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    Results:

    Subject Term: Rail

    11 publications with a total of 26 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure future large-scale rehabilitation projects are in line with leading project management practices, WMATA should develop a policy that requires and includes relevant procedures specifying that, prior to starting large-scale projects, WMATA should use detailed data on the conditions of assets to develop project objectives and scope.

    Agency: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure future large-scale rehabilitation projects are in line with leading project management practices, WMATA should develop a policy that requires and includes relevant procedures specifying that, prior to starting large-scale projects, WMATA should evaluate and compare alternative ways of accomplishing the project objectives, including estimates for the alternatives' costs and impacts.

    Agency: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure future large-scale rehabilitation projects are in line with leading project management practices, WMATA should develop a policy that requires and includes relevant procedures specifying that, prior to starting large-scale projects, WMATA should develop a comprehensive project management plan for the selected alternative--to include key elements such as detailed plans for managing the project's scope, schedule, and cost--for those projects that may not be designated major capital projects.

    Agency: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To continue the agency's efforts to improve state and local emergency preparedness for rail accidents involving hazardous materials, the Secretary of Transportation should, after the rulemaking is finalized, develop a process for regularly collecting information from state emergency response commissions on the distribution of the railroad-provided hazardous-materials-shipping information to local planning entities.

    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: 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: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    4 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to take into account, in the updated regulatory impact analysis conducted in response to the FAST Act, potential uncertainty in key variables and assumptions, such as, but not limited to, fuel prices and future rail traffic of crude oil and ethanol, discuss this uncertainty, and present ranges of possible scenarios.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOT disagreed with this recommendation, asserting that we based our findings for this recommendation only on the views of industry and experts interviewed as part of our review. However, our justification for this recommendation is primarily based on data that DOT received from railroads, on what DOT reported in the rulemaking documents, and on clear criteria from OMB and others for conducting such analyses. To fully implement this recommendation, DOT should update its 2015 ECP Brake rule and the supporting regulatory impact analyses for ECP brakes, DOT should provide a range of possible scenarios and acknowledge uncertainty in certain estimates which could help increase confidence in those estimates and address stakeholder concerns.
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the FAST Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FRA and PHMSA to create a plan to collect data from railroads' ongoing and future operational experiences using ECP brakes. The plan should include details on how the agency will work with railroads to collect this data, ensure that such data are reliable, and analyze these data to conduct a retrospective analysis of the ECP brakes requirement that could help inform any potential future actions regarding ECP brakes.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the FAST Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, if, based on its updated analysis, DOT promulgates a new rule on the applicable ECP brake system requirements, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FRA and PHMSA to require that freight railroads, once they equip with ECP brakes in response to the requirement, collect and provide data to FRA on their ongoing operational experience with ECP brakes.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOT, in response to the FAST Act, conducts additional evaluation and analysis of ECP brakes and updates the regulatory impact analysis, the Secretary of Transportation should direct FRA and PHMSA to publish information--including data inputs, formulas, and results of all simulations and assumptions regarding DOT's use of the LS-DYNA model used and related analyses to support the 2015 final rule--that would allow a third party to fully assess and replicate the analysis.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

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

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to enhance the process outlined in the Grants Manual to monitor project performance for future grants to include: (1) performance measures directly linked to project goals, and (2) fully incorporating timely and actionable information on grantee performance into FRA's review process to help determine whether current efforts are in line with the overall project goals.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and stated that FRA will enhance the grants management manual content linking performance measures to project goals, and incorporating timely and actionable information on grant performance into monitoring and oversight activities. DOT stated FRA would complete these actions by June 30, 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to develop and provide written guidance to grantees to include FRA's expectations on the type of information grantees should provide, such as guidance specific to deliverables and milestones for each grant project.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and stated that FRA will identify gaps in existing guidance and develop and disseminate revised guidance to grantees. DOT stated FRA would complete these actions by December 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen FRA's grants management practices, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FRA Administrator to analyze training needs and formalize a training plan for grantees and agency staff, which could include training on grant-specific procedures and policies.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOT agreed with this recommendation and FRA developed a revised formal training plan in March 2017. As of May 2017, we are reviewing this plan.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency and provide Congress and the public greater visibility into the types of highway activities funded with Highway Trust Fund monies, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FHWA Administrator to explore the costs, feasibility, and options for collecting and publicly reporting consistent aggregate project-level spending data.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: FHWA agreed with the recommendation and stated that it was reviewing the feasibility and options for collecting and reporting aggregate project-level highway spending data, and that it intended to complete this review by December 2015. In December 2015, the President signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act". Sec. 1402 of the Act requires DOT to annually report, for all projects administered by FHWA with a total estimated cost of $25 million or more (and for all other projects to the extent practicable), on the total cost of funded projects, the amount of federal funds obligated, and other information, and to make this information "available in a user-friendly manner on the public Internet website of the Department of Transportation." GAO is monitoring DOT's efforts to implement this provision of the Act and the extent to which it fulfills GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-4431

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: In order to clarify the federal role related to freight-related local traffic congestion, in implementing MAP-21 and any subsequent reauthorization, in its final guidance on state freight plans, Secretary of Transportation should incorporate additional information to help states define and prioritize local community impacts of national freight movements, including traffic-congestion impacts, and to establish what data could be consistently collected and analyzed in order to prioritize impacts of freight on local traffic congestion.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: On October 14, 2016, DOT finalized guidance on state freight plans and state freight advisory committees. Among other things, the guidance incorporates information to help states define and prioritize local community impacts of national freight movements and identifies data sources to assist in collecting and analyzing data to prioritize impacts of freight on local traffic congestion. Including this information in the final guidance to states, will assist in better defining the extent of freight-related congestion, prioritizing projects to mitigate such impacts at both the state and national level and in DOT establishing a clear federal role for addressing these issues.
    Recommendation: In order to clarify the federal role related to freight-related local traffic congestion, in implementing MAP-21 and any subsequent reauthorization, the Secretary of Transportation should include in the National Freight Strategic Plan a written statement articulating the federal role in freight-related local congestion impacts, by clearly identifying potential objectives and goals (under the general area DOT has established for the Freight Transportation Conditions and Performance Report of reducing adverse environmental and community impacts) for mitigating local congestion caused by national freight movements and the type of role federal and state stakeholders could play in achieving each objective and goal, and including a written strategy for improving the availability of national data needed to quantify, assess, and establish measures on freight trends and impacts on local traffic congestion.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOT concurred with this recommendation, and has developed a draft National Freight Strategic Plan, for which the public comment period ended in April 2016. In December 2016, DOT noted that it is continuing to review public comments received and beginning work on a final draft plan that will address the federal role in freight-related local congestion, as well as the other elements of GAO's recommendation. DOT stated that it plans to release a final National Freight Strategic Plan by its statutory due date of December 4, 2017. A number of our recommendations to DOT to address national freight issues are tied to the issuance of DOT's National Freight Strategic Plan.Implementing our recommendation in connection with development of the freight strategic plan expeditiously would help maximize the efficient movement of freight and ensure accountability around identified national interests and goals.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To address the increased risk posed by new gathering pipeline construction in shale development areas, the Secretary of Transportation, in conjunction with the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, should move forward with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to address gathering pipeline safety that addresses the risks of larger-diameter, higher-pressure gathering pipelines, including subjecting such pipelines to emergency response planning requirements that currently do not apply.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: PHMSA has drafted proposed regulations for both gas and hazardous liquid gathering pipelines. Specifically, PHMSA published Notices of Proposed Rulemaking to separately address safety issues associated with hazardous liquid gathering pipelines in October 2015 and gas gathering pipelines in April 2016. These proposed regulations partly address our recommendation by proposing new rules to address risks posed by new gathering pipeline construction, but do not fully address our recommendation to subject these pipelines to emergency response planning requirements, particularly for hazardous liquid pipelines. As of October 2016, PHMSA has determined that it needs one year's worth of data before it can begin assessing what regulations are needed to fully address the risks of hazardous liquid pipelines.
    Director: Moran, Revae E
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide for independent audit and investigative oversight of NMB, Congress should consider authorizing an appropriate federal agency's Office of Inspector General to provide such oversight.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing in April 2014 to (1) review the processes and mechanisms by which small agencies and other federal entities without statutory inspectors general receive oversight, and (2) examine potential legislative actions to improve the oversight of small agencies. In advance of the hearing, the committee circulated draft legislation that would, among other things, assign the Inspector General of the National Labor Relations Board the responsibility of providing oversight of the National Mediation Board. However, this legislation was not formally introduced. No related legislation has been enacted since that time.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop a formal strategic planning process to fully implement key required elements of strategic planning, including a formal process to obtain congressional and stakeholder input.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that it had reviewed strategic planning material from GAO and OMB, and would produce a formal planning process to guide future strategic plan development. It anticipated that the formal planning guide would be in place by the end of fiscal year 2016. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop, and include in its performance plan, performance goals and measures that contain required elements to demonstrate results.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated it had been in contact with other federal labor agencies (Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and Federal Labor Relations Authority) to discuss measurable performance goals that may be adapted to NMB's mission areas. It also indicated that it would review OPM guidance when developing updated performance goals. It anticipated that new performance metrics would be included in the fiscal year 2017 strategic plan update. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop and implement a formal mechanism to ensure the prompt resolution of findings and recommendations by independent auditors, including clearly assigning responsibility for this follow-up to agency management.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated it would develop standard procedures to address all program audits. It anticipated that the new updated and new procedures would be in place before the next round of program audits in fiscal year 2017. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop and fully implement key components of an information security program in accordance with the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that it was reviewing the security certificates of the agencies with which it contacts for services and working with them to determine how to review their security audits in an efficient manner. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should establish a privacy program that includes conducting privacy impact assessments and issuing system of record notices for systems that contain personally identifiable information.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated it is conducting a review of its record management program to assess the status of agency records and documents held in its cloud-based records management program. It indicated that this review would be completed before the end of fiscal year 2016 and would be used to assess any impact on privacy and issue any appropriate notices. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources, the Chairman of the National Mediation Board should develop a strategic workforce plan that (1) involves input from top management, employees, and other stakeholders; (2) identifies critical skills and competencies needed by NMB; (3) identifies strategies, such as training, to address any gaps; and (4) provides for cost-effective evaluations of these strategic workforce planning efforts. This plan should also address succession for the significant proportion of NMB staff and senior managers who are eligible to retire in the next few years.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that it would develop a formal process to elicit stakeholder input as it updates the current strategic workforce plan. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Recommendation: In order to improve NMB's planning and make the most effective use of its limited resources and to better inform its decisions about managing the rail grievance arbitration process, including addressing the backlog of cases, NMB should collect and analyze data on the types of grievances filed, and their disposition. NMB should use these data to improve the efficiency of the arbitration process and consider, as part of this effort, whether to establish fees for arbitration services. If NMB determines that the establishment of fees would improve the efficiency of the arbitration process, it should impose such fees or seek legislative authority to do so, as necessary.

    Agency: National Mediation Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2016, NMB indicated that data on rail grievance arbitration cases are being collected and that it anticipated presenting analysis of those data in the agency's fiscal year 2016 annual report. In February 2017, GAO began another review of NMB. The status of this recommendation will be updated at the conclusion of that review, estimated for 2018.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Federal Railroad Administration manages its limited resources and provides flexibility to railroads in implementing PTC, Congress should consider amending RSIA as requested in the FRA's August 2012 PTC Implementation Status Report to Congress, including granting FRA the authority to approve the use of alternative safety technologies in lieu of PTC to allow railroads to improve safety and meet many of the functions of PTC through other means.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, Congress had not taken any action regarding this Matter for Congressional Consideration.
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As the Chair of the Committee on the Marine Transportation System, the Secretary of Transportation should ensure the review and update, as needed, of the National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System. In ensuring the review and update of the National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System, the Secretary should (1) establish accountability mechanisms--such as developing clear and desired results, specific milestones, and outcome-related performance measures--for the recommended actions of the National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System, and (2) establish and implement a schedule for regular reporting of progress made in addressing the recommended actions of the National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As July 2017, the CMTS coordinating board approved the National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System and submitted to the Secretary of Transportation for approval.