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    Subject Term: Compliance

    40 publications with a total of 118 open recommendations including 10 priority recommendations
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that government-wide compliance under IPERA is consistently determined and reported, the Director of OMB should coordinate with CIGIE to develop and issue guidance, either jointly or independently, to specify what procedures should be conducted as part of the IGs' IPERA compliance determinations.

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

    Comments: OMB had no comments on the report or the recommendation to coordinate with CIGIE to develop guidance. Although this recommendation was not directed to CIGIE, the CIGIE Chairperson stated that CIGIE would coordinate with OMB as needed and provide feedback on any draft OMB guidance.
    Recommendation: To help fulfill USDA's requirements under IPERA and OMB guidance--that agencies submit proposals to Congress when a program reaches 3 or more consecutive years of noncompliance with IPERA criteria--the Secretary of Agriculture should submit a letter to Congress detailing proposals for reauthorization or statutory changes in response to 3 consecutive years of noncompliance as of fiscal year 2015 for its Farm Security and Rural Investment Act Program. To the extent that reauthorization or statutory changes are not considered necessary to bring a program into compliance, the Secretary or designee should state so in the letter.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: USDA's Acting Deputy Secretary concurred with this recommendation.
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should require Commissioners to review and approve, as appropriate, spending above the budget in a timely manner.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should maintain and disseminate an updated list of state eligibility databases available to Lifeline providers that includes the qualifying programs those databases access to confirm eligibility; this step would help ensure Lifeline providers are aware of state eligibility databases and could also help ensure USAC audits of Lifeline providers can verify that available state databases are being utilized to verify subscriber eligibility.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should establish time frames to evaluate compliance plans and develop instructions with criteria for FCC reviewers how to evaluate these plans to meet Lifeline's program goals.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should develop an enforcement strategy that details what violations lead to penalties and apply this as consistently as possible to all Lifeline providers to ensure consistent enforcement of program violations; the strategy should include a rationale and method for resource prioritization to help maximize the effectiveness of enforcement activities.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to ensure that the preliminary plans to transfer the USF funds from the private bank to the U.S. Treasury are finalized and implemented as expeditiously as possible.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to require a review of customer bills as part of the contribution audit to include an assessment of whether the charges, including USF fees, meet FCC Truth-in-Billing rules with regard to labeling, so customer bills are transparent, and appropriately labeled and described, to help consumers detect and prevent unauthorized charges.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to respond to USAC requests for guidance and address pending requests concerning USF contribution requirements to ensure the contribution factor is based on complete information and that USF pass-through charges are equitable.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve consistency in CMS oversight of federal spending under section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should require the Administrator of CMS to develop and document standard operating procedures for monitoring spending under demonstrations that (1) require setting reporting requirements for states that provide CMS the data elements needed for CMS to assess compliance with demonstration spending limits; (2) require consistent enforcement of states' compliance with financial reporting requirements; and (3) require consistent tracking of the amount of unspent funds under demonstration spending limits.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve consistency in CMS oversight of federal spending under section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should require the Administrator of CMS to issue formal guidance on the revised budget neutrality policy, including information on how the policy will be applied.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202) 512-6912

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should ensure SAVE guidance, including written materials and instructional videos, clearly and accurately reflects user agencies' responsibilities for completing each step of a SAVE check, as outlined in each agency's memorandum of agreement.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and implement a mechanism to oversee agencies' completion of training on additional verification in accordance with SAVE MOA provisions and program policies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should provide notifications to user agencies when a case is ready for the user agency to review.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and implement a more effective method for ensuring that individuals are aware of how they can access and correct their immigration records, such as by updating and improving the Fact Sheet for Benefit Applicants.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and implement a documented, risk-based approach to monitoring and compliance, including (1) a risk-based approach to selecting behaviors to monitor; (2) standards for what triggers compliance actions for the selected behaviors; and (3) a risk-based process for how USCIS will prioritize and select agencies for compliance actions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and communicate a process for user agencies to update contact information.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should ensure that user agencies participate in compliance reviews when selected, in accordance with SAVE MOA provisions and USCIS policy.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should identify the root causes of agencies' noncompliance with SAVE MOA provisions and program policies and tailor agency recommendations to those identified causes.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and implement a process for ensuring user agencies implement corrective actions such as through a system of escalating compliance assistance actions and follow-up.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Diana Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure grantees' compliance with the Drug-Free Communities Support Program's statutory requirements and to strengthen monitoring of grantee activities, SAMHSA should develop an action plan with time frames for addressing any deficiencies it finds through its reviews and making systemic changes to mitigate deficiencies on a prospective basis to strengthen the grant monitoring process.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA is currently in the process of implementing routine audits of all its grant files. SAMHSA will also conduct an audit specifically of DFC files to ensure compliance by the end of summer 2017. Additionally, SAMHSA will offer regular training to government project officers (GPO) on grant report requirements and will ensure DFC GPO participation. Finally, SAMHSA is actively implementing the Grants Enterprise Management System to streamline the grants management process and make the process for maintaining grant files automated. By the end of fall 2017, all newly awarded DFC grants will be in this system. By the end of fall 2018, all active DFC grants will utilize this system.
    Recommendation: To better ensure grantees' compliance with the Drug-Free Communities Support Program's statutory requirements and to strengthen monitoring of grantee activities, SAMHSA should develop and implement a method for ensuring that the grantee status reports it provides to ONDCP are complete and accurate.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA will develop a plan to ensure complete and accurate information is provided to ONDCP by the end of summer 2017.
    Director: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the awareness of how risk-significant radioactive sources are transported within the United States and to better determine whether Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is meeting its goal of providing reasonable assurance for preventing the theft or diversion of these dangerous materials, the Chairman of NRC should take actions to collect information from licensees on the number of shipments and mode of transport for such sources--for example, by identifying the extent to which an existing NRC database (e.g., the National Source Tracking System) may be used to capture this information.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter from NRC to GAO, NRC repeated its position on this recommendation as stated in its formal agency response that was included as appendix III in the report. In both cases, NRC states that it disagrees with this recommendation. NRC disagrees that the specific number of shipments by mode of transport is always needed. NRC explained that existing information collection requirements already exist for category 1 quantities and that it had previously determined that collection of shipment information for category 2 quantities was not necessary. NRC also stated that NSTS would not be the appropriate database to capture shipment information; it is not designed to capture real-time information. In addition, NRC does not consider the proposed collection activity to be of sufficient benefit to justify the additional cost of capturing the information. Therefore, NRC does not believe that adopting this recommendation would result in significant improvements to safety. Despite its disagreement with this recommendation, we will continue to monitor whether NRC takes any actions that would result in addressing the concern GAO raised.
    Recommendation: To further enhance the security of radioactive sources during ground transport, the Chairman of NRC, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should identify an approach to verify that motor carriers are meeting NRC's Part 37 security requirements applicable to transportation, for example by having DOT inspectors verify compliance with NRC Part 37 security requirements during their on-site investigations.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As noted in the NRC comments on the GAO report, the NRC agrees in general with the second recommendation to explore with Federal partners an approach to verify that motor carriers meet 10 CFR Part 37 transportation security requirements. The NRC commits to exploring how the respective agencies can verify that motor carriers are meeting the NRC's applicable Part 37 transportation security requirements. This recommendation will remain open until NRC presents evidence that it has acted on it.
    Recommendation: To further enhance the security of radioactive sources during ground transport, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Chairman of NRC and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should consider examining the potential costs and security benefits associated with lowering the Highway Route Controlled Quantity (HRCQ) threshold so that more, or all, category 1 shipments are classified as HRCQ shipments.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter, NRC stated that it recognizes that HRCQ thresholds fall under the jurisdiction of DOT. The NRC commits to exploring with DOT the potential costs and security benefits associated with lowering the HRCQ threshold so that more if not all , of the shipments of Category 1 quantities of radioactive material may be classified as HRCQ shipments. In its 60-day response letter, DOT concurred with this recommendation and stated that it planned to consult with NRC and the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and its internal stakeholders to evaluate potential costs and security benefits of lowering the HRCQ threshold, which they expect to complete by January 15, 2018. This recommendation will remain open until evidence is presented by NRC and DOT that they have examined the costs and benefits of lowering the HRCQ threshold.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should reverse reimbursements that were not made to the same appropriation account as the account from which USAID obligated the funds.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that it is examining whether sufficient appropriate resources exist to support all of the obligations against the accounts that were improperly reimbursed. As of September 2017, USAID is in the process of reversing the improper reimbursements. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should reverse reimbursements for which there is no documentary evidence that the obligation was incurred to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Ebola outbreak.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID stated that it would reverse reimbursements for which the documentation was lacking that the obligation was incurred to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Ebola outbreak. As of September 2017, USAID is in the process of reversing the reimbursements. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that USAID reimburses funds in accordance with section 9002 of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2015, the Administrator of USAID should determine whether reversing any of these reimbursements results in the obligation of funds in excess of appropriations in violation of the Antideficiency Act and, if so, report any violations in accordance with law.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that USAID's Office of the Chief Financial Officer has been notified of a potential funds control violation and that USAID's ongoing review will determine whether an Antideficiency Act violation occurred. USAID further noted that, in the event it finds an Antideficiency Act violation, the agency would notify the violation in accordance with the law. In September 2017, USAID told GAO that it is finalizing the determination regarding the potential Antideficiency Act violation. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that USAID complies with reimbursement provisions that may arise in future appropriations laws, the Administrator of USAID should develop written policies and procedures for the agency's reimbursement process.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: USAID concurred with the recommendation. In written comments on a draft of this report, USAID noted that the agency will develop written policies and procedures that adequately address reimbursement provisions of applicable appropriations laws. In September 2017, USAID told GAO that it is in the process of finalizing the written policies and procedures for the agency's reimbursement process. We will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Director: Brown Barnes, Cindy S
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to make changes to the contractor scheduling list development process so that compliance efforts focus on those contractors with the greatest risk of not following equal employment opportunity and affirmative action requirements.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed with this recommendation and is taking steps to address it. DOL noted its past work to improve its ability to identify federal contractor establishments under its jurisdiction. The agency is also committed to improving the scheduling process and using its resources more efficiently. DOL noted that its recently proposed EEO-1 pay data collection will provide more detailed information on federal contractor compensation disparity patterns, which they believe will strengthen the selection process. Finally, the agency reported that it is committed to improving its ability to focus on contractors with the greatest risk of noncompliance.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to develop a mechanism to monitor AAPs from covered federal contractors on a regular basis. Such a mechanism could include electronically collecting AAPs and contractor certification of annual updates.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation and reported that it will fully explore the operational implications and funding requirements.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to make changes to the current scheduling list distribution process so that it addresses changes in human capital and does not rely exclusively on geographic location.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed with this recommendation. DOL reported that it will explore the logistics of non-geographically based compliance evaluations in its review of contractors with Functional Affirmative Action Programs. The agency will also explore establishment based cross-regional case transfers, and continue to implement improved case distribution approaches in future scheduling lists.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to provide timely and uniform training to new staff, as well as provide continuing training opportunities to assist compliance officers in maintaining a level of competence to help ensure quality and consistency of evaluations across regions and district offices.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation and noted past and future efforts to address it. To date, the agency has conducted many webinars to build staff knowledge and skills; implemented a Front Line Manager Leadership Development Program to enhance leadership and technical skills; hosted an all-staff regional training in FY16 to hone the staff's technical skills; developed a training plan in FY16 to assess employee training needs and address the needs of compliance officers at various stages of their careers; and conducted a training needs assessment in FY16 to identify the performance requirements and competencies needed by agency staff. Based on the results of the needs assessment, the agency plans to develop the "Compliance Officer Continuous Education Success Program," a three-year program to ensure that compliance officers receive timely and consistent instruction. They will also formalize its use of training-related work groups to ensure training is responsive to employer needs, and leverage different instructional methods, such as classroom and web-based training.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to review outreach and compliance assistance efforts and identify options for improving information provided to federal contractors and workers to enhance their understanding of nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements to ensure equal employment opportunities for protected workers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed with this recommendation and is taking steps to address it. The agency plans to expand stakeholder engagement practices, such as consultations with federal contractors, to determine what additional guidance is needed to support contractor compliance with OFCCP regulations and increase contractor awareness of resources, such as its Help Desk and EEO Tabulation. OFCCP will also build on prior outreach that has included live and virtual events (e.g., focus groups, round tables) and explore ways to disseminate promising practices.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal contractors are complying with equal employment opportunity requirements, the Secretary of Labor should direct the Director of OFCCP to assess existing contractor guidance for clarity to ensure that contractors have information that helps them better understand their responsibilities regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements to ensure equal employment opportunities for protected workers.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted past efforts demonstrating its commitment to quality guidance, such as by increasing online resources and tools available to stakeholders, and revising outdated regulations and guidance with input from stakeholders.
    Director: Elizabeth Curda
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that veterans receive quality care from qualified physicians, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to develop and implement a comprehensive oversight strategy that includes ongoing monitoring and evaluations of the contractors' verification of PC3 and Choice physicians' credentials, as well as VHA staff's review of Choice physicians. VHA's oversight should include reviewing documentation and assessing whether the contractors' plans for improving their processes for Choice credentials verification are effective.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In June and July 2017, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) completed separate audit evaluations of both contractors' verification of Patient-Centered Community Care (PC3) and Choice physicians' credentials. This supplements the ongoing monitoring that VHA already had in place for routinely and independently checking the credentials for a sample of PC3 and Choice providers. However, as of October 2017, VHA has not yet implemented a strategy to oversee VHA staff's review of Choice physicians through the VHA Choice Provider Agreement program.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

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

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

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

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

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

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, OMB has not responded to GAO's request for information about any actions taken to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Diana C. Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to help ensure that ATF adheres to its policies and facilitates industry compliance with requirements, the Deputy Director of ATF should align the MS deletion policy, MS system design, and the timeliness of deletion practices to improve ATF's compliance with the policy.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2016, ATF reported that it deleted all purchaser names within those multiple sale records GAO identified as having been retained beyond time limits specified by ATF?s policy. In addition, ATF stated that it is in the process of implementing protocols to ensure that purging purchaser names within multiple sale records aligns with ATF policy. As of March 2017, ATF reported changing its query code to result in an improved match ratio with the MS system. In July 2017, ATF reiterated its deletion of affected purchaser names and its change in query code. However, given the longstanding nature of this issue, ATF needs to provide more documentation to demonstrate that the change in query code will identify all records eligible for deletion.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements and improve participation in the administrative pilot program, the SBA Administrator should review SBA guidance regarding when an agency is required to start up an SBIR or STTR program, and if necessary, update the guidance to provide greater clarity to agencies with research or research and development (R&D) obligations greater than the thresholds for participating.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to SBA officials, as of April 2017, SBA is working to develop language to update its policy directives to provide guidance on when an agency must start an SBIR or STTR program.
    Recommendation: To ensure full compliance with SBIR and STTR spending and reporting requirements and improve participation in the administrative pilot program, the SBA Administrator should complete the required reporting on the administrative pilot program for fiscal year 2014, which could include an evaluation of the potential constraints that may hinder agencies' participation and any steps to address these constraints.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, SBA officials said that SBA is in the process of completing its follow-up with agencies to document agencies' utilization of the administrative pilot program. Specifically, officials said they requested that agencies that planned to participate in the pilot program complete and return a template with information on the pilot program. Once SBA receives that information, officials said they will draft a report. As of April 2017, a formal date for completing and submitting the report has not been established.
    Director: Dave Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the quality and transparency of data entered into FRPP as GSA transitions the database to a platform that would enable greater government-wide use, the Administrator of GSA, in consultation with OMB and federal agencies, should (1) assess the reliability of FRPP data by determining how individual agencies collect and report FRPP data for each FRPP field, including any supplemental guidance used by agencies to comply with government-wide FRPP data definitions as part of the annual certification of FRPP data; (2) analyze the differences in collecting and reporting practices used by these agencies; and (3) identify and make available to FRPP users the limitations of using FRPP data, in the context of how the data are intended to be used in real property decision making and to measure real property performance across agencies and update federal guidance to address limitations, as needed.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: GSA partially agreed with the recommendation noting that it has limited resources to fully analyze and map the data relative to FRPP data definitions, and that it is the responsibility of individual agencies to ensure reliability of the data and compliance with FRPP definitions. As of October 2016, GSA has taken some action to implement this recommendation. GSA told us it has made progress by conducting an in-depth survey in June 2106 focusing on several data elements including: replacement value, status, owned and otherwise management operating costs, repair needs, utilization, and lease costs. The survey asked agencies questions regarding the processes/resources used to source and compile these data elements from agency IT systems as well as internal agency guidance. GSA received responses from 24 agencies and stated it plans to complete its initial analysis of the survey in the fall of 2016 and indicate limitations of these data elements. GSA plans to conduct a series of working group meetings with agencies to conduct an in depth review of the survey results and to develop a set of recommendations for the Federal Real Property Council. GSA said these recommendations may include, but are not limited to, altering data dictionary definitions, sharing best or common practices for reporting these data elements, and sharing the limitations on the use of these data elements. Based on the working group outcomes and input from the Federal Real Property Council and OMB, GSA plans to produce a white paper on these topics by the latter part of 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance the usefulness of the National Strategy for managing federal real property government-wide, the Director of OMB should expand the National Strategy to further address long-standing real property management challenges by: (1) expanding the scope to include maintenance and repair needs; (2) articulating planned actions and identifying alternative approaches, including alternative-funding mechanisms, to address underlying causes of the real property problems; (3) ensuring that performance measures at the agency level inform the overall progress of the National Strategy; and (4) determining the government-wide costs, benefits, and risks by leveraging agencies' long-term capital plans and identifying approaches to optimally manage that risk.

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

    Comments: When we confirm the actions that OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve FMCSA's oversight of state's CDL testing programs and ensure the FMCSA's oversight activities provide reasonable assurance that states' programs comply with federal regulations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to improve or obtain a mechanism for tracking oversight activities in order that FMCSA management has a clear and accurate understanding of oversight activities and that they are being conducted in accordance with agency oversight policy.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation concurred with GAO's recommendation and is in the process of developing a new system for tracking oversight activities and results.
    Director: Mark L. Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Chairman of FCC should evaluate the effectiveness of FCC's accessibility-related public outreach efforts and ensure those efforts incorporate key practices identified in this report, such as defining objectives and establishing process and outcome metrics.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help make an informed decision, the Commission should seek input from states on its proposal to draft updated guidance on class III minimum internal control standards and withdraw its 2006 regulations.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve its ability to assess the effectiveness of its training and technical assistance efforts, the Commission should review and revise, as needed, its performance measures to include additional outcome-oriented measures.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure letters of concern are more consistently prepared and responses tracked, the Commission should develop documented procedures and guidance to clearly identify letters of concern as such and to specify the type of information to be contained in them, such as time periods for a response.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure letters of concern are more consistently prepared and responses tracked, the Commission should develop documented procedures and guidance to maintain and track tribes' responses to the Commission on potential compliance issues.

    Agency: National Indian Gaming Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    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: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure adequate and qualified nurse staffing at VAMCs, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Interim Under Secretary for Health to enhance VHA's internal controls by completing evaluations of Phase I and Phase II and make any necessary changes to policies and procedures before national implementation of Phase II in all VAMCs.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA agreed with this recommendation and, according to an update received April 2017, VA is taking actions towards addressing this recommendation and expects to complete those actions Fall 2017. When additional information is received GAO will update the recommendation as appropriate.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    4 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should identify a mechanism to readily determine the universe of assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation, but has not yet identified a mechanism to readily determine the universe of assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training. As of March 2017, GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that management personnel responsible for assigning personnel to designated high-threat countries consistently verify that all assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training have completed it before arrival in the designated high-threat countries.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with the recommendation, and on July 7, 2014--subsequent to our report issuance and addressing this finding--State issued a memo to all agencies that states that it is the responsibility of each agency to ensure its employees are in compliance with FACT training requirements prior to travel to the relevant posts. The memo also requires employees to provide a FACT completion certificate to posts upon request. In October 2016, State officials reported that State had rolled out a ClassNet SharePoint site, and that they expected that the site would include Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs posts by January 1, 2017. The SharePoint site allows designated users in Washington, D.C. and at posts to access the Foreign Service Institute's training records database. As of March 2017, GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that management personnel responsible for granting country clearance consistently verify that all short-term TDY U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training have completed it before arrival in the designated high-threat countries.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In response to GAO's recommendation, as of March 2017, State had taken several steps to ensure that the electronic Country Clearance (eCC) is easier for personnel to use, but these steps do not ensure that the personnel responsible for verifying FACT training before deployment are doing so. For instance, State updated the current eCC to require personnel traveling to High Threat, High Risk Posts to certify FACT training, with radio buttons for the following: (1) whether the stay is greater than 45 days; (2) whether the traveler has spent more than 45 total days at a High Threat, High Risk Post within the last 365-days; and (3) whether the traveler has completed FACT. If the eCC user responds that the traveler has not taken FACT, he or she must provide a justification. In addition, the eCC system requires personnel traveling to High Threat, High Risk Posts to certify whether they have completed FACT and to provide the completion date. When the eCC user enters this information, he or she is prompted with a box that instructs him or her to "provide documentation of FACT Training (e.g. Certificate) upon arrival at Post" and to click OK to continue. Since May 2016, the agency had been developing a new eCC application that will include automated checks of training records. Agency officials expect to produce this new application in the summer of 2017. GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should monitor or evaluate overall levels of compliance with the FACT training requirement among U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are subject to the requirement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of May 2015, State officials said that they are developing a plan to utilize various electronic systems to monitor overall levels of compliance for assigned and short-term TDY personnel. The plan is being developed iteratively and is subject to change based on findings and lessons learned from each stage as well as constraints based on cyber security compliance. As of March 2017, State did not report further progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the CSA program, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to revise the SMS methodology to better account for limitations in drawing comparisons of safety performance information across carriers; in doing so, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to conduct a formal analysis that specifically identifies: (1) limitations in the data used to calculate SMS scores including variability in the carrier population and the quality and quantity of data available for carrier safety performance assessments, and (2) limitations in the resulting SMS scores including their precision, confidence, and reliability for the purposes for which they are used.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of October 2016, FMCSA continues to maintain that they do not agree with our methodology or conclusions. While FMCSA's position about our specific recommendation is unchanged, FMCSA noted that Section 5221 of the FAST Act directed the National Academies of Science (NAS) to conduct a safety correlation study of the CSA program, and specifically FMCSA's Safety Measurement System's (SMS) methodology. FMCSA stated that if the outcome of the NAS study results in recommendations for SMS changes, they will address those recommendations accordingly. We continue to believe this recommendation has merit and could help the agency better target FMCSA's resources to the carriers that pose the highest risk of crashing, as we demonstrate in our report. For example, we reported that FMCSA requires a minimum level of information for a carrier to receive an SMS score; however, this requirement is not strong enough to produce sufficiently reliable scores. As a result, GAO found that FMCSA identified many carriers as high risk that were not later involved in a crash, potentially causing FMCSA to miss opportunities to intervene with carriers that were involved in crashes. FMCSA's methodology is limited because of insufficient information, which reduces the precision of SMS scores. GAO found that by scoring only carriers with more information, FMCSA could better identify high risk carriers likely to be involved in crashes. This illustrative approach involves trade-offs; it would assign SMS scores to fewer carriers, but these scores would generally be more reliable and thus more useful in targeting FMCSA's scarce resources.
    Recommendation: To improve the CSA program, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to ensure that any determination of a carrier's fitness to operate properly accounts for limitations we have identified regarding safety performance information.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: While FMCSA does not agree with our methodology or conclusions, we believe this recommendation has merit and could help the agency better target FMCSA's resources to the carriers that pose the highest risk of crashing, as we demonstrate in our report. For example, we reported that FMCSA requires a minimum level of information for a carrier to receive an SMS score; however, this requirement is not strong enough to produce sufficiently reliable scores. As a result, GAO found that FMCSA identified many carriers as high risk that were not later involved in a crash, potentially causing FMCSA to miss opportunities to intervene with carriers that were involved in crashes. FMCSA's methodology is limited because of insufficient information, which reduces the precision of SMS scores. GAO found that by scoring only carriers with more information, FMCSA could better identify high risk carriers likely to be involved in crashes. This illustrative approach involves trade-offs; it would assign SMS scores to fewer carriers, but these scores would generally be more reliable and thus more useful in targeting FMCSA's scarce resources.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to incorporate a mechanism to collect information on when AERs are used to support and inform consumer protection actions (i.e., surveillance, advisory, and regulatory actions).

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will update this information.
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's ability to use AERs and to oversee dietary supplement products, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to establish a time frame for issuing final guidance for the draft (1) New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) guidance and (2) guidance clarifying whether a liquid product may be labeled and marketed as a dietary supplement or as a conventional food with added ingredients.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although FDA issued final guidance for distinguishing liquid dietary supplements from beverages in January 2014, it has not yet issued final guidance on new dietary ingredients (NDI). Once FDA completes the NDI guidance, we can close the recommendation.
    Director: Draper, Debra A
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: PPACA contained several important program integrity provisions for the 340B program, and additional steps can also ensure appropriate use of the program. Therefore, the Secretary of HHS should instruct the administrator of HRSA to finalize new, more specific guidance on the definition of a 340B patient.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, HRSA withdrew proposed guidance that included further specificity on the definition of 340B patient in response to the new administration's January 20 memorandum directing agencies to withdraw regulations that were pending before the Office of Management and Budget but had not yet been published in the Federal Register.
    Recommendation: PPACA contained several important program integrity provisions for the 340B program, and additional steps can also ensure appropriate use of the program. Therefore, the Secretary of HHS should instruct the administrator of HRSA to issue guidance to further specify the criteria that hospitals that are not publicly owned or operated must meet to be eligible for the 340B program.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, HRSA withdrew proposed guidance that included additional specificity regarding hospital eligibility in response to the new administration's January 20 memorandum directing agencies to withdraw regulations that were pending before the Office of Management and Budget but had not yet been published in the Federal Register.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve leadership's commitment to preventing and responding to incidents of sexual harassment, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop a strategy for holding individuals in positions of leadership accountable for promoting, supporting, and enforcing the department's sexual harassment policies and programs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has updated its guidance on sexual harassment, but it has not yet implemented the recommendation. DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it would collaborate with the military services to systematically review existing accountability methods, with the goal of developing an overarching strategy. According to DOD, a 2013 memorandum from the Secretary of Defense on sexual assault prevention and response outlined requirements addressing leadership accountability for preventing sexual harassment. The Secretary of Defense also issued a memorandum addressing prevention and response of sexual harassment in 2014, and DOD updated its guidance on sexual harassment in 2015. In 2016, DOD stated that further revisions to guidance were forthcoming to provide a framework for oversight of sexual harassment. This framework, among other things, would address standards for holding leaders accountable for promoting, supporting, and enforcing sexual harassment policies. As of January 2017, those revisions had not been issued. We will continue to monitor DOD's actions.
    Recommendation: To improve implementation of the department's sexual harassment policies and programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to verify or track military commanders' compliance with existing requirements that commanders periodically determine their organizational health and functioning effectiveness by periodically assessing their equal opportunity climate through "command climate" assessments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has updated its guidance on sexual harassment, including a requirement for sharing the results of command climate assessments with the next higher level of command, but has not yet implemented an oversight mechanism to verify and track commanders' compliance with requirements to conduct such assessments. DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it would implement the recommendation through revisions to its guidance. According to DOD, a 2013 memorandum from the Secretary of Defense on sexual assault prevention and response outlined requirements addressing leadership accountability for preventing sexual harassment. The memorandum included a requirement that the results of command climate surveys be provided to the next level up in the chain of command, and it directed service chiefs, through their respective military department secretaries, to develop methods to assess the performance of commanders in establishing command climates of dignity and respect. The Secretary of Defense also issued a memorandum addressing prevention and response of sexual harassment in 2014, and DOD updated its guidance on sexual harassment in 2015. In 2016, DOD stated that further revisions to guidance were forthcoming to provide a framework for oversight of sexual harassment. This framework, among other things, would address standards for holding leaders accountable for promoting, supporting, and enforcing sexual harassment policies. As of January 2017, those revisions had not yet been issued. We will continue to monitor DOD's actions.
    Director: Clark, Cheryl E
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Commission should instruct the Director of Finance at Commission headquarters to monitor monthly cash reconciliations for all Fund Balance with Treasury accounts Commissionwide to ensure their completeness and accuracy.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: During fiscal year 2012, the Commission contracted with the Interior Business Center (IBC) to perform its monthly cash reconciliations with Treasury. During our testing, we found that IBC effectively reconciled cash on hand to Treasury records. However, we found that ABMC did not effectively monitor IBC's reconciliations. Specifically, ABMC did not document its review of the FMS-224 and Fund Balance with Treasury reconciliations performed by IBC. To fully address this recommendation, ABMC needs to document its review of the IBC prepared reconciliations to ensure they are accurate and complete. During fiscal year 2017, the Commission informed us that they plan to develop and implement corrective actions to address our recommendation. Therefore, we will follow up on this open recommendation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Commission should instruct the Director of Human Resources and Administration at Commission headquarters to maintain a consolidated Active Contracts List, or require the Paris Overseas Office to maintain a separate list, with information on each contract including the name of the contact person; the status of work completed; whether retainage amounts had been paid; and whether any amounts were pending due to disagreements on work performed.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: During our fiscal year 2012 audit, although the Commission provided GAO with active contract lists, we determined that these lists were not consolidated nor were they adequately maintained by the director of Engineering. We also continued to find instances where the Commission did not properly close contracts and deobligate funds. In addition, the Commission could not identify any specific actions taken to address this recommendation. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that they plan to implement an automated procurement system that will meet the intent of our recommendation. Therefore, we will follow up on this open recommendation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Commission should instruct the Director of Human Resources and Administration at Commission headquarters to ensure that the Active Contracts List is reconciled to contracts on the undelivered orders report produced by the Commission's accounting system.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: During our fiscal year 2012 audit, we found that the Headquarters active contracts list had not been reconciled to the undelivered orders account. In addition, we concluded that these lists were not adequately maintained. We also continued to find instances where the Commission did not properly close contracts and deobligate funds. In addition, the Commission could not identify any specific actions taken to address this recommendation. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that they plan to develop and implement procurement-related standard operating procedures to address our recommendation. Therefore, we will follow-up on this recommendation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Commission should instruct the Director of Finance at Commission headquarters to follow existing budgetary procedures to ensure that contracts are officially agreed to and executed as of or before the date of obligation.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: During our fiscal year 2011 audit of the American Battle Monuments Commission's financial statements, the Commission informed us that this recommendation was implemented with FMS and that ABMC now follows commitment accounting which prevents contracts from being signed before funds are reserved. During our 2012 testing we continued to monitor and we found no related issues. However, the Commission was unable to provide documentation or support for the corrective action instituted with FMS. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that they plan to implement an automated procurement system that will meet the intent of our recommendation. Therefore, we will follow up on this open recommendation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Commission should instruct the Director of Human Resources at the Commission's Paris Overseas Office to follow existing policy to prepare, approve, and file current forms to support pay changes in foreign employee's official personnel file.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: During our fiscal year 2012 audit, we tested a sample of payroll transactions and found that not all personnel files contained accurate forms to support current payroll information. In one sample, the ABM-87 was not approved by a Director or designee. In another sample, the salary for the grade and step did not match that of the employee's local compensation plan. In a third sample, the employee's salary was not updated for a General Schedule step increase until almost a year later. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that they plan to implement an automated HR system that will meet the intent of our recommendation. Therefore, we will follow up on this open recommendation at a later date
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Commission should instruct the Director of Human Resources at the Commission's Paris Overseas Office to establish a consistent policy for Paris and Rome offices to support changes in employee's official personnel files by using an SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action, for all employees.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: During fiscal year 2012, we determined that the Commission's policy is to use two forms for payroll actions. The headquarters office processes SF-50s for General Schedule (GS) employees and the Paris office uses SF-50s for GS employees and ABM-87s for foreign employees. We did not find any exception with this policy as the SF-50 is a required form for processing payroll actions for GS employees and the ABM 87 is a standard form for processing payroll actions for foreign employees. However, this policy is not documented. To clarify the intent of this recommendation, which is for the Commission to be consistent in processing payroll actions, we issued a subsequent recommendation that calls for the Commission to direct appropriate officials to establish written policies and procedures outlining the key tasks, roles, and responsibilities of both the Human Resources Directorate and the Finance Directorate, including a formal mechanism for communicating all decisions and actions related to processing payroll for foreign employees. This would include the processing of payroll actions. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that training was provided to employees in the proper production of personnel documentation, however, no policy was provided. Therefore, we will follow up on this open recommendation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Commission should instruct the Finance Directorate's Finance Officer at the Commission's Paris Overseas Office to modify existing accounting procedures to instruct Finance Directorate personnel to enter the date on the invoice into the accounting system.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: During our audit of the American Battle Monuments Commission's (the Commission) fiscal year 2010 financial statements, we found that Commission controls were not always effective in ensuring that the receipt and acceptance of goods and services were properly authorized and that invoice dates were accounted for in a consistent manner. The Commission informed us that all Finance personnel were instructed to enter both the invoice receipt date and the invoice date when processing invoices for payment. However, during our fiscal year 2012 audit, we found that the date on the invoice was not consistently entered into the accounting system. For example, we found inconsistencies with the invoice receipt date being entered into the accounting system as either the date the goods were received, the date the invoice was received, or the date the invoice was being entered into the financial system. In addition, we could not verify whether current accounting procedures included this requirement. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that the invoice date entered in Oracle is taken directly from the invoice approval stamp, however, the Commission was not able to provide a policy, procedures, or statement of work supporting the actions taken. We contacted the agency to ask for further information but no response was received within the established deadline for us to conduct our follow up. Therefore, we will follow up on this recommendation at a later date.
    Director: Clark, Cheryl E
    Phone: (202)512-9521

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Based on a review of all existing contracts under $100,000 without an appointed COTR that should require contract employees to obtain favorable background investigation results, the Commissioner of the IRS should direct the appropriate IRS officials to amend those contracts to require that favorable background investigations be obtained for all relevant contract employees before routine, unescorted, unsupervised physical access to taxpayer information is granted.

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

    Comments: According to IRS, it has completed its contract review and made appropriate modifications as of July 2016. However, the modifications to the contracts were not made available for our review during the fiscal year 2016 audit. We will continue to evaluate IRS's actions to address this recommendation during our fiscal year 2017 audit.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the IRS should direct the appropriate IRS officials to establish a policy requiring collaborative oversight between IRS's key offices in determining whether potential service contracts involve routine, unescorted, unsupervised physical access to taxpayer information, thus requiring background investigations, regardless of contract award amount. This policy should include a process for the requiring business unit to communicate to the Office of Procurement and the Human Capital Office the services to be provided under the contract and any potential exposure of taxpayer information to contract employees providing the services, and for all three units to (1) evaluate the risk of exposure of taxpayer information prior to finalizing and awarding the contract and (2) ensure that the final contract requires favorable background investigations as applicable, commensurate with the assessed risk.

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

    Comments: IRS's efforts to address this recommendation are ongoing. IRS stated that during fiscal year 2017, several internal organizations will partner to identify the remaining actions needed to address this recommendation. According to IRS, these actions include developing policies and procedures to reasonably assure that (1) oversight between IRS's key offices is conducted to determine whether potential service awards IRS enters into involve routine, unescorted, unsupervised physical access to taxpayer information by contractors, thus requiring background investigations, and (2) the resulting processes make clear who is responsible for completing the various steps, as well as who must maintain documentation of the approved access determination prior to the contractor being allowed to provide the services. We will continue to evaluate IRS's actions to address this recommendation during our fiscal year 2017 audit.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of the IRS should direct the appropriate IRS officials to revise the post orders for the service center campuses (SCC) and lockbox bank security guards to include specific procedures for timely reporting exterior lighting outages to SCC or lockbox bank facilities management. These procedures should specify (1) whom to contact to report lighting outages and (2) how to document and track lighting outages until resolved.

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

    Comments: IRS's efforts to address this recommendation are ongoing. IRS stated that during fiscal year 2017, it would update campus post orders to help ensure timely reporting, monitoring and repair of exterior lighting outages. In addition, AWSS engaged in discussions with personnel from FPS and GSA to coordinate responsibilities and suggested changes for post orders when security services are contracted by those entities. We will continue to evaluate IRS's actions to address this recommendation during our fiscal year 2017 audit.
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To identify effective and cost-efficient methods for meeting TWIC program objectives, and assist in determining whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the TWIC program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should perform an internal control assessment of the TWIC program by (1) analyzing existing controls, (2) identifying related weaknesses and risks, and (3) determining cost-effective actions needed to correct or compensate for those weaknesses so that reasonable assurance of meeting TWIC program objectives can be achieved. This assessment should consider weaknesses we identified in this report among other things, and include: (1) strengthening the TWIC program's controls for preventing and detecting identity fraud, such as requiring certain biographic information from applicants and confirming the information to the extent needed to positively identify the individual, or implementing alternative mechanisms to positively identify individuals; (2) defining the term extensive criminal history for use in the adjudication process and ensuring that adjudicators follow a clearly defined and consistently applied process, with clear criteria, in considering the approval or denial of a TWIC for individuals with extensive criminal convictions not defined as permanent or interim disqualifying offenses; and (3) identifying mechanisms for detecting whether TWIC holders continue to meet TWIC disqualifying criminal offense and immigration-related eligibility requirements after TWIC issuance to prevent unqualified individuals from retaining and using authentic TWICs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that internal control weaknesses governing the enrollment, background checking, and use of TWIC potentially limit the program's ability to provide reasonable assurance that access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities is restricted to qualified individuals. We further reported that TSA did not assess the internal controls designed and in place to determine whether they provided reasonable assurance that the program could meet defined mission needs for limiting access to only qualified individuals, and that internal control weaknesses in TWIC enrollment, background checking, and use could have contributed to the breach of selected MTSA-regulated facilities during covert tests conducted by our investigators. We recommended that DHS perform an internal control assessment of the TWIC program by (1) analyzing existing controls, (2) identifying related weaknesses and risks, and (3) determining cost-effective actions needed to correct or compensate for those weaknesses so that reasonable assurance of meeting TWIC program objectives can be achieved. In April 2013, DHS reported that it had taken a number of steps to address our recommendations. For example, it had refreshed and reissued fraudulent document detection training to enrollment personnel; created a mechanism for enrollment personnel to send detailed information of suspected fraud to adjudication personnel; benchmarked TWIC enrollment processes with passport enrollment processes; and defined guidance for adjudicators on the application of discretionary authority. As we reported in May 2013, to determine if the internal control weaknesses identified in our May 2011 report still exist, we conducted limited covert testing in late 2012. Our investigators again acquired an authentic TWIC through fraudulent means and were able to use this card and counterfeit TWIC cards to access areas of ports or port facilities requiring a TWIC for entry at four ports. In February 2014, TSA reported that it, in coordination with Coast Guard and DHS subject matter experts, had established an Executive Steering Committee to address recommendations from the May 2011 report on the TWIC program's internal controls (GAO-11-657). GAO recommended that the internal control assessment be the basis of the effectiveness assessment. In response, the Executive Steering Committee developed an internal control action plan that lists TWIC program control issues GAO identified, along with actions that TSA and the Coast Guard would or would not take to address them. However, based on our review of the internal control action plan and associated documents, and further discussing with TSA officials the methodology used to arrive at the internal control action plan, we determined that the internal control assessment we recommended has not been implemented. Specifically, there is no evidence of a detailed mapping of each policy and process in the program, their interrelationships, and clear linkage to show how actions in one step may enhance or reduce the effectiveness of the TWIC program achieving its stated mission needs. In January 2017 TSA awarded a contract for an internal control assessment of the TWIC program, including the TWIC program?s internal controls of the enrollment, background checking, and credential issuance processes. The assessment, however, is to exclude an assessment of Coast Guard?s role in TWIC enforcement. The project held a kickoff meeting in March of 2017 and is expected to produce final recommendations by August 2017. We believe that this is a positive step towards addressing our recommendation. However, the assessment does not include an evaluation of the use of TWIC, including Coast Guard's role in TWIC enforcement. We continue to believe that the internal control assessment inclusive of TWIC use and the interrelationship between acquiring a TWIC and using it in the maritime environment is needed. For the reasons noted above, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To identify effective and cost-efficient methods for meeting TWIC program objectives, and assist in determining whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the TWIC program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should conduct an effectiveness assessment that includes addressing internal control weaknesses and, at a minimum, evaluates whether use of TWIC in its present form and planned use with readers would enhance the posture of security beyond efforts already in place given costs and program risks.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: We reported that DHS had not assessed the program's effectiveness at enhancing security. We recommended that DHS conduct an effectiveness assessment that includes addressing internal control weaknesses and, at a minimum, evaluates whether use of TWIC in its present form and planned use with readers would enhance the posture of security beyond efforts already in place given costs and program risks. In March 2012, DHS reported that it agreed that the results and progress of the internal control actions should be used to further evaluate the effectiveness of the TWIC program. They further noted that as the different long term actions progress, DHS will develop specific plans to address this action. In May 2013 (see GAO-13-198), we reported that DHS had not addressed this recommendation. On January 17, 2014, the explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, directed DHS to complete the assessment that we recommended within 90 days after enactment (April 17, 2014). In February 2014, TSA reported that it, in coordination with Coast Guard and DHS subject matter experts, had established an Executive Steering Committee to address recommendations from the May 2011 report on the TWIC program's internal controls (GAO-11-657). GAO recommended that the internal control assessment be the basis of the effectiveness assessment. In response, the Executive Steering Committee developed an internal control action plan that lists TWIC program control issues GAO identified, along with actions that TSA and the Coast Guard would or would not take to address them. However, based on our review of the internal control action plan and associated documents, and further discussing with TSA officials the methodology used to arrive at the internal control action plan, we determined that the internal control assessment we recommended has not been implemented. Specifically, there is no evidence of a detailed mapping of each policy and process in the program, their interrelationships, and clear linkage to show how actions in one step may enhance or reduce the effectiveness of the TWIC program achieving its stated mission needs. As of March 2017, the internal control assessment we recommended as the basis for initiating the effectiveness assessment had not been completed. However, on January 15, 2016, Coast Guard reported that it had completed its effectiveness assessment. Specifically, DHS completed an effectiveness assessment titled "Security Assessment of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential and Readers." However, the effectiveness assessment did not substantively address the risk concerns identified in our report. For example, the effectiveness assessment lacked the internal control assessment we deem to be the critical first step for fully understanding the TWIC program's controls, costs, and risks. Further, while the effectiveness assessment presented a comparison of alternative credentialing approaches, the assessment did not fully consider, as discussed in our 2011 and 2013 reports, an approach wherein federal security threat assessments could be leveraged in concert with site-specific credentials. The analysis did consider the benefits of updating the TWIC credential to new federal credentialing standards. However, absent from the analysis is a risk-informed basis for disallowing site-specific credentials. While TWIC credentials are developed based on standards aligned with those used by federal entities, each federal entity continues to use site-specific credentials that have varying appearances, rather than a single credential for granting access to all federal entities. This is important, especially because Coast Guard's risk assessment does not include an evaluation of the security benefits and shortfalls that a single credential used nation-wide provide. Absent effectiveness assessment that meets the intent of our recommendation, this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To identify effective and cost-efficient methods for meeting TWIC program objectives, and assist in determining whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the TWIC program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should use the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and corrective actions needed to implement the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks as part of conducting the regulatory analysis on implementing a new regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that prior to issuing the regulation on implementing the use of TWIC as a flashpass, DHS conducted a regulatory analysis, which asserted that TWIC would increase security. The analysis included an evaluation of the costs and benefits related to implementing TWIC. We further reported that as a proposed regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers is under development, DHS is to issue a new regulatory analysis. Conducting a regulatory analysis using the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and needed corrective actions could better inform and enhance the reliability of the new regulatory analysis. Moreover, these actions could help DHS identify and assess the full costs and benefits of implementing the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks, and help ensure that the TWIC program is more effective and cost-efficient than existing measures or alternatives at enhancing maritime security. We therefore recommended that DHS use the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments we recommended as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and corrective actions needed to implement the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks as part of conducting the regulatory analysis on implementing a new regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers. In March 2012, DHS reported that upon completion of the internal control and effectiveness assessments, DHS will evaluate the results to determine any subsequent actions, and that any applicable data or risks will be communicated to the Coast Guard for consideration during their regulatory analysis. However, DHS has not implemented the internal control assessment we recommended, which is to be the basis for the effectiveness assessment and addressing this recommendation. Further, the January 15, 2016 effectiveness assessment titled "Security Assessment of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential and Readers" did not substantively address the risk concerns identified in our report. Given shortfalls that remain in addressing our internal control assessment and effectiveness assessment recommendations, this recommendation remains open pending DHS taking corrective actions. As of March 2017, no further action has been taken.
    Director: Clowers, Angela N
    Phone: (202)512-4010

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help resolve identified borrower noncompliance in a timely manner, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of RHS to implement enforcement mechanisms that can be tailored to the severity of the borrower noncompliance, such as the civil money penalty enforcement provision in its program regulations.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency continues to take actions to address this recommendation, but has not yet fully implemented it.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that requirements for tenant eligibility are met across the FLH portfolio, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of RHS to require its loan servicers to use the Systematic Alien Verification and Entitlements (SAVE) program administered by the Department of Homeland Security to verify tenant's residency status during supervisory reviews.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency has not implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of RHS to better utilize available data on demand for the FLH program--such as systematically reviewing local market analyses, further analyzing occupancy data on a statewide, regional, or national level, and retaining and analyzing application information--to help target available funding to areas of greatest need.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency continues to take actions to address this recommendation, but has not yet fully implemented it.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that IRS can adequately enforce certain tax provisions, Congress may wish to consider providing IRS with MEA to use tax return information from previous years to ensure that taxpayers do not improperly claim credits or deductions in excess of lifetime limits where applicable.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Congress had not yet provided IRS with math error authority (MEA) to use tax return information from previous years to ensure that taxpayers do not improperly claim credits or deductions in excess of lifetime limits.
    Director: Sherrill, Andrew
    Phone: (202)512-7252

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the number of new H-1B workers who are subject to the cap--both entering the United States and changing to H-1B status within the United States--does not exceed the cap each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should take steps to improve its tracking of the number of approved H-1B applications and the number of issued visas under the cap by fully leveraging the transformation effort currently under way, which involves the adoption of an electronic petition processing system that will be linked to the Department of State's tracking system. Such steps should ensure that linkages to the Department of State's tracking system will provide Homeland Security with timely access to data on visa issuances, and that mechanisms for tracking petitions and visas against the cap are incorporated into U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' business rules to be developed for the new electronic petition system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, USCIS officials reported that, according to their current timeframes, the business rules associated with the nonimmigrant visa petition process (including Form I-129) in the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) were slated to be developed in late 2017, with implementation projected for the beginning of 2018. They stated that during the requirements-gathering phase, the Service Center Operations officials and the Office of Transformation Program officials planned to discuss potential options for improving the tracking of the number of approved H-1B applications and the number of issued visas under the cap, including assessing the feasibility of linking DHS and State Department data. GAO will follow-up with USCIS on the status of this recommendation when business rules for the nonimmigrant line of the ELIS are developed and released.
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (214)777-5719

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the management and oversight of the Low-Income Program, the Chairman of the FCC should conduct a robust risk assessment of the Low-Income Program.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Comments: While IRS has not fully revised the Forms 982 and 1099-C consistent with our recommendation, Congress directed IRS to collect additional information concerning mortgage interest payments which prompted IRS to revise a related form, and IRS officials are considering how to use the additional data. As of March 2017, the Form 982 does not direct taxpayers to identify the address for which debt is being forgiven. For the Form 1099-C, IRS began requiring lenders to provide more information about the type of event that resulted in the cancellation of the debt. However, as of March 2017, the Form 1099-C does not direct lenders to report the address of the property for which mortgage debt is being forgiven. In July 2015, Congress enacted the Surface Transportation and Veterans Health Care Choice Improvement Act (Public Law 114-41). Section 2003 of the act requires taxpayers receiving mortgage interest payments to report the origination date of the mortgage, the amount of outstanding principal at the beginning of the calendar year, and the property's address. This new reporting requirement applies to returns that would be filed in 2017. In response to the legislation, IRS updated Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement for the 2017 filing season. While IRS officials told us that they believe the new data to be collected on this form have the potential to be helpful, they will not know the extent of any benefits from this new reporting requirement for several years. Section 151 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) extended the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt to debt discharged before January 1, 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the cost of this extension will be more than $5.1 billion for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, making it important for IRS to use the additional data we recommended they collect in enforcement efforts.
    Director: Clark, Cheryl E
    Phone: (202)512-9377

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of Personnel and Administration at Commission headquarters should follow established policies and procedures in taking action to conduct a review of contracts and purchase orders outstanding for completeness, accuracy, and proper dates.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission: Human Resources and Administration Director
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, the Commission stated that it completed such a review in fiscal year 2009 and made corrections as to how the Commission issues contracts and purchase orders. In addition, the Commission hired a consultant, a retired Federal Government Contracting Officer, to assist with contracting activities and to help draft and implement the Commission's policies and procedures. During our fiscal year 2010 audit, we found errors in relation to the Commission's contracts and found that Headquarter's Active Contracts List for contracts over $100,000 was not up to date. We found 3 out of 20 expenditures we tested that were obligated before there was a signed contract. During our fiscal year 2011 audit, we found that the Headquarter's Active Contracts List for contracts over $100,000 was not being kept up to date and reconciled to the undelivered orders account. During our fiscal year 2012 audit, we found there were no policies and procedures for processing engineering contracts. We were informed by the Commission that they were in the process of documenting policies and procedures for the entire contracting process. We also found there were no documented policies and procedures for reviewing year end open obligations and accounts payable to verify the accuracy and validity of year end balances. Additionally, there was no documented review of accounts payable or open obligations performed at year-end for all the open contracts. As a result, we found errors in year-end aged vendor liability reports and open purchase orders that no longer represented valid obligations and should have been deobligated. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that they plan to establish procurement-related policies and procedures to address our recommendation. We will follow up on this open recommendation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Director of Personnel and Administration at Commission headquarters should follow established policies and procedures in taking action to coordinate procurement activity with finance personnel to ensure accurate and compliant obligation of funding of procurements, including proper application of multiyear contract terms.

    Agency: American Battle Monuments Commission: Human Resources and Administration Director
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, the Commission stated that acquisition personnel would ensure coordination with finance personnel to be certain that accurate and compliant obligation of funding of procurements, including proper application of multi-year contract terms. During our fiscal year 2010 and 2011 audits, we found errors in relation to the Commission's contracts and determined improvements were still needed in the oversight of contracts. During our fiscal year 2012 audit, we found there were no policies and procedures for processing engineering contracts. We were informed by the Commission that they were in the process of documenting policies and procedures for the entire contracting process. We also found there were no documented policies and procedures for reviewing year end open obligations and accounts payable to verify the accuracy and validity of year end balances. Additionally, there was no documented review of accounts payable or open obligations performed at year-end for all the open contracts. As a result, we found errors in year-end aged vendor liability reports and open purchase orders that no longer represented valid obligations and should have been deobligated. During our fiscal year 2017 follow-up, the Commission informed us that they plan to establish procurement-related policies and procedures to address our recommendation. We will follow up on this open recommendation at a later date.
    Director: Clark, Cheryl E
    Phone: (202)512-9521

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of IRS should direct the appropriate IRS officials to, once IRS identifies the control weaknesses that result in inaccuracies or errors that affect the financial reporting of unpaid tax assessments, implement control procedures to routinely prevent, or to detect and correct, such errors.

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

    Comments: IRS created a long-term corrective action plan that contains specific actions to improve control procedures to prevent or detect errors. While IRS completed some actions during fiscal year 2016, it has not completed most of the actions in the plan or documented milestones or target completion dates for these remaining actions. In addition, during fiscal year 2016, GAO and IRS continued to identify misclassified unpaid assessments that resulted from inaccuracies or errors in taxpayer accounts. Thus, IRS's actions to date have not been effective at fully addressing the issues that continue to cause a lack of transaction traceability and material inaccuracies produced by the subsidiary ledger. We will continue to evaluate IRS's actions to address this recommendation during our fiscal year 2017 audit.
    Director: Melvin, Valerie C
    Phone: (202)512-6304

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance VA's effort to successfully fulfill its forthcoming plans for the outpatient scheduling system replacement project and the HealtheVet program, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the CIO to ensure implementation of a requirements management plan that reflects leading practices for requirements development and management. Specifically, implementation of the plan should include analyzing requirements to ensure they are complete, verifiable, and sufficiently detailed to guide development, and maintaining requirements traceability from high-level operational requirements through detailed low-level requirements to test cases.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our report, VA concurred with this recommendation and in August 2014, identified initial actions the department had taken in response. Specifically, as part of its plans to issue a request for proposals to acquire a replacement scheduling system under its Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) project, VA developed a Business Requirements Document that defines its specific business needs, capabilities, features, and constraints. Additionally, the department reported that it intends to manage and document requirements using processes supported by a Web-based tool called Rational Doors. In August 2015, VA's Office of Acquisition, Logistics, and Construction awarded a contract for the MASS project. However, in April 2016, the department paused MASS to evaluate an alternative project to enhance its legacy scheduling system. Subsequently, in early 2017, the department restarted the MASS project. Nevertheless, as of June 2017, the department had not developed a requirements management plan for MASS. Thus, the MASS project has not yet reached the point where the effectiveness of the requirements management activities we recommended can be assessed.
    Recommendation: To enhance VA's effort to successfully fulfill its forthcoming plans for the outpatient scheduling system replacement project and the HealtheVet program, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the CIO to adhere to the department's guidance for system testing including (1) performing testing incrementally and (2) resolving defects of average and above severity prior to proceeding to subsequent stages of testing.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our report, VA concurred with this recommendation and stated that testing was managed using documented, repeatable processes that are included in the department's ProPath Web-based tool. According to the Acting Deputy Chief Information Officer for Product Development, the Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) project is expected to incorporate Agile software development practices, including the use of incremental testing. In August 2015, the department awarded a contract for the MASS project that included task orders for the development of test plans. However, in April 2016, the department paused MASS to evaluate an alternative to enhance its legacy scheduling system. In early 2017, the department restarted the MASS project, but as of June 2017, had not developed a test plan for MASS. Thus, the project has not yet reached the point where adherence to the department's system testing guidance can be assessed.
    Recommendation: To enhance VA's effort to successfully fulfill its forthcoming plans for the outpatient scheduling system replacement project and the HealtheVet program, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the CIO to ensure that the policies and procedures VA is establishing to provide meaningful program oversight are effectively executed and that they include (1) robust collection methods for information on project costs, benefits, schedule, risk assessments, performance metrics, and system functionality to support executive decision making; (2) the establishment of reporting mechanisms to provide this information in a timely manner to department IT oversight control boards; and (3) defined criteria and documented policies on actions the department will take when development deficiencies for a project are identified.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs concurred with this recommendation and identified various actions it has taken in response. Specifically, the department awarded a contract for its Medical Appointment Scheduling System (MASS) project in August 2015. However, in April 2016, it paused MASS to evaluate an alternative to enhance its legacy scheduling system. In June 2017, VA reported that the MASS project had been resumed and indicated that it would adhere to the department's Veteran-focused Intake Process (VIP), which is intended to ensure oversight, accountability, and traceability of all program activity. Also, the department reported that MASS had met its first VIP milestone, Critical Decision 1, in January 2017. However, key future activities, including product development and testing, have not yet been demonstrated, while VIP milestones (e.g., Critical Decision 2), have not yet been met. Thus, MASS has not reached the point where the effectiveness of project oversight can be fully assessed.
    Director: Goldenkoff, Robert N
    Phone: (202)512-2757

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide more meaningful access to LEP populations, the Administrator of SBA should finalize and issue its LEP plan and recipient guidance.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies to examine how to improve access for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) to programs, services, and activities conducted by both federal agencies as well as state, local, and regional entities that receive federal financial assistance (a group referred to in the Executive Order as "recipients"). While the Executive Order does not prescribe specific approaches for improving access for LEP persons, it does require federal agencies to develop guidelines (referred to as "recipient guidance") that clarify the obligations of state, local, and regional entities. Agencies are also required to prepare LEP plans outlining the steps the agency will take to ensure that eligible LEP persons can access their programs and activities. In our April 2010 report on language access issues, we determined that the Small Business Administration (SBA) had not issued its recipient guidance or LEP plan. SBA officials attributed the delay to several factors, including staff turnover in key positions responsible for developing and approving their LEP Plan and recipient guidance as well as a major transformation effort involving SBA's business operations, goals, and staffing arrangements. As a result, our report recommended that the SBA Administrator finalize and issue SBA's LEP Plan and recipient guidance. As of February 2017, SBA's audit liaison reported that SBA's LEP Plan and recipient guidance are being revised based on comments from a review by the Department of Justice.
    Director: White, James
    Phone: (202) 512-9039

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the increasing extent of business travel to the U.S. and the eroding effect of inflation, Congress may wish to consider raising the amount of U.S. income paid by a foreign employer that is exempt from tax for nonresidents who meet the other conditions of the exemption.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Congress had not raised the amount of U.S. income paid by a foreign employer that is exempt from tax for nonresidents who meet the other conditions of the exemption.
    Recommendation: Given the difficulty of enforcing the requirement for aliens to obtain certificates of compliance--sailing permits--before departing the country and the existence of withholding requirements and tax treaties, Congress may wish to consider eliminating the sailing permit requirement.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Congress has not eliminated the sailing permit requirement.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress may wish to consider providing IRS with math error authority (MEA) to use prior years' tax return information to automatically verify taxpayers' compliance with the limit on the number of years the Hope credit can be claimed.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 3, 2017, Congress has not provided IRS with math error authority (MEA) to use prior years' tax return information to automatically verify taxpayers' compliance with the limit on the number of years the Hope Scholarship Credit, now known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) can be claimed. The AOTC can be claimed by taxpayers for qualified tuition and related expenses for 4 years of postsecondary education. Under the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015, IRS was granted MEA to disallow a claim for the AOTC if the taxpayer is not permitted to claim the credit due to prior fraudulent or reckless claims, or if the taxpayer omitted information relating to prior improper claims of the credit. IRS does not have authority to automatically deny an AOTC even if the taxpayer claims the credit for more than the 4 allowable years. GAO has in the past provided technical assistance to the House Solutions Caucus in drafting legislative language for a bill on extending MEA to use prior years' returns for verifying compliance with limits on the credit. In addition, the Administration has for many years included a revenue proposal in Treasury's Green Book to provide IRS with "correctable error authority" where the (1) information provided by the taxpayer does not match the information contained in government databases, (2) taxpayer has exceeded the lifetime limit for claiming the credit or deduction, or (3) taxpayer failed to include proper documentation with his or her return. If this revenue proposal was enacted, IRS would have the authority to deny claims for the AOTC if the taxpayer has already received the credit for 4 years.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202)512-7043

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address state agency practices and external pressure that may compromise survey accuracy, the Administrator of CMS should reestablish expectations through guidance to state survey agencies that noncitation practices--official or unofficial--are inappropriate, and systematically monitor trends in states' citations.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: September 2017: HHS reported CMS is working to address this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive further information. September 2016: CMS has not yet provided additional information. GAO will update the recommendation, as appropriate, when information is received. July 2015: CMS indicated it will provide GAO with updated actions in early 2016. May 2014: Though the best method to address external pressures on State Agencies was not identified, CMS is continuing to address the consistency, effectiveness, and integrity of the survey process through the following activities: reviewing citation patterns for the nursing home surveys; systematically identifying and testing opportunities to make the survey process more efficient and effective; and holding monthly CO and RO calls to address consistencies in the survey and enforcement process. CMS Regional Offices also routinely hold conference calls (e.g., monthly) with the State Survey Agencies in their region to address survey, enforcement and certification issues and conduct the federal validation survey of the state's findings. CMS is looking to review specific regulatory deficiencies for trends and areas where additional guidance is needed. Anticipated completion date of October 31, 2014. June 2013: Though the best method to address external pressures on State Agencies was not identified. CMS is continuing to address the consistency, effectiveness, and integrity of the survey process through the following activities: reviewing citation patterns for the nursing home surveys; systematically identifying and testing opportunities to make the survey process more efficient and effective; and holding monthly CO and RO calls to address consistencies in the survey and enforcement process. CMS Regional Offices also routinely hold conference calls (e.g., monthly) with the State Survey Agencies in their region to address survey, enforcement and certification issues and conduct the federal validation survey of the state's findings. September 2010: CMS held a State/Federal meeting in April 2010. The discussion with the State/Federal meeting did not shed light on best method to address possible external pressures on State Agencies. Some expressed that poor documentation/inadequate investigation may cause deficiencies to be dropped and not necessarily external pressure. They will continue to work on developing next steps.
    Recommendation: To address state agency practices and external pressure that may compromise survey accuracy, the Administrator of CMS should establish expectations through guidance to state survey agencies to communicate and collaborate with their CMS regional offices when they experience significant pressure from legislators or the nursing home industry that may affect the survey process or surveyors' perceptions.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: September 2017: HHS reported CMS is working to address this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive further information. September 2016: CMS has not yet provided additional information. GAO will update the recommendation, as appropriate, when information is received. July 2015: CMS indicated it will provide GAO with updated actions in early 2016. May 2014: CMS has undertaken a broader review of both the QIS and traditional survey processes, and the extent to which the methodology and guidance result in an effective and efficient survey process. In August 2012, CMS convened a broad group of surveyors to address these issues and make recommendations which have resulted in continuing work to develop and test alternative guidance and processes. CMS is looking to review specific regulatory deficiencies for trends and areas where additional guidance is needed. Anticipated Completion date of December 31, 2014. June 2013: Though the best method to address external pressures on State Agencies was not identified. CMS is continuing to address the consistency, effectiveness, and integrity of the survey process through the following activities: reviewing citation patterns for the nursing home surveys; systematically identifying and testing opportunities to make the survey process more efficient and effective; and holding monthly CO and RO calls to address consistencies in the survey and enforcement process. CMS Regional Offices also routinely hold conference calls (e.g., monthly) with the State Survey Agencies in their region to address survey, enforcement and certification issues and conduct the federal validation survey of the state's findings. September 2010: CMS held a State/Federal meeting in April 2010. The discussion with the State/Federal meeting did not shed light on best method to address possible external pressures on State Agencies. CMS will continue to work on developing next steps.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to significantly reduce the uncertainty that some taxpayers have about their ability to earn credits for their research activities, the Secretary of the Treasury should issue regulations clarifying the definition of gross receipts for purposes of computing the research credit for controlled groups of corporations.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury issued proposed regulations clarifying the definition of gross receipts on December 13, 2013 and solicited public comments. During the course of 2014 tax practitioners and business executives submitted comments criticizing the regulations and asking for them to be withdrawn. As of April 2017, Treasury has yet to issue final regulations that would include responses to these criticisms. The regulations would not become effective until tax year beginning after the date on which the regulations are published in final form.
    Recommendation: In order to significantly reduce the uncertainty that some taxpayers have about their ability to earn credits for their research activities, the Secretary of the Treasury should provide additional guidance to more clearly identify what types of activities are considered to be qualified support activities.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Treasury has not issued regulations to clarify what types of activities are considered to be qualified support activities.
    Recommendation: In order to significantly reduce the uncertainty that some taxpayers have about their ability to earn credits for their research activities, the Secretary of the Treasury should provide additional guidance to more clearly identify when commercial production of a qualified product is deemed to begin.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Treasury has not issued regulations to more clearly identify when commercial production of a qualified product is deemed to begin.
    Recommendation: In order to reduce economic inefficiencies and excessive revenue costs resulting from inaccuracies in the base of the research tax credit, Congress should consider eliminating the regular credit option for computing the research credit.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation to eliminate the regular computation option for the research tax credit or add a minimum base to the ASC option, as GAO suggested in November 2009. Section 121 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 made permanent the research tax credit (Public Law 114-113). The credit designed to encourage business innovation by providing a subsidy to new research has historically been a temporary provision. However, neither this act nor other enacted legislation has adopted GAO's suggested change to the research tax credit's design. Continued use of the regular computation credit option, which arbitrarily distributes subsidies across taxpayers, can distort investment decisions so that research spending and economic activity are not allocated to sectors that offer the highest returns to society. These misallocations may reduce economic efficiency and, thereby, diminish any economic benefits of the credit.
    Recommendation: In order to reduce economic inefficiencies and excessive revenue costs resulting from inaccuracies in the base of the research tax credit, Congress should consider adding a minimum base to the ASC that equals 50 percent of the taxpayer's current-year qualified research expenses.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation to eliminate the regular computation option for the research tax credit or add a minimum base to the ASC option, as GAO suggested in November 2009. Section 121 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 made permanent the research tax credit (Public Law 114-113). The credit designed to encourage business innovation by providing a subsidy to new research has historically been a temporary provision. However, neither this act nor other enacted legislation has adopted GAO's suggested change to the research tax credit's design. Continued use of the regular computation credit option, which arbitrarily distributes subsidies across taxpayers, can distort investment decisions so that research spending and economic activity are not allocated to sectors that offer the highest returns to society. These misallocations may reduce economic efficiency and, thereby, diminish any economic benefits of the credit.
    Recommendation: If Congress nevertheless wishes to continue offering the regular research credit to taxpayers, it may wish to consider reducing inaccuracies in the credit's base and to reduce taxpayers' uncertainty and compliance costs and IRS's administrative costs by updating the historical base period that regular credit claimants use to compute their fixed base percentages.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No action taken by Congress as of February 2017 to update the historical base period that regular credit claimants use to compute their fixed base percentages.
    Recommendation: If Congress nevertheless wishes to continue offering the regular research credit to taxpayers, it may wish to consider reducing inaccuracies in the credit's base and to reduce taxpayers' uncertainty and compliance costs and IRS's administrative costs by eliminating base period recordkeeping requirements for taxpayers that elect to use a fixed base percentage of 16 percent in their computation of the credit.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No action taken by Congress as of February 2017 to eliminate base period recordkeeping requirements for taxpayers that elect to use a fixed base percentage of 16 percent in their computation of the credit.
    Recommendation: If Congress nevertheless wishes to continue offering the regular research credit to taxpayers, it may wish to consider reducing inaccuracies in the credit's base and to reduce taxpayers' uncertainty and compliance costs and IRS's administrative costs by clarifying for Treasury its intent regarding the definition of gross receipts for purposes of computing the research credit for controlled groups of corporations. In particular it may want to consider clarifying that the regulations generally excluding transfers between members of controlled groups apply to both gross receipts and QREs and specifically clarifying how it intended sales by domestic members to foreign members to be treated. Such clarification would help to resolve open controversies relating to past claims, even if the regular credit were discontinued for future years.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No action taken by Congress as of February 2017 to clarify for Treasury its intent regarding the definition of gross receipts for purposes of computing the research credit for controlled groups of corporations. In particular, it may want to consider clarifying that the regulations generally excluding transfers between members of controlled groups apply to both gross receipts and QREs and specifically clarifying how it intended sales by domestic members to foreign members to be treated. Such clarification would help to resolve open controversies relating to past claims, even if the regular credit were discontinued for future years.
    Director: Brown, Orice Williams
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to determine in advance the amounts built into the payment rates for estimated expenses and profit.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA is continuing (as of 08/29/2014) to analyze Write-Your-Own (WYO) payments and related flood expenses for selected companies and is evaluating the reliability (accuracy, consistency, etc.) of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data for purposes of performing the analysis we had recommended.
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to annually analyze the amounts of actual expenses and profit in relation to the estimated amounts used in setting payment rates.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its initial response to this report, FEMA did not concur with this recommendation. In November 2016, FEMA restated its position and concurs with this recommendation, and is in the process of implementing it.
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to consider the results of the analysis of payments, actual expenses, and profit in evaluating the methods for paying WYOs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA is continuing (as of 08/29/2014) to analyze WYO payments and related flood expenses for selected companies and is evaluating the reliability (accuracy, consistency, etc.) of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data for purposes of performing the analysis we had recommended.
    Recommendation: To increase the usefulness of the data reported by WYOs to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and to institutionalize FEMA's use of such data, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to take actions to obtain reasonable assurance that NAIC flood insurance expense data can be considered in setting payment rates that are appropriate, including identifying affiliated company profits in reported flood insurance expenses.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA continues (as of 08/29/2014) to work with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to improve the consistency with which commission, operating, and loss adjustment expenses are reported by insurance companies that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
    Recommendation: To increase the usefulness of the data reported by WYOs to the National Association NAIC and to institutionalize FEMA's use of such data, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to develop comprehensive data analysis strategies to annually test the quality of flood insurance data that WYOs report to NAIC.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA continues (as of 08/29/2014) to work with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to improve the consistency with which commission, operating, and loss adjustment expenses are reported by insurance companies that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.