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    Subject Term: "Setting priorities"

    20 publications with a total of 55 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To effectively measure 18F's performance, the Administrator of GSA should direct the Commissioner for the Technology Transformation Service to ensure that goals and associated performance measures are outcome-oriented and that performance measures have targets, including (1) performance measures and targets tied to fully recovering program costs; and (2) goals, performance measures, and targets for how the program will achieve its mission after September 2016.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The General Services Administration (GSA) agreed with, and has begun to take steps to implement, this recommendation. Specifically, GSA developed a quarterly performance report for fiscal year 2017 that includes an outcome-oriented goal for 18F as well as associated performance measures and targets. According to a Technology Transformation Service official, GSA plans to expand its quarterly performance report for fiscal year 2018 to reflect additional 18F goals and performance measures, including measures tied to fully recovering program costs. We will continue to evaluate GSA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To effectively measure 18F's performance, the Administrator of GSA should direct the Commissioner for the Technology Transformation Service to assess actual results for each performance measure.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The General Services Administration (GSA) agreed with, and has begun to take steps to implement, this recommendation. Specifically, GSA developed a quarterly performance report for fiscal year 2017 that includes an outcome-oriented goal for 18F as well as associated performance measures with targets. Additionally, GSA has assessed actual results of the performance measures for the first two quarters of fiscal year 2017. According to a Technology Transformation Service official, GSA plans to expand its quarterly performance report for fiscal year 2018 to include additional 18F goals and performance measures. We will continue to evaluate GSA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To effectively measure performance, prioritize USDS's resources, and ensure that CIOs play an integral role in agency digital service teams, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct the Federal Chief Information Officer to ensure that all goals and associated performance measures are outcome-oriented and that performance measures have targets.

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

    Comments: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) generally agreed with, and has begun to take steps to implement, this recommendation. Specifically, in its December 2016 report to Congress, OMB developed three goals for U.S. Digital Service (USDS): (1) rethink how the federal government builds and buys digital services; (2) expand the use of common, platforms, services, and tools; and (3) bring top technical talent into public service. In addition, OMB established performance measures with targets for its third goal and for each of the program's major projects. However, OMB has not established performance measures for the first two USDS goals. Further, the program's third goal is not outcome-oriented. We will continue to evaluate OMB's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To effectively measure performance, prioritize USDS's resources, and ensure that CIOs play an integral role in agency digital service teams, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct the Federal Chief Information Officer to assess actual results for each performance measure.

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

    Comments: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) generally agreed with, and has begun to take steps to implement, this recommendation. Specifically, in its December 2016 report to Congress, OMB assessed the results of performance measures for one of the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) program's goals--bring top technical talent into public service--and for each of the program's major projects. However, OMB has not established performance measures for the other two USDS goals--rethink how the federal government builds and buys digital services; and expand the use of common, platforms, services, and tools. We will continue to evaluate OMB's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To effectively measure performance, prioritize USDS's resources, and ensure that CIOs play an integral role in agency digital service teams, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct the Federal Chief Information Officer to update USDS policy to clearly define the responsibilities and authorities governing the relationships between CIOs and the digital service teams and require existing agency digital service teams to address this policy. In doing so, the Federal Chief Information Officer should ensure that this policy is aligned with relevant federal law and OMB guidance on CIO responsibilities and authorities.

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

    Comments: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) generally agreed with, and has begun to take steps to implement, this recommendation. In particular, OMB updated its digital service team policy to require that teams appropriately inform their chief information officers (CIO) regarding U.S. Digital Service (USDS) projects. However, the policy does not describe the responsibilities or authorities governing the relationships between CIOs and digital service teams. We will continue to evaluate OMB's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help IRS improve its process for determining IT funding priorities and to provide timely information on the progress of its investments, the Commissioner of IRS should direct the Chief Technology Officer to document IRS's process for selecting and prioritizing operations support activities.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 statement of actions to address our recommendations, IRS reported that it was documenting the process for selecting and prioritizing all non-Business Systems Modernization activities, and noted that it expects to have draft documentation by September 2016, and finalized documentation no later than April 2017. We will be following-up with the agency to obtain documentation of actions taken to address this recommendation, and will update this status accordingly.
    Recommendation: To help IRS improve its process for determining IT funding priorities and to provide timely information on the progress of its investments, the Commissioner of IRS should direct the Chief Technology Officer to establish, document, and implement policies and procedures for selecting new and reselecting ongoing business systems modernization activities, consistent with IRS's process for prioritizing operations support priorities, which addresses (1) prioritization and comparison of IT assets against each other, (2) criteria for making selection and prioritization decisions, and (3) ensuring IRS executives' final funding decisions on IT proposals are based on IRS's prioritization process.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 statement of actions to address our recommendations, IRS highlighted process improvements, which it noted would influence its efforts to address this recommendation. IRS committed to documenting the prioritization policies and procedures for its Business Systems Modernization activities as these new process improvements stabilize. We will be following-up with IRS to obtain documentation of actions taken to address this recommendation, and will update this status accordingly.
    Recommendation: To help IRS improve its process for determining IT funding priorities and to provide timely information on the progress of its investments, the Commissioner of IRS should direct the Chief Technology Officer to modify existing processes for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and Return Review Program (RRP) for measuring work performed by IRS staff to incorporate best practices, including accounting for actual work performed and using the level of effort measure sparingly.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 statement of actions to address our recommendations, IRS stated it would evaluate the use of a more quantitative measure for work performed and thereby use the level of effort measure sparingly. IRS stated that it would meet with GAO to discuss the results of this evaluation by the end of January 2017. We plan to meet with IRS in the near future to discuss this recommendation, and will update this status accordingly.
    Recommendation: To help IRS improve its process for determining IT funding priorities and to provide timely information on the progress of its investments, the Commissioner of IRS should direct the Chief Technology Officer to report on actual costs and scope delivery at least quarterly for the Customer Account Data Engine 2 and the Affordable Care Act Administration. For these investments, IRS should develop metrics similar to FATCA and RRP.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its August 2016 statement of actions to address our recommendations, IRS stated that the Customer Account Data Engine 2 program management office is currently standing up processes to report on planned versus actual costs and scope delivery on a monthly basis. Additionally, IRS stated that it would consider the approach currently being used by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and Return Review Program investments. The agency stated that development work for the Affordable Care Act Administration investment was minimal, and as a result, application of this recommendation would not be beneficial. We will be following-up with IRS to obtain documentation of actions taken to address this recommendation, and will update this status accordingly.
    Director: Andrew Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure the quality of the risk assessments used to inform its future QHSR processes, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy to ensure future QHSR risk assessment methodologies reflect key elements of successful risk assessment methodologies, such as being: (1) Documented, which includes documenting how risk information was integrated to arrive at the assessment results, (2) Reproducible, which includes producing comparable, repeatable results, and (3) Defensible, which includes communicating any implications of uncertainty to users of the risk results.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2016, the Office of Policy's Office of Strategy, Plans, Analysis and Risks completed initial meetings in April 2016 with government and non-government subject matter experts to refine risk analyses for the upcoming 2018 QHSR. Representatives from the department's component and headquarters staff are to take part in the Department's Risk Modeling and Analysis Steering Committee by reviewing, documenting and approving proposed new methodologies planned to help identify and prioritize threats and hazards. This effort is intended to lead to a documented, reproducible, and defensible assessment, according to the DHS officials. This recommendation will remain open until we verify that the risk analysis contains these elements.
    Recommendation: To enable the use of risk information in supporting resource allocation decisions, guiding investments, and highlighting the measures that offer the greatest return on investment, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy to refine its risk assessment methodology so that in future QHSRs it can compare and prioritize homeland security risks and risk mitigation strategies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2016, the Office of Policy's Office of Strategy, Plans, Analysis, and Risk, with support from the RAND Corporation, has proposed a methodology to assess threats, hazards, and vulnerabilities impacting U.S. homeland security. In addition, the department's Risk Modeling and Analysis Executive Steering Committee is to review and approve the proposed methodology. The methodology is intended to enable the Department of Homeland Security to compare and prioritize homeland security risks and risk mitigation strategies, according to DHS officials. The recommendation will remain open until we verify that the methodology allows such comparisons.
    Recommendation: To ensure proper management of the QHSR stakeholder consultation process, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy to identify and implement stakeholder meeting processes to ensure that communication is interactive when project planning for the next QHSR.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2016, the Office of Policy's Office of Strategy, Plans, Analysis, and Risk finalized a draft stakeholder outreach plan to include use of the Office of Management and Budget's Max electronic collaboration website to engage with federal, state, and local stakeholders. The OMB-MAX website is available to government and non-government offices and allows the posting of documents, articles, and links, as well as facilitating collaborative editing of documents and participant interaction threads, according to DHS officials. In addition, the Office of Policy's Office of Strategy, Plans, Analysis, and Risk is exploring the use of different tools to facilitate more interactive stakeholder engagement. For example, DHS's Office of Partnerships and Engagement is to facilitate additional engagement with external subject matter experts, arrange interagency coordination, and organize review and approval with parties of the homeland security enterprise in order to coordinate and approve the development of the 2018 QHSR. This recommendation will remain open until we verify that interactive communication approaches are implemented.
    Recommendation: To ensure proper management of the internal QHSR stakeholder consultation process, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy to clarify component detailee roles and responsibilities when project planning for the next QHSR.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2016, the Office of Policy's Office of Strategy, Plans, Analysis, and Risk (SPAR) drafted a memorandum for the Deputy Secretary to solicit Component subject matter experts. The memorandum specifies component detailee roles and responsibilities, to include serving in an advisory, consultation, and coordination role, according to DHS officials. SPAR is to lead an integrated group of analysts and strategic planners that are to be supported and augmented by the subject matter experts. The experts and detailees are to serve as members of study teams analyzing key threats, trends, and strategy and policy alternatives associated with issues and challenges relating to DHS's mission and objectives. A second memorandum requesting additional detailee support is to be issued in November 2016, prior to the formal review phase of the new QHSR which is to begin in January 2017. This recommendation will remain open until we verify that clarified detailee roles and responsibilities are finalized and implemented.
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: On March 9, 2016 DOE provided agency comments on GAO-16-243 concurring with the recommendation and identifying related actions. Specifically, DOE reported collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a joint DOE/Industry EMP Strategy to include key goals and objectives and identification of R&D priorities. The Strategy is expected to be completed by August 31, 2016 to be followed by more detailed action plans. DOE reported that they will collaborate with DHS and DOD in development of the Strategy and action plans. DOE further noted that a report by the Idaho National Laboratory report also identifies potential technology gaps and includes recommendations for further R&D efforts, which will be incorporated when developing the forthcoming action plans.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve the consistency of certain data submitted by the military services and defense agencies to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and reported in the Energy Report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the heads of the defense agencies, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment to work together to provide more consistent guidance to the installations, including clearly stating the energy reporting requirements for tenant and host facilities, energy projects, and end-of-fiscal-year data.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide more consistent guidance to the installations for the Energy Report. DOD stated that the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations, and Environment will work with the military services in fiscal year 2016 to provide more consistent guidance to military installations. In a September 2017 follow up, DOD stated that it has draft guidance in progress and is awaiting finalization. We will continue to follow up on the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen states' monitoring and facilitate local MOE compliance, the Secretary of Education should prioritize technical assistance and information sharing across states on ways to facilitate local MOE compliance with respect to the use of the four calculation methods and the exceptions.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, Education officials reported that the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has been working on guidance on local educational agency maintenance of effort (LEA MOE) and intends to issue an expanded question and answer document by the end of 2016. In addition, the officials reported that the OSEP-funded Center for Idea Fiscal Reporting (CIFR) has taken additions steps, including creating an LEA MOE calculator projected for publication in fall 2016. GAO anticipates closing this recommendation when these activities have been implemented.
    Recommendation: To help districts address key challenges in meeting MOE and mitigate unintended consequences that may affect services for students with disabilities, while preserving the safeguard for funding for students with disabilities, Congress should consider options for a more flexible MOE requirement. This could include adopting a less stringent MOE requirement to align with the MOE requirements in other education programs or adding to or modifying exceptions. For example, current exceptions could be changed to allow one-time increases in spending without changing a district's MOE baseline in order to encourage pilot innovations or to allow certain spending decreases (e.g., state caps on teacher benefits), as long as a district can demonstrate the decrease does not negatively affect services.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not taken legislative action on this issue.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA OCPO and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should establish a plan to ensure that the agreement is reviewed on an annual basis as intended.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should direct OCPO and the regional administrators to revisit the 2011 service level agreement to: add details about the extent of operational control headquarters and regional supervisors should exercise to minimize potential competing interests experienced by regional contracting officers; further detail headquarters and regional supervisors' roles and responsibilities for managing regional contracting officers to improve coordination and communication; and ensure that the agreement reflects any new requirements, including recent changes in training that may require travel funds.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To address PKEMRA, the Secretary of Homeland Security should take action to address the requirements of Section 692 to implement subcontractor limitations or request that Congress amend the law to delete Section 692.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DHS took steps to ask Congress to repeal PKEMRA Section 692, which prohibits the use of subcontracts for more than 65 percent of the cost of cost-reimbursement type contracts that exceed the simplified acquisition threshold. DHS submitted a legislative change proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who approves such proposals before they are submitted to Congress. OMB approved the proposed change for PKEMRA Section 692 in April 2016. We will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the IRS collection program meets its mission and selects cases fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should establish, document, and implement objectives for the collection program and ACS, and define the key term of "fairness" as it applies to collection activities, which can be communicated to IRS staff.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, IRS supplied documentation on how it had established a fairness policy statement, which is incorporated into the Internal Revenue Manual, communicated to staff in email, and provided via a powerpoint present to staff. IRS also established and documented collection program objectives as part of its FY2017 Collect Program Letter. However, IRS still needs to identify how these objectives have been implemented and how ACS contributes to specific objectives. IRS plans to provide this documentation by September 2017.
    Director: Gerald Dillingham
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To implement a more effective international strategy for achieving NextGen interoperability with other nations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities to NextGen interoperability and establish timeframes for periodically re-evaluating these risks.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To implement a more effective international strategy for achieving NextGen interoperability with other nations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to identify and document actions FAA will undertake to mitigate these risks, using information from the risk assessment as a basis for making management decisions about how to allocate resources for these activities.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Department of Justice effectively measures its efforts to address incarceration challenges, the Attorney General should explore additional data collection opportunities and modify its Smart on Crime indicators to incorporate key elements of successful performance measurement systems.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In August 2015, DOJ reported that it has taken steps to obtain new, more granular data elements that it hoped to incorporate into its indicators. However, DOJ also stated that it did not believe that measureable targets were appropriate for its Smart on Crime indicators because prosecutors need to make case by case decisions without regard to targets or concerns for any other incentive. As of October 2016, DOJ had not provided any updates on its progress addressing this recommendation to enhance performance measurement. Until DOJ provides this information, we cannot determine whether its efforts resulted in indicators that incorporate key elements of successful performance measurement systems. In March, 2017, DOJ noted that, due to a change in administration, the consequences of the Smart on Crime initiative are uncertain, and did not provide any further updates on its progress addressing our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Department of Justice effectively measures its efforts to address incarceration challenges, the Attorney General should direct the Office of the Pardon Attorney, in conjunction with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, to (1) track how long it takes, on average, for commutation of sentence petitions to clear each step in the review process under DOJ's control, and (2) identify and address, to the extent possible, any processes that may contribute to unnecessary delays.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In August 2015, DOJ reported that tracking the steps of its review would not provide meaningful data because the Department prioritizes those cases for review that appear likely to meet the Clemency Initiative factors announced in April 2014. Nevertheless, DOJ stated that it agreed that identifying and addressing unnecessary delays in the review process is important, and that it has been regularly working to identify and address such delays. As of October 2016, DOJ had not provided any updates on its progress addressing this recommendation to better track and address any unnecessary delays. Until it does so, we cannot determine whether it is meeting the key goal of the new Clemency Initiative--to expeditiously identify and review especially meritorious petitions. In March 2017, DOJ noted that due to the accelerated clemency review process implemented in 2015, it currently has no standard process to evaluate, and did not provide any further updates on its progress in addressing our recommendation.
    Director: James C. Cosgrove
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve CMS's process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, the Administrator of CMS should better document the process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, including the methods used to review RUC recommendations and the rationale for final relative value decisions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: To help improve the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's (CMS) process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, in May 2015 we recommended that the Administrator of CMS better document the process, including the methods used to review recommendations from the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) and the rationale for final relative value decisions. CMS concurred with this recommendation, stating that CMS establishes relative values for new, revised, and potentially misvalued physicians' services based on its review of a variety of sources of information, including the RUC. CMS officials told us the agency continues to improve the transparency of its process by proposing and finalizing changes to the process in the annual rule for the Physician Fee Schedule. Officials also told us that the agency is developing a means of displaying the direct practice expense inputs component of relative values in a consistent manner that will allow for greater transparency and documentation of the process, since currently the RUC recommends direct practice expense inputs to CMS through inconsistent formats that are not conducive to public transparency. Officials estimated that this process will take several years to complete. In order to close this recommendation as implemented, CMS will need to demonstrate that it has improved its internal and external documentation of its process for establishing relative values. As of August 2016, CMS has not provided any additional information about actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve CMS's process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, the Administrator of CMS should develop a process for informing the public of potentially misvalued services identified by the RUC, as CMS already does for potentially misvalued services identified by CMS or other stakeholders.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: To help improve the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's (CMS) process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, in May 2015 we recommended that the Administrator of CMS develop a process for informing the public of potentially misvalued services identified by the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), as CMS already does for potentially misvalued services identified by CMS or other stakeholders. CMS did not concur with this recommendation, asserting that the RUC is completely independent of CMS, and as such CMS has no authority to set the RUC's agenda for which services are reviewed. CMS reiterated their non-concurrence in February 2016. CMS officials noted that they recognize that some stakeholders, including those who are not participants in the RUC process, may not be aware of the new, revised, and potentially misvalued services that are under review by CMS prior to the establishment of interim final values in a final rule. For this reason and others, CMS proposed and finalized a change in its process for establishing or revising relative values for new, revised, or potentially misvalued services. Beginning in 2016, CMS will begin including proposed values for some of services in the annual proposed rulemaking for the Physician Fee Schedule, which means that the changes in values for these services will be open for public comment prior to them being finalized. In 2017, changes in values for almost all services will be included in the proposed rule for the Physician Fee Schedule. We continue to believe that CMS needs to inform the public of potentially misvalued services identified by the RUC, as the agency does for potentially misvalued services identified by other stakeholders for review. While the elimination of most interim final values in 2017 will allow stakeholders to comment on values before they become effective, we believe it is still important for CMS to inform stakeholders of those services identified by the RUC as potentially misvalued before CMS received RUC recommendations for these services and subsequently publishes the values in the proposed rule each year. Doing so would give stakeholders more time to provide input on values for services if they so choose before CMS included its proposed values in the annual proposed rulemaking, and we worded our recommendation to allow CMS to determine how to inform stakeholders of these services without delaying the timing of its revision of misvalued services.
    Recommendation: To help improve CMS's process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, the Administrator of CMS should incorporate data and expertise from physicians and other relevant stakeholders into the process as well as develop a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: To help improve the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's (CMS) process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, in May 2015 we recommended that the Administrator of CMS incorporate data and expertise from physicians and other relevant stakeholders into the process, as well as develop a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA). CMS concurred with this recommendation, stating that stakeholders have the opportunity each year to nominate potentially misvalued services for review through a public nomination process. In order to develop a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by PAMA, CMS is assessing the research conducted by two external contractors to determine the most effective and fiscally responsible way to use the funds. This work is ongoing, and CMS is using this work to understand the data collection limitations that exist and help inform the development of a timeline for the use of PAMA funds. CMS anticipates releasing a contract solicitation prior to the end of the calendar year. In order to close this recommendation as implemented, CMS will need to demonstrate that it has incorporated data and expertise from relevant stakeholders and has developed a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by PAMA. As of August 2016, CMS has not provided any additional information about actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and help support oversight and to ensure MDA makes sound investment decisions on improving homeland ballistic missile defense, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA to make the department's analysis of alternatives an integral part of its planning effort and delay any decisions to begin development of the new GMD Redesigned Kill Vehicle until: a) the department's analysis of alternatives is completed and identifies the best solution to pursue; and b) Congressional and DOD decision makers have been provided the results of that analysis.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with our recommendation. As of July 2017, MDA has yet to finalize the analysis of alternatives (AOA) report. MDA officials stated the results of the analysis from the AOA were reached in early fiscal year 2015 and informed the decision to pursue the RKV. The AOA results were summarized and briefed to staff members from the congressional defense committees and senior DOD leadership. MDA subsequently submitted the report to DOD's Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) for a sufficiency review but an official from the Office of the Secretary of Defense stated in July 2017 that CAPE has yet to perform the review. We await the final AOA report to make a determination of whether the recommendation was implemented.
    Recommendation: To strengthen MDA's acquisition efforts and help support oversight, drawing from information it already has, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA to report annually to Congress its plans for, and achieved progress in developing and delivering integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS)-level capabilities. This reporting should include: a) planned integrated BMDS-level capabilities, including dates for when capability is planned for delivery; and b) element-level upgrades needed for delivery of the integrated BMDS capability, including dates that these upgrades need to be available for integration into the BMDS capability.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation to annually report to Congress its plans and progress made in delivering integrated BMDS-level capabilities, including delivery dates for the capabilities and element upgrades needed to support these capacities. Previously, MDA planned to provide Congress a table summarizing the development and delivery of integrated BMDS capabilities annually, beginning in the 2016 BMDS Accountability Report (BAR). We reviewed the 2016 BAR and determined the report did not include the full extent of information regarding plans and progress made in delivery integrating BMDS-level capabilities described in our recommendation. To remain consistent with the methodology for our annual missile defense review, we will assess the 2017 BAR in next year's review to determine if it includes this information.
    Director: Mak, Marie A
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

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

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NASA does not plan to staff the International Space Station National Laboratory Advisory Committee (INLAC) at this time. Officials stated that they continue to believe that the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) Board of Directors meets the intent of the INLAC charter by providing oversight of CASIS implementation of utilization of the ISS as a national laboratory. NASA remains concerned about staffing another oversight group that may create conflicts with the existing CASIS Board of Directors. NASA is also exploring with CASIS opportunities to open portions of board meetings to the general public and interested parties in order to foster additional transparency and a broad and free exchange of ideas. In response to this recommendation, the Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate indicated that NASA was seeking relief from the statutory requirement to staff the INLAC.
    Director: Brian Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the ability of the Department of Defense and the military departments to manage the potential for foreign encroachment near their test and training ranges, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the military departments, should develop and implement guidance for assessing risks to test and training ranges from foreign encroachment in particular, to include: (1) determining the criticality and vulnerability of DOD's ranges and the level of the threat; and (2) a time frame for completion of risk assessments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2017, DOD stated that it has conducted a data call to the services to identify the locations that the services consider to be at risk from foreign encroachment. DOD has received this information from the services and is using it to inform the development of guidance. That effort is in process, so this recommendation is still open.
    Recommendation: To identify potential foreign encroachment concerns on federally-owned land near test and training ranges, the Secretary of Defense should collaborate with the secretaries of relevant federal agencies, including at a minimum the Secretaries of the Interior and Transportation, to obtain additional information needed from federal agencies managing land and transactions adjacent to DOD's test and training ranges. If appropriate, legislative relief should be sought to facilitate this collaborative effort.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2017, DOD stated that it continues to engage with land management agencies on this issue and has met with about eight agencies in the past several years, including the Forest Service in September 2017. The agencies that DOD has met with fit into two main categories: (1) land management agencies such as Department of the Interior and Department of Transportation and (2) trade and foreign relation focused agencies such as Department of State and the Department of Treasury. In addition, DOD continues to explore the possibility of legislative relief to assist in this area. This effort is in process, so this recommendation is still open.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement a written policy to ensure all authorized projects are entered into the agency's database and tracked.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Corps has developed a database on authorized construction projects and has used it for deauthorization activities, but the database is not yet on an Automated Information System platform due to contract capacity constraints for the software developers. Once data are included on an Automated Information System platform, guidance will be issued on data entry and updating of the data.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine what projects are eligible for deauthorization, transmit the list to Congress, and publish projects that are deauthorized in the Federal Register once the new database includes all authorized projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement written policies and procedures documenting the project deauthorization process, from initial compilation of a list of eligible projects to submitting the list to Congress and publishing the projects that are deauthorized in the Federal Register.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement a policy for record-keeping to ensure that documents related to deauthorization are maintained as federal records.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish a mechanism for tracking all authorized studies and establish and implement a written policy to ensure all authorized studies are tracked.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will move the inventory to an automated information system platform and issue guidance on data entry and updating the data.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish and implement policies and procedures documenting the deauthorization process for studies, from initial compilation of a list of eligible studies to submitting the list to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will develop policies and procedures for the study deauthorization process.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Corps meets the statutory requirements related to deauthorization of incomplete water resources studies, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine what studies are eligible for deauthorization and transmit the list to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, a task order has been awarded for a contractor to prepare a comprehensive inventory of studies authorized by statute. Once the comprehensive inventory of studies is complete, the Corps will develop policies and procedures for the study deauthorization process and those policies and procedures will be used to carry out the process of deauthorizing studies.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help clarify the direction of future U.S. participation and position the United States for a successful Arctic Council chairmanship, the Secretary of State should assess the status of recommendations adopted through the Council, and strengthen the Council's ability to address Arctic issues within its purview. As a part of its responsibilities in assuming the Council chair in 2015 and in collaboration with other relevant agencies, the Secretary of State should develop a joint strategy for U.S. participation in the Council that outlines a clear direction for the agencies and identifies resources needed to sustain collaborative efforts and consistent participation in the Council.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are working with Department of State officials to track the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance transparency and allow for more informed decision making related to the appropriate role of leasing in GSA's real property portfolio, the Administrator of GSA should include in the lease prospectus a description of the length of time that an agency estimates it will need the space, an historical account of how long the agency has been in the particular building it is occupying at the time of the prospectus, and any major investments the agency will have to make to the leased space to meet its mission. For those spaces for which the agency has a long-term projected need, also include an appropriate form of cost-to-lease versus cost-to-own analysis.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, GSA had not incorporated the recommended information into its fiscal year 2016 lease prospectuses and did not plan to do so in future prospectuses. GSA officials stated that GSA may not know how long an agency will need the space or the amount of investment that will be needed, so this information would be difficult to incorporate. However, in its 2013 review, GAO found that 9 of the 12 case study leases included space for long-term or mission critical space needs for tenant agencies. Some of the tenant agencies in these leases had been housed in multiple successive leases far longer than the statutory term limit of 20 years for a single GSA lease-situations that would lend themselves to analyzing the extent to which it would be more cost-effective for the government to own rather than lease. Moreover, GSA and the agency are likely to have general information on the complexity and likely investment needed to meet an agency's mission-related needs in leased space that could be included in the prospectus. Including the recommended information would increase transparency and facilitate more informed decision making by Congress.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps, including making changes to AFMSS, and in any new system that replaces AFMSS, to improve the ability of staff to identify wells that are a high priority for environmental inspection and to incorporate information on the inspection history of wells into the environmental inspection prioritization process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: BLM concurred with the recommendation and has initiated action to update its Application for permit to drill (APD) permit processing system. This new system will be known as AFMSS II and, when fully implemented, may address GAO's recommendations. Currently, BLM's actions are insufficient to close this recommendation because they have not completed the updates to AFMISS. Specifically, BLM has not completed its update of AFMSS II to cover environmental inspections. We will continue to follow up with BLM as the agency continues to take action to improve its well tracking system. As of September 2017, BLM said it intends to update AFMSS II to cover environmental issues but has not yet done so.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to ensure that environmental violations or problems and enforcement actions are documented in a consistent manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Lepore, Brian J
    Phone: (202)512-4523

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enable DOD to achieve cost savings and efficiencies and to track its progress toward achieving these goals, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) to develop and implement a plan that provides measurable goals linked to achieving savings and efficiencies at the joint bases and provide guidance to the joint bases that directs them to identify opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies. DOD should at a minimum consider the items identified in its recommendation to the 2005 BRAC Commission as areas for possible savings and efficiencies, including (1) paring unnecessary management personnel, (2) consolidating and optimizing contract requirements, (3) establishing a single space management authority to achieve greater utilization of facilities, and (4) reducing the number of base support vehicles and equipment.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD did not concur with this recommendation. The department stated that its "patient" approach to cost savings is working, and that the senior joint base working group decided against savings targets because of the complexity involved in setting up the bases. As of October 2017, there had been no further action on this recommendation, according to an official of the Office of the Secretary of Defense's joint basing office.
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to provide a common framework for the management and planning of support services at the joint bases, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) to direct the joint bases to compile a list of those common standards in all functional areas needing clarification and the reasons why they need to be clarified, including those standards still being provided or reported on according to service-specific standards rather than the common standard.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. It stated that the department already has a quarterly process to review its joint base common standards, and that reviewing all the standards simultaneously does not allow for the depth of analysis required to make sound decisions. An official from the joint basing office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense stated that DOD believes its current review and update process for the joint base common standards is effective and does not need to be changed. As of October 2017, there had been no further action on this recommendation, according to an official of the joint basing office.
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to provide a common framework for the management and planning of support services at the joint bases, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) to amend the OSD joint standards review process to prioritize review and revision of those standards most in need of clarification within this list.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with his recommendation. The department stated that it already has a quarterly joint base common standards review process, and that reviewing all the standards simultaneously does not allow for the depth of analysis required to make sound decisions. In addition, it noted that the current process incorporates input from the Joint Base commanders, Intermediate Command Summit, and service headquarters. An official from the joint basing office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense stated that DOD believes its current review and update process for the joint base common standards is effective and does not need to be changed. As of October 2017, there had been no further action on this recommendation, according to an official of the Office of the Secretary of Defense's joint basing office.
    Director: Clowers, Angela N
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: FSOC and OFR should clarify responsibility for implementing requirements to monitor threats to financial stability across FSOC and OFR, including FSOC members and member agencies, to better ensure that the monitoring and analysis of the financial system are comprehensive and not unnecessarily duplicative.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of October 2016, FSOC staff have said FSOC and its members, including OFR, understand their responsibilities, saying that meetings of FSOC's Systemic Risk Committee help to ensure that FSOC member agencies have clarity on their responsibilities and noted that the committee operated under a charter. However, our review of the charter found that it does not clarify responsibilities for monitoring threats to financial stability. They also stated that actions OFR and the Federal Reserve (both of which serve on the Systemic Risk Committee) agreed to take in response to a recommendation in a GAO report issued in February 2016 would help to clarify these responsibilities. However, these represent just two of FSOC's member agencies; similar collaborative steps by other agencies would support the clarity of roles for monitoring threats to financial stability. We maintain that more specific action from FSOC and OFR, including FSOC member and member agencies, is needed to address this recommendation that ensures clarity of roles and responsibilities in proactively and comprehensively monitoring for potential emerging threats in the financial system. Our past work has shown that the lack of clear roles and coordination can lead to duplication, confusion, and regulatory gaps.
    Recommendation: FSOC and OFR should clarify responsibility for implementing requirements to monitor threats to financial stability across FSOC and OFR, including FSOC members and member agencies, to better ensure that the monitoring and analysis of the financial system are comprehensive and not unnecessarily duplicative.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council: Office of Financial Research
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, OFR has taken some steps to work with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, a member agency of FSOC, to organize semi-annual meetings to jointly discuss views from their respective monitoring of the financial system for risks. We continue to monitor FSOC and OFR actions that would be responsive to clarifying responsibilities for monitoring threats to financial stability across all the agencies that are members of FSOC.
    Recommendation: To strengthen accountability and collaboration in FSOC's decision making, FSOC should establish a collaborative and comprehensive framework for assessing the impact of its decisions for designating FMUs and nonbank financial companies on the wider economy and those entities. This framework should include assessing the effects of subjecting designated FMUs and nonbank financial companies to new regulatory standards, requirements, and restrictions; establishing a baseline from which to measure the effects; and documenting the approach.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to an April 2017 presidential memorandum, Treasury is conducting a review of FSOC's designation process, including an assessment of the effects of designating FMUs and nonbank financial companies. This review will result in a report. We will update the status of this recommendation after we have reviewed the report.
    Recommendation: To strengthen accountability and collaboration in FSOC's decision making, FSOC should develop more systematic forward-looking approaches for reporting on potential emerging threats to financial stability in annual reports. Such an approach should provide methodological insight into why certain threats to financial stability are included or excluded over time, separate current or past threats from those that are potentially emerging, and prioritize the latter.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: When FSOC publishes its annual report for 2017 and we have reviewed it, we will provide updated information.