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    Subject Term: "Transportation costs"

    10 publications with a total of 18 open recommendations
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that costs savings estimates are reliable, the Director of the USMS should direct its Prisoner Operations Division to develop reliable methods for estimating cost savings and validating reported savings achieved.

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported on United States Marshals Service's (USMS) actions to reduce prisoner-related costs from fiscal years 2010 through 2015. During the course of our review, we found that while USMS implemented actions that it reports have continued to save prisoner-related costs, USMS's methods to determine savings for certain actions were not reliable. For example, USMS identified $375 million in savings from the alternatives to pre-trial detention program for fiscal years 2010 through 2015, but did not verify the data or methodology used to develop the estimate or provide documentation supporting its reported savings for fiscal years 2012 onward. Consequently, we recommended that USMS direct its prisoner operations division to develop reliable methods for estimating cost savings and validating reports savings achieved. USMS concurred with our recommendation. In July 2016, USMS provided more information about how it would address the recommendation by confirming that its future cost savings estimates would be consistent with OMB guidelines for conducting benefit-cost analyses and GAO-identified practices for assessing the reliability of computer-processed data. Aligning USMS estimates with these identified practices would better position the agency to assess the effectiveness of its cost savings efforts. As USMS develops such mechanisms, we will request and consider documentation and other evidence to determine that USMS has implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable USMS to more consistently identify deficiencies and monitor corrective actions, the Director of the USMS should establish a mechanism to aggregate and analyze the results of annual district self-assessments.

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported on United States Marshals Service's (USMS) actions to design systems to help identify cost savings opportunities. During the course of our review, we found that USMS has designed several systems for identifying cost savings, including, for example, developing a strategic plan and guidance for district officials that reinforce policies to provide for the safe, secure, and cost-effective containment of its prisoners. In addition, USMS requires districts to conduct annual self-assessments of their procedures to identify any deficiencies which could lead to cost savings. However, USMS cannot aggregate and analyze the results of the assessments across districts. As a result, we recommended that USMS establish a mechanism to aggregate and analyze the results of annual district self-assessments. USMS concurred with our recommendation. In July 2016, USMS informed us that the agency will develop a method to aggregate and analyze the results of the annual district self-assessments. However, it has not provided information on its plans or timelines to implement the recommendation. As USMS develops such mechanisms, we will consider documentation and other evidence to determine that USMS has implemented this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: While recognizing that cargo preference serves policy goals established by Congress with respect to the U.S. merchant marine, including maintenance of a fleet capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, Congress should consider clarifying cargo preference legislation regarding the definition of "geographic area" to ensure that agencies can fully utilize the flexibility Congress granted to them when it lowered the CPFA requirement.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: We did not receive comments on the Matter for Congressional Consideration. As of March 2017, no legislation had been introduced to clarify the definition of 'geographic area' with regard to cargo preference laws.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of MARAD to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. In the study, MARAD should identify potential solutions to address the mariner shortfall if one is still identified.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments, DOT concurred with our recommendation to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. DOT stated that MARAD has been reviewing the adequacy of existing plans to recruit mariner volunteers to crew the full reserve fleet. Furthermore, DOT noted that 13,000 mariners are required to crew all the vessels in the fleet for sustained operations. On June 15, 2016, GAO contacted MARAD officials to clarify the current status of the National Maritime Strategy, which DOT officials had stated would contain the results of their review. The officials said that the Strategy is still in the interagency process for approval and is not likely to be published until the end of 2016. DOT told GAO in December 2016 that it had conducted an exercise in September 2016 to test mariner availability for an initial activation of the full fleet. However, this exercise did not fully address GAO's recommendation, as it did not test for a full and prolonged activation of the fleet. Furthermore, DOT officials told GAO in April 2017 that the National Maritime Strategy has not been released and is awaiting review from the current Administration.
    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: Johana Ayers
    Phone: (202) 512-5741

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, in consultation with the Office of the DCMO, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on DOD's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2015, DOD updated its conference approval guidelines. According to DOD, these guidelines were designed to facilitate conference participation and attendance by DOD employees. The updated guidelines now treat conference attendance as Temporary Duty/Temporary Assigned Duty, and delegate approval authority to the lowest level possible. However, DOD has not yet implemented a requirement to develop a plan and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences as of June 2016 because officials in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer believe this recommendation in GAO-15-278 is no longer applicable as a result of its updated conference approval guidelines. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOD to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator of NNSA and the relevant national lab directors, in consultation with DOE's Office of Management, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on NNSA's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2015, DOE updated its conference management policies and procedures to, among other things, expedite the conference attendance approval process by establishing timeframes for review and approval. According to DOE, as of September 2016, streamlining the conference approval process eliminates the need to periodically evaluate risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOE to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Director: Dave Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote and enhance federal, state, and local NEMT coordination activities, the Secretary of Transportation, as the chair of the Coordinating Council, should convene a meeting of the member agencies of the Coordinating Council and complete and publish a new or updated strategic plan that, among other things, clearly outlines a strategy for addressing NEMT and how it can be coordinated across federal agencies that fund NEMT service.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) concurred with this recommendation. As of November 2016, FTA stated that Administrator-level members of the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) met in July 2016 to begin the process of developing a strategic plan. A follow-up meeting of the same group is planned for December 2016. According to FTA, it is anticipated this meeting will result in agreement on a strategic plan framework and that interagency working groups will begin implementation of the framework in early 2017. Based on the minutes of the July 2016 CCAM meeting, emerging themes identified for the strategic plan included improved access to medical care and to better coordinate transportation planning, particularly integrating transportation planning into healthcare planning. This recommendation will be kept open pending finalization of the strategic plan framework and how it relates to NEMT.
    Recommendation: To promote and enhance federal, state, and local NEMT coordination activities, the Secretary of Transportation, as the chair of the Coordinating Council, should convene a meeting of the member agencies of the Coordinating Council and finalize and issue a cost-sharing policy and clearly identify how it can be applied to programs under the purview of member agencies of the Coordinating Council that provide funding for NEMT.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FTA concurred with this recommendation. As of November 2016, FTA stated that Administrator-level members of the Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility met in July 2016 to begin the process of developing a strategic plan. A follow-up meeting of the same group is planned for December 2016. According to FTA, it is anticipated the December meeting will result in agreement on a strategic plan framework and that interagency working groups will begin implementing the plan in early 2017. FTA expects development of a cost-sharing policy and proposed model will be an objective in the strategic plan. We plan to keep this recommendation open pending completion of the strategic plan framework and further information related to implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To promote and enhance federal, state, and local NEMT coordination activities, the Secretary of Transportation, as the chair of the Coordinating Council, should convene a meeting of the member agencies of the Coordinating Council and using the on-going work of the Health, Wellness, and Transportation working group and other appropriate resources, (1) identify the challenges associated with coordinating Medicaid and VA NEMT programs with other federal programs that fund NEMT, (2) develop recommendations for how these challenges can be addressed while still maintaining program integrity and fraud prevention, and (3) report these recommendations to appropriate committees of Congress. To the extent feasible, the Coordinating Council should implement those recommendations that are within its legal authority.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FTA said they concurred in part with this recommendation. FTA announced the selection of 19 Rides to Wellness Demonstration and Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility pilot projects, totally about $7.3 million, in September 2016. According to FTA, seven of the 19 projects have a NEMT focus. In addition, during 2016 FTA conducted outreach sessions in various cities throughout the United States to discuss partnership opportunities between the health and transportation industries. FTA stated that a new series of NEMT-specific listening sessions is now underway and additional sessions are planned for 2017. The purpose of these sessions is to identify challenges related to NEMT coordination that will be addressed by Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) working groups in the future. CCAM is also in the process of developing a strategic plan framework. FTA anticipates agreement on this framework in December 2016. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act requires CCAM to develop and publish a strategic plan. FTA anticipates issues related to this recommendation will be developed through 2020. We plan to keep this recommendation open to further monitor CCAM and FTA progress and the extent challenges are identified and addressed related to better coordinating Medicaid and VA NEMT with other NEMT programs in the federal government, through the strategic plan framework or other actions resulting from the listening sessions.
    Director: Lorelei St. James
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve information needed for USPS and congressional decision making as well as transparency for all stakeholders, USPS's executive leaders should collect and analyze updated data on delivery mode costs and the potential savings from converting delivery points to less costly modes of delivery and establish a time frame for publicly reporting the results.

    Agency: United States Postal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: USPS plans to implement this recommendation by May 2018. According to USPS, this will require additional data collection and analysis. For example, USPS plans to assess its delivery network to understand the potential for converting delivery points, but has not yet collected data on the potential savings of large-scale conversions from door delivery to other modes of delivery. USPS stated that for each delivery point, USPS will need to analyze the location, property rights, zoning laws, and logistical and other legal issues. In addition, USPS said it planned future research to understand the impact of delivery mode conversion on mail volume and revenue.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that up-to-date data are available on the road damages imposed by all vehicles types compared with the revenues each contributes to the Highway Trust Fund, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to revise and publish the agency's Highway Cost Allocation Study and update it periodically as warranted.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, FHWA has not taken steps to revise and publish the agency's Highway Cost Allocation Study. In April 2016, FHWA completed a comprehensive truck size and weight study mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and requested that GAO close this recommendation for FHWA to revise and publish the agency's Highway Cost Allocation Study. However, FHWA's comprehensive truck size and weight study does not include critical information that a Highway Cost Allocation Study would provide. Specifically, FHWA's study lacks information on the cost of road damage imposed by all vehicle types compared with the revenues contributed by those vehicles to the Highway Trust Fund to determine whether user fees are sufficient to cover damage costs. GAO will continue to monitor any efforts by DOT and FHWA to respond to GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202)512-5731

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve NTD data collection for ADA paratransit,the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to provide guidance to transit agencies on how to accurately complete existing ADA paratransit fields.

    Agency: Department of Transportation: Federal Transit Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Federal Register final notice on April 7, 2015, shows that FTA is eliminating the collection of certain ADA paratransit data (trips and expenses) from the NTD. This clarification instructs respondents on how to exclude data for demand-responsive services that are not ADA paratransit. We are reviewing the documentation and will make a decision regarding closing this recommendation as implemented at the conclusion of our review.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: (202)512-8984

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the federal investment in surface transportation, meet the nation's transportation needs, and ensure a sustainable commitment to transportation infrastructure, Congress may wish to consider reexamining and refocusing surface transportation programs to be responsive to these principles so that they institute tools and approaches to that emphasize the return on the federal investment.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not yet acted on this recommendation. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94), signed into law in December 2015, is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the federal investment in surface transportation, meet the nation's transportation needs, and ensure a sustainable commitment to transportation infrastructure, Congress may wish to consider reexamining and refocusing surface transportation programs to be responsive to these principles so that they address the current imbalance between federal surface transportation revenues and spending.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not yet acted on this recommendation. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act; P.L. 114-94), signed into law in December 2015, did not address the current imbalance between federal surface transportation revenues and spending. The Act is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Director: Herr, Phillip R
    Phone: 2025128984

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve freight mobility by more clearly defining the federal role in the freight transportation network and to begin to align federal investments with economically significant national benefits, the Secretary of Transportation should develop with Congress and public and private sector stakeholders a comprehensive national strategy for freight transportation. This national strategy should include defining the federal role and national interests in freight transportation, including economically-based and objective criteria to identify areas of national significance for freight transportation and to determine whether federal funds are required in those areas.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO contacted DOT on various occasions about the status of this recommendation, and a DOT official noted that the recommendation was receiving active consideration in the Administration's thinking on the next surface transportation authorization bill. Once Congress passes a surface transportation authorization bill, GAO will review the bill and determine if the recommendation was addressed.
    Recommendation: In order to improve freight mobility by more clearly defining the federal role in the freight transportation network and to begin to align federal investments with economically significant national benefits, the Secretary of Transportation should develop with Congress and public and private sector stakeholders a comprehensive national strategy for freight transportation. This national strategy should include establishing the roles of regional, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO contacted DOT on various occasions about the status of this recommendation, and a DOT official noted that the recommendation was receiving active consideration in the Administration's thinking on the next surface transportation authorization bill. Once Congress passes a surface transportation authorization bill, GAO will review the bill and determine if the recommendation was addressed.
    Recommendation: In order to improve freight mobility by more clearly defining the federal role in the freight transportation network and to begin to align federal investments with economically significant national benefits, the Secretary of Transportation should develop with Congress and public and private sector stakeholders a comprehensive national strategy for freight transportation. This national strategy should include using new or existing federal funding sources and mechanisms to support a targeted, cost-effective, and sustainable federal role in freight transportation.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO contacted DOT on various occasions about the status of this recommendation, and a DOT official noted that the recommendation was receiving active consideration in the Administration's thinking on the next surface transportation authorization bill. Once Congress passes a surface transportation authorization bill, GAO will review the bill and determine if the recommendation was addressed.