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    Subject Term: Safeguards

    7 publications with a total of 28 open recommendations
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    12 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Inspectors General of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop or clarify existing guidance on the implementation of the pilot program. For example, the guidance should identify specific pilot program processes such as levels of review during an investigation, and where the findings of investigations are to be reported.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce OIG concurred with this recommendation. In its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to revise its guidance on whistleblower investigations. We have requested the revised guidance.
    Recommendation: The Inspectors General of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop or clarify existing guidance on the implementation of the pilot program. For example, the guidance should identify specific pilot program processes such as levels of review during an investigation, and where the findings of investigations are to be reported.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior OIG concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. In its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to revise its guidance on whistleblower investigations.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Homeland Security concurred with this recommendation. Officials have said they have taken steps to implement this recommendation with guidance and once GAO is provided with evidence of executing guidance, we will review these efforts to assess whether the recommendation was implemented.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken sufficient actions necessary to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation. Commerce officials have said they plan to issue an Acquisition Notice to the acquisition community encouraging Commerce contracting officials to communicate the program's requirements and protections. We have requested a copy of the acquisition notice.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Director: Katherine Iritani
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To achieve a better understanding of the effect of certain Personal care services (PCS) services on beneficiaries and a more consistent administration of policies and procedures across PCS programs, the Acting Administrator of CMS should collect and analyze states' required information on the impact of the Participant-Directed Option and Community First Choice programs on the health and welfare of beneficiaries as well as the state quality measures for the Participant-Directed Option and Community First Choice programs.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To achieve a better understanding of the effect of certain PCS services on beneficiaries and a more consistent administration of policies and procedures across PCS programs, the Acting Administrator of CMS should take steps to harmonize requirements, as appropriate, across PCS programs in a way that accounts for common risks faced by beneficiaries and to better ensure that billed services are provided.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
    Status: Open

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

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure compliance with the United States' nuclear cooperation agreements, the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, should clarify in guidance the conditions under which facilities may carry negative obligation balances.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NNSA has several initiatives underway to implement this recommendation. Later in 2017, we will know what changes NNSA and NRC made.
    Recommendation: To help ensure compliance with the United States' nuclear cooperation agreements, the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, should clarify in guidance the conditions under which facilities may carry negative obligation balances.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NNSA has several initiatives underway to implement this recommendation. Later in 2017, we will know what changes NNSA and NRC made.
    Recommendation: To help ensure compliance with the United States' nuclear cooperation agreements, the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, should develop an early-warning monitoring capability in NMMSS to alert senior DOE officials when the inventory of unobligated LEU is particularly low.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NNSA has several initiatives underway to implement this recommendation. Later in 2017, we will know what changes NNSA and NRC made to NMMSS.
    Recommendation: To help ensure compliance with the United States' nuclear cooperation agreements, the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, should develop an early-warning monitoring capability in NMMSS to alert senior DOE officials when the inventory of unobligated LEU is particularly low.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NNSA has several initiatives underway to implement this recommendation. Later in 2017, we will know what changes NNSA and NRC made.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to support nationwide reporting goals until the national UIC database is complete, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) improve the 7520 data for reporting purposes, as well as to help with quality assurance for the national UIC database, by developing and implementing a protocol for states and regions to enter data consistently and for regions to check 7520 data for consistency and completeness to ensure that data collected from state and EPA-managed class II programs are complete and comparable for purposes of reporting at a national level, and (2) in the interim, develop a method to use the 7520 database to report UIC data, including data on class II wells, until the national UIC database is fully populated with state data.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA said that its 7520 database is current as of 2014 and the quality assurance process has been completed. It is developing a method to use the database to report aggregated national data on the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, and to ensure that EPA maintains enforcement authority of state program requirements, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should (1) conduct a rulemaking to incorporate state program requirements, and changes to state program requirements, into federal regulations, and (2) at the same time, evaluate and consider alternative processes to more efficiently incorporate future changes to state program requirements into federal regulations without a rulemaking.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: EPA agrees with GAO's analysis that state program requirements and changes should be approved and codified in federal regulations. However, EPA does not agree with GAO's recommendation to conduct one comprehensive rulemaking to achieve this. In November 2016, EPA officials said they will continue to explore alternative methods for maintaining federal enforceability under the current statutory provisions; it plans to finish its efforts in January 2017. GAO will continue to monitor this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that EPA's oversight of the class II program is effective at protecting drinking water sources from the underground injection of large amounts of wastewater that will be produced with increasing domestic oil and gas production, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency should evaluate and revise, as needed, UIC program guidance on effective oversight to identify essential activities that EPA headquarters and regions need to conduct to effectively oversee state and EPA managed programs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, EPA stated that it has developed a national framework for oversight of the UIC program and to transfer knowledge to new staff. EPA said that it will continue to evaluate whether to update its guidance. We are continuing to monitor EPA's progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Wilshusen, Gregory C
    Phone: (202)512-6244

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To effectively implement key components of the IRS information security program, the Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue should update policies and procedures to ensure that they address (1) both methods available for granting all users access to mainframe resources, (2) audit and monitoring of access from one processing environment to another, (3) use of appropriate accounts by multiple databases on a single server, (4) data storage shared between systems, (5) out-of-date security standards, and (6) reconciliation of access privileges.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are evaluating IRS's implementation of this recommendation as part of the audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements.
    Recommendation: To effectively implement key components of the IRS information security program, the Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue should update mainframe test and evaluation processes to improve periodic monitoring of compliance with IRS policies.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are evaluating IRS's implementation of this recommendation as part of the audit of IRS's FY 2017 financial statements.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202)512-3604

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help implement a fair, effective, and credible performance management system for its civilian employees--whether NSPS or another--the Secretary of Defense should review and evaluate the effectiveness of the department's training.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 which repealed the National Security Personnel System required that DOD (1) take all actions necessary for the orderly termination of NSPS and (2) transition of all employees and positions from NSPS to legacy personnel systems or, if applicable, to the personnel systems that would have applied if NSPS had never been established. The law also mandated that the transition be completed by no later than January 1, 2012 and required DOD to establish a new performance management system, among other things. At the time of last update in June 2013, DOD had completed its efforts to research and design a new performance management system, in coordination with the unions. More recently, on July 24, 2014, the department released its 3rd update to Congress on the design and implemenation of its new personnel management system. DOD is required to report every 6 months on its progress. In its most recent report, DOD discusses its intent to implement a new multi-level rating system, but does not provide specific details about any steps taken that would allow us to close the recommendation nor has it taken actions to implement a system at this time. According to the DOD official overseeing this effort, DOD has made progress and the next update scheduled to be issued in Decembr 2014 will have significant more detail about the efforts taken.
    Recommendation: To help implement a fair, effective, and credible performance management system for its civilian employees--whether NSPS or another--the Secretary of Defense should ensure that guidance is in place for conducting a postdecisional analysis that specifies what process the components should follow to investigate and eliminate potential barriers to fair and equitable ratings.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 which repealed the National Security Personnel System required that DOD (1) take all actions necessary for the orderly termination of NSPS and (2) transition of all employees and positions from NSPS to legacy personnel systems or, if applicable, to the personnel systems that would have applied if NSPS had never been established. The law also mandated that the transition be completed by no later than January 1, 2012 and required DOD to establish a new performance management system, among other things. At the time of last update in June 2013, DOD had completed its efforts to research and design a new performance management system, in coordination with the unions. More recently, on July 24, 2014, the department released its 3rd update to Congress on the design and implemenation of its new personnel management system. DOD is required to report every 6 months on its progress. In its most recent report, DOD discusses its intent to implement a new multi-level rating system, but does not provide specific details about any steps taken that would allow us to close the recommendation nor has it taken actions to implement a system at this time. According to the DOD official overseeing this effort, DOD has made progress and the next update scheduled to be issued in Decembr 2014 will have significant more detail about the efforts taken.
    Recommendation: To help implement a fair, effective, and credible performance management system for its civilian employees--whether NSPS or another--the Secretary of Defense should include, as part of the department's monitoring of the implementation of its system, efforts to monitor and evaluate how the safeguards specifically are implemented by lower-level organizations across the department.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 which repealed the National Security Personnel System required that DOD (1) take all actions necessary for the orderly termination of NSPS and (2) transition of all employees and positions from NSPS to legacy personnel systems or, if applicable, to the personnel systems that would have applied if NSPS had never been established. The law also mandated that the transition be completed by no later than January 1, 2012 and required DOD to establish a new performance management system, among other things. At the time of last update in June 2013, DOD had completed its efforts to research and design a new performance management system, in coordination with the unions. More recently, on July 24, 2014, the department released its 3rd update to Congress on the design and implemenation of its new personnel management system. DOD is required to report every 6 months on its progress. In its most recent report, DOD discusses its intent to implement a new multi-level rating system, but does not provide specific details about any steps taken that would allow us to close the recommendation nor has it taken actions to implement a system at this time. According to the DOD official overseeing this effort, DOD has made progress and the next update scheduled to be issued in Decembr 2014 will have significant more detail about the efforts taken.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA functions as a separately organized agency, the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator, NNSA, should clearly define NNSA's status as a separately organized agency within the department.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In his 31 USC Section 720 response to our report, the Deputy Secretary of Energy stated that he did not concur with this recommendation. He stated that elements of the Department and the NNSA had executed memoranda of understanding specifying how certain Department-wide functions would be performed while respecting the statutory insulation of NNSA personnel. He also stated that the Department will consider issuing circumstance-specific guidance where required to correct misperceptions about the effect of the NNSA's act limitations. NNSA's relationship with DOE continues to evolve. NNSA asserted its independence aggressively through July 2012 when an important security incident took place at the Y-12 plant. Since that time, NNSA has been less independent.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA functions as a separately organized agency, the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator, NNSA, should clearly define NNSA's status as a separately organized agency within the department.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In his 31 USC Section 720 response to our report, the Deputy Secretary of Energy stated that he did not concur with this recommendation. He stated that elements of the Department and the NNSA had executed memoranda of understanding specifying how certain Department-wide functions would be performed while respecting the statutory insulation of NNSA personnel. He also stated that the Department will consider issuing circumstance-specific guidance where required to correct misperceptions about the effect of the NNSA's act limitations. Since we received the letter, there have been instances where the DOE/NNSA relationship has become less clear.