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    Subject Term: Exporting

    4 publications with a total of 5 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve federal-state collaboration in providing export promotion services in accordance with the National Export Initiative, and the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, the Secretary of Commerce, as Chair of the TPCC, should take steps consistent with key practices to enhance, where possible, federal information sharing with state trade offices on Commerce's export promotion activities. This could include more formal guidance to Commerce staff regarding the circumstances, in light of legal restrictions, in which information can be shared with state trade offices and other nonfederal entities, and exploring ways for clients to give permission to release information useful to such nonfederal entities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) notified GAO that it did not fully concur with GAO's May 2014 recommendation, preferring instead to maintain a case-by-case approach rather than issuing more formal guidance on federal information sharing with state trade offices. According to Commerce, as of March 2016, the agency was in the process of implementing a new client relationship management system. Commerce officials said that as future iterations of this system and public websites come online, they would seek to identify ways for clients to give permission to release information useful to other federal agencies, state trade offices, and other local service providers. In February 2016, Congress passed The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Public Law 114-125, which requires that within a year of the act's passing, Commerce must develop a federal-state export promotion coordination plan that addresses, among other things, information sharing between federal and state trade offices. The act also requires Commerce and state trade promotion agencies to develop a framework to share information on export successes, and report to Congress on this framework within a year of the law's enactment. Later in 2016, Commerce officials began holding monthly calls with SIDO and state trade offices to share information on topics such as client intake, performance measures, and new federal export promotion activities. In March 2017, Commerce officials informed GAO that after further review of information-sharing limitations under the Trade Secrets Act, Commerce has determined that Written Impact Narratives (WINs) that have been approved for public use by the clients can be shared with State trade agencies. Commerce is currently developing a policy to ensure they are shared in a timely manner. In addition, the newly formed Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) state and federal export promotion working group is expected to create a framework for information sharing. Without greater information sharing in the provision of similar services, Commerce will likely be limited in its ability to help ensure that export promotion services are efficiently managed across federal and state efforts, and that resources are appropriately leveraged.
    Recommendation: To improve federal-state collaboration in providing export promotion services in accordance with the National Export Initiative, and the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, the Secretary of Commerce, as Chair of the TPCC, should take steps consistent with key practices for collaboration to enhance TPCC agencies' partnering on export promotion with nonfederal entities, such as State International Development Organizations and Global Cities. This could include reassessing and strengthening the TPCC's intergovernmental partnerships by clarifying expected outcomes, defining roles and responsibilities, monitoring results, and planning resource needs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which is responsible for providing a unified national framework for export promotion, have taken some steps to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion, as GAO recommended in May 2014 and as called for in a subsequent law. In February 2016, Congress passed The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Public Law 114-125, which according to the State International Development Organizations (SIDO), contained provisions intended to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion. First, the act directs the President to establish a state and federal export promotion coordination working group as a subcommittee of the TPCC and appoint at least one representative from a state trade promotion agency to the TPCC. Second, beginning in February 2017, the act requires Commerce to annually submit to the TPCC a federal-state export strategy for each state that submits its export strategy to Commerce for that year that, among other things, addresses efforts to reduce duplication. Third, the act requires Commerce and state trade promotion agencies to develop a coordinated set of performance metrics, and report to Congress on these metrics within a year of the law's enactment. Fourth, the act mandates an annual survey and analysis, in coordination with state trade promotion agencies, of the overall effectiveness of federal-state coordination in export promotion. In April 2016 Commerce and SIDO signed a memorandum of intent to develop joint strategies and implement activities to enhance federal and state agency coordination and cooperation . In September 2016 Commerce issued a Federal Register Notice announcing the establishment of a state and federal export promotion coordination working group under the TPCC. The Secretary of Commerce appointed 14 members to this new working group in January 2017, which has met several times according to Commerce officials. The working group is developing a federal-state export coordination strategy that is expected to define roles and responsibilities, among other things. Successfully completing these activities is important, because without joint federal-state planning, programs at different levels of government will likely continue to be duplicative, and effective resource planning will likely be hampered.
    Director: David Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve policymakers' and the public's understanding of progress through bilateral dialogues in increasing access to China's markets, the U.S. Trade Representative, in conjunction with the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Treasury, should work to provide clearer and more comprehensive reporting on the status of China's implementation of its JCCT and S&ED trade and investment commitments. This reporting should include more complete information on the status of implementation of these commitments, as well as a more clearly identified source for consolidated information, which could be an existing report.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
    Status: Open

    Comments: USTR has taken steps to implement this recommendation, but additional information on the status of specific commitments would further improve understanding of progress in these bilateral dialogues. USTR made changes to the Chinese trade barriers reporting in its 2014 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE report) to align more closely with other Congressional reports prepared by USTR on related issues. USTR also provided updated information in that NTE report on China's compliance with a commitment that had not been reported on in earlier reports. Further, USTR identified the Report to Congress on China's WTO Compliance as the one report among the various annual reports prepared by USTR that provides comprehensive information on the status of the trade and investment commitments that China has made through the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) and the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED). As of July 2017, GAO is continuing to track agency progress in reporting on these commitments.
    Director: Gianopoulos, Kimberly M
    Phone: (202)512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the consistency, comprehensiveness, and transparency of information provided to Congress and policymakers on the federal investment in export promotion programs, the Secretary of Commerce, as chair of the TPCC, should report in its National Export Strategies on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with priorities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) has not yet reported in its National Export Strategies (NES) on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with the strategy's priorities. The TPCC did not issue National Export Strategies in fiscal years 2014 or 2015, but did issue one in 2016, but it did not include any budget information. According to TPCC Secretariat officials, as of June 2017 they had collected budget information arrayed by strategic categories from most of the principle TPCC agencies and were considering sending it to congressional stakeholders outside of an NES. However, the new 2017 budget and proposed 2018 budget from the new administration may make the information they have collected out of date.
    Director: Yager, Loren
    Phone: (202)512-4347

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To more effectively implement SBA's expansion of OIT field staff as required by the SBJA, the Administrator of the SBA should update SBA's plan for additional OIT staff to include funding sources and time frames, as well as possible efficiencies from clearly defining roles and responsibilities and leveraging other entities' export assistance resources.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: SBA concurred with our recommendations and noted that SBA would work to implement the recommendations. SBA agreed that it intends to respond to staffing requirements of the SBJA while acknowledging resource constraints in its next annual report to Congress. In November 2014, SBA officials said that SBA was in the process of evaluating the impact of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments (VSIP) retirements that took place at the end of September 2014 and was developing a plan for reallocating full-time employees (FTEs). They said that at the end of this process, SBA would have a better understanding of the impact on current and future USEAC staffing levels. In September 2015, SBA stated that it was still in the process of evaluating the impact of the VERA/VSIP retirements that took place at the end of September 2014, and was developing a plan for current and future FTEs. In February 2016, SBA's Office of International Trade (OIT) reported that in the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, it was able to fill the 21st of 30 USEAC-based Export Finance Specialist positions. OIT also reported that it has prepared an updated staffing proposal for the remaining nine positions called for under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. OIT noted that filling the remaining nine positions would depend on their receiving additional agency funding. SBA needs to provide documentation of its plan for complying with staffing requirements in the Small Business Jobs Act, or provide evidence that they have reallocated resources to actually do so. As of March 2017, SBA's new leadership was reviewing agency budget and staffing needs and had not provided us with a proposal for filling the remaining positions.