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: "Written communication"

    2 publications with a total of 10 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance consistency with DOL policy and procedures in adjudicating EEOICPA Part E claims, the Secretary of Labor should strengthen internal controls by requiring district offices to take steps to ensure that all claimant correspondence for Recommended and Final Decisions receives supervisory review.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with our recommendation that a second level review will provide a higher degree of internal quality control. However, upon evaluating our recommendation, Labor determined that given its current staffing levels it would not be possible to conduct a supervisory review of all Recommended and Final Decisions without having an adverse impact on the issuance of timely decisions for claimants. Instead, Labor is implementing a process to review a sample of decision letters - initially 10 percent - and make procedural adjustments based on the results of those reviews. We will revisit the status of this recommendation pending the results of Labor's supervisory reviews of selected decision letters.
    Recommendation: To enhance consistency with DOL policy and procedures in adjudicating EEOICPA Part E claims, the Secretary of Labor should strengthen internal controls by requiring district offices to document that the SEM was checked for updates just prior to issuing a Recommended Decision to deny a claim in cases in which the date of the last SEM update has not changed since the claims examiner's prior check.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with our recommendation pertaining to documenting searches of the Site Exposure Matrix during claims processing. Labor stated that it has implemented the recommendation by updating relevant guidance in the Federal EEOICPA Procedure Manual. We will update the status of this recommendation pending verification that the Procedure Manual was revised to require claims examiners to document that, before denying a claim they checked the Site Exposure Matrix to ensure pertinent information had not changed since the examiner's prior check.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    8 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: If IRS delays are continuing, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should further revise the notices to provide more realistic response times based on the data and take other appropriate actions to ensure efficient use of IRS tax examiner resources. For example, IRS could choose to provide taxpayers who call IRS with a recorded message notifying them of delays in IRS responding and when to expected an IRS response.

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

    Comments: IRS revised the automated telephone message that taxpayers hear when they call but has not revised its notices. The new message provides taxpayers information on the correspondence audit workload and time frames and asks that they allow a certain number of days before calling to check on the status of their audit. However, IRS has yet to further revise notices to provide more realistic time frames. In July 2016, IRS officials said they were in the process of revising the notices in order to allow individual correspondence audit offices to enter a customized response date based on their respective inventory levels at the time notices are sent. As of March 2017, IRS officials said additional programming changes will delay implementation until July 2017.
    Recommendation: To clarify the desired results of the correspondence audit program and its linkages to IRS-wide activities, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should establish formal program objectives.

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

    Comments: IRS correspondence audit program officials planned a working group to develop formal program objectives. In November 2016, IRS officials provided documents intended to define the program objectives, but the objectives were unclear. As of March 2017, officials said they had no planned date by which to clearly document the objectives, but said they expect to describe them in program guidance changes anticipated in the next 12 to 18 months.
    Recommendation: To clarify the desired results of the correspondence audit program and its linkages to IRS-wide activities, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should ensure that the program measures reflect those objectives.

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

    Comments: IRS officials said that, among other actions, they plan to review and update program documentation and guidance as warranted to ensure a clear link between correspondence audit program objectives and related measures. IRS officials provided documentation in August 2016, but program measures could not be clearly linked to objectives because the objectives were not clear. As of March 2017, officials had no planned date by which to clearly document the program objectives and their links with program measures.
    Recommendation: To clarify the desired results of the correspondence audit program and its linkages to IRS-wide activities, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should clearly link those measures with strategic IRS-wide goals on ensuring compliance in a cost-effective way while minimizing taxpayer burden.

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

    Comments: IRS officials said that, among other actions, they plan to review and update program documentation and guidance as warranted to ensure that program measures clearly link to IRS strategic goals. IRS officials provided documentation in August 2016, but measures for the program could not be clearly linked to either the program objectives or IRS goals because the objectives were not clear. As of March 2017, officials had no planned date by which to clearly document how the program measures link to the objectives and IRS strategic goals.
    Recommendation: To better inform decisions being made about the correspondence audit program, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should document how the decisions are to be made using the performance information (including criteria and tolerances used).

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

    Comments: IRS officials agreed with the recommendation and said they would thoroughly document the program plan development process but did not refer to documenting how program decisions are to be made using performance information. In April 2016, officials provided documents describing current correspondence audit planning processes, but the documents lacked specifics on the decisions and performance information, criteria, and tolerances used. IRS officials said they would provide documentation on these specific details in Spring 2017.
    Recommendation: To better inform decisions being made about the correspondence audit program, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should track and use other program data that have not been used to provide more complete performance information. Examples of data that could be tracked and used include how much of the recommended tax amounts is collected over time; taxpayer burden and experience such as how often audits are resolved in one contact, how often taxpayers correspond or call, and how long taxpayers wait for IRS to respond to their documents and for the audit to close; and costs beyond the direct audit time, such as the costs to answer taxpayer calls per audit, assess the recommended tax, and collect those tax assessments.

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

    Comments: IRS officials said they would evaluate the methodology used in several existing studies to determine the most productive use of collectability data and evaluate the feasibility of collecting and using additional data. In April 2016, officials provided information on researching and testing of a new audit planning method during fiscal year 2016, using costs and collection results data. In November 2016, IRS officials said they had implemented the planning method to consider collection results for fiscal year 2017 but had not yet provided supporting documentation on how the method has used the collection results or on the status of efforts to use other program data, such as whether or when IRS will use performance information on costs and taxpayer burden related to audits. IRS officials said they will provide the documentation in Spring 2017.
    Recommendation: To better ensure an effective investment of resources in the CEAP efforts, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should clearly document the intended benefits of ongoing efforts to address identified problems, and the process for measuring and tracking actual benefits.

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

    Comments: IRS Correspondence audit program officials said they would document the expected benefits of ongoing changes by June 2016. We have since asked IRS officials to provide related documents. As of April 2017, we are awaiting documents.
    Recommendation: To better ensure an effective investment of resources in the CEAP efforts, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service should develop a plan and timeline for implementing the CEAP contractor's recommendations on possible ways to improve the (a) selection of correspondence audit workload and (b) allocation of resources between providing telephone assistance and reviewing taxpayer correspondence to resolve audits or develop justifications for not implementing the recommendations.

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

    Comments: IRS officials agreed with the recommendation and said they would continue to pursue efforts with research functions to further improve workload selection and maximize resource usage. However, they did not refer to any plan or timeline for implementing contractor recommendations to improve the selection of correspondence audit workload and allocation of examiner resources, or develop justifications for not implementing those recommendations. In March 2017, officials confirmed that IRS does not intend to implement the contractor's recommendations or to evaluate them, for example, by developing justifications for not implementing them.