Reports & Testimonies

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

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

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

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

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

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

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

    Results:

    Subject Term: "Standards evaluation"

    12 publications with a total of 25 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: John E. Dicken
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In implementing the age and gender adjustment, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should consider taking steps to mitigate the limitations of the BCBS Standard plan premium cost data--such as by combining data from multiple FEHBP plans. If combining the costs of plans with different benefit structures, the Commissioner should consider whether an appropriate actuarial adjustment should be used. If the Commissioner interprets that the statute does not provide the flexibility to mitigate the limitations of the BCBS Standard plan premium cost data by combining data from multiple sources or by other means, the Commissioner should seek that authority from Congress.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jenny Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to implement a mechanism for regularly collecting and incorporating incumbent air marshals' feedback on the training they receive from field office programs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    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 effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to take additional steps to improve the response rates of the training surveys it conducts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to specify in policy who at the headquarters level has oversight responsibility for ensuring that field office Supervisory Air Marshals-in-Charge or their designees meet their responsibilities for ensuring that training completion records are entered in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to specify in policy who at the headquarters level is responsible for ensuring that headquarters personnel enter approved air marshals' training exemptions into the Federal Air Marshal Information System, and define the timeframe for doing so.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to develop and implement standardized methods, such as examinations and checklists, for determining whether incumbent air marshals continue to be mission ready in key skills.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist DOD in determining whether CIPP is meeting its intended purpose of enhancing retention and providing greater flexibility in the career path of servicemembers, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the service secretaries, to develop and implement a plan to evaluate the pilot that includes key features such as well-defined, clear, and measurable objectives and standards for determining pilot-program performance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with our recommendation, and recognized the importance of developing well defined measures to evaluate the effectiveness and utility of the career intermission pilot program (CIPP). In November 2015, DOD acknowledged receipt of our final report and noted that its position on the report has not changed since providing official written comments. In May 2017, we issued GAO-17-623R, which provided an update to the CIPP participant data in our initial report, and noted that DOD had not established performance measures in response to our recommendation. As of September 2017, DOD had still not developed these measures, noting the program was still in a pilot stage, and the final consolidated report due to Congress in June 2023 will include narratives from the service secretaries discussing the effectiveness and value of the program.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand attributable costs for individual Parcel Select NSAs, the Postmaster General should direct the appropriate staff to identify and implement cost-effective methods, such as using a sample, to collect and study information on the costs of delivering Parcel Select packages of varying characteristics in order to develop contract-specific attributable cost estimates.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: USPS developed analysis in response to this recommendation by using a proxy for package dimension rather than a sample of customer-specific dimension data, as GAO recommended. The assumptions used in the methodology by USPS result in only minor cost differences regardless of the dimension or weight of packages shipped under individual Parcel Select NSAs. As of June 13, 2017, this recommendation remains open pending additional discussions with USPS about its methodology and results.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that CBP's land mobile radio systems are functioning as intended in each location and are meeting user needs, the CBP Commissioner should develop a plan to monitor the performance of its deployed radio systems.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    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 the ICE TACCOM program is effectively managed, the Assistant Secretary of ICE should develop a program plan to ensure that the agency establishes the appropriate documentation of resource needs, program goals, and measures to monitor the performance of its deployed radio systems.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve CBP training efforts, CBP Commissioner should develop and implement a plan to address any skills gaps for CBP agents and officers related to understanding the new digital radio systems and interagency radio use protocols.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve CBP training efforts, CBP Commissioner should develop a mechanism to verify that all Border Patrol and OFO radio users receive radio training.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve ICE training efforts, the Assistant Secretary of ICE should develop and implement a plan to address any skills gaps for ICE agents related to understanding the new digital radio systems and interagency radio use protocols.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve ICE training efforts, the Assistant Secretary of ICE should develop a mechanism to verify that all ICE radio users receive radio training.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Border and Transportation Security: Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    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
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of federal training programs and enhance DHS's stewardship of resources for federal training programs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct DHS components to ensure that their documented training evaluation processes fully address attributes for effective training evaluation processes as they are drafted, updated, or revised.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, we reported on the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) training efforts, including the extent to which DHS has a documented process to evaluate training and development programs. We found that all five DHS components in GAO's review--U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center--have a documented process to evaluate their training programs. Their documented processes fully included three of six attributes of effective training evaluation processes identifying goals, programs to evaluate, and how results are to be used. However, the documented processes did not consistently include the other three attributes: methodology, timeframes, and roles and responsibilities. We concluded that by updating documentation to address these attributes, DHS components would have more complete information to guide its efforts in conducting effective evaluations. We therefore recommended that DHS direct its components to ensure that their documented training evaluation processes fully address attributes for effective training evaluation processes as they are drafted, updated, or revised. In September 2016, DHS officials reported that a DHS-wide self-audit of training evaluation processes was completed on March 31, 2016 and found that DHS has current documentation addressing effective learning evaluation programs and that there are commonalities in evaluation procedures across the components. As a part of the self-audit, components provided policy and procedures documents related to their training evaluation processes and found that they adhere to sound instructional systems design models. However, the self-audit focused on identifying the specific training evaluation practices for a sample of courses at each component and not whether the component-level guidance included the attributes for effective training evaluation processes we identified in our report. Further, although DHS updated its department-wide guidance on training evaluation in April 2016 to incorporate the attributes for effective training evaluation processes and some components have followed suit, other components have not. For example, we found that some components, such as Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard, had updated their training evaluation guidance to include the attributes we identified in our report. Others, such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were in the process of updating their guidance. However, as of April 2017, the guidance from the Transportation Security Administration remained in draft and the guidance from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center had not been updated since our review. Therefore, this recommendation remains open pending action on the above noted items.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of federal training programs and enhance DHS's stewardship of resources for federal training programs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should identify existing challenges that prevent DHS from accurately capturing training costs department-wide and, to the extent that the benefits of addressing those challenges exceed the costs, implement corrective measures to overcome these challenges..

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2014, we reported on the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) training efforts, including the extent to which DHS has a documented process to reliably capture costs. We found that DHS identified efficiencies and cost savings for delivering a number of training programs. However, different methods are used for capturing training costs across the department, which poses challenges for reliably capturing these costs across DHS. Components capture training costs differently, contributing to inconsistencies in training costs captured across DHS. Variation in methods used to collect data can affect the reliability and quality of DHS-wide training program costs. However, DHS has not identified all challenges that contribute to these inconsistencies. We concluded that DHS could improve its awareness about the costs of training programs DHS-wide and thereby enhance its resource stewardship by identifying existing challenges that prevent DHS from accurately capturing training costs and implementing corrective measures. We therefore recommended that DHS identify existing challenges that prevent DHS from accurately capturing training costs department-wide and, to the extent that the benefits of addressing those challenges exceed the costs, implement corrective measures to overcome these challenges. As of September 2016, DHS reported that its Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer and Office of the Chief Financial Officer worked together to research the issue and determine the best course of action to standardize training cost reporting. However, this did not require a formal root cause analysis. In order to identify a way for the components to capture training costs in a standardized manner, DHS formed a Tiger Team that included officials from each component which identified 12 common functional areas for training to capture training costs. Components were directed to prepare implementation plans outlining how they will begin capturing cost data within the identified functional training areas and, according to DHS, began capturing the data on September 29, 2016. In January 2017, the DHS Chief Financial Officer provided guidance to the components as to how they are to report their training costs to DHS on a quarterly basis. Components provided their first quarterly submission to DHS in January 2017. These steps are in line with the intent of our recommendation. This recommendation will remain open as we monitor its continued implementation over the next two quarters.
    Director: Crosse, Marcia G
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CTP's ability to operate efficiently, achieve effective results, and plan appropriately, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to establish performance measures that include time frames for making final decisions on SE submissions and Exemption from SE submissions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: FDA has established performance measures that include time frames for reviewing and acting on some of its new tobacco product submissions, including regular Substantial Equivalence (SE) submissions and Exemption from SE submissions, received in fiscal years 2015 through 2018. However, as of September, 2017, FDA has not developed performance measures for provisional SE submissions, the type of SE submissions that represent new tobacco products that may continue to be marketed unless and until FDA's Center for Tobacco Products finds that they are not substantially equivalent. We are keeping this recommendation open until the agency establishes performance measures, including time frames for making final decisions, for provisional SE submissions.
    Recommendation: To improve CTP's ability to operate efficiently, achieve effective results, and plan appropriately, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to monitor FDA's performance relative to those time frames, such as evaluating whether staff are performing reviews of these submissions efficiently and effectively.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: FDA has established and monitors performance measures that include time frames for reviewing and acting on regular SE submissions, Exemption from SE requests, and Modified Risk Tobacco Product applications for fiscal years 2015 through 2018. However, because the agency has not yet reported establishing and monitoring performance measures for provisional SE submissions, we are leaving this recommendation open as of August 2017.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve EPA's management of the conditional registration process, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs to complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations to more readily track the status of these registrations and related registrant and agency actions and identify potential problems requiring management attention.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that until upgrades to OPP's database architecture are complete in the FY 18 timeframe, the agency cannot complete plans to automate data related to conditional registrations. The agency informed us that plans are currently underway to improve the functionality and accuracy of OPP databases, including the tracking of information on conditional registration. However, until this work is complete, the recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should identify and carry out steps that can be taken to help CBP port officials overcome challenges to consistent implementation of existing wait time estimation methodologies. Steps for ensuring consistent implementation of these methodologies could include, for example, implementing the fiscal year 2008 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative report recommendations to use closed-circuit television cameras to measure wait time in real time and provide a standardized measurement and validation tool.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP officials report that in order to avoid further investment in a manual wait time methodology, the agency plans to focus resources on developing an enterprise-wide solution for automating the measurement of border delays. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should, in consultation with Federal Highway Administration and state DOTs, assess the feasibility of replacing current methods of manually calculating wait times with automated methods, which could include assessing all of the associated costs and benefits, options for how the agency will use and publicly report the results of automated data collection, the potential trade-offs associated with moving to this new system, and other factors such as those influencing the possible expansion of existing automation efforts to the 34 other locations that currently report wait times but have no automation projects under way.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports working to identify a feasible and cost effective wait time solution to measure commercial vehicle delays along the southern border. Specifically, CBP officials report that they have been partnering with the Federal Highway Administration and the Texas A&M's Transportation Institute on the deployment of an automated radio-frequency identification measurement solution to measure commercial delays at eight crossings. To verify the accuracy of the automated wait time data, CBP officials report that in June 2016 they conducted a ground-truth analysis with mixed results. CBP officials report DHS Science and Technology directorate delivered their final report in February 2017 and by the end of September 2017, pending review and acceptance of the report's findings, CBP will coordinate efforts to develop the required communication protocols and data schematics for near real-time commercial vehicle wait time updates to the CBP Border Wait Time website and Border Wait Time app. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that CBP's Office of Field Operations' (OFO) staffing processes are transparent and to help ensure CBP can demonstrate that these resource decisions have effectively addressed CBP's mission needs, the Commissioner of CBP should document the methodology and process OFO uses to allocate staff to land ports of entry on the southwest border, including the rationales and factors considered in making these decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports that they have adopted a workload staffing model to identify CBP staffing requirements at land ports of entry. CBP officials report that the workload staffing model provides senior leadership with a decision-support tool to identify the number of required resources for each location and accounts for distinct operating environments, unique variables, and major functions and activities. CBP officials report that they use the workload staffing model results in its budget requests and when allocating staff to the ports of entry. However, CBP has not provided GAO with documentation showing how staff are allocated among land ports of entry including how workload staffing model results are used in this process. CBP officials report that in May 2017 OFO began working with contracted experts to synthesize the quantitative and qualitative data available and develop a comprehensive CBP position allocation methodology. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in March 2018.
    Director: Yager, Loren
    Phone: (202)512-4347

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To more effectively implement SBA's expansion of OIT field staff as required by the SBJA, the Administrator of the SBA should update SBA's plan for additional OIT staff to include funding sources and time frames, as well as possible efficiencies from clearly defining roles and responsibilities and leveraging other entities' export assistance resources.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: SBA concurred with our recommendations and noted that SBA would work to implement the recommendations. SBA agreed that it intends to respond to staffing requirements of the SBJA while acknowledging resource constraints in its next annual report to Congress. In November 2014, SBA officials said that SBA was in the process of evaluating the impact of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) retirements that took place at the end of September 2014 and was developing a plan for reallocating full-time employees (FTEs). They said that at the end of this process, SBA would have a better understanding of the impact on current and future USEAC staffing levels. In September 2015, SBA stated that it was still in the process of evaluating the impact of the VERA/VSIP retirements that took place at the end of September 2014, and was developing a plan for current and future FTEs. In February 2016, SBA's Office of International Trade (OIT) reported that in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, it was able to fill the 21st of 30 USEAC-based Export Finance Specialist positions. OIT also reported that it has prepared an updated staffing proposal for the remaining nine positions called for under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. OIT noted that filling the remaining nine positions would depend on their receiving additional agency funding. SBA needs to provide documentation of its plan for complying with staffing requirements in the Small Business Jobs Act, or provide evidence that they have reallocated resources to actually do so. As of March 2017, SBA's new leadership was reviewing agency budget and staffing needs and had not provided us with a proposal for filling the remaining positions.
    Director: Williams, Orice M
    Phone: (202)512-5837

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address the current information gap in Regulation SHO for prime brokerage arrangements and mitigate the impact of any unintended consequences caused by SEC rules, as well as ensure consistent implementation of SEC rules by the industry, the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission should finalize, in an expedited manner upon finalization of the temporary rule, the revised 1994 Prime Broker Letter.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 7/18/13, the revised Prime Broker letter has not been finalized.
    Director: Stephenson, John B
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should take a number of steps to further protect the American public from elevated lead levels in drinking water. Specifically, to improve EPA's ability to oversee implementation of the lead rule and assess compliance and enforcement activities, EPA should ensure that data on water systems' test results, corrective action milestones, and violations are current, accurate, and complete.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, EPA reported to GAO that the agency had been working with states through face-to-face trainings and webinars on the reporting of milestone data. GAO will continue to monitor these efforts and reevaluate whether water systems' test results, corrective action milestones and violations are current, accurate and complete subsequent to the completion of the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal and the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS) Prime, described briefly below. However, until these new tools are complete, the status of this recommendation remains open. According to EPA, SDWIS Prime will be available for testing in September 2017 and for state use at the end of March 2018. In an earlier update to GAO in June 2016, EPA highlighted several of its efforts to improve data quality, noting that it had given greater scrutiny to such improvements due to recent concerns about elevated lead in drinking water. For example, its SDWIS regional coordinators review all SDWIS data submissions for accuracy and timeliness before approving submittals to the agency. In addition, EPA provides the Regions and the States with a data quality matrix report that gives metrics on the accuracy and timeliness of the last submission, after each quarterly submission. The agency has also focused on promoting electronic reporting of drinking water data through development of the Compliance Monitoring Data Portal, and is developing SDWIS Prime to improve state program efficiency, automate candidate violation notifications, increase data submission quality, and promote reporting of compliance monitoring data.