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    Results:

    Subject Term: Nutrition

    3 publications with a total of 6 open recommendations
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to establish additional guidance to help states analyze SNAP transaction data to better identify SNAP recipient households receiving replacement cards that are potentially engaging in trafficking, and assess whether the use of replacement card benefit periods may better focus this analysis on high-risk households potentially engaged in trafficking.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FNS officials reported that, in September 2013, they awarded a contract to provide expert business consultation and technical assistance in the area of recipient fraud prevention and detection to 7 states. The purpose of the contract was to improve how effectively recipients suspected of trafficking SNAP benefits were identified and investigated, including the use of predictive analytics involving transaction and replacement card data to uncover potential recipient trafficking. As of August 2017, FNS officials reported that they have completed studies in 10 states, helping the states build predictive analytics models that incorporate use of replacement card data to better identify SNAP recipient trafficking. FNS officials report that the models have demonstrated a significant improvement in state effectiveness. FNS officials also report that, in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, the agency conducted a training program for state technical staff to teach them how to build predictive models that incorporate the use of replacement card data. In addition, FNS officials report that the agency is currently developing a SNAP Fraud Framework to provide guidance to states on improving fraud prevention and detection, including the use of excessive card replacements and other data sources, as potential indicators of fraud. FNS tentatively anticipates releasing the framework by the end of calendar year 2017. GAO will monitor these efforts and await information, including related technical assistance materials and documentation, on how these activities are used to guide states' efforts to use transaction and replacement card data to better focus on high-risk households for potential investigation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FNS to reassess the effectiveness of the current guidance and tools recommended to states for monitoring e-commerce and social media websites, and use this information to enhance the effectiveness of the current guidance and tools.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: FNS officials reported that, in 2016, the agency conducted additional analysis to evaluate states' current use of social media in their detection of SNAP trafficking and develop a proof of concept for the use of market-leading tools to assist states in more efficient monitoring. Based on the information gained through this analysis, FNS officials reported in August 2017 that a draft of the social media guidance is currently in FNS clearance and is expected to be released by the end of the calendar year. GAO will await the issuance of this guidance.
    Director: Melvin, Valerie C
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the success of FDA's modernization efforts, the Commissioner of FDA should direct the CIO to, in completing the assessment of Mission Accomplishments and Regulatory Compliance Services (MARCS), develop an integrated master schedule (IMS) that (1) identifies which legacy systems will be replaced and when; (2) identifies all current and future tasks to be performed by contractors and FDA; and (3) defines and incorporates information reflecting resources and critical dependencies.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on our report, the Department of Health and Human Services neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendations. However, in response to this recommendation, FDA officials developed an integrated master schedule (IMS) for the Mission Accomplishment and Regulatory Compliance System, along with corresponding sub-project schedules. The officials also provided explanations of their approach for updating the schedules and estimating resources that are reflected in the schedules, and evidence that the agency is updating the schedule regularly. However, the IMS did not identify all legacy systems to be replaced, did not trace all tasks and contractor subproject schedules, and did not include information reflecting the use of government resources. In 2016, we requested that FDA provide an update on their efforts to address these limitations. As of September 2017, the agency restructured MARCS into two projects and notified us that it was working to establish an IMS for each. FDA officials expect to complete the schedules by the end of calendar year 2017. Until FDA takes steps to address the noted deficiencies, it will lack key information needed for determining what work remains and for identifying and addressing potential problems, thus increasing risks to the success of the agency's modernization efforts. We will continue to work with the Department to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the success of FDA's modernization efforts, the Commissioner of FDA should direct the CIO to monitor progress of MARCS against the integrated master schedule IMS.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Food and Drug Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the report, the Department of Health and Human Services neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendations. However, in response to this recommendation, FDA officials provided a baseline schedule, integrated master schedule (IMS), and sub-project schedules intended to be used to monitor progress of the agency's efforts to implement changes to the Mission Accomplishment and Regulatory Compliance System (MARCS). Nonetheless, while the IMS is updated regularly, it contains data anomalies, and FDA has not documented reasons for changes to the schedule. Consequently, the schedule does not include complete and reliable information needed for monitoring progress of the system investment. As of September 2017, the agency restructured MARCS into two projects and notified us that it was working to establish an IMS for each. FDA officials expect to complete the schedules by the end of calendar year 2017, and to use the schedules to continually monitor the status of the projects. Until FDA takes steps to address deficiencies noted in the IMS for MARCS, it will continue to lack key data needed to monitor progress of the implementation of the system, and increase the risks of this key component of the agency's modernization efforts. We will continue to work with the Department to address this recommendation.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202)512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better address the purpose of the 8(a) program, meet the needs and expectations of the firms in the program, and improve SBA's ability to determine how well the program is working, the Administrator, SBA, should periodically perform a nationwide sample survey of 8(a) firms to obtain measurable program data. At a minimum, the survey should assess whether SBA assistance is meeting the firms' expectations and needs.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA drafted a plan for providing individualized business development assistance to 8(a) firms, along with an assessment tool--the 8(a) Business Development Assessment Tool (BDAT). A subsequent evaluation of BDAT revealed that the tool would not provide the expected outcome. Consequently, the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development launched a more broad modernization effort in December of 2011. One of the outcomes of that effort was the conceptualization of the One Track Certification Management System (One Track CMS), which included many of the requirements from the BDAT. However, SBA experienced some delays regarding the contract for development and the ultimate implementation of the One Track CMS. On June 3, 2015, SBA and GAO staff met to discuss the status of open SBA 8(a) program recommendations. This recommendation was mentioned, but, no updates on the current status of this recommendation were provided. The One Track CMS was not yet operational as of the date of that meeting.
    Recommendation: To better address the purpose of the 8(a) program, meet the needs and expectations of the firms in the program, and improve SBA's ability to determine how well the program is working, the Administrator, SBA, should provide a method for collecting data on each firm's training needs for tracking the assistance provided.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: With the deployment of the Business Development Management Information System on July 28, 2008, along with an 8(a) Business Development Assessment Tool (BDAT)--which will entail an enhancement of SBA's Business Development Management Information System--SBA stated that it will be able to annually collect data that will be used to assess an 8(a) participant's needs for technical assistance and training. A subsequent evaluation of BDAT revealed that the tool would not provide the expected outcome. Consequently, the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development launched a more broad modernization effort in December of 2011. One of the outcomes of that effort was the conceptualization of One Track Certification Management System (One Track CMS), which included many of the requirements from the BDAT. However, SBA experienced some delays regarding the contract for development and the ultimate implementation of the One Track CMS. On June 3, 2015, SBA and GAO staff met to discuss the status of open SBA 8(a) program recommendations. This recommendation was mentioned, but no updates on the current status of this recommendation were provided. The One Track CMS was not yet operational as of the date of that meeting.