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    Subject Term: "Tax expenditures"

    14 publications with a total of 37 open recommendations including 7 priority recommendations
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

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

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

    Comments: OSTP did not state whether it agreed or disagreed with this recommendation. They provided some comments on the draft recommendation. For example, OSTP commented that the recommendation could focus on the extent to which the objectives of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) recommendations are being achieved in periodic updates to the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing. However, these recommendations were not covered in the scope of our report: we focused on reporting on the progress in achieving the objectives of the strategic plan.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    8 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should communicate more clearly the limitations of information not published in the IRB to taxpayers. Such action could include adding clarifying language to some pieces of information not published in the IRB, like FAQs, and amending policies and procedures, such as the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), to clarify when IRS information should contain a statement regarding its legal authority and whether the item can be used or cited as precedent.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, IRS has informed GAO that it has implemented the recommendation. GAO is in the process of verifying that the recommendation was successfully implemented.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should amend current policies and procedures for drafting guidance to include factors to consider when deciding what type of guidance to issue and procedures for documenting those decisions internally.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, IRS has informed GAO that it has implemented the recommendation. GAO is in the process of verifying that the recommendation was successfully implemented.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop policies and procedures to help guidance-drafting teams assess whether non-regulatory guidance should be considered a rule for purposes of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) and in turn major, and document those assessments internally.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, IRS has informed GAO that it has implemented the recommendation. GAO is in the process of verifying that the recommendation was successfully implemented.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should take action to ensure that required steps are consistently documented during key phases of the non-regulatory guidance process, as defined in the Chief Counsel Directives Manual.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, IRS has informed GAO that it has implemented the recommendation. GAO is in the process of verifying that the recommendation was successfully implemented.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury should examine the relevance of the long-standing agreement that exempts certain IRS regulations from executive order requirements and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) oversight; and if relevant, make publicly available any reaffirmation of the agreement and the reasons for it.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Treasury agreed with this recommendation. As of March 2017, Treasury stated that it has been reviewing IRS regulations in light of GAO's recommendations. Treasury also stated that Treasury and OMB have been assessing and discussing the relevance of the long-standing agreement that exempts certain IRS regulations from executive order requirements, but are waiting for key new appointees, including the OIRA administrator, to formalize the discussions.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury should examine the relevance of the long-standing agreement that exempts certain IRS regulations from executive order requirements and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) oversight; and if relevant, make publicly available any reaffirmation of the agreement and the reasons for it.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, OMB has not responded to GAO's request for information about any actions taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Director of Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury should develop a process to ensure that OIRA has the information necessary to determine whether IRS rules are major under CRA and significant under E.O.12866. Consideration should be given on ways to solicit public comments on the potential effects of proposed regulations and non-regulatory guidance, including measures of economic impacts, and on how to document internally the consideration of significant comments by both IRS and OIRA.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury agreed with this recommendation. As of March 2017, Treasury stated that it has been reviewing IRS regulations in light of GAO's recommendations. Treasury also stated that Treasury and OMB have been assessing and discussing the relevance of the long-standing agreement that exempts certain IRS regulations from executive order requirements, but are waiting for key new appointees, including the OIRA administrator, to formalize the discussions.
    Recommendation: The Director of Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury should develop a process to ensure that OIRA has the information necessary to determine whether IRS rules are major under CRA and significant under E.O.12866. Consideration should be given on ways to solicit public comments on the potential effects of proposed regulations and non-regulatory guidance, including measures of economic impacts, and on how to document internally the consideration of significant comments by both IRS and OIRA.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, OMB has not responded to GAO's request for information about any actions taken to implement this recommendation.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Performance Improvement Council and General Services Administration, should ensure the information presented on Performance.gov consistently complies with GPRAMA public reporting requirements for the website's content.

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

    Comments: In July 2017, OMB staff stated that they will be partnering with a vendor to redesign Performance.gov, and plan to launch the new site in February 2018 with the fiscal year 2019 budget. Staff confirmed they will ensure that the redesigned Performance.gov site will include content that meets public reporting requirements. They stated they anticipate releasing updated agency reporting guidance in the fall of 2017 to help ensure agencies are prepared to report required data.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Performance Improvement Council and General Services Administration, should analyze and, where appropriate, implement usability test results to improve Performance.gov.

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

    Comments: In July 2017, OMB staff stated that they will be partnering with a vendor to redesign Performance.gov, and plan to launch the new site in February 2018 with the fiscal year 2019 budget. Staff confirmed they will ensure that the redesigned Performance.gov site will include content that meets public reporting requirements. They stated they anticipate releasing updated agency reporting guidance in the fall of 2017 to help ensure agencies are prepared to report required data. In addition, OMB and PIC staff noted that the new vendor for Performance.gov (who had not been selected at that time) will help develop a strategic plan for the site that incorporates results from usability studies, and a stakeholder outreach plan that encompasses diverse groups including Congress, federal agency managers and staff, and other interested groups.
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Performance Improvement Council and General Services Administration, should develop a strategic plan for the future of Performance.gov. Among other things, this plan should include: (A) the goals, objectives, and resources needed to consistently meet Digitalgov.gov and GPRAMA requirements; (B) a customer outreach plan that considers how (1) OMB informs users of changes in Performance.gov, (2) OMB uses social media as a method of communication, and (3) users access Performance.gov so that OMB could, as appropriate, deploy mobile applications to communicate effectively; and (C) a strategy to manage and archive the content and data on Performance.gov in accordance with National Archives and Records Administration guidance.

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

    Comments: In July 2017, OMB staff stated that they will be partnering with a vendor to redesign Performance.gov, and plan to launch the new site in February 2018 with the fiscal year 2019 budget. Staff confirmed they will ensure that the redesigned Performance.gov site will include content that meets public reporting requirements. They stated they anticipate releasing updated agency reporting guidance in the fall of 2017 to help ensure agencies are prepared to report required data. In addition, OMB and PIC staff noted that the new vendor for Performance.gov (who had not been selected at that time) will help develop a strategic plan for the site that incorporates results from usability studies, and a stakeholder outreach plan that encompasses diverse groups including Congress, federal agency managers and staff, and other interested groups.
    Director: Krause, Heather M
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the contributions of tax expenditures toward the achievement of agency goals are identified and measured, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should work with agencies to identify which tax expenditures contribute to their agency goals, as appropriate--that is, they should identify which specific tax expenditures contribute to specific strategic objectives and agency priority goals.

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

    Comments: In July 2017, OMB staff said that although they still agreed with our recommendation, it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of public reporting on CAP goal progress, the Director of OMB should, working with the PIC, report on Performance.gov the actions that CAP goal teams are taking, or plan to take, to develop performance measures and quarterly targets.

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

    Comments: We reviewed selected CAP goals quarterly performance information on the Performance.Gov website as of Q4 of FY 2016, which updates the status of the CAP goals through September 2016. Some of the selected CAP goals have updated and new performance measures, but it was not clear the extent to which CAP goal teams included information on the actions they are taking to develop such measures, consistent with our recommendation. We contacted OMB in June 2017 on the current status of this recommendation. We will provide an update to its status once OMB responds to our request.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: If Congress wishes to evaluate the effectiveness of the ITC and the PTC as incentives for the development of renewable utility-scale electricity generation projects as it considers proposals to extend the ITC or reauthorize the PTC, it should consider directing the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to provide Congress with project-level data currently collected from taxpayers who claim the ITC in lieu of the PTC--such as the number of projects for which they are claiming the credit, the technology of the projects taking the credit, and the total generating capacity added--and make such data available for analysis. Additionally, take steps to collect and report the same data from all taxpayers claiming the ITC.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not taken action on this matter.
    Recommendation: If Congress wishes to evaluate the effectiveness of the ITC and the PTC as incentives for the development of renewable utility-scale electricity generation projects as it considers proposals to extend the ITC or reauthorize the PTC, it should consider directing the Commissioner of Internal Revenue to take steps to collect project-level data from taxpayers claiming the PTC--such as the number of projects for which they are claiming the credit, the technology of the projects taking the credit, and the total generating capacity--and make these data available for analysis.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not taken action on this matter.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    8 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to better present a more coherent picture of all federal programs, revise relevant guidance to direct agencies to collaborate with each other in defining and identifying programs that contribute to common outcomes.

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

    Comments: In June 2016, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff stated that they have not taken any actions in response to our recommendations related to the federal program inventory, as they continue to determine how best to implement inventory requirements in coordination with those of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In our July 2015 testimony on DATA Act implementation, we recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to determine how best to merge DATA Act purposes and requirements with the GPRAMA requirement to produce a federal program inventory (see GAO-15-752T). However, at the same hearing, the Acting Deputy Director for Management and Controller at OMB stated that, because the staff that would be involved in working on the program inventories were heavily involved in DATA Act implementation, he would not expect an update of the program inventories to happen before May 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to better present a more coherent picture of all federal programs, revise relevant guidance to provide a time frame for what constitutes "persistent over time" that agencies can use as a decision rule for whether to include short-term efforts as programs.

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

    Comments: In June 2016, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff stated that they have not taken any actions in response to our recommendations related to the federal program inventory, as they continue to determine how best to implement inventory requirements in coordination with those of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In our July 2015 testimony on DATA Act implementation, we recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to determine how best to merge DATA Act purposes and requirements with the GPRAMA requirement to produce a federal program inventory (see GAO-15-752T). However, at the same hearing, the Acting Deputy Director for Management and Controller at OMB stated that, because the staff that would be involved in working on the program inventories were heavily involved in DATA Act implementation, he would not expect an update of the program inventories to happen before May 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to better present a more coherent picture of all federal programs, define plans for when additional agencies will be required to develop program inventories.

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

    Comments: In June 2016, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff stated that they have not taken any actions in response to our recommendations related to the federal program inventory, as they continue to determine how best to implement inventory requirements in coordination with those of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In our July 2015 testimony on DATA Act implementation, we recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to determine how best to merge DATA Act purposes and requirements with the GPRAMA requirement to produce a federal program inventory (see GAO-15-752T). However, at the same hearing, the Acting Deputy Director for Management and Controller at OMB stated that, because the staff that would be involved in working on the program inventories were heavily involved in DATA Act implementation, he would not expect an update of the program inventories to happen before May 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to better present a more coherent picture of all federal programs, include tax expenditures in the federal program inventory effort by designating tax expenditure as a program type in relevant guidance.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, OMB had not taken action to include tax expenditures in the federal program inventory, as GAO recommended in October 2014. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB to publish a list of all federal programs on a central, government-wide website. The federal program inventory is the primary tool for agencies to identify programs that contribute to their goals, according to OMB?s guidance. By including tax expenditures in the inventory, OMB could help ensure that agencies are properly identifying the contributions of tax expenditures to the achievement of their goals. Although OMB published an initial inventory covering the programs of 24 federal agencies in May 2013, OMB decided to postpone further development of the inventory in order to coordinate with the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In July 2015, GAO recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to merge DATA Act purposes with the production of a federal program inventory. In June 2016, OMB staff said they continue to determine how best to implement the program inventory requirements in coordination with those of the DATA Act; OMB staff said there was no update as of March 2017. Without including tax expenditures in the inventory, OMB is missing an important opportunity to increase the transparency of tax expenditures and the outcomes to which they contribute.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to better present a more coherent picture of all federal programs, include tax expenditures in the federal program inventory effort by developing, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury, a tax expenditure inventory that identifies each tax expenditure and provides a description of how the tax expenditure is defined, its purpose, and related performance and budget information.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, OMB had not taken action to include tax expenditures in the federal program inventory, as GAO recommended in October 2014. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB to publish a list of all federal programs on a central, government-wide website. The federal program inventory is the primary tool for agencies to identify programs that contribute to their goals, according to OMB?s guidance. By including tax expenditures in the inventory, OMB could help ensure that agencies are properly identifying the contributions of tax expenditures to the achievement of their goals. Although OMB published an initial inventory covering the programs of 24 federal agencies in May 2013, OMB decided to postpone further development of the inventory in order to coordinate with the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In July 2015, GAO recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to merge DATA Act purposes with the production of a federal program inventory. In June 2016, OMB staff said they continue to determine how best to implement the program inventory requirements in coordination with those of the DATA Act; OMB staff said there was no update as of March 2017. Without including tax expenditures in the inventory, OMB is missing an important opportunity to increase the transparency of tax expenditures and the outcomes to which they contribute.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to help ensure that the information agencies provide in their inventories is useful to federal decision makers and key stakeholders, and to provide greater transparency and ensure consistency in federal program funding and performance information, revise relevant guidance to direct agencies to consult with relevant congressional committees and stakeholders on their program definition approach and identified programs when developing or updating their inventories.

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

    Comments: In June 2016, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff stated that they have not taken any actions in response to our recommendations related to the federal program inventory, as they continue to determine how best to implement inventory requirements in coordination with those of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In our July 2015 testimony on DATA Act implementation, we recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to determine how best to merge DATA Act purposes and requirements with the GPRAMA requirement to produce a federal program inventory (see GAO-15-752T). However, at the same hearing, the Acting Deputy Director for Management and Controller at OMB stated that, because the staff that would be involved in working on the program inventories were heavily involved in DATA Act implementation, he would not expect an update of the program inventories to happen before May 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to help ensure that the information agencies provide in their inventories is useful to federal decision makers and key stakeholders, and to provide greater transparency and ensure consistency in federal program funding and performance information, revise relevant guidance to direct agencies to identify in their inventories the performance goal(s) to which each program contributes.

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

    Comments: In June 2016, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff stated that they have not taken any actions in response to our recommendations related to the federal program inventory, as they continue to determine how best to implement inventory requirements in coordination with those of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In our July 2015 testimony on DATA Act implementation, we recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to determine how best to merge DATA Act purposes and requirements with the GPRAMA requirement to produce a federal program inventory (see GAO-15-752T). However, at the same hearing, the Acting Deputy Director for Management and Controller at OMB stated that, because the staff that would be involved in working on the program inventories were heavily involved in DATA Act implementation, he would not expect an update of the program inventories to happen before May 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective implementation of federal program inventory requirements and to make the inventories more useful, the Director of OMB should, to help ensure that the information agencies provide in their inventories is useful to federal decision makers and key stakeholders, and to provide greater transparency and ensure consistency in federal program funding and performance information, ensure, during OMB reviews of inventories, that agencies consistently identify, as applicable, the strategic goals, strategic objectives, agency priority goals, and cross-agency priority goals each program supports.

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

    Comments: In June 2016, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff stated that they have not taken any actions in response to our recommendations related to the federal program inventory, as they continue to determine how best to implement inventory requirements in coordination with those of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In our July 2015 testimony on DATA Act implementation, we recommended that OMB accelerate efforts to determine how best to merge DATA Act purposes and requirements with the GPRAMA requirement to produce a federal program inventory (see GAO-15-752T). However, at the same hearing, the Acting Deputy Director for Management and Controller at OMB stated that, because the staff that would be involved in working on the program inventories were heavily involved in DATA Act implementation, he would not expect an update of the program inventories to happen before May 2017.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure goal leader and deputy goal leader accountability, the Director of OMB should work with agencies to ensure that agency priority goal leader and deputy goal leader performance plans demonstrate a clear connection with agency priority goals.

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

    Comments: We contacted OMB and Performance Improvement Council (PIC) staff about this recommendation in November 2016 and February 2017. They have not yet responded regarding whether they have taken any action to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Mihm, J Christopher
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

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

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

    Comments: In July 2017, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff told us that they have made no further progress on this recommendation since their last update in June 2016. At that time, according to information provided by staff from OMB and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC), they had taken some initial steps to address this recommendation in a few areas, such as acquisition management (contracts). In addition, the PIC formed a working group on performance measurement that, in part, is focusing on how to develop appropriate performance measures. However, OMB and the PIC have not yet developed a comprehensive and detailed approach to address these issues as envisioned in our report. We will continue to monitor progress.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To provide federal policymakers information on the relative effectiveness of Title IV programs and higher education tax expenditures, the Secretary of Education should take advantage of opportunities presented by recent and anticipated substantive program changes to sponsor and conduct evaluative research into the effectiveness of Title IV programs and higher education tax expenditures at improving student outcomes.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Education (Education) has made some progress toward sponsoring and conducting evaluative research into the effectiveness of Title IV programs and higher education tax expenditures at improving student outcomes, as GAO recommended. For example, in June 2014, Education signed an agreement with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to share data for the purpose of policy development and research. In particular, the agreement allows the agencies to coordinate their data to understand the relationship between Title IV student aid and tax benefits, and to model the effects of potential policy changes. Education officials noted the office of Federal Student Aid is also working with Treasury to generate outcomes data by institution and make that information publicly available. In June 2016, Education officials stated their website would be updated with these new data by the end of the year. In addition, in fiscal year 2014 Education launched the Enterprise Data Warehouse and Analytics (EDW&A) project to provide internal and external stakeholders, including researchers, timely and accurate access to centralized Federal Student Aid data and analytic tools. Education officials said that the agency is in the process of improving EDW&A for a variety of purposes, including research on Title IV program effectiveness. In July 2016, through the Education Research Grants competition, Education's Institute of Education Sciences awarded two grants to researchers looking at the impact of interventions related to applying for federal student aid on college enrollment, attendance, and degree completion. While sponsoring this research represents an important step toward understanding specific financial aid interventions, Education has identified a critical research gap in the area of linking higher education financing to student outcomes, and more evaluative research may be necessary to strengthen the evidence related to key federal strategies and programs. As of May 2017, although Education awarded several grants to evaluate the effectiveness of higher education programs and interventions, most of the studies do not focus on federal assistance. GAO encourages Education to ensure that its data-sharing and future grant efforts result in actively sponsoring or conducting evaluative research on federal higher education assistance programs, and make plans to use the information in future policymaking, as appropriate. Making these data-sharing and research efforts a priority will help policymakers make fact-based decisions on the merits and value of various federal assistance efforts. To fully implement this recommendation, Education needs to ensure that its efforts result in evaluating the effectiveness of Title IV programs and federal higher education tax expenditures.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should modify Form 982, Part 1 to segregate the total dollar amount of forgiven debt by exclusion type and capture the information in IRS's databases.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS has not yet revised the Form 982 consistent with our recommendation. Form 982 directs taxpayers to identify the type(s) of forgiven debt. For example, taxpayers check a box to indicate forgiven mortgage debt used to buy, build, or substantially improve a principal residence. However, the Form 982 is used to report other types of forgiven debt, such as debt related to real property used in a trade or business, and the form does not require taxpayers to report the dollar amounts for each exclusion type. This means that IRS does not necessarily know how much of the forgiven debt should be attributed to a taxpayer's principal residence. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 making it important for IRS to have more specific information from taxpayers concerning the amount of forgiven debt attributable to a taxpayer's principal residence.
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should modify the Form 982 and Form 1099-C so that filers disclose the address of the secured property for which the debt is being forgiven and capture the information in IRS's databases.

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

    Comments: While IRS has not revised the Forms 982 and 1099-C consistent with our recommendation, Congress directed IRS to collect additional information concerning mortgage interest payments, which prompted IRS to revise a related form. Congress in July 2015 enacted the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Public Law 114-41). Section 2003 of the act requires taxpayers receiving mortgage interest payments to report the origination date of the mortgage, the amount of outstanding principal at the beginning of the calendar year, and the property's address. This new reporting requirement applies to returns that would be filed in 2017. In response to the legislation, IRS updated Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement. While IRS officials have told us that they believe the new data to be collected on this form have the potential to be helpful, they will not know the extent of any benefits from this new reporting requirement for several years. As of March 2017, IRS had not yet revised two other forms to the extent we recommended--the Forms 982 and 1099-C--to collect specific information from taxpayers and lenders concerning the amount of forgiven debt attributable to a principal residence and the location of the taxpayer's principal residence. Specifically, Form 982 does not direct taxpayers to identify the address for which debt is being forgiven nor does Form 1099-C direct lenders to report the address. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, making it important for IRS to have more specific information concerning the address of the properties for which debt is being forgiven.
    Recommendation: To enhance IRS's ability to detect noncompliance with mortgage debt forgiveness provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should use the additional data reported on the revised Form 982 and Form 1099-C to assess the extent to which taxpayers are compliant.

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

    Comments: While IRS has not fully revised the Forms 982 and 1099-C consistent with our recommendation, Congress directed IRS to collect additional information concerning mortgage interest payments which prompted IRS to revise a related form, and IRS officials are considering how to use the additional data. As of March 2017, the Form 982 does not direct taxpayers to identify the address for which debt is being forgiven. For the Form 1099-C, IRS began requiring lenders to provide more information about the type of event that resulted in the cancellation of the debt. However, as of March 2017, the Form 1099-C does not direct lenders to report the address of the property for which mortgage debt is being forgiven. In July 2015, Congress enacted the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Public Law 114-41). Section 2003 of the act requires taxpayers receiving mortgage interest payments to report the origination date of the mortgage, the amount of outstanding principal at the beginning of the calendar year, and the property's address. This new reporting requirement applies to returns that would be filed in 2017. In response to the legislation, IRS updated Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement for the 2017 filing season. While IRS officials told us that they believe the new data to be collected on this form have the potential to be helpful, they will not know the extent of any benefits from this new reporting requirement for several years. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, making it important for IRS to use the additional data we recommended they collect in enforcement efforts.
    Director: White, James
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the lack of information on IRD users and where property claimed under IRD is placed in service, Congress may wish to consider requiring IRS to collect information identifying which taxpayers use IRD and the reservation and/or address where they have placed the property into service. In deliberating additional requirements, Congress should weigh the need for more IRD information with the associated costs of collecting and analyzing the information as well as the effects on IRS's other priorities.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we continue to monitor the issue.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-9039

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As Congress considers whether tax-exempt governmental bonds should be used for professional sports stadiums that are generally privately used, it may also wish to consider whether other facilities, including hotels and golf courses, that are privately used should continue to be financed with tax-exempt governmental bonds.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No legislative action enacted as of March 2017. A bill was introduced in Congress in February 2017 (H.R. 811) which, if enacted, would, in general, not allow tax-exempt government bonds to be used to finance professional sports stadiums. Reconsidering the tax-exempt status of certain bonds could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional federal revenue.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should resume presenting tax expenditures in the budget together with related outlay programs to show a truer picture of the federal support within a mission area.

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

    Comments: No executive action taken. OMB had not presented tax expenditures in the budget together with the related outlay programs in the fiscal year 2018 budget released in May 2017. OMB did not agree that GAO's September 2005 recommendation is necessary and stated that presenting information on tax expenditures together with related outlay programs is not useful for budgeting and that such a presentation is not part of the congressional budget process. However, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires a list of tax expenditures, including special tax credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, deferrals, and preferential tax rates. Whereas OMB favors reporting tax expenditures separately from the rest of the budget, GAO has reported that an integrated presentation is also useful to show the relative magnitude of tax expenditures compared to spending and credit programs across mission areas. OMB previously presented tax expenditure sums alongside outlays and credit activity for each budget function in the federal budget from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2002, but discontinued the practice. Tax expenditures resulted in $1.4 trillion in forgone revenue in fiscal year 2016, more than the discretionary spending level that year.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should require that tax expenditures be included in the PART process and any future such budget and performance review processes so that tax expenditures are considered along with related outlay programs in determining the adequacy of federal efforts to achieve national objectives.

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

    Comments: OMB made some progress in including tax expenditures along with related outlay programs in the executive branch's budget and performance review processes, as GAO recommended in September 2005, but as of July 2017, OMB had not developed a systematic approach for conducting such reviews. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that the administration would work toward examining the objectives and effects of the wide range of tax expenditures in the budget. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB and the agencies to identify the relevant tax expenditures that contribute to each crosscutting priority goal. Beginning with its August 2012 update to Circular No. A-11 with guidance for implementing GPRAMA and continuing in subsequent annual updates, OMB has directed agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to each of their agency priority goals. Beginning with the July 2013 update, OMB expanded its guidance to include identifying these contributions to agency strategic objectives. In both its July 2013 and July 2014 guidance, OMB stated that it planned to work with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and agencies to facilitate alignment of tax expenditure information with agency priority goals and strategic objectives. However, in its June 2015 update of this guidance, OMB removed the language about working with Treasury and agencies to align tax expenditures with agency goals. OMB staff told GAO in July 2017 that it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints. OMB's July 2017 guidance still requires agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to their agency priority goals and strategic objectives.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should develop and implement a framework for conducting performance reviews of tax expenditures. In developing the framework, the Director should (1) determine which agencies will have leadership responsibilities to review tax expenditures, how reviews will be coordinated among agencies with related responsibilities, and how to address the lack of credible performance information on tax expenditures; (2) set a schedule for conducting tax expenditure evaluations; (3) re-establish appropriate methods to test the overall evaluation framework and make improvements as experience is gained; and (4) to identify any additional resources that may be needed for tax expenditure reviews.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: No executive action taken. As of the last President's budget released in May 2017, the Director of OMB had not developed a framework for reviewing tax expenditure performance, as GAO recommended in June 1994 and again in September 2005. Since their initial efforts in 1997 and 1999 to outline a framework for evaluating tax expenditures and preliminary performance measures, OMB and the Department of the Treasury have ceased to make progress and retreated from setting a schedule for evaluating tax expenditures.The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that developing an evaluation framework is a significant challenge due to limited data availability and analytical constraints of isolating the effect of any single program. The administration planned to focus on addressing some of these challenges so it can work toward crosscutting analyses that examine tax expenditures alongside related spending programs. However, OMB and Treasury have not reported on progress on this recommendation since the President's fiscal year 2012 budget.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should develop and implement a framework for conducting performance reviews of tax expenditures. In developing the framework, the Director should (1) determine which agencies will have leadership responsibilities to review tax expenditures, how reviews will be coordinated among agencies with related responsibilities, and how to address the lack of credible performance information on tax expenditures; (2) set a schedule for conducting tax expenditure evaluations; (3) re-establish appropriate methods to test the overall evaluation framework and make improvements as experience is gained; and (4) to identify any additional resources that may be needed for tax expenditure reviews.

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

    Comments: No executive action taken. As of the last President's budget released in May 2017, the Director of OMB had not developed a framework for reviewing tax expenditure performance, as GAO recommended in June 1994 and again in September 2005. Since their initial efforts in 1997 and 1999 to outline a framework for evaluating tax expenditures and preliminary performance measures, OMB and the Department of the Treasury have ceased to make progress and retreated from setting a schedule for evaluating tax expenditures. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that developing an evaluation framework is a significant challenge due to limited data availability and analytical constraints of isolating the effect of any single program. The administration planned to focus on addressing some of these challenges so it can work toward crosscutting analyses that examine tax expenditures alongside related spending programs. However, OMB and Treasury have not reported on progress on this recommendation since the President's fiscal year 2012 budget.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should require that tax expenditures be included in the PART process and any future such budget and performance review processes so that tax expenditures are considered along with related outlay programs in determining the adequacy of federal efforts to achieve national objectives.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2005, the Department of the Treasury responded that this recommendation did not relate to Treasury. OMB made some progress in including tax expenditures along with related outlay programs in the executive branch's budget and performance review processes, as GAO recommended in September 2005, but as of July 2017, OMB had not developed a systematic approach for conducting such reviews. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that the administration would work toward examining the objectives and effects of the wide range of tax expenditures in the budget. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB and the agencies to identify the relevant tax expenditures that contribute to each crosscutting priority goal. Beginning with its August 2012 update to Circular No. A-11 with guidance for implementing GPRAMA and continuing in subsequent annual updates, OMB has directed agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to each of their agency priority goals. Beginning with the July 2013 update, OMB expanded its guidance to include identifying these contributions to agency strategic objectives. In both its July 2013 and July 2014 guidance, OMB stated that it planned to work with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and agencies to facilitate alignment of tax expenditure information with agency priority goals and strategic objectives. However, in its June 2015 update of this guidance, OMB removed the language about working with Treasury and agencies to align tax expenditures with agency goals. OMB staff told GAO in July 2017 that it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints. OMB's July 2017 guidance still requires agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to their agency priority goals and strategic objectives.