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    Subject Term: Counterterrorism

    11 publications with a total of 23 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should take steps to ensure the implementation of revised standard operating procedures for collecting electronic ATA course and participant data. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 28, 2017, having reviewed a draft version of GAO-17-704, State concurred with this recommendation and noted that ATA had revised its standard operating procedures for collecting data and shared the document with us. We will follow-up with ATA regarding steps taken to ensure the implementation of those procedures.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should develop and implement a process to confirm and document whether future ATA participants return to their home countries following the completion of ATA training and, for any participants trained in the United States who do not, share relevant information with the Department of Homeland Security. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 28, 2017, having reviewed a draft version of GAO-17-704, State concurred with this recommendation and stated that, by the end of the year, it will implement a process to ensure that participants sent to ATA training in the United States return to their home countries. We will follow-up with ATA regarding the implementation of such a process for participants sent to ATA training in the United States or other locations outside of their home countries.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help identify what domestic CVE efforts are to achieve and the extent to which investments in CVE result in measureable success, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General--as heads of the two lead agencies responsible for coordinating CVE efforts--should direct the CVE Task Force to develop a cohesive strategy that includes measurable outcomes for CVE activities.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CVE Task Force officials stated that they are identifying concrete outputs and outcomes for CVE efforts outlined in the 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan. CVE Task Force officials also stated that they plan to develop short-term, medium-term, and long-term outcomes for these efforts. The Task Force plans to report to the White House Homeland Security Advisor on their implementation progress in January 2018. GAO will continue to monitor the CVE Task Force's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To help identify what domestic CVE efforts are to achieve and the extent to which investments in CVE result in measureable success, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General--as heads of the two lead agencies responsible for coordinating CVE efforts--should direct the CVE Task Force to develop a cohesive strategy that includes measurable outcomes for CVE activities.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CVE Task Force officials stated that they are identifying concrete outputs and outcomes for CVE efforts outlined in the 2016 Strategic Implementation Plan. CVE Task Force officials also stated that they plan to develop short-term, medium-term, and long-term outcomes for these efforts. The Task Force plans to report to the White House Homeland Security Advisor on their implementation progress in January 2018. GAO will continue to monitor the CVE Task Force's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To help identify what domestic CVE efforts are to achieve and the extent to which investments in CVE result in measureable success, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General--as heads of the two lead agencies responsible for coordinating CVE efforts--should direct the CVE Task Force to establish and implement a process to assess overall progress in CVE, including its effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CVE Task Force officials stated that they have begun consulting with departments and agencies that have already invested in CVE program assessment and are developing a research-based framework for designing and assessing CVE metrics. The CVE Task Force plans to report to the White House Homeland Security Advisor on their implementation progress in January 2018. GAO will continue to monitor the CVE Task Force's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To help identify what domestic CVE efforts are to achieve and the extent to which investments in CVE result in measureable success, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General--as heads of the two lead agencies responsible for coordinating CVE efforts--should direct the CVE Task Force to establish and implement a process to assess overall progress in CVE, including its effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CVE Task Force officials stated that they have begun consulting with departments and agencies that have already invested in CVE program assessment and are developing a research-based framework for designing and assessing CVE metrics. The CVE Task Force plans to report to the White House Homeland Security Advisor on their implementation progress in January 2018. GAO will continue to monitor the CVE Task Force's progress in this area.
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that C-TPAT program managers are provided consistent data from the C-TPAT field offices on security validations, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should develop standardized guidance for the C-TPAT field offices to use in tracking and reporting information on the number of required and completed security validations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: On April 28, 2017, CBP officials provided documentation--a common worksheet, instructions, and related standard operating procedures for C-TPAT field offices to use in tracking and reporting information to headquarters staff on security validations required and completed. We reviewed the information and interviewed C-TPAT officials in two field offices and C-TPAT's Plans and Operations Branch, which is responsible for overseeing these efforts, about the new procedures. In early August 2017, we asked for additional evidence that C-TPAT is ensuring one standard approach across its field offices for capturing and reporting security validations required and completed. The BBP liaison informed us that C-TPAT officials are to provide the additional evidence by the end of September 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the availability of complete and accurate data for managing the C-TPAT program and establishing and maintaining reliable indicators on the extent to which C-TPAT members receive benefits, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should determine the specific problems that have led to questionable data contained in the Dashboard and develop an action plan, with milestones and completion dates, for correcting the data so that the C-TPAT program can produce accurate and reliable data for measuring C-TPAT member benefits.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: On July 28, 2017, CBP provided us with documentation, to include: a schedule of completed and planned activities related to refining data reporting system requirements, testing of preliminary results from new data runs, developing a reporting system for tracking security examination rates, and a copy of the results of a preliminary data run identifying shipment examination rates by mode of transportation and C-TPAT member Tier level. CBP staff informed us that the steps being taken to address this recommendation are to continue through the end of the 2017. In the interim, we are reviewing the documents CBP provided to determine what, if any, additional information we may need to assess progress in addressing this recommendation.
    Director: John Pendleton
    Phone: (404) 679-1816

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide additional information for congressional decision makers regarding DOD's budget, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), in consultation with the OMB, to reevaluate and revise the criteria for determining what can be included in DOD's OCO budget requests to reflect current OCO-related activities and relevant budget policy directing in which budget requests OCO funds may be included.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have not taken action on our recommendation. In DOD's response to a draft of our report, DOD concurred with our first recommendation and stated it planned to propose updated criteria to OMB to reflect current and evolving threats and reflect any changes in overseas contingency operations policy under the new Administration. As of June 2017, neither OMB nor DOD has publically released updated criteria, and DOD has not made any updates to Volume 12, Chapter 23 of its Financial Management Regulation that governs contingency operations to reflect the criteria. According to an official at DOD, at this time, there are no updates to the criteria for determining what can be included in DOD's overseas contingency operations budget request nor are there efforts underway between DOD and OMB to update the criteria. In addition, DOD's fiscal year 2018 budget request continued to include activities that our report identified as not being specifically addressed in the OMB criteria, including operations in Syria, the European Reassurance Initiative, and security cooperation funds (formerly the known as the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund).
    Recommendation: To assist decision makers in formulating DOD's future budgets, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) to develop a complete and reliable estimate of DOD's enduring OCO costs and to report these costs in concert with the department's future budget requests, and to use the estimate as a foundation for any future efforts to transition enduring costs to DOD's base budget.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The department has not, as yet, responded to our recommendation, and DOD's fiscal year 2018 budget request, issued in May 2017, did not include an estimate of its enduring overseas contingency operations costs as we had recommended. In its response to our draft report, DOD partially concurred with our recommendation and commented that developing reliable estimates is an important first step in any future effort to transition these costs to the base budget. However, DOD stated that until there is relief from the budgetary caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011, DOD would need overseas contingency operations funds to finance counterterrorism operations, such as Operation Freedom's Sentinel and Operation Inherent Resolve. DOD also offered no plans to take action to address this recommendation in its response to our draft report.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve management of and reporting on the Global Train and Equip program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to ensure that documentation requested in project proposal packages is complete.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation in its official comment letter included as an appendix in GAO-16-368, published in May 2016. As of June 2017, DOD had not provided us evidence that they have taken steps to ensure project proposal packages include all requested documentation. GAO will continue to monitor relevant DOD efforts in conducting related work.
    Recommendation: To improve management of and reporting on the Global Train and Equip program, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to develop a process for improving the timely completion and submission of required assessment reports to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: At the time of our April 2016 report, DOD was required to complete annual assessment reports on the section 10 U.S.C. Section 2282 Global Train and Equip program. However, the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) repealed the authorization for the Global Train and Equip program, including the annual reporting requirement, effective 270 days after the NDAA's enactment on December 23, 2016, or (September 19, 2017). In February 2017, DOD submitted its assessments for fiscal year 2016.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given that countering violent extremism is a priority for the U.S. government in general and State's Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT Bureau), the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that CVE program efforts abroad are evaluated.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the CT Bureau indicated that a third-party evaluation of the CVE program has been completed. The evaluation focused on process and programming, including all CVE projects funded between fiscal years 2012 and 2016 and resulted in two related but disparate sets of recommendations and findings. The CT Bureau indicated that it has begun incorporating the recommendations made in the evaluation into its overall CVE efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve State's CT Bureau's program management efforts, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure the Bureau of Counterterrorism establishes specific time frames for addressing recommendations from program evaluations.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, the CT Bureau indicated it is in the process of reviewing recommendations from the CVE evaluation, and will soon be assigning timelines to those recommendations that the bureau deems relevant and achievable. For other evaluations, the CT Bureau indicated that it has already acknowledged the need to assign specific timelines to evaluation recommendations and has adjusted accordingly.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve the ability of U.S. government agencies and others to assess the timeliness of U.S. security assistance to Yemen, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to improve the accuracy of data used to track when Section 1206 projects are congressionally cleared for implementation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD officials indicated that they will correct the historical congressional notification clearance data for Yemen and ensure it is correct going forward, with the goal of having correct data by May, 2015. They also noted there is a policy in place requiring the congressional notification clearance date entered into the database to be drawn from the e-mail from the DOD Comptroller's office indicating the clearance date. In order to correct the historical data, DOD will try to find documents showing the actual clearance dates, but when those are unavailable, DOD will add fifteen days to the date of the congressional notification. As of June 2017, DOD had not provided documentation in response to our requests for a status update regarding this recommendation. We will monitor these efforts to determine when they have been completed.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Given the significant unobligated balances of about $260 million in the ESF account for Egypt previously allocated for a cash transfer that the administration has stated it no longer intends to carry out, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator should work to develop plans for an alternate use of these funds, in consultation with the appropriate committees of Congress. As part of planning for these funds, State should also consider ways that this funding could potentially be used to offset future budget requests.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, State and USAID generally concurred with our recommendation. State and USAID reported in May 2016 that the agencies had reprogrammed $230 million of the $260 million previously allocated for the cash transfer to the Egyptian government for programs in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt, among other countries. As of May 2017, State and USAID had not yet made a decision on how to best utilize the remaining $30 million. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the timely completion of an evaluation of security assistance to Egypt that is required by State policy, the Secretary of State should establish specific time frames for completing such an evaluation.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State noted that while evaluation of security assistance to Egypt poses challenges, it views evaluation as a critical tool for accountability and program improvement and will continue to pursue a formal evaluation of security assistance to Egypt. As of August 2017, State had not established specific time frames for such an evaluation. However, according to State officials, the department had begun preliminary data collection in anticipation of an evaluation at some point in the future. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to fully implement this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: For elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, the Secretary of State should provide the relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In the absence of such information, State should explain to the congressional committees why it was not included in the strategy.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated December 23, 2014, the Department of State (State) noted that the elements identified in the GAO report as not being adequately addressed by State were matters where the consensus of the intelligence community was that there was not an identifiable threat to counter. GAO's report assessed that State did not address four specific elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012. State's December 2014 letter provided explanations for these four elements, including the availability of information on existing agency websites, briefings provided to Congress, and State's lack of finding that foreign governments showed clear threats. We continue to maintain that the strategy did not include all of the elements that the law stated should be included, and State did not demonstrate that it provided relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In December 2015, State noted that it remains in close contact with the relevant congressional committees across a range of security, economic and political with regard to the Western Hemisphere on a regular and continuing basis. State further noted that it provided an oral briefing along with its original submission of the report to Congress and answered questions posed by Congress. State officials said that they stand ready to provide further information in the appropriate setting should it be requested. However, State did not provide GAO with information about whether it had provided information to Congress specifically for the elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, nor provide additional information about whether State explained to the congressional committees why any absence of such information was not included in the strategy. Furthermore, GAO learned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff that State and the Office of the Director for National Intelligence provided a briefing to the committee regarding Iranian activities in Latin America on February 25, 2016. As of August 2016, GAO did not receive any documents related to the briefings because, according to State, the talking points document was considered deliberative and therefore could not be shared. According to State officials, they continue to monitor the issue and brief Congress as appropriate. As of June 2017, State noted that its position regarding this recommendation and the deliberative nature of the talking points document remains unchanged.
    Director: Jennifer A. Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assess the progress of the Secure Flight program toward achieving its goals, the Transportation Security Administration's Administrator should develop additional measures to address key performance aspects related to each program goal, and ensure these measures clearly identify the activities necessary to achieve progress toward the goal.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions that DHS TSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information. Status last confirmed on 10/26/15.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote coordination as a practice to help avoid overlap, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of ONDCP should work through the Information Sharing and Access Interagency Policy Committee (ISA IPC) or otherwise collaborate to develop a mechanism, such as performance metrics related to coordination, that will allow them to hold field-based information-sharing entities accountable for coordinating with each other and monitor and evaluate the coordination results achieved.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Justice (DOJ), in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), has made progress toward addressing GAO's April 2013 recommendation but has not included all of the relevant field-based information sharing entities in its efforts. Through their involvement in an interagency policy committee within the Executive Office of the President, DHS, DOJ, and ONDCP have developed a mechanism to hold state and urban area fusion centers, Regional Information Sharing System (RISS) centers, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Investigative Support Centers accountable for coordinating their analytical and investigative activities. However, the agencies have not fully addressed the action because DOJ's Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) and Field Intelligence Groups (FIG), two of the five field-based entities included in GAO's April 2013 report, have not participated in the assessment on which the mechanism is based. In December 2015, DHS developed a field-based partners report in which DHS, DOJ and ONDCP reported data for state and urban area fusion centers, RISS centers, and HIDTA Investigative Support Centers. These data were focused on field-based collaboration, including governance, colocation, and other information sharing, analytic, and deconfliction-focused topics. However, the report did not include data for DOJ's JTTFs or FIGs. DOJ has noted that JTTFs and FIGs are different from the other entities because JTTFs are operational law enforcement investigative entities and FIGs provide intelligence support to FBI Field Offices. However, GAO's April 2013 report identified areas in which the missions and activities of JTTFs and FIGs overlapped with those of the other entities and that coordination with other field based entities was important to prevent unnecessary overlap and potential duplication. Considering the exclusion of two of the five entities, the agencies do not have a collective mechanism that can hold FIGS and JTTFs accountable for coordinating with the other field-based information sharing entities and allow the agencies to monitor progress and evaluate results across entities. Such a mechanism can help entities maintain effective relationships when new leadership is assigned and avoid unnecessary overlap in activities, which in turn can help entities to leverage scarce resources. As of March 2017, DOJ had provided no new updates. GAO will continue to monitor DOJ's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To help identify where agencies and the field-based entities they support could apply coordination mechanisms to enhance information sharing and reduce inefficiencies resulting from overlap, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and the Director of ONDCP should work through the ISA IPC or otherwise collaborate to identify characteristics of entities and assess specific geographic areas in which practices that could enhance coordination and reduce unnecessary overlap, such as cross-entity participation on governance boards and colocation of entities, could be further applied. The results of this assessment could be used by the agencies to provide recommendations or guidance to the entities to create coordinated governance boards or colocate entities, which can result in increased efficiencies through shared facilities and resources and reduced overlap through coordinated or collaborative products, activities, and services.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Justice (DOJ), in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), has made progress toward addressing GAO's April 2013 recommendation but has not included all of the relevant field-based information sharing entities in its efforts. The three agencies have taken the necessary steps to assess the extent to which practices that can enhance coordination are being implemented at state and urban area fusion centers, Regional Information Sharing System (RISS) centers, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Investigative Support Centers through their involvement in an interagency policy committee within the Executive Office of the President. However, the assessment did not include DOJ's Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) or Field Intelligence Groups (FIG), two of the five field-based entities included in GAO's April 2013 report. In December 2015, DHS, DOJ, and ONDCP developed a field-based partners report in which DOJ and ONDCP collected and reported data elements for RISS centers and HIDTA Investigative Support Centers similar to those DHS uses in its annual fusion center assessment. These data were focused on field-based collaboration, including governance, colocation, and other information sharing, analytic, and deconfliction-focused topics. However, the report did not include data for DOJ's FBI JTTFs or FIGs. A collaborative assessment of where practices that enhance coordination can be applied to reduce overlap, collaborate, and leverage resources for all five field-based information-sharing entities would allow the agencies to provide recommendations or guidance to the entities on implementing these practices. As of March 2017, DOJ had provided no new updates. GAO will continue to monitor DOJ's progress in this area.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that an assessment of practices that could enhance coordination and reduce unnecessary overlap is shared and used to further enhance collaboration and efficiencies across agencies, the Program Manager, with input from the ISA IPC collaborating agencies, should report in the Information Sharing Environment (ISE) annual report to Congress the results of the assessment, including any additional coordination practices identified, efficiencies realized, or actions planned.

    Agency: Office of the Director of National Intelligence: Office of the Program Manager--Information Sharing Environment
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information. Status last updated August 31, 2017.