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    Subject Term: "Statistical methods"

    5 publications with a total of 10 open recommendations
    Director: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality and transparency of statistical reporting of international government procurement by GPA and U.S. FTA parties to fulfill their commitments under these agreements, the U.S. Trade Representative should prepare and submit a proposal to the WTO GPA working group on statistical reporting established by the Committee on Government Procurement that aims to improve the quality of statistical reporting by WTO parties to address the weaknesses we identified.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said the United States has long struggled with the challenges associated with comparing statistics produced by the United States with statistics provided by U.S. trading partners where there are inconsistencies in statistical reporting. To respond to this known challenge, USTR led an effort to establish a work program on statistical reporting during the revised GPA negotiations. The WTO GPA statistical work program calls for parties to make recommendation on four issues: 1) whether the GPA Parties should adopt a common method for collection of statistics; 2) whether the GPA Parties are able to standardize the classifications in the statistical data reported to the GPA Committee; 3) means for facilitating the collection of country of origin of goods and services covered by the agreements; and 4) other technical issues in government procurement data reporting raised by any GPA Party. In 2017, USTR assumed the chair of the work program as part of its effort to ensure that the GPA Parties continue to make progress in their work on these recommendations. On April 27, 2017, USTR tabled a proposal that identifies outstanding issues preventing GPA Parties from improving the quality of statistical reporting. GPA Parties have agreed to discuss these issues at another work program meeting chaired by USTR in June 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the quality and transparency of statistical reporting of international government procurement by GPA and U.S. FTA parties to fulfill their commitments under these agreements, the U.S. Trade Representative should resume the annual exchange of statistical data on covered government procurement with the other NAFTA parties as NAFTA requires.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said they support resuming the annual exchange of statistical data under NAFTA, given the importance of high quality and transparent statistical reporting of government procurement and the significance of the trade relationships with Canada and Mexico. The Administration is currently reassessing NAFTA. USTR will seek to ensure that the exchange of procurement statistics is considered as part of the ongoing reevaluation.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, improve the U.S. methodology for providing federal government procurement statistics to the WTO to ensure both accurate and more timely reporting, consistent with GPA requirements--for example, by providing preliminary estimates and updated values of covered federal procurement or by using an alternative methodology that bases measures of covered government procurement on actual annual obligations, if USTR determines that such an approach is consistent with WTO obligations.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials the revised U.S. approach for reporting GPA-covered procurement adopted in 2015 provides significantly more accurate statistics, but at the cost of timeliness. USTR, in coordination with DOC, is working to further revise the methodology for the preparation and submission of statistics on federal procurement covered by the GPA. They expected that this revised methodology will include both preliminary estimates and updated values of covered federal procurement, per the GAO recommendation.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, in consultation with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, develop a methodology for reporting statistics on state governments' covered procurement to the WTO consistent with GPA requirements.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said that despite noting significant challenges in preparing accurate U.S. state-level statistics on government procurement, we did not identify any concrete steps to improve the accuracy of state-level statistics. Officials have begun to research the issue and found eight states covered by the GPA currently make procurement statistics available in an on-line searchable format, but none of those states indicates the value of procurements covered by trade agreements. Nonetheless, USTR, in consultation with DOC (ITA and Census), is assessing methods for preparing more accurate state-level statistics.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, in consultation with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, ensure that methodologies and data sources used to prepare GPA statistical notifications are documented.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said as USTR and DOC work to develop new methodologies for federal and state-level statistical submissions, they are documenting the decision-making process and the final methodology. Additionally, as part of the data documentation process, DOC has agreed to maintain a database of the source data used in the preparation of both federal and state-level statistics. DOC and USTR are also taking additional steps to ensure the accuracy of all statistics submitted to the WTO.
    Recommendation: The U.S. Trade Representative should, in consultation with appropriate experts in Commerce, OMB, and GSA, ensure that calculations using U.S. procurement statistics and other data are reviewed for accuracy before reporting them to the WTO.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 10, 2017 USTR officials said as USTR and DOC work to develop new methodologies for federal and state-level statistical submissions, they are documenting the decision-making process and the final methodology. Additionally, as part of the data documentation process, DOC has agreed to maintain a database of the source data used in the preparation of both federal and state-level statistics. DOC and USTR are also taking additional steps to ensure the accuracy of all statistics submitted to the WTO.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

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

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions Congress has taken in response to this matter for consideration, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gootnick, David B
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to strengthen its ability to collect, evaluate, and transmit reliable information to Congress, the Secretary of the Interior should disseminate guidelines to the affected jurisdictions that adequately address concepts essential to producing reliable impact estimates, and call for the affected jurisdictions to apply these guidelines when developing compact impact reports.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a January 13, 2012 letter, Interior provided a status update to GAO and the Congress on this recommendation. Interior stated that it generally concurred with the recommendation and that it would advise the governors of affected jurisdictions of possible guidelines to develop compact reports. In addition, Interior officials met with staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and GAO representatives on January 17, 2012 to discuss approaches to preparing this guidance. Interior targeted a completion date of September 15, 2012 for the guidance at that time. In March 2012, Interior met with three of the four governors of affected jurisdictions, Hawaii, the CNMI, and Guam. According to Interior, the governors reached the consensus that Hawaii would develop a template for developing guidelines by December 2012. Although the completion date was revised, such guidance was not prepared. Section 13 of S. 1237, as introduced June 27, 2013, would have required Interior to identify the amount of compact impact costs in affected jurisdictions for the purpose of permitting the amount of impact cost to be used as in-kind contributions for federal grants. In its statement at a July 11, 2013 Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing on S. 1237, Interior stated that it "has urged the governors [of affected jurisdictions] to develop consistent standards of reporting among themselves, including the definition of FAS migrants, accurate accounting of migrant costs to the affected government, and benefits received by the affected jurisdiction from employment, taxation and consumption." but that it opposed the enactment of Section 13. On August 20, 2013, Interior sent letters to all four governors of affected jurisdictions stating that it was available to provide comments on any guidelines for measurement that the governors may choose to develop and present. Simultaneously, Interior sent a letter to GAO stating that the governing law, P.L. 108-188, does not give Interior authority to mandate either measurement processes or the reporting of impacts to the Congress. Therefore, Interior stated that it was unable to ensure that guidelines for reports to Congress are completed by the affected jurisdictions and that it can take no further action. However, our report found that, though the guidelines were not required under the law, without such guidelines, there were a number of weaknesses in affected jurisdictions' reporting of compact impacts to Interior from 2004 through 2010 related to accuracy, adequacy of documentation, and comprehensiveness. Interior prepared draft guidelines in late 2014, but these were not issued. In March 2016, Interior stated that OIA, in consultation with the leaders from the affected jurisdictions, would develop guidelines for measuring compact impact and that the guidelines would be completed in December 2016. In August 2016, Interior again stated to GAO that the guidelines would be completed by the end of the year, but they were not completed. In September 2017, Interior provided GAO with a draft template for recording costs but stated that, given new leadership at Interior and in the affected jurisdictions, more discussion would be needed before the template can be finalized. We continue to believe that providing more rigorous guidelines to the affected jurisdictions and promoting their use for compact impact reports would increase the likelihood that Interior can provide reliable information on compact impacts to Congress.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202)512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better determine the effects of nonresponse bias on the Status of Forces survey results, the Secretary of Defense should direct Director of DMDC to develop and implement guidance both for conducting nonresponse analysis and for using the results of nonresponse analysis to inform DMDC's statistical weighting techniques, as part of the collection and analysis of the Status of Forces survey results.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2012, DMDC indicated that, although it continues to agree with the recommendation that DOD develop and implement guidance both for conducting nonresponse analysis and for using the results of nonresponse analysis to inform DMDC's statistical weighting techniques, funding is not currently available to carry out the full intent of the recommendation. Therefore, DMDC stated that it can only comply with the spirit of the recommendation at this time. Further, DMDC is looking for further direction from GAO with regard to this recommendation.
    Director: Kingsbury, Nancy R
    Phone: (202)512-2700

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help correct undercounts, eliminate conceptual problems, and where possible, fill gaps for information on immigration flow, the Commissioner of INS should: (1) evaluate and, where feasible, improve data on flow; and (2) utilize an effective information typology (either the one put forward in table 2.1 of this report or an alternative designed by INS) to clearly distinguish different demographic concepts and to determine which statistics can fairly be compared to others.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Office of the Secretary
    Status: Open

    Comments: On September 5, 2017, GAO called the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Immigration Statistics, and discussed this open recommendation. The Deputy Assistant Secretary said that in response to the February 6, 2017, e-mail and a brief personal discussion with GAO during a Migration Policy Institute conference in August 2017, he had assigned a staff member to complete work on the typology, but that the staff member was one of several who were temporarily reassigned to work in Houston as a consequence of Hurricane Harvey, and for that reason work on the typology would be delayed. He said DHS would like to have this typology completed and published before the end of 2017, but could not guarantee that, and said that it would be completed. On February 6, 2017, GAO sent an e-mail to the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Immigration Statistics at DHS, which included a PDF of the typology GAO created, as well as a PDF of the published report. GAO followed up with a telephone call to the Deputy Assistant Secretary on February 24, 2017, and noted the former Director of the Office of Immigration Statistics had been working on adding some categories to the typology and planned on completing those and publishing it. The Deputy Assistant Secretary said he agreed that doing the typology and publishing it is important, and that he would be addressing it in the near future. On June 1, 2016, the Special Assistant for the Office of Policy at the Department of Homeland Security told GAO that it has initiated an examination of this recommendation to determine how it might be closed. When the typology is published and utilized, this recommendation will be closed.