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    Subject Term: Automation

    7 publications with a total of 33 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Clark, Cheryl E
    Phone: (202)512-9377

    10 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to develop and implement a process to reasonably assure that IRS operating divisions and the information technology (IT) organization effectively coordinate with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) organization when making programming changes to information systems affecting financial reporting.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS stated that by December 2017, the Information Technology (IT) organization, in collaboration with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) organization, will develop and implement a process to reasonably assure that IRS operating divisions and the IT organization effectively coordinate with the CFO organization when making programming changes to information systems affecting financial reporting. We will follow-up during our audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements to determine the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to research and determine the reason the IT organization did not follow IRS policy to thoroughly test programming changes related to the automation of specific penalty abatement procedures to reasonably assure that they worked as intended before implementation. Based on this determination, the IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to establish a process to better ensure compliance with existing policies for testing programming changes, including the use and review of the Applications Development transmittal checklist when developing program changes and retention of test results.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS stated that by June 2018, the IT organization will research IRS policies and practices for testing programming changes to determine what modifications may be needed to reasonably assure programming changes work as intended before implementation. Based on this research, the IT organization will update the affected policies and implement any related process changes, as needed. We will follow-up during our audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements to determine the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to strengthen the process for reasonably assuring that the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) is reviewed annually to align with the current control procedures and guidance being implemented by agency personnel. This should include a mechanism for reasonably assuring that program owner directors (1) review their respective program control activities and related guidance annually and timely update the IRM as needed, (2) document their reviews, and (3) utilize interim guidance and supplemental guidance correctly for their intended purposes.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS stated that by March 2018, the Research, Applied Analytics and Statistics organization will strengthen the process to reasonably assure that all IRMs are reviewed annually to align with the current control procedures and guidance being implemented by IRS personnel. This will include a mechanism to reasonably assure that program owner directors (1) review their respective program control activities and related guidance annually, and update the IRM timely, if needed; (2) document their reviews; and (3) use interim guidance and supplemental guidance correctly for their intended purposes. We will follow-up during our audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements to determine the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to ensure that the respective Agency-Wide Shared Services IRM and supplemental guidance related to the frequency of performing (1) emergency/alarm contact-list validation, (2) duress alarm inventory validation, and (3) federal security risk assessments are consistent.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation and considers it closed. IRS stated that in February 2017, the Agency-Wide Shared Services (AWSS) organization updated SOP-17-0002, Alarm Notification, Testing and Maintenance, to synchronize the frequency of performing (1) emergency/alarm contact-list validation; (2) duress alarm inventory validation; and (3) federal security risk assessments, with revised IRM 10.2.14.9, Methods of Providing Protection, Detection Equipment, and IRM 10.2.11.2.5 (3), Facility Security Risk Management. We will assess IRS's actions during our fiscal year 2017 financial statement audit.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to update the respective (1) Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure and (2) CFO IRM sections related to the definition of the tax gap to align with the current understanding followed by IRS personnel.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS stated that in April 2017, the CFO organization updated IRM 1.34.1.2 (124) Revenue Accounting, Definitions and Acronyms, to align the tax gap definition with the current understanding followed by IRS personnel. Further, by February 2018, the Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure organization will remove the tax gap definition from IRM 11.4.1.3.1.2, Tax Gap Initiatives. We will follow-up during our audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements to determine the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to revise the applicable IRM sections pertaining to manual refunds to require employees to verify the validity of the digital signatures on the manual refund request forms and the manual refund signature authorization forms.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS stated that by March 2018, the Wage and Investment (W&I) organization will revise the applicable IRM manual refund sections to require that employees validate the digital signatures on the manual refund request forms and the manual refund signature authorization forms. We will follow-up during our audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements to determine the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to revise system access rights in Human Resources (HR) Connect to prevent HR assistants within the Employment Operations office from approving and releasing pay-related personnel actions to the National Finance Center (NFC).

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation and considers it closed. IRS stated that in February 2017, the Human Capital Office (HCO) revised system access rights in HR Connect to prevent the Employment Operations Office HR assistants from approving and releasing pay-related personnel actions to the National Finance Center (NFC). We will assess IRS's actions during our fiscal year 2017 financial statement audit.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to revise the HR Connect HR User Profiles Desk Guide to clearly indicate that HR assistants within the Employment Operations office should not be granted access to approve and release pay-related personnel actions to NFC.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation and considers it closed. IRS stated that in February 2017, HCO revised the HR Connect HR User Profiles Desk Guide to clearly indicate that the Employment Operations Office HR assistants should not be granted access to approve and release pay-related personnel actions to NFC. We will assess IRS's actions during our fiscal year 2017 financial statement audit.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to establish and implement procedures to periodically review the process for determining the intragovernmental costs and costs with the public for each major program reported in the notes to the financial statements to provide reasonable assurance that these amounts are reliable and fairly presented.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS stated that by February 2018, the CFO organization will establish and implement procedures to review periodically the process for determining intragovernmental and public costs for each major program reported in the notes to the financial statements, providing reasonable assurance that these amounts are reliable and presented fairly. We will follow-up during our audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements to determine the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The IRS Commissioner should direct the appropriate IRS officials to provide clear guidelines as to what events constitute removal from IRS premises and the disposal date that should be recorded in its inventory system, either through an update of the IRM or other property and equipment-related desk guides.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. IRS stated that by December 2017, the AWSS organization will provide clear guidelines on events that constitute removal of trackable property and equipment assets from IRS premises, and the disposal date that should be recorded in its inventory system, either by updating the IRM or the property and equipment-related desk guides. We will follow-up during our audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements to determine the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Valerie Melvin
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase the likelihood that its IT investments develop reliable cost estimates, the Secretary of HUD should finalize, and ensure the implementation of, guidance that incorporates the best practices called for in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, HUD reported that the department concurred with the recommendation and noted that the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) intends to establish cost estimation guidance for IT projects within its IT Management Framework Guide, incorporating appropriate best practices from the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide. HUD anticipates completing the OCIO IT Management Framework guidance that is intended to incorporate cost estimating principles for IT projects by September 1, 2017.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of MAIS programs, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Tactical Mission Command program manager to develop a requirements management plan to document and manage its requirements process.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation. We have requested documentation regarding the status of implementing this recommendation. As of April 2017, we have not received a response from the department to our request. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of MAIS programs, the Secretary of the Navy should direct the Common Aviation Command and Control System program manager to identify weaknesses in the requirements traceability process and take corrective actions to manage the traceability of requirements to the respective lower-level requirements, and periodically evaluate work products, including the requirements management plan, and update them in accordance with the requirements guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Navy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation. We have requested documentation regarding the status of implementing this recommendation. As of April 2017, we have not received a response from the department to our request. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of MAIS programs, the Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Defense Enterprise Accounting and Management System program manager to address weaknesses in its controls for ensuring that all software requirements are tested and validated before deployment of new software releases.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation. We have requested documentation regarding the status of implementing this recommendation. As of April 2017, we have not received a response from the department to our request. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of MAIS programs, the Director of OMB should instruct the Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) to add the Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L as a responsible party to DOD's MAIS entries on the Federal IT Dashboard website, alongside the CIO, to publicly disclose the responsible party for the acquisition performance management of MAIS programs.

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

    Comments: The Office of Management and Budget did not agree with the recommendation, but stated it would work with the Department of Defense to address it. In April 2017, the Department of Defense stated that it is reorganizing the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L and its responsibilities. We will continue to follow up with the department subsequent to the reorganization in an effort to determine the party responsible for the acquisition performance management of MAIS programs and OMB's efforts to disclose the responsible party on the Federal IT Dashboard.
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of MAIS programs, the Secretary of Defense should examine the MAIS critical change reporting process to identify root causes for delays and implement corrective actions for the timely delivery of critical change reports.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation. We have requested documentation regarding the status of implementing this recommendation. As of April 2017, we have not received a response from the department to our request. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the management of MAIS programs, the Secretary of Defense should develop a mechanism for monitoring whether MAIS programs with late reports are restricted from obligating funds and in turn ensuring compliance with the Antideficiency Act.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation. We have requested documentation regarding the status of implementing this recommendation. As of April 2017, we have not received a response from the department to our request. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Daniel Bertoni
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    7 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in reporting processing errors, SSA should provide additional information on the margins of error or confidence intervals, and clearly identify any limitations in its findings on overpayment information provided to Congress and the public.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA agreed with this recommendation and reported in January 2016 that it would include a discussion about the limitations of error deficiencies data in future reports. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to report any limitations, such as small sample sizes, that would affect the reliability of its estimates of DI improper payments due to specific types and causes of errors. Although SSA provided recommendation updates on this report in April 2017, it did not comment on this particular recommendation.
    Recommendation: To minimize the potential effect of vulnerabilities in the work reporting process, SSA should take steps to help ensure that work information is entered directly into eWork, the system of record for work information, and issue required receipts. Such steps could include: (a) Improving and issuing guidance and training to field and 800- number staff to help ensure they log information into eWork and issue required receipts. (b) Establishing policies to monitor alerts to help ensure that work information for concurrent beneficiaries is reflected in SSI and DI systems, and take steps to monitor and make enhancements to systems or guidance, as needed.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, SSA reported that it updated training to Field and Processing Center staff and issued an administrative message to staff to remind them about issues related to overpayments and waivers. SSA also reported that, as part of its implementation of Section 826 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (P.L.114-74), it is creating a business process and building an internet work reporting system that will allow both SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients to report work and earnings electronically. According to SSA, this system will determine the individual's entitlement and automatically forward the work report to the appropriate staff for processing CDR decisions. To close this recommendation, SSA will need to provide documentation that shows the agency provided training and reminders to staff, and that the agency implemented a mechanism that ensures work information for concurrent beneficiaries is reflected in both SSI and DI systems.
    Recommendation: To further ensure the effective screening of work reports, SSA should monitor its process for handling work reports to determine whether staff are taking action on work reports in accordance with proper procedures, and provide feedback to staff as needed.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its April 2017 update, SSA continued to disagree with this recommendation. SSA stated that the outcome of a work continuing disability review (CDR) is not dependent on the accuracy of the work report. However, as we noted in our report, inaccurate work reports may result in overpayments or work receipts (which are required by law) to not be issued. Further, pending work reports may be closed inappropriately without resulting in a work CDR. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to show how it plans to monitor its process for handling work reports to determine compliance with agency procedures, and how feedback, if any, will be provided to staff.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ease and integrity of the work reporting process, SSA should study the costs and benefits of automated reporting options, including options similar to those currently available for SSI recipients, but that do not go as far as automating the continuing disability review process.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, SSA reported that the agency has made progress on two fronts, which could enhance the ease and integrity of its work reporting process, both pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA). In response to Section 826 of BBA, which requires SSA to permit Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries to report their earnings via electronic means similar to what is available for SSI recipients, SSA reported that it has drafted a business process to build an Internet and wage reporting system for SSDI beneficiaries. SSA also noted that this business process contains plans for an Internet work reporting system that will allow both SSDI and SSI recipients to report work and earnings electronically and will automatically forward the work report to either SSI or eWork (for DI beneficiaries), and will automatically generate a receipt to the beneficiary. SSA has also completed a business process for Section 824 of the BBA, which allows SSA to contract with third party payroll providers to receive earnings in a monthly file. SSA reported that these data will allow SSI to automate benefit adjustments based on the monthly earnings report, and for DI, the information will be incorporated into the agency's Work Smart process--a new technique that combines several business processes into one unified approach to identify cases in need of a work continuing disability review. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to provide documentation of its proposed business process for building Internet and telephone wage reporting systems for DI beneficiaries.
    Recommendation: To enhance beneficiary understanding of work reporting requirements, SSA should: (a) Clarify work reporting requirements provided to beneficiaries. (b) Explore options for increasing the frequency of reporting reminders to DI beneficiaries, similar to those currently available to SSI recipients.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA agreed with this recommendation and noted in January 2016 that it plans to assess its method of communication and explore options to strengthen its message to Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries regarding the importance of consistent wage reporting. The agency also plans to consider whether direct phone outreach, currently being piloted to improve wage reporting for SSI recipients, would be appropriate for the DI program. In its April 2017 update, SSA indicated progress toward: updating policies and procedures related to "treatment of earnings derived from services," implementing a commercial payroll data exchange pursuant to section 824 of the BBA, and implementing electronic reporting of earnings pursuant to section 826 of the BBA. While the agency's actions to implement BBA requirements may improve program administration, SSA did not explain how these actions or its efforts to update to policies and procedures related to "treatment of earnings derived from services" would clarify work reporting requirements for or increase the frequency of reporting reminders to DI beneficiaries. SSA also did not provide an update on its plans to assess communication and explore options, as it reported in January 2016. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to show how these or other actions taken clarify work reporting requirements for and increase reporting reminders for DI beneficiaries.
    Recommendation: improve compliance with waiver policies, SSA should develop a timetable for implementing updates to its Debt Management System to: (a) Align system controls with SSA policy, so that waivers over $1,000 cannot be administratively waived. (b) Ensure that evidence supporting waiver decisions is sufficiently maintained to allow for subsequent monitoring and oversight.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: According to SSA, in February 2016, the agency implemented an edit to the Debt Management System remarks that amended a deficiency in the system that prevented system remarks from being deleted after a case is closed. The edit locks Debt Management System remarks to prevent technicians from overwriting existing remarks in closed cases. With respect to ensuring that overpayments over $1,000 cannot be administratively waived, SSA reported in November 2016 that it will provide a timeline for and take steps to update the Debt Management System when the agency obtains resources to fund the update. SSA reported in April 2017 that its ability to update system controls to align with SSA policy was dependent on resources. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to show its plans and time frames for updating system controls to align them with SSA policy.
    Recommendation: To improve compliance with waiver policies, SSA should take steps to regularly assess the accuracy of DI waiver decisions, particularly for administrative waivers and for some waivers under $2,000. This could include periodically reviewing approved and denied DI waivers through its continuous quality initiative.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, the agency reported that it had taken several actions, including producing a comprehensive training series on overpayment and waiver policy and procedures, building a policy cluster to serve as a "one-stop resource shop" of policy references and tools for technicians, and clarifying agency policies including the Administrative Tolerance Decision Tree to assist technicians with making appropriate low-dollar overpayment waiver decisions. The agency also reported that its Continuous Quality work group continues to review the accuracy of waivers under Title II of the Social Security Act. Based on these efforts, in November 2016, SSA reported that it has closed this recommendation. However, as of April 2017, SSA did not specifically report that its review of Title II waivers will target DI waivers, including administrative waivers and waivers less than $2,000, or that such review will be an ongoing effort. To close this recommendation, SSA will need to show its plans for periodically assessing the accuracy of DI waiver decisions--particularly for administrative waivers and waivers under $2,000--through its continuous quality initiative or other means.
    Director: Valerie C. Melvin
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    5 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve VA's efforts to effectively complete the development and implementation of VBMS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits and the Chief Information Officer to develop an updated plan for VBMS that includes (1) a schedule for when VBA intends to complete development and implementation of the system, including capabilities that fully support disability claims, pension claims, and appeals processing and (2) the estimated cost to complete development and implementation of the system.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concurred with our recommendation calling for an updated plan for the Veterans Benefits Management System. However, as of June 2017, the department had not developed a plan that included a schedule for when the Veterans Benefits Administration intends to complete development and implementation of the system, as well as the estimated cost of doing so. We will continue to monitor VA's actions in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve VA's efforts to effectively complete the development and implementation of VBMS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits and the Chief Information Officer to establish goals for system response time and use the goals as a basis for periodically reporting actual system performance.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concurred with this recommendation and reported that the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS) program office has developed draft metrics for performance of the system. Specifically, VA stated that the office has established key performance indicators as a basis for monitoring the response times of the most commonly executed user transactions (or work events) within VBMS. According to the department, these indicators have been incorporated into the application's continuous monitoring tools for all service level agreements and these agreements are enforced by the VA Service Level Management Board. Nevertheless, as of June 2017, VA had not identified its goals for VBMS response times, nor had the department reported actual system response times. We will continue to monitor VA's actions toward addressing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve VA's efforts to effectively complete the development and implementation of VBMS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits and the Chief Information Officer to reduce the incidence of high- and medium-priority level defects that are present at the time of future VBMS releases.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concurred with this recommendation and, in June 2017, reiterated its plans and procedures for decreasing the incidences of defects in each system release. However, the incidences of high- and medium-priority level defects at the time of recent VBMS releases (i.e., releases 10.1 and 11.0) had increased relative to the number of defects present at the time of the earlier release (i.e., release 8.1) that we described in our report. We will continue to monitor VA's actions and progress in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve VA's efforts to effectively complete the development and implementation of VBMS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits and the Chief Information Officer to develop and administer a statistically valid survey of VBMS users to determine the effectiveness of steps taken to make improvements in users' satisfaction.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concurred with this recommendation and in January 2017, conducted a survey of VBMS users that was sent to over 16,000 claims processors at each of its 56 regional offices. Although 52 percent of respondents indicated that they were very satisfied or satisfied with VBMS, the department received only about 2500 responses to the survey for a 15 percent response rate. This low response rate raises concern about whether the survey results are statistically valid. We have requested additional information from VA to determine any actions the department has taken to ensure the statistical validity of its survey results and will assess any information that is provided.
    Recommendation: To improve VA's efforts to effectively complete the development and implementation of VBMS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits and the Chief Information Officer to establish goals that define customer satisfaction with VBMS and report on actual performance toward achieving the goals based on the results of GAO's survey of VBMS users and any future surveys VA conducts.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concurred with this recommendation and conducted a survey of VBMS users in January 2017. However, as of June 2017, the department had yet to develop customer satisfaction goals for VBMS that would provide users with an expectation of the system response times they should anticipate, and management with an indication of how well the system is performing relative to performance goals.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the efficient use of resources for the Three Percent Fund, the Attorney General should develop a policy and implement procedures to regularly analyze unobligated balances and develop collection estimates in order to determine an appropriate reserve amount and inform estimates of future funding needs.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2015, we found that the Department of Justice (DOJ) Collection Resource Allocation Board (CRAB) had taken steps to manage the Three Percent Fund, but it had not conducted analyses that would help DOJ better manage the fund, such as developing reserve estimates aligned with DOJ priorities or projecting future collections. GAO has identified leading practices among federal agencies when evaluating balances in federal accounts. Such practices emphasize the importance of regularly analyzing balances by, for example, estimating collections and determining reserve needs. Doing so helps agencies more effectively anticipate program needs and ensure the most efficient use of resources. As a result, we recommended that DOJ develop a policy and implement procedures to regularly analyze unobligated balances collection estimates in the Three Percent Fund. DOJ partially concurred with this recommendation. In response, DOJ provided us with a policy it began implementing in January 2016 to help them analyze the Three Percent Fund's unobligated balance and develop an appropriate reserve amount. For example, DOJ's policy for developing the reserve estimate now relies on more robust requests for information of DOJ debt collection activities, including government personnel, contract support, and automated litigation service requirements. By developing and implementing this policy, DOJ is better positioned to ensure the continuity of operations funded through the Three Percent Fund and to make future resource allocations. However, DOJ stated in its response to the report that it does not believe it is appropriate to estimate incoming collections for the following year. For example, DOJ does not ask litigating components for the number of cases that will be settled because the agency does not want to be perceived as inappropriately encouraging larger government civil collections. Additionally, DOJ does not calculate such estimates due to the high level of variability in the civil debt litigation cases that make it difficult to use historical information to estimate reserves. We noted in our report DOJ's concerns for developing collection estimates. However, we continue to believe that developing a policy for considering collection estimates is important. The Three Percent Fund is self-sustaining and does not receive annual appropriations. Therefore, any volatility should be managed with the best information and estimates the department can provide. Without developing collection estimates, DOJ is at risk of committing too much or too few budgetary resources from the Three Percent Fund. A lack of such a policy may lead to Three Percent balances either falling too low to efficiently manage operations or rise to unnecessarily high levels. As we have previously reported, one method DOJ could consider instead of a specific dollar estimate is to develop a range between the potential lowest and highest collection amounts based on historical trends and current collection activities. By estimating future collections, DOJ could better ensure it is able to efficiently fund as many programs as possible and best support the fund's priorities. Therefore, we consider this recommendation only partially implemented and will keep it open until DOJ develops collection estimates to aid managing the Three Percent Fund.
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and ensure the effective use of automation fees for the CJIS fingerprint checks fees, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should publish in the Federal Register, or other documents such as annual reports, how much is assessed for automation and cost recovery in each transaction to better communicate the cost of the service to customers and stakeholders.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2015, we found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sets its Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) fingerprint checks fees to collect two parts--the cost recovery portion and the automation portion, but does not provide transparency in how much is assessed for each portion of the fee. As a result, we recommended that FBI publish in the Federal Register, or other documents such as annual reports, how much is assessed for automation and cost recovery in each transaction to better communicate the cost of the service to customers and stakeholders. In July 2016, FBI published a notice in the Federal Register announcing a CJIS fingerprint checks fees rate change effective on October 1, 2016. However, the notice did not include an explanation of how much is assessed for the cost recovery or the automation portion of the fee. According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) liaison, FBI included a breakout of the revised rates in its CJIS Information Letter, which services as written notification of a rate change to state and federal stakeholders. GAO requested a copy of the CJIS Information Letter, but as of February 2017, DOJ has not provided the letter. Further, while the CJIS Information Letter might provide transparency to stakeholders on how much FBI assesses for each portion of the fee, FBI has not relayed how it intends to be transparent with customers. To fully address this recommendation, FBI needs to demonstrate that it is being transparent with stakeholders and with customers. Until it does so, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and ensure the effective use of automation fees for the CJIS fingerprint checks fees, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation should develop a policy to analyze the unobligated balances coming from the automation portion of the fee to inform program needs, including improving methods for anticipating automation collections, and establishing a range of appropriate carryover amounts to support program needs.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In fiscal year 2015, we found that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had a growing unobligated balance from the automation portion of its Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) fingerprint checks fees but did not evaluate the appropriate range of its carryover amounts, nor had it developed a policy to do so. As a result, we recommended that FBI develop a policy to analyze the unobligated balances coming from the automation portion of the fee to inform program needs, including improving methods for anticipating automation collections, and establishing a range of appropriate carryover amounts to support program needs. In September 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported that FBI is taking steps to develop and implement a multi-year investment plan that will be reviewed and updated annually, and that will address key questions from the GAO report titled "Budget Issues: Key Questions to Consider When Evaluating Balances in Federal Accounts." Additionally, the multi-year investment plan will include both an annual analysis of current and projected revenue from the automation portion of the fee, and the evaluation of the resource requirements needed to support the development of technological enhancement of fingerprint identification and criminal justice services. According to DOJ officials, the 2017 plan will be the first to include this information; however GAO has not yet received a copy of the 2017 plan. We will continue to monitor FBI's progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better facilitate the conduct of satellite control operations and accountability for the estimated millions of dollars in satellite control investments, and to reduce fragmentation, the Secretary of Defense should develop a department-wide long-term plan for modernizing its Air Force Satellite Control Network and any future shared satellite control services and capabilities. This plan should identify methods that can capture or estimate satellite control costs as well as authorities that can be given to the program managers to give them the flexibility needed to ensure ground systems are built to a common network when the business case analysis shows it to be beneficial. This plan should also identify which commercial practices, if any, can improve DOD satellite control operations in the near- and long-term, and as appropriate, develop a plan of action for implementing them.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 26, 2013 the President signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 (H.R. 3304) which, in Section 822, requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a DOD-wide long-term plan for satellite ground control systems, including the Department's Air Force Satellite Control Network, not later than one year after the date of the enactment of the Act. DOD plans to finalize its satellite ground control system plan in late 2017.