidance is intended to provide additional information to regulated entities to assist them in meeting new requirements for rendering samples with select agents as non-viable. HHS also stated that the Federal Select Agent Program will continue to work with other federal agencies to ensure that the federal government is addressing inactivation in a consistent manner. In addition, according to HHS, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will consider providing clear and consistent guidance related to inactivation that is harmonized with the Federal Select Agent Program as appropriate. As of March 2017, NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were in the process of revising the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual to include a new appendix that addresses the development, validation, and implementation of inactivation protocols. HHS plans to release the updated manual in 2 to 3 years.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that dangerous pathogens can be located in the event there is an incident involving incomplete inactivation, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Directors of CDC and NIH, when updating the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual, to include guidance on documenting the shipment of inactivated material.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stated in March 2017 that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are in the process of revising the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories manual to include a new appendix that addresses inactivation methods, including guidance on documenting the shipment of inactivated material by 2020. HHS plans to release the updated manual in 2 to 3 years.
    Recommendation: To help ensure more consistent enforcement for violations involving incomplete inactivation of select agents, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct APHIS to develop and implement consistent criteria and documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations related to incidents involving incomplete inactivation.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, the Federal Select Agent Program finalized a document that provides criteria on when to refer violations and options for enforcement. The document categorizes regulatory departures, grouped by level of risk, along a spectrum of severity with associated enforcement options. The program continues to develop associated documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations.
    Recommendation: To help ensure more consistent enforcement for violations involving incomplete inactivation of select agents, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct CDC to develop and implement consistent criteria and documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations related to incidents involving incomplete inactivation.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, the Federal Select Agent Program finalized a document that provides criteria on when to refer violations and options for enforcement. The document categorizes regulatory departures, grouped by level of risk, along a spectrum of severity with associated enforcement options. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) to develop a policy document that outlines criteria for referring violations to the HHS OIG. One of the criterion for referral is any departure from the select agent regulations that creates a danger to public health and safety. This policy document was finalized in June 2017. The program continues to develop associated documentation requirements for referring violations to investigative entities and enforcing regulations.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to develop a consistent definition of patent quality, and clearly articulate this definition in agency documents and other guidance.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will update relevant agency guidance, conduct training, and take other actions in response to this recommendation by March 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to further develop measurable, quantifiable goals and performance indicators related to patent quality as part of the agency's strategic plan.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will update existing indicators and, as appropriate, develop new measures by October 2016.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to analyze the time examiners need to perform a thorough patent examination. This action could be taken in conjunction with the recommendation in our report on USPTO's prior art search capabilities (GAO-16-479).

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an examination of expectancy by April 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to analyze how current performance incentives affect the extent to which examiners perform thorough examinations of patent applications.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an assessment of examination quality across current incentive award tiers by September 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to establish a process to provide data on the results of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) proceedings to managers and staff in the USPTO's Technology Centers, and analyze PTAB data for trends in patent quality issues to identify whether additional training, guidance, or other actions are needed to address trends.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will establish a process to provide examiners with information on various PTAB proceedings by September 2016.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to evaluate the effects of compact prosecution and other agency application and examination policies on patent quality. In doing so, USPTO should determine if any changes are needed to ensure that the policies are not adversely affecting patent quality.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an assessment of various policies on patent quality by September 2017.
    Recommendation: To help improve patent quality, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Director of the USPTO to consider whether to require patent applicants to include claim clarity tools--such as a glossary of terms, a check box to signal functional claim language, or claim charts--in each patent application.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will issue a request for comments on additional claim clarity tools by September 2017 and determine any new requirements by January 2018.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that USPTO's collaborative efforts on classification help examiners find relevant prior art, USPTO should work with the European Patent Office (EPO) to identify a target level of consistency of Cooperative Patent Classification decisions between USPTO and EPO and develop a plan to monitor consistency to achieve the target.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO has begun ongoing meetings with EPO on quality assurance. USPTO aims to agree to a target level, develop and deploy any needed IT, and begin monitoring and implementing corrective actions by first quarter of 2019.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USPTO is able to take full advantage of its investment in new information technology tools and capabilities, USPTO should develop and periodically update a documented strategy to identify key sources of nonpatent literature for individual technology centers and to assess the optimal means of providing access to these sources, such as including them in USPTO's search system.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will begin assessing nonpatent literature usage and develop a strategy for optimizing its usage by November 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve its monitoring of prior art searches and provide USPTO the ability to examine and address trends in prior art search quality at the technology center level, USPTO should develop written guidance on what constitutes a thorough prior art search within each technology field (i.e., mechanical, chemical, electrical), technology center, art area, or art unit, as appropriate, and establish goals and indicators for improving prior art searches.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will establish goals and indicators for prior art searches by December 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve its monitoring of prior art searches and provide USPTO the ability to examine and address trends in prior art search quality at the technology center level, USPTO should ensure that sufficient information is collected in reviews of prior art searches to assess the quality of searches at the technology center level, including how often examiners search for U.S. patents, foreign patents, and nonpatent literature.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete an evaluation of the master review form used to collect information on prior art search by April 2017 and will have performed a sufficient number of reviews by September 2017 to assess search quality at the technology center level.
    Recommendation: To improve its monitoring of prior art searches and provide USPTO the ability to examine and address trends in prior art search quality at the technology center level, USPTO should use the audits and supervisory reviews to monitor the thoroughness of examiners' prior art searches and improvements over time.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will develop metrics for prior art search quality and processes to incorporate information learned from these metrics by June 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that examiners have sufficient time to conduct a thorough prior art search, USPTO should, in conjunction with implementing the recommendation from our patent quality report to analyze the time examiners need to perform a thorough examination, specifically assess the time examiners need to conduct a thorough prior art search for different technologies.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will complete analyses of examiner's required duties and current time expectancies and determine what, if any, additional time should be given by September 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure that examiners have the technical competence needed to complete thorough prior art searches, USPTO should assess whether the technical competencies of examiners in each technology center match those necessary; develop strategies to address any gaps identified, such as a technical training strategy; and establish measures to monitor progress toward closing any gaps.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Patent and Trademark Office
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the agency's action plan, USPTO will develop assessment tools and plans to address any gaps identified, as well as measure progress towards closing any gaps by December 2017.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    9 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce pre-award administrative workload and costs, particularly for applications that do not result in awards, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should conduct agency-wide reviews of possible actions, such as further use of preliminary proposals, to postpone pre-award requirements until after a preliminary decision about an applicant's likelihood of funding and, through OSTP's Research Business Models working group, coordinate and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, DOE stated that it remained committed to addressing this recommendation. DOE outlined several steps it planned to take, such as participating in interagency meetings, but it did not indicate whether it has taken these steps.
    Recommendation: To reduce pre-award administrative workload and costs, particularly for applications that do not result in awards, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should conduct agency-wide reviews of possible actions, such as further use of preliminary proposals, to postpone pre-award requirements until after a preliminary decision about an applicant's likelihood of funding and, through OSTP's Research Business Models working group, coordinate and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to HHS, NIH is considering the feasibility of an approach to streamline its application process. As of May 2017, HHS anticipated implementing this recommendation by early fiscal year 2019.
    Recommendation: To reduce pre-award administrative workload and costs, particularly for applications that do not result in awards, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should conduct agency-wide reviews of possible actions, such as further use of preliminary proposals, to postpone pre-award requirements until after a preliminary decision about an applicant's likelihood of funding and, through OSTP's Research Business Models working group, coordinate and report on these efforts.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, NASA anticipated implementing this recommendation by September 2017. NASA stated that it is working with other federal agencies to identify best practices for reducing the administrative burden to applicants and will assess the impact these practices have on the quality of applications so that NASA can continue to meet its mission.
    Recommendation: To better target requirements on areas of greatest risk, while maintaining accountability over grant funds, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as part of the planned evaluation of the HHS regulation governing financial conflicts of interest in NIH-funded research, should evaluate options for targeting requirements on areas of greatest risk for researcher conflicts, including adjusting the threshold and types of financial interests that need to be disclosed and the timing of disclosures.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS stated that, as of May 2017, NIH was proceeding with plans to assess the financial conflict of interest regulation, including how to reduce administrative burden on researchers while maintaining the integrity and credibility of research findings.
    Recommendation: To better target requirements on areas of greatest risk, while maintaining accountability over grant funds, the Director of OMB, as part of OMB's planned evaluation of the Uniform Guidance, should evaluate options for targeting requirements for research grants to universities, including requirements for purchases and subrecipient monitoring, on areas of greatest risk for improper use of research funds.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, OMB had not provided information on steps it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to establish a plan to address the limitations in the program's efforts to test security controls, including ensuring that any changes in the system's inventory do not materially affect test results.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with our recommendation and has established a plan to address the limitations we identified in the program's efforts to test security controls. NOAA's plan outlines several actions, and the agency plans to complete these actions by Summer 2017. We will continue to evaluate NOAA's progress in implementing its planned actions.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to, when establishing plans of action and milestones to address critical and high risk vulnerabilities, schedule the completion dates within 30 days, as required by agency policy.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with our recommendation and has established a plan to address it. This plan includes multiple actions that are to be completed by the end of July 2017. We will continue to evaluate NOAA's progress.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to ensure that the agency and program are tracking and closing a consistent set of incident response activities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with our recommendation and has made progress in addressing it. Specifically, NOAA developed a pilot of a new incident tracking and reporting system to manage its response activities. NOAA plans to complete additional steps to implement this recommendation. We will continue to evaluate NOAA's progress in addressing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the importance of addressing risks on the JPSS satellite program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Administrator of NOAA to evaluate the costs and benefits of different launch scenarios for the Polar Follow-on program based on updated satellite life expectancies to ensure satellite continuity while minimizing program costs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation and provided some documentation on its efforts to evaluate different launch scenarios. However, the agency has not yet provided all of the documentation needed to confirm that this recommendation has been addressed. We continue to work with NOAA to obtain and review the documentation needed to address this recommendation.
    Director: Diana Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    6 open recommendations
    including 6 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and better ensure that face recognition capabilities are being used in accordance with privacy protection laws and policy requirements, the Attorney General should assess the PIA development process to determine why PIAs were not published prior to using or updating face recognition capabilities, and implement corrective actions to ensure the timely development, updating, and publishing of PIAs before using or making changes to a system.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOJ officials did not concur with this recommendation, and stated that the FBI has established practices that protect privacy and civil liberties beyond the requirements of the law. DOJ officials stated that it will internally evaluate the PIA process as part of the Department's overall commitment to improving its processes, not in response to our recommendation. In March 2017, we followed up with DOJ to obtain its current position on our recommendation. DOJ continues to believe that its approach in designing the NGI system was sufficient to meet legal privacy requirements and that our recommendation represents a "checkbox approach" to privacy. We disagree with DOJ's characterization of our recommendation. We continue to believe that the timely development and publishing of future PIAs would increase transparency of the department's systems. We recognize the steps the agency took to consider privacy protection during the development of the NGI system. We also stand by our position that notifying the public of these actions is important and provides the public with greater assurance that DOJ components are evaluating risks to privacy when implementing systems. As a result, the recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and better ensure that face recognition capabilities are being used in accordance with privacy protection laws and policy requirements, the Attorney General should assess the SORN development process to determine why a SORN was not published that addressed the collection and maintenance of photos accessed and used through NGI for the FBI's face recognition capabilities prior to using NGI-IPS, and implement corrective actions to ensure SORNs are published before systems become operational.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOJ agreed, in part, with our recommendation and submitted the SORN for publication to the Federal Register on April 21, 2016, and it was published on May 5, 2016. DOJ did not agree that the publication of a SORN is required by law. We disagree with DOJ's interpretation regarding the legal requirements of a SORN. The Privacy Act of 1974 requires that when agencies establish or make changes to a system of records, they must notify the public through a SORN published in the Federal Register. DOJ's comments on our draft report acknowledge that the automated nature of face recognition technology and the sheer number of photos now available for searching raise important privacy and civil liberties considerations. DOJ officials also stated that the FBI's face recognition capabilities do not represent new collection, use, or sharing of personal information. We disagree. We believe that the ability to perform automated searches of millions of photos is fundamentally different in nature and scope than manual review of individual photos, and the potential impact on privacy is equally fundamentally different. By assessing the SORN development process and taking corrective actions to ensure timely development of future SORNs, the public would have a better understanding of how personal information is being used and protected by DOJ components. As a result, the recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition capabilities are being used in accordance with privacy protection laws and policy requirements, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should conduct audits to determine the extent to which users of NGI-IPS and biometric images specialists in FACE Services are conducting face image searches in accordance with Criminal Justice Information Services Division policy requirements.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, DOJ provided us with the audit plan the CJIS Audit Unit developed in June 2016 for NGI-IPS users. In addition, DOJ reported that the CJIS Audit Unit began assessing NGI-IPS requirements at participating states in conjunction with its triennial National Identity Services audit and that, as of February 2017, the unit had conducted NGI-IPS audits of four states. Further, DOJ officials said CJIS developed an audit plan of the FACE Services Unit to coincide with the existing triennial FBI internal audit for 2018. However, DOJ did not provide the audit plan for the FACE Services Unit. DOJ officials said the methodology would be the same as the audit plan for NGI-IPS, but that methodology does not describe oversight on use of information obtained from external systems accessed by FACE Services employees. Therefore, we believe DOJ is making progress towards meeting the recommendation, but has not fully implemented our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition systems are sufficiently accurate, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should conduct tests of NGI-IPS to verify that the system is sufficiently accurate for all allowable candidate list sizes, and ensure that the detection and false positive rate used in the tests are identified.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In comments on our draft report in 2016, and reiterated during recommendation follow-up, as of March 2017, DOJ did not concur with this recommendation. DOJ officials stated that the FBI has performed accuracy testing to validate that the system meets the requirements for the detection rate, which fully satisfies requirements for the investigative lead service provided by NGI-IPS. We disagree with DOJ. A key focus of our recommendation is the need to ensure that NGI-IPS is sufficiently accurate for all allowable candidate list sizes. Although the FBI has tested the detection rate for a candidate list of 50 photos, NGI-IPS users are able to request smaller candidate lists (between 2 and 50 photos). FBI officials stated that they do not know, and have not tested, the detection rate for other candidate list sizes. According to these officials, a smaller candidate list would likely lower the detection rate because a smaller candidate list may not contain a likely match that would be present in a larger candidate list. However, according to the FBI Information Technology Life Cycle Management Directive, testing needs to confirm the system meets all user requirements. Because the accuracy of NGI-IPS's face recognition searches when returning fewer than 50 photos in a candidate list is unknown, the FBI is limited in understanding whether the results are accurate enough to meet NGI-IPS users' needs. DOJ officials also stated that searches of NGI-IPS produce a gallery of likely candidates to be used as investigative leads, not for positive identification. As a result, according to DOJ officials, NGI-IPS cannot produce false positives and there is no false positive rate for the system. We disagree with DOJ. The detection rate and the false positive rate are both necessary to assess the accuracy of a face recognition system. Generally, face recognition systems can be configured to allow for a greater or lesser number of matches. A greater number of matches would generally increase the detection rate, but would also increase the false positive rate. Similarly, a lesser number of matches would decrease the false positive rate, but would also decrease the detection rate. Reporting a detection rate of 86 percent without reporting the accompanying false positive rate presents an incomplete view of the system's accuracy. As a result, the recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition systems are sufficiently accurate, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should conduct an operational review of NGI-IPS at least annually that includes an assessment of the accuracy of face recognition searches to determine if it is meeting federal, state, and local law enforcement needs and take actions, as necessary, to improve the system.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 2017, FBI officials stated they implemented the recommendation by submitting a paper to solicit feedback from users through the Fall 2016 Advisory Policy Board Process. Specifically, officials said the paper requested feedback on whether the face recognition searches of the NGI-IPS are meeting their needs, and input regarding search accuracy. According to FBI officials, no users expressed concern with any aspect of the NGI-IPS meeting their needs, including accuracy. Although FBI's action of providing working groups with a paper presenting GAO's recommendation is a step, the FBI's actions do not fully meet the recommendation. The FBI's paper was presented as informational, and did not result in any formal responses from users. We disagree with the FBI's conclusion that receiving no responses on the informational paper fulfills the operational review recommendation, which includes determining that NGI-IPS is meeting user's needs. As such, we continue to recommend the FBI conduct an operational review of NGI-IPS at least annually.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that face recognition systems are sufficiently accurate, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should take steps to determine whether each external face recognition system used by FACE Services is sufficiently accurate for the FBI's use and whether results from those systems should be used to support FBI investigations.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In comments on our draft report in 2016, and reiterated during recommendation follow-up in 2017, DOJ officials did not concur with this recommendation and had no plans to implement it. DOJ officials stated that the FBI has no authority to set or enforce accuracy standards of face recognition technology operated by external agencies. In addition, DOJ officials stated that the FBI has implemented multiple layers of manual review that mitigate risks associated with the use of automated face recognition technology. Further, DOJ officials stated there is value in searching all available external databases, regardless of their level of accuracy. We disagree with the DOJ position. We continue to believe that the FBI should assess the quality of the data it is using from state and federal partners. We acknowledge that the FBI cannot and should not set accuracy standards for the face recognition systems used by external partners. We also do not dispute that the use of external face recognition systems by the FACE Services Unit could add value to FBI investigations. However, we disagree with FBI's assertion that no assessment of the quality of the data from state and federal partners is necessary. We also disagree with the DOJ assertion that manual review of automated search results is sufficient. Even with a manual review process, the FBI could miss investigative leads if a partner does not have a sufficiently accurate system. By relying on its external partners' face recognition systems, the FBI is using these systems as a component of its routine operations and is therefore responsible for ensuring the systems will help meet FBI's mission, goals and objectives. The recommendation remains open and unimplemented.
    Director: Daniel Bertoni
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that it provides all eligible populations access to its services and that its eligibility requirements are consistent with currently accepted practices, the Library of Congress should re-examine and potentially revise its requirement that medical doctors must certify eligibility for the NLS program for those with a reading disability caused by organic dysfunction.

    Agency: Library of Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has contracted for a study of how eligibility based on reading disability should be certified. This study will look at medical advances in the diagnosis of reading disabilities, the NLS authorizing statute, and the potential impact of a regulatory change on the program. The expected completion date is December 2017. To close this recommendation, the Library of Congress must demonstrate that this study has been completed and that NLS has determined whether a change in its requirements is warranted.
    Recommendation: To ensure funds are directed to the most cost-effective outreach efforts, NLS should evaluate the effectiveness of its outreach efforts, including the extent to which different outreach efforts have resulted in new users.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has begun revising the program application form so that it captures information on how applicants were referred to the program. NLS expects to have all libraries nationwide using this revised application by sometime in 2018. In addition, the Library of Congress indicated that NLS has contracted for a multi-year, multi-media advertising campaign. This effort will assess the effectiveness of different approaches by connecting direct responses to ads with verified program enrollment. The campaign is expected to be fully underway by January 2018. To close this recommendation, the Library of Congress will need to demonstrate that NLS has fully implemented one or more of its planned new approaches for evaluating outreach.
    Recommendation: To help it determine the most cost-effective approach for its next audio player, NLS should comprehensively assess the alternatives of designing its own specialized audio player versus providing commercially available players to its users.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has contracted for a study of the different commercially available audio players for their usability, life-cycle costs, maintenance needs, and durability. The study is expected to be completed by December 2017, and will guide NLS in its decision about how to develop its next generation of audio players. To close this recommendation as implemented, the Library of Congress will have to demonstrate that this study has been conducted and that NLS has considered its findings in making a decision about its next generation audio player.
    Recommendation: To help it determine whether to supplement its collection of human-narrated audio materials with text-to-speech materials, NLS should thoroughly assess the text-to-speech option versus continuing to provide only human-narrated materials.

    Agency: Library of Congress: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Library of Congress indicated that the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has developed a library of 100 text-to-speech (synthetic speech) talking books. In September 2017, NLS will begin a 3-month pilot in which a group of NLS users try out these talking books and provide input to NLS. Also, NLS will require that its next generation of audio players have the capacity to play synthetic speech talking books, and the study it has contracted of commercially available players will consider this requirement among other factors. To close this recommendation as implemented, NLS needs to demonstrate that it has completed its text-to-speech pilot and has decided on an approach going forward with regards to expanding this program.
    Director: Steve D. Morris
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's ability to oversee GE crops, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to develop a timeline, with milestones and interim steps, for updating its existing regulations to cover GE crops developed with alternative technologies that either do not use plant pests or use plant pests but do not result in plant pest deoxyribonucleic acid in the crop developed.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 Statement of Action on our report, USDA notes that it has a timeline, but the department did not provide documentation of this timeline. The Statement of Action also indicates that USDA planned to update its biotechnology regulations and publish a proposed rule in the summer of 2016. As of December 2016, the proposed rule had not yet been published.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's ability to better understand the economic impacts of unintended mixing of GE and other crops, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to work with all relevant USDA stakeholders, including APHIS and the Organic Working Group, to determine what additional information should be sought in future organic surveys, such as the costs of reshipping and re-storing shipments rejected because of unintended GE presence, as well as the costs associated with finding new buyers for such shipments.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 Statement of Action on our report, USDA did not provide any new information on actions it has taken, if any, to implement this recommendation. For example, there is no indication whether stakeholders internal to the department have continued to meet to discuss the 2014 Organic Survey results and how to move forward with future survey questions to obtain additional data, such as data needed to better understand the economic impacts of unintended mixing with GE crops.
    Recommendation: To improve USDA's ability to better understand the economic impacts of unintended mixing of GE and other crops, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of NASS to include producers, growing identity-preserved crops, in addition to organic producers in USDA's survey efforts.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 Statement of Action on our report, USDA did not provide any new information on actions it has taken, if any, to implement this recommendation. We continue to believe that USDA should survey producers growing identity-preserved crops regarding their potential economic losses from unintended GE presence, as is being done for organic producers. As we previously reported, U.S. acreage planted to identity-preserved crops is significantly greater than that planted to organic crops; yet, little is known about the economic costs to identity-preserved farmers of unintended mixing.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    26 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation (Transportation) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it's Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) was actively engaging with the department's Operating Administrations and was reconciling its original cost savings and avoidance targets to develop and update a yearly calculation as part of Transportation's multi-year strategy to consolidate and optimize its data centers. The department added that periodic updates would be provided to OCIO leadership and the CIO Council, with reconciled cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 expected to be updated by September 30, 2016. However, as of July 2017, Transportation has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to include planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation and update accordingly.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it was in the process of reviewing pending guidance on the Office of Management and Budget's Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). The department further stated that once the DCOI guidance was issued, the department would update its targets and finalize a plan to more adequately address cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. However, as of July 2017, the department has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to include planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, EPA stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to establish a single data center within each of several specific geographical areas. For each data center selected for retention, the agency stated that it planned to make upgrades to address any potential capacity or performance issues, but noted that the specific plans for each data center slated for consolidation were under development. EPA stated that the resulting total cost savings were under assessment and had not yet been determined. However, as of July 2017, EPA has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to include planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: National Science Foundation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Science Foundation has not yet taken steps to implement our recommendation. As of July 2017, National Science Foundation has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to included planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Small Business Administration agreed with our recommendation, but has not yet taken steps to implement it. As of July 2017, the Small Business Administration has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic plan to included planned cost and savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) developed a scorecard to track progress for each of the data center optimization areas. According the department's scorecard, the department reported meeting 3 of 10 optimization targets, but did not meet the remaining 7 targets. DHS's OCIO noted that they would update this scorecard quarterly in alignment with Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative data collection. DHS's OCIO expected to complete implementation of this recommendation by November 30, 2016. However, as of July 2017, DHS reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Agriculture generally agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. Specifically, as of July 2017, the department reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets one (server virtualization) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the department also reports that it does not yet meet the remaining four targets (server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it will work with its bureaus to develop and publish an annual strategic plan. The strategic plan will, among other things, describe a list of specific planned actions to improve data center optimization progress. For example, the department stated that, to increase facility utilization, the Bureau of Economic Analysis is co-locating computing resources within the Census Bureau's Bowie Computer Center. Further, Census planned to market the Bowie Computer Center as an opportunity for government-wide co-location. In addition, the department stated that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is building greater network capacity to National Weather Service forecast offices and will aim to reduce the number of local systems at forecast offices that are currently considered data centers (122 in total). However, as of July 2017, the Department of Commerce reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it is considering several actions to improve optimization progress in the areas that we reported as not meeting the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established targets. For example, DOD stated that it is moving toward on-premises and off-premises commercial cloud hosting services to enable migration of workloads to more efficient environments intended to improve the virtualization and density metrics. Further, the department stated that its Chief Information Officer is working directly with the services to reconcile the instances of multiple Installation Processing Nodes on individual bases, posts, camps, and stations. DOD also stated that all of these actions will enable the closure of additional data centers, increase efficiencies in all categories, and drive greater savings. However, as of July 2017, the Department of Defense reports on the OMB IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (Energy) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, Energy stated in correspondence to GAO that it had established an enterprise-wide Data Center Working Group that is chartered to identify best practices in data center metering, optimization, consolidation and cloud migration (and to support these practices throughout the department). According to Energy, this working group is intended to serve as a focus group for communicating information related to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), departmental strategy and implementation, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements for data centers, as well as to provide summary data center performance status to all members. However, as of July 2017, Energy reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it does not yet met any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its ability to attain the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established target value for the three remaining optimization metrics would require the department to further consolidate data center resources and migrate from contractor-owned and operated data centers to multi-tenant, shared data centers. The department further stated that this effort would be accomplished under the HUD Enterprise and Architecture Transition initiative that was restructuring infrastructure services and was targeting data center migrations to be completed by July 2017. The department also stated that it expected to be able to provide fiscal year 2017 optimization metrics data that met or exceeded OMB's target values by February 2018. However, as of July 2017, the department states that, due to data center migration dependencies on two smaller infrastructure transition projects, the data center migration project schedule is delayed until the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Health and Human Services agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it would work to improve the data center optimization metrics that did not meet the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) established targets. The department further stated that it expected to have a more detailed approach available through a Data Center Strategy, which was expected before the end of fiscal year 2016 . However, as of July 2017, the department reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets only one (power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets OMB currently requires agencies to report against. The department further reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Social Security Administration agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it was in the process of transitioning to a new data center. While undergoing this transition, the agency stated that it was working to optimize its new data center and will have the capability to report on the Office of Management and Budget's optimization targets once the transition is complete. The agency expected to complete these steps by September 2016. As of July 2017, SSA reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets three (energy metering, data center facility space and power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, SSA reports that it does not meet the remaining two targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, and server virtualization). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Interior (Interior) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that its Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) was developing data center optimization metrics to measure bureau and office progress in meeting optimization targets. The department added that these metrics would become part of the 2016 OCIO Organizational Assessment, a scorecard used to measure bureau and office progress against predefined targets. However, as of July 2017, Interior reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Justice (Justice) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, Justice stated in correspondence to GAO that it was developing plans to migrate the remaining non-core data centers to the department's three Core Enterprise Facilities (CEFs) and/or commercial cloud services by the end of fiscal year 2019. The department added that, as these migrations occur, its data center footprint and facility utilization should continue to improve and the percentage of servers and operating systems residing in the CEFs should significantly exceed federal data center consolidation targets. Justice also stated that it engaged with external representatives to perform an energy efficiency assessment at its core enterprise facility in Virginia, which resulted in significant improvements at the data center and improved the overall power usage efficiency across the department's core data centers. However, as of July 2017, Justice reported on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not meet any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation (Transportation) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, Transportation stated in correspondence to GAO that it centralized its data center consolidation efforts in fiscal year 2015 and, in early fiscal year 2016, completed reconciliation of its actual and planned data centers closures, as well as related performance data. The department also stated that it planned to continue towards measuring and making improvements to meet the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) data center optimization performance metric targets. Transportation noted that periodic updates provided to its Office of the Chief Information Officer leadership and the Chief Information Officer Council would identify challenges in meeting the Office of Management and Budget's optimization metric targets. However, as of July 2017, Transportation reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it does not meet any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (Labor) agreed with this recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In April 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it had closed 23 percent of its data centers and, by the end of 2019, the department plans to close 61 percent of its data centers. Further, Labor stated that it has made significant progress in the development of a fully virtualized common operating environment. According to the department, these efforts are designed to improve optimization metrics performance. However, as of July 2017, the department reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not yet met any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) generally agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. However, as of July 2017, Treasury reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB's) IT Dashboard that it does not met any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it had not yet taken action to improve optimization progress in the areas that we reported as having weaknesses. Specifically, the department stated that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was in the process of changing the fiscal year 2016 through 2018 closure targets and data center optimization metrics under the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which it planned to complete by the end of July 2016. Upon receipt of the targets, VA stated that it needed to assess the impact on strategies already under way, which it planned to complete by mid-fiscal year 2017. As of July 2017, the department reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets only one (power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. In addition, the department reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to follow the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) guidance on optimizing data centers and would take action to improve the defined areas that Data Center Optimization Initiative identifies. Specifically, as of July 2017, the department reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets only one (power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the department reported that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Environmental Protection Agency agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it had directed data center stakeholders to place an emphasis on virtualizing physical servers and moving server-based applications to the cloud or a core data center. The agency added that the estimated increase for each optimization metric would be determined after data consolidation plans were finalized. As of July 2017, EPA reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets three (energy metering, server virtualization, and power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, EPA reports that it does not yet met the remaining two targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The General Services Administration (GSA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, the agency stated in correspondence to GAO that it had developed an action plan to improve optimization progress. For example, GSA's action plan stated that the agency planned to create a new inventory of their data centers in order to establish a baseline to help in planning for data center closures, as well as collecting more accurate data for cost saving calculations. The agency also planned to create a new and better cost saving model and noted that it planned to refresh the cost model semi-annually. Finally, GSA intended to improve the required metrics set forth by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by eliminating physical machines and increasing virtualization whenever possible. As of July 2017, GSA reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets one (server utilization and monitoring) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, GSA reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, NASA stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to develop improvement strategies for each deficient metric and hold meetings with all of the data center owners to explain the improvement strategies and further educate the data center owners on how to create efficiencies. NASA added that the anticipated completion for this is July 2017. However, as of July 2017, NASA reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it does not meet any of the five data optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, NRC stated in correspondence to GAO that it was pursuing development of a hybrid data center that will allow many data center functions to be performed in the cloud, allowing for more optimization, including the ability to better meet optimization targets (including those related to both cost savings and optimization) established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) through the Data Center Optimization Initiative. As of July 2017, NRC reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets one (server virtualization) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the agency reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Office of Personnel Management
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, OPM stated in correspondence to GAO that it was committed to meeting the targets associated with the agency's data center optimization efforts. The agency added that challenges would be addressed as plans evolved to meet current targets and within current funding. As of July 2017, OPM reports on the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) IT Dashboard that it meets only one (server virtualization) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the agency reports that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, data center facility space, and power usage efficiency). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation and update accordingly.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, USAID stated in correspondence to GAO that it was planning to take action to improve progress in the remaining two areas that we reported as not meeting the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) optimization targets, including addressing any identifying challenges. The agency noted that its target completion date for implementing our recommendation was February 2017. However, as of July 2017, USAID reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it does not yet meet the server utilization and monitoring metric target, which is the only metric applicable to USAID. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services should develop detailed guidance to ensure that ORISE program coordinators, mentors, and research participants are fully informed of the prohibition on nonfederal employees performing inherently governmental functions.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017 DOD developed a terms of agreement to be signed by each mentor and research participant, in which they acknowledge that they fully understand the restrictions on performing inherently governmental functions. However, DOD intended the terms of agreement to be used by a subset of the ORISE research participants at DOD (those participating in the Science and Technology Policy Fellowships program). To fully address this recommendation, DOD needs to take similar action for ORISE research participants not participating in this program.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Energy, Defense, and Health and Human Services should develop detailed guidance to ensure that ORISE program coordinators, mentors, and research participants are fully informed of the prohibition on nonfederal employees performing inherently governmental functions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS had not provided information as of July 2017 on steps it has taken to address the recommendation.
    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: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better position DOD as it continues pursuing GPS modernization, to have the information necessary to make decisions on how best to improve that modernization, and to mitigate risks to sustaining the GPS constellation, the Secretary of Defense should convene an independent task force comprising experts from other military services and defense agencies with substantial knowledge and expertise to provide an assessment to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics of the OCX program and concrete guidance for addressing the OCX program's underlying problems, particularly including: (1) A detailed engineering assessment of OCX defects to determine the systemic root causes of the defects; (2) Whether the contractor's software development procedures and practices match the levels described in the OCX systems engineering and software development plans; and (3) Whether the contractor is capable of executing the program as currently resourced and structured.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. Prior to the program declaring a Nunn-McCurdy breach on June 30, 2016, the only independent assessment was conducted by Defense Digital Services and was limited in focus to software development. Air Force notes a completion date of independent assessment on Sept 29, 2017. Once received, we will evaluate whether that meets the intent of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better position DOD as it continues pursuing GPS modernization, to have the information necessary to make decisions on how best to improve that modernization, and to mitigate risks to sustaining the GPS constellation, the Secretary of Defense should develop high confidence OCX cost and schedule estimates based on actual track record for productivity and learning curves.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. Prior to the program declaring a Nunn-McCurdy breach on June 30, 2016, no high confidence cost assessment was completed. The Air Force and contractor provided schedule assessments that were not evaluated and considered low-risk, but were directed to execute a 24 month schedule extension with no assessment of its feasibility and that did not take into account past contractor performance. Pending Nunn-McCurdy documentation and repeat of Milestone B, there is no evidence a high confidence cost or schedule has been put in place. Once we receive documentation on approval of Milestone B, we will reevaluate.
    Recommendation: To better position DOD as it continues pursuing GPS modernization, to have the information necessary to make decisions on how best to improve that modernization, and to mitigate risks to sustaining the GPS constellation, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Air Force to retain experts from the independent task force as a management advisory team to assist the OCX program office in conducting regular systemic analysis of defects and to help ensure OCX corrective measures are implemented successfully and sustained.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. Prior to the program declaring a Nunn-McCurdy breach on June 30, 2016, Defense Digital Services were initially retained for a month and subsequently remain embedded with contractor software developers to provide advice on development and process improvements. Upon completion of the Nunn-McCurdy review and continued involvement of Defense Digital Services, we will examine the extent to which the program has met this recommendation if the program is recertified to determine if this recommendation was met. Air Force did not provide an update to this recommendation in 2017, but program still has not had Milestone B approved and the Defense Digital Services group is no longer engaged on OCX.
    Recommendation: To better position DOD as it continues pursuing GPS modernization, to have the information necessary to make decisions on how best to improve that modernization, and to mitigate risks to sustaining the GPS constellation, the Secretary of Defense should put in place a mechanism for ensuring that the knowledge gained from the OCX assessment is used to determine whether further programmatic changes are needed to strengthen oversight.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. Senior quarterly reviews continue of the OCX program and have been in place since December 2015. Documentation still pending on Milestone B to see if these reviews have informed programmatic changes that better position DOD to complete this acquisition.
    Director: Johana Ayers
    Phone: (202) 512-5741

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, in consultation with the Office of the DCMO, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on DOD's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2015, DOD updated its conference approval guidelines. According to DOD, these guidelines were designed to facilitate conference participation and attendance by DOD employees. The updated guidelines now treat conference attendance as Temporary Duty/Temporary Assigned Duty, and delegate approval authority to the lowest level possible. However, DOD has not yet implemented a requirement to develop a plan and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences as of June 2016 because officials in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer believe this recommendation in GAO-15-278 is no longer applicable as a result of its updated conference approval guidelines. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOD to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator of NNSA and the relevant national lab directors, in consultation with DOE's Office of Management, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on NNSA's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2015, DOE updated its conference management policies and procedures to, among other things, expedite the conference attendance approval process by establishing timeframes for review and approval. According to DOE, as of September 2016, streamlining the conference approval process eliminates the need to periodically evaluate risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOE to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more effectively fulfill its expanded role in providing a clearinghouse of information on available federal technology transfer opportunities, the Chair of FLC, in coordination with the other members of the Executive Board, should work collaboratively with agency and lab members to take steps to better communicate with potential customers during the design and implementation of FLC's clearinghouse initiatives, including conducting customer needs assessments, conducting customer testing of current and future web-based initiatives, and collecting customer feedback on all FLC initiatives to make the initiatives more useful.

    Agency: Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer
    Status: Open

    Comments: FLC has provided GAO with information on steps they are taking to address the recommendations in GAO-15-127. A number of these actions should be completed towards the end of 2016 after which we plan to request additional information from FLC.
    Recommendation: To more effectively fulfill its expanded role in providing a clearinghouse of information on available federal technology transfer opportunities, the Chair of FLC, in coordination with the other members of the Executive Board, once feedback is collected from potential customers, should work collaboratively with agency and lab members to use this feedback to improve FLC's initiatives to make them more useful to potential customers, including asking FLC members for additional or different information, as appropriate.

    Agency: Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer
    Status: Open

    Comments: FLC has provided GAO with information on steps they are taking to address the recommendations in GAO-15-127. A number of these actions should be completed towards the end of 2016 after which we plan to request additional information from FLC.
    Recommendation: To more effectively fulfill its expanded role in providing a clearinghouse of information on available federal technology transfer opportunities, the Chair of FLC, in coordination with the other members of the Executive Board, should work collaboratively with agency and lab members to develop performance goals and measures for FLC's clearinghouse initiatives and use the results to evaluate progress toward meeting FLC's goals on outreach and networking.

    Agency: Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer
    Status: Open

    Comments: FLC has provided GAO with information on steps they are taking to address the recommendations in GAO-15-127. A number of these actions should be completed towards the end of 2016 after which we plan to request additional information from FLC.
    Recommendation: To more effectively fulfill its expanded role in providing a clearinghouse of information on available federal technology transfer opportunities, the Chair of FLC, in coordination with the other members of the Executive Board, should report on FLC's progress in these efforts in its annual report to the President and Congress.

    Agency: Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer
    Status: Open

    Comments: FLC has provided GAO with information on steps they are taking to address the recommendations in GAO-15-127. A number of these actions should be completed towards the end of 2016 after which we plan to request additional information from FLC.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NOAA has sufficient information and analysis to guide long-term decisions regarding its aircraft, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to ensure that the agency links and integrates its multiple planning efforts as it finalizes a capital asset plan for aircraft.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations is working to complete its various planning efforts activities and integrate the key components with a comprehensive aircraft modernization plan that it expects to finalize in fall 2017.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better prepare the Department of Energy to meet the requirement of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to deploy the NGNP prototype reactor, DOE should develop, in consultation with the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and independent nuclear experts, as appropriate, a strategy to proceed with Phase 2 of the NGNP Project, outlining conditions that will warrant a change in program direction, remaining research and development activities, projected project budget and schedule, and steps necessary to overcome barriers to successful completion of the NGNP Project.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Department of Energy officials, DOE is currently finalizing a Vision and Strategy document pertinent to advanced nuclear reactors. When this document is complete we will assess whether it meets the intent of the GAO recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better prepare the Department of Energy to meet the requirement of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to deploy the NGNP prototype reactor, DOE should provide a report to Congress complying with the statutory requirement for Phase 1 of the NGNP Project by providing initial design parameters or a date for providing them. The report should also provide an updated status of the issues DOE identified in its 2011 letter to Congress and outline any additional barriers to proceeding with Phase 2 of the project, including (1) the status of the establishment of a public-private partnership; (2) the project strategy, including conditions that would warrant restarting the project; and (3) a legislative proposal, if necessary, to address any barriers to proceeding with the project, including the site and cost-share requirements.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy stated that it "respectfully disagrees" with this recommendation and would not be taking action to address it. DOE considers this recommendation closed. However, DOE stated that it will continue to provide information to, and work with, Congress, industry, and other interested stakeholders with respect to its activities in the area of next generation reactor research and development. As such, GAO will continue to monitor any DOE action related to this recommendation.
    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: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To reduce uncertainty about the expected cost and schedule of the U.S. ITER Project and its potential impact on the U.S. fusion program, once the ITER Organization completes its reassessment of the international project schedule, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Associate Director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to use that schedule, if reliable, to propose a final, stable funding plan for the U.S. ITER Project, approve a performance baseline with finalized cost and schedule estimates, and communicate this information to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of June 2017, the ITER Council had approved a revised international project schedule through the achievement of first plasma, and DOE had used that revised schedule to establish a performance baseline for the first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE had also communicated that performance baseline to Congress through its fiscal year 2018 budget request. However, DOE has not yet set a performance baseline for the post-first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE officials told us they planned to do so once the Secretary of Energy has made a decision on whether the U.S. would continue to participate in ITER, a decision which officials expected to happen at the end of 2017.
    Recommendation: To reduce uncertainty about the expected cost and schedule of the U.S. ITER Project and its potential impact on the U.S. fusion program, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Associate Director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to direct the U.S. ITER Project Office to revise and update the project's cost estimate to meet all characteristics of high-quality, reliable cost estimates. Specifically, the U.S. ITER Project Office should revise the project's cost estimate to ensure it is credible by including a comprehensive sensitivity analysis that includes all significant cost elements and conducting an independent cost estimate.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, DOE had revised and updated the cost estimate for the first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. Officials reported that, as part of that update, the U.S. ITER Project Office had completed a comprehensive sensitivity analysis and that the Office of Science's Office of Project Assessment had conducted a review of the revised cost estimate. However, DOE had yet to revise and update the cost estimate for the post-first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE officials told us they planned to do so when they set a performance baseline for that portion of the project, which they expected to do once the Secretary of Energy has made a decision on whether the U.S. would continue to participate in ITER. Officials expected that decision to happen at the end of 2017.
    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: Mak, Marie A
    Phone: (202) 512-2527

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure consistent implementation of NASA's export control program, the NASA Administrator should establish guidance defining the appropriate level and organizational placement of the CEA function.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA concurred with the recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, NASA needs to complete a planned update to its NASA Procedural Requirement (NPR) 2190.1B concerning NASA's export control program to further codify this structure and provide us with the documentation for review.
    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: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the increasing risks of GPS disruptions to the nation's critical infrastructure are effectively managed, the Secretary of Homeland Security should increase the reliability and usefulness of the GPS risk assessment by developing a plan and time frame to collect relevant threat, vulnerability, and consequence data for the various critical infrastructure sectors, and periodically review the readiness of data to conduct a more data-driven risk assessment while ensuring that DHS's assessment approach is more consistent with the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP).

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS officials had previously indicated that DHS's Office of Infrastructure Protection (IP) and Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA) have discussed an update of the GPS risk assessment, noting that such an update may be included in fiscal year 2017 planning documents. However, as of February 2017, no documentation had been provided that demonstrates such plans. Additionally, information from DHS shows that DHS has continued other efforts to collect potentially relevant threat, vulnerability, and consequence data for various GPS equipment in use. For example, according to DHS officials, DHS has conducted visits to major maritime, finance, wireless communications, and electricity firms to gauge their understanding of GPS vulnerabilities and of technology- and strategy-based efforts to improve GPS resilience, and DHS documentation shows that DHS has held events to test GPS receivers as part of assessing vulnerabilities. We will update the status of this recommendation after we receive additional information from DHS.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the increasing risks of GPS disruptions to the nation's critical infrastructure are effectively managed, the Secretary of Homeland Security should, as part of current critical infrastructure protection planning with Sector-Specific Agencys (SSAs) and sector partners, develop and issue a plan and metrics to measure the effectiveness of GPS risk mitigation efforts on critical infrastructure resiliency.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, DHS documentation shows that DHS has worked with Sector Specific Agencies (SSAs) and other interagency partners to help manage GPS risks and continues to communicate information on risks to critical infrastructure partners. For example, according to DHS officials, this included briefing field staff and developing questions for infrastructure surveys to gather information on GPS resilience at the facility level. According to DHS officials, at the national level DHS included GPS in discussions with SSAs on topics they could include in their Sector-Specific Plans (each SSA develops a Sector-Specific Plan to detail risk management in its critical infrastructure sector), but DHS has also indicated that sector-oriented metrics are not a viable means of assessing risk management actions. We will update the status of this recommendation after we receive additional information from DHS.
    Recommendation: To improve collaboration and address uncertainties in fulfilling the National Security Presidential Directive 39 (NSPD-39) backup-capabilities requirement, the Secretaries of Transportation and Homeland Security should establish a formal, written agreement that details how the agencies plan to address their shared responsibility. This agreement should address uncertainties, including clarifying and defining DOT's and DHS's respective roles, responsibilities, and authorities; establishing clear, agreed-upon outcomes; establishing how the agencies will monitor and report on progress toward those outcomes; and setting forth the agencies' plans for examining relevant issues, such as the roles of SSAs and industry, how NSPD-39 fits into the NIPP risk management framework, whether an update to the NSPD-39 is needed, or other issues as deemed necessary by the agencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Executive Steering group had established an interagency team called the "Complementary PNT Tiger Team" co-chaired by DHS, DOT, and DOD. This team was formed to manage the federal government's efforts to establish a national backup system to GPS. According to DHS officials, this organizational structure obviates the need for a formal, written agreement between DOT and DHS specific to GPS backup responsibilities. They also stated that, in a separate but related effort, DHS, DOT, and DOD are discussing a tri-lateral agreement that covers a broad spectrum of PNT-related responsibilities and activities. We will update the status of this recommendation after we receive additional information from DHS.
    Recommendation: To improve collaboration and address uncertainties in fulfilling the National Security Presidential Directive 39 (NSPD-39) backup-capabilities requirement, the Secretaries of Transportation and Homeland Security should establish a formal, written agreement that details how the agencies plan to address their shared responsibility. This agreement should address uncertainties, including clarifying and defining DOT's and DHS's respective roles, responsibilities, and authorities; establishing clear, agreed-upon outcomes; establishing how the agencies will monitor and report on progress toward those outcomes; and setting forth the agencies' plans for examining relevant issues, such as the roles of SSAs and industry, how NSPD-39 fits into the NIPP risk management framework, whether an update to the NSPD-39 is needed, or other issues as deemed necessary by the agencies.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, the National Executive Committee for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) Executive Steering group had established an interagency team--called the "Complementary PNT Tiger Team"--co-chaired by DHS, DOT, and DOD. This team was formed to manage the federal government's efforts to establish a national backup system to GPS. According to DHS officials, this organizational structure obviates the need for a formal, written agreement between DOT and DHS specific to GPS backup responsibilities. They also stated that, in a separate but related effort, DHS, DOT, and DOD are discussing a tri-lateral agreement that covers a broad spectrum of PNT-related responsibilities and activities. We will update the status of this recommendation after we receive additional information from DOT.
    Director: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider strengthening the current consumer privacy framework to reflect the effects of changes in technology and the marketplace--particularly in relation to consumer data used for marketing purposes--while also ensuring that any limitations on data collection and sharing do not unduly inhibit the economic and other benefits to industry and consumers that data sharing can accord. Among the issues that should be considered are: (1) the adequacy of consumers' ability to access, correct, and control their personal information in circumstances beyond those currently accorded under FCRA; (2) whether there should be additional controls on the types of personal or sensitive information that may or may not be collected and shared; (3) changes needed, if any, in the permitted sources and methods for data collection; and (4) privacy controls related to new technologies, such as web tracking and mobile devices.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Congress has not taken action on this matter.
    Director: Kohn, Linda T
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

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

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

    Comments: As of July 7, 2015, NIH provided some information indicating that it had taken action to address our recommendation by tracking the size of indirect costs as a proportion of NIH's overall budget as part of the agency's annual budget planning process and risk assessment program. However, we determined that the actions did not fully address the recommendation because they focus on the agency's overall budget and do not assess the potential ongoing impact of indirect costs for universities on its mission. As of August 2017, NIH officials have not informed us of any additional actions taken to implement this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Mihm, J Christopher
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve implementation of GPRAMA and help address pressing governance issues, given the common, long-standing difficulties agencies continue to face in measuring the performance of various types of federal programs and activities--contracts, direct services, grants, regulations, research and development, and tax expenditures--the Director of OMB should work with the PIC to develop a detailed approach to examine these difficulties across agencies, including identifying and sharing any promising practices from agencies that have overcome difficulties in measuring the performance of these program types. This approach should include goals, planned actions, and deliverables along with specific time frames for their completion, as well as the identification of the parties responsible for each action and deliverable.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff told us that they have made no further progress on this recommendation since their last update in June 2016. At that time, according to information provided by staff from OMB and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC), they had taken some initial steps to address this recommendation in a few areas, such as acquisition management (contracts). In addition, the PIC formed a working group on performance measurement that, in part, is focusing on how to develop appropriate performance measures. However, OMB and the PIC have not yet developed a comprehensive and detailed approach to address these issues as envisioned in our report. We will continue to monitor progress.
    Director: Sullivan, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve visibility and management of the department's efforts to transition technologies to support the needs of the warfighter, the Secretary of Defense should require that all technology transition programs track and measure project outcomes, to include not only whether technologies transitioned to an intended user but also the longer-term impact of whether the technologies benefitted acquisition programs or military users in the field.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on GAO's recommendation, DOD indicated it would continue to anecdotally measure the results of technology investments for 3, 5, or even 10 years after investment and highlight the long-term benefits, as needed, to validate the investment levels associated with the research and development programs. However, the department did not plan to formally require its technology transition programs to track and measure project outcomes, noting concern that tracking and measuring outcomes for hundreds of technology projects would be a labor-intensive and very time-consuming process. DOD's own tracking of its response to this recommendation indicates no planned action and considers the recommendation closed. Nevertheless, GAO continues to monitor the department's activities related to technology transition, as several ongoing DOD efforts may eventually sufficiently address the intent of this recommendation. For example, DOD continues to pursue improvement to technology transition as part of its Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative. This includes a best practices handbook that is expected to address ways to increase collaboration between DOD and commercial industry and, among other things, support technology transition. In August 2017, the Defense Laboratory Office within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering confirmed that the handbook, which was stated in summer 2016 to be nearly finalized, stalled out in its completion for an unknown reason and remains on hold. Interest remains in completing it but no definitive plans exist for when that may occur. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to track and measure technology transition outcomes, particularly as they relate to completing the handbook, as previous indications were that the handbook could potentially fulfill the intent of our recommendation.