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    Subject Term: Entrepreneurs

    3 publications with a total of 16 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure SB/SE's audit selection program meets its mission and selects returns fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should clearly define and document the key term "fairness" for return selection activities.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to incorporate a definition of fairness into the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), which serves as a single point of reference for guidance to IRS examiners. In February 2016, the Deputy Commissioner of Services and Enforcement (S&E) reiterated IRS's definition of fairness in the examination process to S&E employees. In January 2017, IRS issued interim guidance on fairness in examination case selection. IRS officials said that this guidance is considered "final" until the IRM is updated, no later than January 2019. In February 2017, IRS issued an article on its IRWeb and a message from the Deputy Commissioner S&E on defining fairness in the exam process. We are awaiting resolution of how this definition will be used in three other recommendations on communicating examples as well as developing both a related objective and measure.
    Recommendation: To help ensure SB/SE's audit selection program meets its mission and selects returns fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should clearly communicate examples of fair selections to staff to better assure consistent understanding.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to communicate examples of fairness to managers and examiners involved in selecting tax returns for examination. In March 2017, the Director of IRS Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE) Examination-Headquarters issued a memo to SB/SE examination directors that included examples illustrating the fairness definition in return selection. The examples were to be shared with directors, management, and examiners involved in return selection. To close this recommendation, we are waiting for resolution of how the fairness definition will be implemented through related recommendations on developing program objectives and measures assessing fairness in return selection.
    Recommendation: To help ensure SB/SE's audit selection program meets its mission and selects returns fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop, document, and implement program-level objective(s) to evaluate whether the return selection process is meeting its mission of applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to review its current objectives for the SB/SE examination program and found that an additional program-level objective to evaluate fairness in the return selection was necessary. The new objective is "Ensure examinations are initiated based on indicators of noncomplicance. In addition, ensure a review of the decisions to survey a return (i.e., not initiate an examination) are based on upon factors outlined in the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) and approved by an appropriate level of management." In March 2017, IRS issued interim guidance communicating the new objective, which was sent to Examination Directors. The guidance and objective were also posted on the IRweb, which is available to all IRS employees. IRS officials said that the interim guidance is considered final until it can be incorporated into the IRM, which should be done within 2 years of when the interim guidance is issued. We are awaiting IRS's response to a related recommendation on developing a measure for this selection objective before deciding to close this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that SB/SE's audit selection objective(s) on fairness are used and met, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop, document, and implement related performance measures that would allow SB/SE to determine how well the selection of returns for audit meets the new objective(s).

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to develop, document, and implement additional performance measures if new objectives related to fair return selection were implemented. In March 2017, IRS developed a new objective on fair return selection. In April 2017, IRS officials said that they were working on performance measures related to the new objective on fair return selection. They plan to meet with GAO in 1-2 months to obtain our feedback on the measures.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that SB/SE's audit selection objective(s) on fairness are used and met, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should incorporate the new objective(s) for fair return selection into the SB/SE risk management system to help identify and analyze potential risks to fair selections.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to consider any new objectives related to fair return selection within SB/SE's current risk management process framework. In March and April 2017, SB/SE developed a tool (RAFT) to include the fair selection objective (and related activities) into its risk register, which is monitored quarterly. IRS provided documentation from the Exam Risk Council meeting that they have discussed and assessed these risks. IRS is still working on documentation to show they are addressing our recommendations and the associated risks. IRS officials said the documentation is due in August 2017.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop and implement consistent documentation requirements to clarify the reasons for selecting a return for audit and who reviewed and approved the selection decision.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to evaluate the need to improve its documentation of return selection decisions and the review and approval process. In March 2017, various IRS functions completed templates showing the current status of return selection documentation requirements. As a result, they found that they could improve the consistency and clarity in documentation, approval and review requirements across workstreams by clearly defining procedures and ensuring they are formally documented in the IRM. The Director of Exam Case Selection issued a memo directing that documentation requirements be made consistent in the IRM. IRS officials said that revised documentation requirements are due in August 2017, with IRM incorporation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop, document, and implement monitoring procedures to ensure that decisions made and coding used to select returns for audit are appropriate.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to review its current procedures for monitoring return selection decisions and coding used to select returns. In April 2017, IRS officials provided documentation showing they had reviewed campus examination selection dollar thresholds and campus source code definitions. They found that improvements could be made in clarifying source code definitions and reviewing dollar thresholds used to categorize and select, respectively, returns for examination. IRS has issued an IRM procedural update to implement these changes. During our meeting with IRS, we clarified that our recommendation covered monitoring selection decisions more broadly, which IRS acknowledged. Officials said that additional documentation on monitoring selection decisions will be due by August 2017.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that participating agencies and SBA comply with spending and reporting requirements for the SBIR and STTR programs, the SBA Administrator should provide Congress with a timely annual report that includes a comprehensive analysis of the methodology each agency used for calculating the SBIR and STTR spending requirements, providing a clear basis for SBA's conclusions about whether these calculations meet program requirements.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to SBA officials, as of April 2017, SBA had completed a draft of its report to Congress for fiscal year 2014 and planned to send it to the participating agencies and Office of Management and Budget for review after SBA completed its internal review. The officials said that the report for fiscal year 2015 is being drafted, and SBA is in the process of reviewing the participating agencies' data for fiscal year 2016, which was due to SBA in March 2017. As of April 2017, SBA did not have an anticipated issuance date for the reports to Congress for fiscal years 2014, 2015, or 2016.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202)512-4325

    8 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, USDA noted that its Rural Business-Cooperative Service had implemented procedures to improve data collected on program performance, including procedures to validate data entered into its Guarantee Loan System. In addition, USDA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce?s Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for USDA to follow through on the initiatives described above.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it announced additional reporting requirements for grantees as part of its Fiscal Year 2017 Economic Development Assistance Programs federal funding opportunity that are intended to improve program evaluation. EDA added that it plans to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize the new survey forms needed to implement the new requirements with a goal of piloting them in fiscal year 2017. In addition, Commerce participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for Commerce to follow through on the initiatives described above.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD noted that the department had completed its effort to clean up its Community Development Block Grant data and is working to resolve issues with grantees for which costs have been disallowed. HUD expects to resolve these issues by December 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, SBA noted that it continues to evaluate its entrepreneurial development programs through third-party evaluations and limited data collected from their resource partners and will use this information to guide program development. In addition, SBA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for SBA to follow through on the initiatives described above and collect information for the additional six programs identified in our report as lacking information.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, USDA noted that its Rural Business-Cooperative Service had implemented procedures to improve data collected on program performance, including procedures to validate data entered into its Guarantee Loan System. In addition, USDA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for USDA to follow through on the initiatives described above that are intended to improve the evaluation of programs that provide assistance to entrepreneurs.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it announced additional reporting requirements for grantees as part of its Fiscal Year 2017 Economic Development Assistance Programs federal funding opportunity that are intended to improve program evaluation. EDA added that it plans to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize the new survey forms needed to implement the new requirements with a goal of piloting them in fiscal year 2017. In addition, Commerce participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for Commerce to follow through on the initiatives described above and conduct evaluations of the three economic development programs that have not yet been assessed.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD noted that the department had completed its effort to clean up its Community Development Block Grant data and is working to resolve issues with grantees for which costs have been disallowed. HUD expects to resolve these issues by December 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, SBA noted that it had taken a number of steps to build its program evaluation function, including (1) hiring its first lead program evaluator in August 2016 to manage new and coordinate ongoing agency program evaluations, (2) drafting a program evaluation framework that will support the agency's efforts to conduct, monitor, and implement findings from evaluations, and (3) creating a performance and evaluation community of practice that meets on a monthly basis to discuss program evaluation principles and address questions for the framework (e.g., data sharing, definitions, learning agendas). SBA expects to start new program evaluations in 2017. In addition, SBA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for SBA to follow through on the initiatives described above that are intended to improve the evaluation of programs that provide assistance to entrepreneurs.