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    Subject Term: Fees

    17 publications with a total of 36 open recommendations
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the transparency and timeliness of NRC's fee-setting process, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should direct NRC staff to clearly present information in NRC's proposed fee rule, final fee rule, and fee work papers, by defining and consistently using key terms, providing complete calculations for how fees are determined, and ensuring the accuracy of the fee rules and work papers, so that stakeholders can understand fee calculations and provide substantive comments to the agency on them.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to NRC, it has provided more detailed explanations and calculations in its fiscal year 2017 proposed fee rule. The agency plans to propose codifying some of these changes in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 170 during its fiscal year 2018 fee rulemaking. We will review NRC's changes after it has codified them in the Code of Federal Regulations and will update the status of this recommendation at that time.
    Recommendation: To enhance the transparency and timeliness of NRC's fee-setting process, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should direct NRC staff to develop objective, measurable, and quantifiable performance goals and measures that enable NRC to assess the extent to which its efforts to improve transparency and timeliness are successful and implement a plan and schedule for comparing results with the established performance goals.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: NRC convened a steering committee to provide leadership for implementing its efforts to improve transparency and timeliness of its fee-setting process. According to NRC, the steering committee has developed performance measures to gauge success and will monitor planned activities to compare results with the performance goals. We will review NRC's activities to improve transparency and timeliness, as well as the steering committee's actions to measure and monitor success. We will update the status of this recommendation upon completion of our review.
    Director: Susan Irving
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the reserve target SEC set for PCAOB safeguards against realistic risks and probable contingencies, including potential unforeseen funding delays, the SEC Chair, in exercising the commission's authority to oversee PCAOB, should analyze--and document the analysis of--program needs and probable contingencies, in consultation with PCAOB as appropriate.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reported in January 2017 that it will coordinate further with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) staff as the PCAOB analyzes, with review by the SEC, their program costs and risks to ensure that the operating reserve reflects current needs and probable contingencies and that the analysis is documented.
    Director: Andrew Von Ah
    Phone: (213) 830-1011

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to document the processes and analyses for assessing and, as appropriate, for managing the difference between program costs and collections and document resulting decisions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS's Fee Governance Council, led by the Deputy CFO plans to draft and publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to documenting the processes and analyses for assessing and managing the difference between program costs and collections and document resulting decisions. The Council is currently working to establish interim milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to establish processes for managing unobligated carryover balances, to include targets for minimum and maximum balances for programs that lack such processes and targets.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Fee Governance Council will draft and publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to managing unobligated carryover balances. The Council is currently working to develop specific milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to conduct reviews to identify any management and operational deficiencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The DHS Fee Governance Council plans to publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to how components conduct studies of fee programs to identify any management or operational deficiencies. The Council is currently working to establish specific milestones associated with this objective.
    Recommendation: To ensure effective management and oversight of DHS programs receiving fees and other collections, and to ensure that component management take the following actions for each fee and other collections program that they administer, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the DHS Chief Financial Officer to use some means, such as the DHS Fee Governance Council, to take action to track and report on management and operational deficiencies--including reasons supporting any decisions to not pursue recommended actions--identified in fee reviews or through other means.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The DHS Fee Governance Council will publish a revised section of the Financial Management Policy Manual devoted to how regular biennial reviews are conducted at DHS and how any findings and recommendations on management and operational deficiencies identified in these fee studies are tracked and reported.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve its management of recreation fees, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Park Service to revise its guidance on recreation fees so that the agency periodically reviews its entrance fees to determine whether the fees are reasonable.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its initial response to our published report, the Park Service stated that it plans to revise Reference Manual 22A: Recreation Fee Collection (RM22A). This revision will include a requirement to reevaluate the entrance fee pricing structure every 3 years. The Park Service last reviewed and updated the fee schedule in August 2014. As of November 2016, the Park Service told GAO that it was planning to review its fee schedule on a 3-year cycle, so the next review will be in 2017. The agency also reported that it was on track to update its guidance to reflect this new schedule, but has not yet completed this effort. We will continue to monitor agency progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To be able to identify and address problems that may occur and thus help ensure a smooth transition, the Secretary of Defense should require the Defense Health Agency ensure that planning documents for the expansion include specific requirements to continuously monitor affected beneficiaries, including whether (1) covered medications are available and filled in a timely and accurate manner through mail order and across MTF pharmacies; and (2) beneficiaries are satisfied with the transition to mail order and MTF pharmacies.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2016, DOD has not provided information that it plans to separately track through mail order and military treatment facilities the availability, timeliness, and accuracy of prescriptions filled by beneficiaries affected by the expansion of the TRICARE pharmacy pilot. Similarly, DOD has not provided information that it plans to separately track through mail order and military treatment facilities the satisfaction of beneficiaries affected by the expansion of the TRICARE pharmacy pilot.
    Director: Johana Ayers
    Phone: (202) 512-5741

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, in consultation with the Office of the DCMO, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on DOD's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2015, DOD updated its conference approval guidelines. According to DOD, these guidelines were designed to facilitate conference participation and attendance by DOD employees. The updated guidelines now treat conference attendance as Temporary Duty/Temporary Assigned Duty, and delegate approval authority to the lowest level possible. However, DOD has not yet implemented a requirement to develop a plan and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences as of June 2016 because officials in the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer believe this recommendation in GAO-15-278 is no longer applicable as a result of its updated conference approval guidelines. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOD to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator of NNSA and the relevant national lab directors, in consultation with DOE's Office of Management, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on NNSA's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2015, DOE updated its conference management policies and procedures to, among other things, expedite the conference attendance approval process by establishing timeframes for review and approval. According to DOE, as of September 2016, streamlining the conference approval process eliminates the need to periodically evaluate risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOE to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Director: Cary B Russell
    Phone: (202) 512-5431

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help DOD to improve the overall management of shipping containers for current and future contingencies, and to more fully incorporate recommendations into its policy and guidance and to ensure that improvements to container management will be sustained for future contingencies, the Secretary of Defense should develop a comprehensive list of recommendations made by DOD agencies and other organizations, and make the information available for policymakers to incorporate, as appropriate, into new or existing container-management policy and guidance. DOD could use our work as a starting point for this assessment.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation and requested that GAO provide a listing of the recommendations we identified during this review to use as a starting point for its assessment. After we provided the listing of 95 recommendations, DOD added an additional 7 recommendations DOD identified through an independent assessment from the Institute for Defense Analysis. DOD then reviewed each of the recommendations for Departmental-level policy and guidance implications. As a result, after we completed our review in 2014, the Department has been making improvements in container management. For example, according to a DOD official, the department is revising DOD Instruction 4500.57, "Transportation and Traffic Management" to include specific container management responsibilities for combatant commanders, provisions for use of intermodal containers during contingency operations, container management definitions, and policy on use of the Joint Container Management System. Additionally, the Campaign Plan for Global Distribution 9033 is being revised to require each geographic combatant command to publish a Theater Distribution Plan and provides a standardized template to promote uniformity. Finally, according to DOD officials, the Universal Services Contract for sealift includes provisions for container detention and buyouts that are more favorable to the Government in reducing detention costs. As of September 2017, DOD has made progress toward implementation. For example, the department revised DOD Instruction 4500.57 "Transportation and Traffic Management" in March 2017 and included specific container management responsibilities for combatant commanders, provisions for use of intermodal containers during contingency operations, container management definitions, and policy on use of the Joint Container Management System. Also, DOD updated the Universal Services Contract 8 in January 2016 with provisions such as lower container buyout costs that are more favorable to the government in reducing costs than the contract from the prior year. Currently, the department's draft global campaign plan that includes commanders' responsibilities for managing containers is awaiting final approval. GAO is awaiting additional information from DOD such as other provisions in the container management contract that will assist the government in reducing costs, and final approval of DOD's plan.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure agencies can more fully implement their monitoring policy and guidance related to recruitment of foreign workers, the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should each develop, as part of their agency policy and guidance, a more precise definition of recruitment fees, including permissible components and amounts.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of the report, the Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation and indicated that it would define recruitment fees as part of the next review of DOD policy on combating trafficking in persons. In January 2015, DOD and other agencies issued a final rule in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) that prohibits charging employees any recruitment fees; however, this rule did not provide a precise definition of such fees. In May 2016, DOD and others proposed a new FAR rule defining "recruitment fees." The public comment period for this proposed rule ended in July 2016, and, as of August 2017, the proposed rule was in process. In addition, DOD has updated its policy and guidance on combating trafficking in persons, most recently in June 2015. GAO is monitoring these efforts and will provide an update once the proposed FAR rule is finalized.
    Recommendation: To help ensure agencies can more fully implement their monitoring policy and guidance related to recruitment of foreign workers, the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should each develop, as part of their agency policy and guidance, a more precise definition of recruitment fees, including permissible components and amounts.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on a draft of this report, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) noted that a proposed amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) on combating Trafficking in Persons (TIP) contained language that would prohibit charging contractor employees any recruitment fees. In January 2015, the final FAR rule was issued, prohibiting employers from charging employees any recruitment fees on government contracts; however, this rule did not provide a precise definition of such fees. In May 2016, a new FAR rule defining "recruitment fees," which would apply to USAID, among others, was proposed. The public comment period for this proposed rule ended in July 2016, and, as of August 2017, the proposed rule in process, GAO is monitoring the status of these actions and will provide an update on USAID's activities to define components of recruitment fees once the proposed FAR rule is finalized.
    Recommendation: To help improve agencies' abilities to detect potential TIP abuses and implement the U.S. government's zero tolerance policy, the Secretaries of Defense and State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development should each take actions to better ensure that contracting officials specifically include TIP in monitoring plans and processes, especially in areas where the risk of trafficking is high. Such actions could include developing a process for auditing efforts to combat TIP or ensuring that officials responsible for contract monitoring are aware of all relevant acquisition policy and guidance on combating TIP.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on a draft of the report, the Department of Defense (DOD) concurred with this recommendation and indicated that it would update the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) accordingly once the final Federal Acquisition Regulation on Ending Trafficking in Persons had been published. In January 2015, DOD updated the DFARS to include a sample checklist for auditing compliance with Combating Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) policy. This checklist reiterates the U.S. government's zero tolerance policy regarding trafficking in persons and includes, among other items, questions regarding contractors' treatment of employee passports and other identification documents. In addition, in September 2017, DOD reported that it had developed and mandated acquisition training for DOD military and civilian contracting employees. U.S. Central Command has also created a CTIP Program Manager position in Afghanistan, which ensures that CTIP training is provided to contracting officials in that country. GAO is monitoring these efforts and will provide an update on DOD's progress as more information becomes available.
    Director: Mathew J.Scirè
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the viability and safety of manufactured housing produced in accordance with the HUD Code, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development should develop a plan to assess how FHA financing might further promote the affordability of manufactured homes and identify the potential for better securitization of manufactured housing financing.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the viability and safety of manufactured housing produced in accordance with the HUD Code, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development should strengthen the oversight of inspections and enforcement-related activities by (1) consistently documenting actions taken to resolve recommendations from completed audits and the outcome of such actions, (2) completing a Transition Plan for the monitoring contractor activity, and (3) exploring the feasibility of developing a cost-effective systematic process for collecting and evaluating information on the content of complaints.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that Congress, stakeholders, and agencies have complete information about changing costs and whether a fee needs to be changed, HUD should complete the necessary rulemaking changes to allow the Office of Manufactured Housing Programs to adjust its label fees from the $39 per label toward levels up to the congressionally authorized level that better reflect the current levels of manufactured home production, while considering the impact that such fees may have on the industry; put in place a process for regular fee reviews to determine whether the fees currently being charged will allow the program to respond to spikes and surges in label fee revenue and to identify any factors that may drive label fee revenue instability; and identify any additional sources of funding that may mitigate initial revenue shortfalls and the program's fixed and variable costs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that Congress, stakeholders, and agencies have complete information about changing costs and whether a fee needs to be changed, HUD should assess the feasibility, including an analysis of the benefits and costs, of putting in place user fees for its dispute resolution and installation programs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that Congress, stakeholders, and agencies have complete information about changing costs and whether a fee needs to be changed, HUD should establish the goals for use of reserves of the Manufactured Housing Fees Trust Fund, and the minimum and maximum thresholds for the reserves appropriate for meeting these goals.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the viability and safety of manufactured housing produced in accordance with the HUD Code, the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should develop and implement a plan for updating construction and safety standards for manufactured homes on a timely, recurring basis to include: (1) addressing unresolved issues related to defining and developing sufficient economic analyses tied to proposed changes to the construction and safety standards; and (2) ensuring sufficient resources and capacity within HUD and the Manufactured Housing Consensus Committee and its administering organization; or if such a plan cannot be devised and implemented, identify and report to Congress on alternative methods of ensuring the quality, durability, safety, and affordability of manufactured homes, including the possibility of relying more extensively on existing industry standards.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Charlie Jeszeck
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve IRS's enforcement and compliance efforts, decrease the administrative and financial burden of maintaining both electronic and paper-based form processing systems, and reduce plan reporting costs, Congress should consider providing the Department of the Treasury with the authority to require that the Form 5500 series be filed electronically.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 5/31/17, Congress has taken no action.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness, reliability, and comparability of Form 5500 data for all stakeholders while limiting the burden on the filing community, the Secretaries of DOL and Treasury, and the Director of PBGC should consider implementing the findings from our panel when modifying plan investment and service provider fee information, including: (1) revising Schedule H plan asset categories to better match current investment vehicles and provide more transparency into plan investments; (2) revising the Schedule of Assets attachments to create a standard searchable format; (3) developing a central repository for EIN and PN numbers for filers and service providers to improve the comparability of form data across filings; (4) clarifying Schedule C instructions for direct, eligible indirect, and reportable indirect compensation so plan fees are reported more consistently and, as we recommended in the past, better align with the 408(b)(2) fee disclosures; and (5) simplifying and clarify Schedule C service provider codes to increase reporting consistency.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DOL in coordination with IRS and PBGC has implemented cross-year edit checks into EFAST in an effort to improve the consistency in key identifying information, such as the EIN, Plan Number and Plan Name. These checks aim to verify identifying information submitted on the Form 5500 and to notify the filer and government agencies of inconsistencies, which affords filers the ability to review and modify crucial identifying information prior to submission. Additionally, if the filer chooses to submit data that may contain inconsistent information, the edit test indicators provide government users with the ability to more readily detect filings containing potential errors in the identifying information for further review and correction. DOL has also collaborated with PBGC and IRS in issuing proposed revisions to the Form 5500 Series in a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions. The deadline for public comment ended December 5, 2016. The proposed revisions in the Notice reflect efforts of DOL, IRS, and PBGC to improve the Form 5500 reporting for filers, the public, and the agencies by among other things, (1) modernizing financial information filed by regarding plans; (2) updating fee and expense information on plan service providers with a focus on harmonizing annual reporting requirement with DOL's 408(b)(2); financial disclosure requirements; (3) enhancing the ability to mine data files on annual returns/reports; and (4) improving compliance with ERISA and the Code through selected new questions regarding plan operation, service provider relationships, and financial management of plans. Specifically, in the Notice the agencies propose that Schedule H report assets held and assets disposed of during the plan year to provide more transparency and a more complete report of plan's annual investments and that that the Schedule of Assets be revised to require reporting of assets held through direct filing entities. Additionally, the agencies are proposing revisions to the Schedule H, Schedule of Assets that require filers to complete standardized Schedules in a format enabling data to captured electronically. This requirement would enable importation of information from the Schedules of Assets into structured databases that DOL would make available to the public from each year's Form 5500 Series filing. The agencies are also proposing to add clarifying definitions and instructions to improve the consistency of Form 5000 responses. This includes clarification of conventions to identify filers by name and identifying numbers to help mitigate confusion about legal identities with which plans transact and improve comparability of form data across filings. In addition, the agencies also propose revisions to Schedule C to require reporting of indirect compensation for service provider subject to 408(b)(2) requirements and for all compensation that is required to be disclosed. Further, the Schedule C instructions would be clarified to track more closely with the language of the 408(b)(2) regulations. The agencies are also proposing to limit the codes for Schedule C and requiring the filer to more simply indicate all types of services for each provider identified. Additionally, they propose a requirement to indicate all the types of fees/compensation separately when reporting sources of compensation from parties other than plan and plan sponsor. The agencies are reviewing the public comments and expect the process to continue through 2017. While the Agencies have made considerable efforts to address our recommendation in the proposed revisions to the Form 5500, they have not made any decisions on whether to make changes to the forms or DOL regulations, and have not decided on a timeline for implementation of any changes to the form or DOL regulations that the Agencies ultimately may decide to adopt. We will close this recommendation once the revision is final.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness, reliability, and comparability of Form 5500 data for all stakeholders while limiting the burden on the filing community, the Secretaries of DOL and Treasury, and the Director of PBGC should consider implementing the findings from our panel when modifying plan investment and service provider fee information, including: (1) revising Schedule H plan asset categories to better match current investment vehicles and provide more transparency into plan investments; (2) revising the Schedule of Assets attachments to create a standard searchable format; (3) developing a central repository for EIN and PN numbers for filers and service providers to improve the comparability of form data across filings; (4) clarifying Schedule C instructions for direct, eligible indirect, and reportable indirect compensation so plan fees are reported more consistently and, as we recommended in the past, better align with the 408(b)(2) fee disclosures; and (5) simplifying and clarify Schedule C service provider codes to increase reporting consistency.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DOL in coordination with IRS and PBGC has implemented cross-year edit checks into EFAST in an effort to improve the consistency in key identifying information, such as the EIN, Plan Number and Plan Name. These checks aim to verify identifying information submitted on the Form 5500 and to notify the filer and government agencies of inconsistencies, which affords filers the ability to review and modify crucial identifying information prior to submission. Additionally, if the filer chooses to submit data that may contain inconsistent information, the edit test indicators provide government users with the ability to more readily detect filings containing potential errors in the identifying information for further review and correction. IRS has also collaborated with DOL and PBGC in issuing proposed revisions to the Form 5500 Series in a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions. The deadline for public comment ended December 5, 2016. The proposed revisions in the Notice reflect efforts of DOL, IRS, and PBGC to improve the Form 5500 reporting for filers, the public, and the agencies by among other things, (1) modernizing financial information filed by regarding plans; (2) updating fee and expense information on plan service providers with a focus on harmonizing annual reporting requirement with DOL's 408(b)(2); financial disclosure requirements; (3) enhancing the ability to mine data files on annual returns/reports; and (4) improving compliance with ERISA and the Code through selected new questions regarding plan operation, service provider relationships, and financial management of plans. Specifically, in the Notice the agencies propose that Schedule H report assets held and assets disposed of during the plan year to provide more transparency and a more complete report of plan's annual investments and that that the Schedule of Assets be revised to require reporting of assets held through direct filing entities. Additionally, the agencies are proposing revisions to the Schedule H, Schedule of Assets that require filers to complete standardized Schedules in a format enabling data to captured electronically. This requirement would enable importation of information from the Schedules of Assets into structured databases that DOL would make available to the public from each year's Form 5500 Series filing. The agencies are also proposing to add clarifying definitions and instructions to improve the consistency of Form 5000 responses. This includes clarification of conventions to identify filers by name and identifying numbers to help mitigate confusion about legal identities with which plans transact and improve comparability of form data across filings. In addition, the agencies also propose revisions to Schedule C to require reporting of indirect compensation for service provider subject to 408(b)(2) requirements and for all compensation that is required to be disclosed. Further, the Schedule C instructions would be clarified to track more closely with the language of the 408(b)(2) regulations. The agencies are also proposing to limit the codes for Schedule C and requiring the filer to more simply indicate all types of services for each provider identified. Additionally, they propose a requirement to indicate all the types of fees/compensation separately when reporting sources of compensation from parties other than plan and plan sponsor. The agencies are reviewing the public comments and expect the process to continue through 2017. While the Agencies have made considerable efforts to address our recommendation in the proposed revisions to the Form 5500, they have not made any decisions on whether to make changes to the forms or DOL regulations, and have not decided on a timeline for implementation of any changes to the form or DOL regulations that the Agencies ultimately may decide to adopt. We will close this recommendation once the revision is final.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness, reliability, and comparability of Form 5500 data for all stakeholders while limiting the burden on the filing community, the Secretaries of DOL and Treasury, and the Director of PBGC should consider implementing the findings from our panel when modifying plan investment and service provider fee information, including: (1) revising Schedule H plan asset categories to better match current investment vehicles and provide more transparency into plan investments; (2) revising the Schedule of Assets attachments to create a standard searchable format; (3) developing a central repository for EIN and PN numbers for filers and service providers to improve the comparability of form data across filings; (4) clarifying Schedule C instructions for direct, eligible indirect, and reportable indirect compensation so plan fees are reported more consistently and, as we recommended in the past, better align with the 408(b)(2) fee disclosures; and (5) simplifying and clarify Schedule C service provider codes to increase reporting consistency.

    Agency: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DOL in coordination with IRS and PBGC has implemented cross-year edit checks into EFAST in an effort to improve the consistency in key identifying information, such as the EIN, Plan Number and Plan Name. These checks aim to verify identifying information submitted on the Form 5500 and to notify the filer and government agencies of inconsistencies, which affords filers the ability to review and modify crucial identifying information prior to submission. Additionally, if the filer chooses to submit data that may contain inconsistent information, the edit test indicators provide government users with the ability to more readily detect filings containing potential errors in the identifying information for further review and correction. PBDC has also collaborated with DOL and IRS in issuing proposed revisions to the Form 5500 Series in a Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions. The deadline for public comment ended December 5, 2016. The proposed revisions in the Notice reflect efforts of DOL, IRS, and PBGC to improve the Form 5500 reporting for filers, the public, and the agencies by among other things, (1) modernizing financial information filed by regarding plans; (2) updating fee and expense information on plan service providers with a focus on harmonizing annual reporting requirement with DOL's 408(b)(2); financial disclosure requirements; (3) enhancing the ability to mine data files on annual returns/reports; and (4) improving compliance with ERISA and the Code through selected new questions regarding plan operation, service provider relationships, and financial management of plans. Specifically, in the Notice the agencies propose that Schedule H report assets held and assets disposed of during the plan year to provide more transparency and a more complete report of plan's annual investments and that that the Schedule of Assets be revised to require reporting of assets held through direct filing entities. Additionally, the agencies are proposing revisions to the Schedule H, Schedule of Assets that require filers to complete standardized Schedules in a format enabling data to captured electronically. This requirement would enable importation of information from the Schedules of Assets into structured databases that DOL would make available to the public from each year's Form 5500 Series filing. The agencies are also proposing to add clarifying definitions and instructions to improve the consistency of Form 5000 responses. This includes clarification of conventions to identify filers by name and identifying numbers to help mitigate confusion about legal identities with which plans transact and improve comparability of form data across filings. In addition, the agencies also propose revisions to Schedule C to require reporting of indirect compensation for service provider subject to 408(b)(2) requirements and for all compensation that is required to be disclosed. Further, the Schedule C instructions would be clarified to track more closely with the language of the 408(b)(2) regulations. The agencies are also proposing to limit the codes for Schedule C and requiring the filer to more simply indicate all types of services for each provider identified. Additionally, they propose a requirement to indicate all the types of fees/compensation separately when reporting sources of compensation from parties other than plan and plan sponsor. The agencies are reviewing the public comments and expect the process to continue through 2017. While the Agencies have made considerable efforts to address our recommendation in the proposed revisions to the Form 5500, they have not made any decisions on whether to make changes to the forms or DOL regulations, and have not decided on a timeline for implementation of any changes to the form or DOL regulations that the Agencies ultimately may decide to adopt. We will close this recommendation once any revision are made final.
    Director: Irving, Susan J
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In light of declining discretionary budgets, to reduce or eliminate the reliance of the AQI program on taxpayer funding, Congress should consider allowing USDA to set AQI fees to recover the aggregate estimated costs of AQI services--thereby allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to set fee rates to recover the full costs of the AQI program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not passed legislation to give the Secretary of Agriculture authority to set fee rates to fully recover the aggregate costs of agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) services, as GAO suggested in March 2013. In the 114th Congress, the Savings, Accountability, Value, and Efficiency Act of 2015 was introduced in the House and referred to the committees of jurisdiction. The act would require the Secretary of Agriculture to (1) study whether the amount of AQI fees collected cover the aggregate costs of AQI services, and (2) report to Congress the results of the study and any recommendations for ensuring that fees covered costs. The act would not authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to set fee rates to recover the full costs of the AQI program. The current AQI fee authority does not permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set AQI fees to recover the aggregate estimated costs of AQI services. Authorizing the Secretary of Agriculture to set fee rates to recover the full costs of the AQI program would save the federal government money by reducing the program's reliance on U.S. Customs and Border Protection's annual Salaries and Expenses appropriation.
    Recommendation: Congress should consider amending USDA's authorization to assess AQI fees on bus companies, private vessels, and private aircraft and include in those fees the costs of AQI services for the passengers on those buses, private vessels, and private aircraft.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not passed legislation to give the Secretary of Agriculture authority to assess agricultural quarantine inspection (AQI) fees on private vessels, private aircraft, and commercial buses and include in those fees the costs of AQI services for the passengers on those vehicles. In the 114th Congress, the Savings, Accountability, Value, and Efficiency Act of 2015 was introduced in the House and referred to the committees of jurisdiction. The act would require the Secretary of Agriculture to (1) study whether the amount of AQI fees collected cover the aggregate costs of AQI services, and (2) report to Congress the results of the study and any recommendations for ensuring that fees covered costs. The current AQI fee authority does not permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assess AQI fees on private vessels, private aircraft and commerical buses and to recover, through those fees, the costs of AQI services for the passengers on those vehicles.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that up-to-date data are available on the road damages imposed by all vehicles types compared with the revenues each contributes to the Highway Trust Fund, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to revise and publish the agency's Highway Cost Allocation Study and update it periodically as warranted.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, FHWA has not taken steps to revise and publish the agency's Highway Cost Allocation Study. In April 2016, FHWA completed a comprehensive truck size and weight study mandated by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and requested that GAO close this recommendation for FHWA to revise and publish the agency's Highway Cost Allocation Study. However, FHWA's comprehensive truck size and weight study does not include critical information that a Highway Cost Allocation Study would provide. Specifically, FHWA's study lacks information on the cost of road damage imposed by all vehicle types compared with the revenues contributed by those vehicles to the Highway Trust Fund to determine whether user fees are sufficient to cover damage costs. GAO will continue to monitor any efforts by DOT and FHWA to respond to GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Melvin, Valerie C
    Phone: (202)512-6304

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In light of the agency's declining revenue associated with its basic statutory function and the charging for information that is often freely available elsewhere, Congress should consider examining the appropriateness and viability of the fee-based model under which NTIS currently operates for disseminating technical information to determine whether the use of this model should be continued.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not yet enacted legislation to re-examine the fee-based model under which NTIS operates, although it has begun taking actions that give it an opportunity to do so. Specifically, the Department of Commerce Appropriations Acts, 2015, 2016 and 2017, prohibited NTIS from charging customers for reports authored by legislative branch offices unless the agency tells the customer how an electronic copy of the report can be accessed or downloaded for free online. The Act further stated that, if a customer still requires such a report from NTIS, the agency should not charge more than what is needed to recover the cost of processing, reproducing, and delivering the document requested. Additionally, in the 114th Congress, three bills (H.R. 443, S.787, and S.1636) were introduced and referred to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. However, none of these bills were passed. The 115th Congress has yet to consider legislation that would ensure the assessment of the appropriateness or viability of NTIS functions.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider whether FCC's excess fees (approximately $66 million through fiscal year 2011) should be appropriated for FCC's use, or, if not, what the disposition of these funds should be, and whether to change FCC's annual appropriations language to permit reconciliation of excess collections or to govern FCC's handling of any future excess collections.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions Congress has taken in regarding this matter for consideration, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202) 512-4803

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of information on airline-imposed fees and government-imposed taxes and fees for consumers and improve airlines' reporting of fee revenues to the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation should improve the disclosure of baggage fees and policies to passengers, in accordance with DOT guidance, by requiring that U.S. airlines and foreign airlines that fly within or to or from the United States disclose baggage fees and policies along with fare information such that this information can be consistently disclosed across all distribution channels used by the airline.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: A DOT rulemaking (RIN-2105-AE56: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees) is ongoing and could address this recommendation. As of June 2017, the final rule is expected to be published in late 2017/early 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of information on airline-imposed fees and government-imposed taxes and fees for consumers and improve airlines' reporting of fee revenues to the Department of Transportation, the Secretary of Transportation should require U.S. passenger airlines to report to DOT all optional fees paid by passengers related to their trip in a separate account, exclusive of baggage fees and reservation change and cancellation fees.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: A DOT rulemaking (RIN-2105-AE56: Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees) is ongoing and could address this recommendation. As of June 2017, the final rule is expected to be published in late 2017/early 2018.
    Recommendation: If Congress determines that the benefit of added revenue to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund from taxation of optional airline service fees, such as baggage fees, is of importance, then it may wish to consider amending the Internal Revenue Code to make mandatory the taxation of certain or all airline imposed fees and to require that the revenue be deposited in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, Congress has not yet taken action regarding this matter. While amendments have been offered to change the tax treatment of airline fees, none of these amendments have been passed into law. We will continue to monitor this matter and will provide updated information.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness and accountability of FCC's efforts to oversee wireless phone service, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct the commission to develop goals and related measures for FCC's informal complaint-handing efforts that clearly articulate intended outcomes and address important dimensions of performance.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its February 5, 2010 response, FCC stated that it would consider establishing meaningful and measurable outcome-based standards in the context of its efforts to reassess goals for the mediation of informal consumer complaints. FCC noted that it already has basic performance metrics for responding to consumer complaints in a timely manner and will examine ways to automate such responses and provide them by email, which may be more efficient than processing these complaints manually and mailing a paper response. In June 2011, FCC stated it had taken steps to improve its complaint-handling efforts by increasing staff training and beginning an effort to revise its complaint coding and intake process, which it expects to complete by the end of fiscal year 2011. FCC also stated it is considering other enhancements for fiscal year 2012. However, this response did not mention any direct action in response to the recommendation. In May 2012, FCC stated it had begun an effort to improve its informal complaint-handling, including revising its complaint intake and coding procedures with an emphasis on collecting information to enhance policymaking and compliance activities. The response did not specifically mention goals and measures, but said the effort was ongoing and expected to continue through the end of 2012. In August 2013, FCC stated it was considering a proposal for comprehensive reform to its consumer complaint process. The agency hoped to institute performance measures for the consumer complaint process as part of the reform. In June 2014, FCC staff said that the FCC Chairman had set a goal to reform the agency's complaint process by the end of 2014. In August 2016, FCC staff said that the agency is working to develop performance metrics for its complaint-handling efforts. We will continue to follow up with FCC about its efforts.
    Recommendation: To better ensure a systemwide focus in providing oversight of wireless phone service and improve FCC's partnership with state agencies that also oversee this service, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct the commission to develop and issue guidance delineating federal and state authority to regulate wireless phone service, including pulling together prior rulings on this issue; addressing the related open proceedings on truth-in-billing and early termination fees; and, if needed, seeking appropriate statutory authority from Congress.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its February 5, 2010 response, FCC noted that the Notice of Inquiry on Consumer Information and Disclosure it released on August 9, 2009, provides an opportunity for the agency to review prior rulings and related open proceedings. The response also stated that FCC's Wireless Bureau and Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau are working together to review areas of the Communications Act where clarification is needed regarding state and federal roles for oversight of wireless phone service. In June 2011, FCC stated that it was continuing to hold regular meetings with associations representing state agency officials, but did not mention taking any action to directly address the recommendation. In May 2012, FCC stated that the topic of wireless regulation is discussed during intergovernmental webinars FCC hosts with state and local government offices, but did not indicate it had developed and issued guidance as called for in the recommendation. In August 2013, FCC stated that it has not issued any formal guidance on delineating federal and state wireless oversight authority. In June 2014, FCC stated that the commission was considering making changes to its truth-in-billing rules by the end of 2014 and that such a proceeding would include addressing how FCC partners with states in protecting wireless consumers. In July 2016, FCC said that it planned to address this issue in December 2017.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the critical importance of telecommunications technologies to schools and libraries, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should direct FCC staff to establish performance goals and measures for the E-rate program that are consistent with the Government Performance and Results Act. FCC should use the resulting performance data to develop analyses of the actual impact of E-rate funding and to determine areas for improved program operations.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In an August 2007 order, FCC adopted two performance measures for the E-rate program, one for Internet connectivity and the other for application processing. The order did not include specific E-rate program goals, although FCC said in this order that it anticipated adopting performance goals as it and USAC gained experience with the performance measures. While FCC's efforts to develop performance measures have the potential to eventually produce better information than is currently available on E-rate program performance, these measures fall short when compared to the key characteristics of successful performance measures and FCC still has not established program goals. FCC says it is still working on developing goals and performance measures for the Universal Service programs.