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    Results:

    Subject Term: Harbors

    8 publications with a total of 11 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works should direct the Director of Civil Works to determine whether existing tools and capabilities (such as the Corps' analyses and models related to inland harbors' conditions and freight traffic, as well as shoaling effects at coastal ports) can be adapted to help evaluate other factors when allocating funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The Corps should report to Congress on the feasibility, limitations, and potential costs and on an estimate of any additional funds needed to use such an approach to meet the statutory requirements.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army: Office of the Assistant Secretary (Civil Works)
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To inform DOT's development of its national freight strategy and associated freight efforts, such as states' development of freight plans, newly established freight funding programs, and advancing DOT's efforts to implement national freight policies, in the development of the freight data strategy, the Secretary of Transportation should include a specific plan to identify: (1) appropriate freight data sources, information, and analytic tools for transportation modes involved in the freight network and supply chains; (2) data gaps that could help both the agency and states and local governments in the development of their freight plans, and an approach for addressing obstacles to developing high-quality, reliable supply chain information; (3) current and planned efforts that can provide insights into supply chains and their impacts on freight networks; and (4) how DOT plans to use the supply chain information and analytical tools to inform freight planning and programming.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the completeness and accuracy of cost and cost-related data for maintenance dredging contracts in the Corps' Dredging Information System database, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director of Civil Works of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to require that its district offices establish systematic quality controls to regularly verify the completeness and accuracy of their maintenance dredging contract data, including processes for ensuring that corrections are made when errors or omissions may be identified, such as through headquarters reviews.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist the Corps in preparing sound and credible cost estimates for soliciting bids for hopper dredge work by industry, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Corps of Engineers to develop a written plan for conducting a study to obtain and periodically update data on hopper dredging costs for its cost estimates, including reliable data on industry hopper dredge equipment and labor rates.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, Corps officials reported that they met with private industry officials in August 2016 to obtain updated information on the private dredge fleet, including information on private vessel upgrades. This information could help inform their cost estimates, according to the officials. The Corps has not developed a written plan for conducting a study to obtain and periodically update data on hopper dredging costs for Corps cost estimates and in October 2015 indicated that it was difficult to obtain industry-wide cost data for hopper dredges. Specifically, the Corps said that hopper dredges are unique vessels manufactured to individual company specifications, with unique components and operating costs. The Corps stated it intended to work with the dredging industry to obtain the latest hopper dredge cost information available and would update its cost and pricing data for preparing cost estimates based on that information.
    Director: Caldwell, Stephen L
    Phone: (202)512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure consistent implementation of and accountability for DHS's resilience policy, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary for Policy to develop an implementation strategy for this new policy that identifies the following characteristics and others that may be deemed appropriate: (1) steps needed to achieve results, by developing priorities, milestones, and performance measures; (2) responsible entities, their roles compared with those of others, and mechanisms needed for successful coordination; and (3) sources and types of resources and investments associated with the strategy, and where those resources and investments should be targeted.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In the 60-day letter provided in January 2013, DHS indicated that the Resilience Integration Team (RIT) was developing a draft implementation plan to be circulated among relevant stakeholders for review. On 10/30/13, we notified DHS that we would like to see a copy of the resilience policy implementation plan (if developed), or any other related documentation if the plan is still in development. We were informed later that day that a draft plan had been developed, and DHS needed to confirm its status. In May of 2015, we were told again that a draft plan had been developed but never finalized. As of August 2015, DHS's Policy Office is looking into the status of plan development. We await their response. DHS response still pending as of 10/4/16.
    Director: Grover, Jennifer A
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

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

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that prior to issuing the regulation on implementing the use of TWIC as a flashpass, DHS conducted a regulatory analysis, which asserted that TWIC would increase security. The analysis included an evaluation of the costs and benefits related to implementing TWIC. We further reported that as a proposed regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers is under development, DHS is to issue a new regulatory analysis. Conducting a regulatory analysis using the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and needed corrective actions could better inform and enhance the reliability of the new regulatory analysis. Moreover, these actions could help DHS identify and assess the full costs and benefits of implementing the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks, and help ensure that the TWIC program is more effective and cost-efficient than existing measures or alternatives at enhancing maritime security. We therefore recommended that DHS use the information from the internal control and effectiveness assessments we recommended as the basis for evaluating the costs, benefits, security risks, and corrective actions needed to implement the TWIC program in a manner that will meet stated mission needs and mitigate existing security risks as part of conducting the regulatory analysis on implementing a new regulation on the use of TWIC with biometric card readers. In March 2012, DHS reported that upon completion of the internal control and effectiveness assessments, DHS will evaluate the results to determine any subsequent actions, and that any applicable data or risks will be communicated to the Coast Guard for consideration during their regulatory analysis. However, DHS has not implemented the internal control assessment we recommended, which is to be the basis for the effectiveness assessment and addressing this recommendation. Further, the January 15, 2016 effectiveness assessment titled "Security Assessment of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential and Readers" did not substantively address the risk concerns identified in our report. Given shortfalls that remain in addressing our internal control assessment and effectiveness assessment recommendations, this recommendation remains open pending DHS taking corrective actions. As of March 2017, no further action has been taken.
    Director: Caldwell, Stephen L
    Phone: (202) 512-9610

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To facilitate better agency understanding of the potential need and feasibility of expanding electronic verification of seafarers, to improve data collection and sharing, and to comply with the Inflation Adjustment Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard and Commissioner of CBP to jointly establish an interagency process for sharing and reconciling records of absconder and deserter incidents occurring at U.S. seaports.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred and stated that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Coast Guard would begin to assess the appropriate offices within each component involved in the review and to establish a working group to evaluate the current reporting process within each component, and between CBP and Coast Guard. Further, DHS noted that it was working to co-locate the Coast Guard's ICC Coastwatch and CBP's National Targeting Center-Passenger and that this would help to eliminate many of the absconder-and deserter- reporting inconsistencies GAO identified between Coast Guard and CBP. In January 2013, CBP and Coast Guard officials reported that they had studied the CBP and Coast Guard data and found that multiple factors had likely contributed to the data variances, including differences in definitions for absconders/deserters among CBP and Coast Guard field units, and the method in which field units had recorded and reported absconder and deserter incidents. Officials reported that the two agencies were planning to develop an interagency memorandum of agreement (MOA) with field guidance for reporting absconder and deserter incidents. Officials reported that they expected to finalize and implement the MOA and field guidance by November 30, 2013. In July 2014, CBP described a new process in place for interagency data reconciliation, reporting that this action was taken in lieu of previously discussed plans to develop an interagency MOU. In December 2015, CBP reported that it expected to complete the effort by March 2016. In March 2016, CBP report that it expected to complete the effort by September 2016. CBP officials reported that the Coast Guard and CBP determined that the absconder data variances were caused by the agencies using different reporting criteria. Officials reported that the two agencies were preparing a memo and guidance to issue to field units by August 31, 2016. Officials reported that the recommendation would be fully implemented by September 30, 2016. In September 2016, CBP reported that it expected to implement the effort by December 31, 2016. In December 2016, CBP reported that the agency had drafted a memo to coincide with new Coast Guard procedure for conducting asymmetric migration vetting and deconfliction. CBP was also working to require all ports of entry to report all maritime asymmetric migration events directly to Coastwatch or a Targeting Framework event. However, on October 18, 2016, the DHS Deputy Secretary issued Department Policy Regarding Investigative Data and Event Deconfliction Policy Directive 045-04 that sets forth DHS policy for investigative data and event deconfliction and the use of related deconfliction systems in the course of certain law enforcement activity. As a result of the newly published Directive, DHS requires that CBP develop and implement related policy, by January 17, 2017. The policy directive requires DHS components to develop a policy applicable to components having equities in Investigative Data and Event Deconfliction. The policy will focus on more effective coordination of investigative activity to ensure officer safety by identifying links between ongoing criminal investigations. The Policy also requires that CBP components, at a minimum, conduct deconfliction thru the Deconfliction and Information Coordination Endeavor, Regional Information Sharing Systems Officer Safety Event Deconfliction System, Secure Automated Fast Event Tracking Network or Case Explorer systems. CBP and Coast Guard are now looking at a directive which makes it a port responsibility to deconflict case related information. The timeline for drafting and finalizing that directive is January 2017. Because of this change in direction, CBP and Coast Guard are requesting an extension to March 31, 2017 to finalize and disseminate the new policy.