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: "Trade agreements"

    5 publications with a total of 13 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    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: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, should establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOL concurred with GAO recommendation and stated that it regularly coordinates monitoring and enforcement activities related to assessing and ensuring the consistency of FTA partner countries' labor laws, regulations, and practices with FTA labor provisions with USTR and State. In March 2017, the Monitoring and Enforcement of Trade Agreements Division (META) in DOLs Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) finalized Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for monitoring FTA labor provisions and engaging with partner country governments and stakeholders. These SOPs involve a renewed emphasis on monitoring trips to FTA partner countries to meet with government officials and in-country stakeholders to gather information on potential FTA violations and make key contacts with stakeholders to encourage direct communication going forward. The SOPs also include provisions regarding coordination with USTR and State in the monitoring and enforcement of FTA labor provisions. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by DOL and USTR.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, should establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns.

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

    Comments: In a correspondence dated January 12, 2015, USTR concurred with GAO's recommendation that USTR and DOL, in cooperation with State, establish a coordinated strategic approach to monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions, to ensure that they systematically assess the consistency of priority FTA partner countries' laws, regulations, and practices with trade agreement labor provisions and address any identified concerns. USTR stated that it is constantly exploring strategies to monitor and analyze information on labor issue more effectively and take action to implement those strategies. To implement GAO's recommendation, USTR is increasing the level and frequency of interagency monitoring through the Trade Policy Staff Committee, Subcommittee on Labor Monitor and Enforcement. Additionally, with DOL, USTR is exploring ways to improve engagement with U.S. Embassies in trade partner countries to monitor labor conditions. For example, DOL is funding the placement of labor officers in certain priority U.S. Embassies to collect and assess facts and to support the implementation of USTR and DOL's efforts. To date, according to USTR, DOL has placed labor officers in Colombia, Honduras, and Bangladesh. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by USTR and DOL.
    Recommendation: To improve the capacity of the U.S. government to monitor and enforce FTA partners' compliance with mutually agreed FTA labor provisions, USTR should ensure that the Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreement Programs, which USTR provides each year to Congress, includes results of USTR's and DOL's efforts to proactively monitor partner countries' compliance with FTA labor provisions.

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

    Comments: In a correspondence dated January 12, 2015, USTR concurred with GAO's recommendation that USTR should ensure that the Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreement Programs, which USTR provides each year to Congress, includes results of USTR's and DOL's efforts to proactively monitor partner countries' compliance with FTA labor provisions. USTR stated that its annual report already provides country-specific information on labor issues and that USTR regularly engages with Congress to provide detailed information on labor issues via meetings and phone conferences. Nonetheless, USTR recognizes that meaningful engagement with Congress is an indispensable part of monitoring and enforcing FTA labor provisions. To implement GAO's recommendation, USTR agreed to continue to identify more effective ways of communicating with Congress, including USTR's committees of jurisdiction, with respect to the Administration's FTA monitoring and enforcement efforts. Furthermore, USTR stated that it will solicit congressional advice and input to inform its efforts. As of May 2017, this recommendation remains open pending further action by USTR.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should establish time frames and develop performance indicators to assess the extent to which Peru's actions are meeting the commitments of the U.S.-Peru bilateral action plan to address specific challenges in Peru's forestry sector.

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

    Comments: GAO met with USTR staff in November 2017 to discuss actions USTR has taken with its partners and members of the Interagency Committee on Trade in Timber Products from Peru to oversee the implementation of commitments in the bilateral forestry action plan with Peru. USTR staff provided us with additional documentation about actions aligned with the objectives of the bilateral plan, and indicators they have developed for monitoring Peru's activities in regards to the action plan, among other items. We are analyzing these documents and will continue to periodically review USTR's implementation of its instrument to monitor actions taken in response to the bilateral action plan.
    Recommendation: To enhance its ability to monitor partner compliance with FTA environmental commitments and provide timely and useful information to help target assistance where it is most needed, USTR should work with its interagency monitoring subcommittee to establish time frames and performance indicators to implement its plan for enhanced monitoring of implementation of FTA environmental commitments across all FTA partner countries.

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

    Comments: In November 2017, GAO met with USTR staff to discuss its efforts for ensuring that U.S. trading partners implement and comply with their international trade obligations under the environment chapters of our free trade agreements. According to USTR staff, they continue to work with the interagency monitoring committee to systematically monitor environmental issues with its free trade partners and have used more systematic methods to monitor issues that have been identified with certain partners as a result. GAO is analyzing the supporting documentation provided and will continue to evaluate USTR's progress in executing its procedures, which includes applying benchmarks and indicators where appropriate, in its updated monitoring.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve policymakers' and the public's understanding of progress through bilateral dialogues in increasing access to China's markets, the U.S. Trade Representative, in conjunction with the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Treasury, should work to provide clearer and more comprehensive reporting on the status of China's implementation of its JCCT and S&ED trade and investment commitments. This reporting should include more complete information on the status of implementation of these commitments, as well as a more clearly identified source for consolidated information, which could be an existing report.

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

    Comments: USTR has taken steps to implement this recommendation, but additional information on the status of specific commitments would further improve understanding of progress in these bilateral dialogues. USTR made changes to the Chinese trade barriers reporting in its 2014 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE report) to align more closely with other Congressional reports prepared by USTR on related issues. USTR also provided updated information in that NTE report on China's compliance with a commitment that had not been reported on in earlier reports. Further, USTR identified the Report to Congress on China's WTO Compliance as the one report among the various annual reports prepared by USTR that provides comprehensive information on the status of the trade and investment commitments that China has made through the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). As of July 2017, GAO is continuing to track agency progress in reporting on these commitments.
    Director: Ragland, Susan
    Phone: (202)512-9471

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs to develop a framework for OIA employees to use in conducting site visits to help ensure objectives are achieved, to assure that relevant information is shared with responsible officials, and to allow more efficient and effective monitoring of issues.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 24, 2017, the Department of Interior (DOI) sent out an email to its staff showing the dissemination of the new format required for completing trip reports by the staff of the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). The new format requires staff to include travel justification (i.e., purpose/objective, location, and travel period) and trip report (i.e., meetings, site visits, results, and next steps, as applicable.) The intent of the recommendation is for DOI to have a framework that includes (1) status of required single audit reports; (2) the progress of actions to resolve reported internal control weaknesses; and (3) current needs for technical assistance, capacity building, and staff level expertise. Further, the intent of GAO's recommendation is that this information be integrated into a comprehensive monitoring process. We did not see these elements included in DOI's new format. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.