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    Results:

    Subject Term: Surveys

    53 publications with a total of 121 open recommendations including 12 priority recommendations
    Director: Nancy Kingsbury
    Phone: (202) 512-2700

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that federal agencies obtain the evidence needed to address the most important questions to improve program implementation and performance, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should direct each of the 24 Chief Financial Officer Act agencies to prepare an annual agency-wide evaluation plan that describes the (1) key questions for each significant evaluation study that the agency plans to begin in the next fiscal year, and (2) congressional committees; federal, state and local program partners; researchers; and other stakeholders that were consulted in preparing their plan. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Kirschbaum, Joseph W
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, in coordination with the DOD Chief Information Officer, the Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy; Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; and Personnel and Readiness; and with military service and agency stakeholders, should conduct operations security surveys that identify IoT security risks and protect DOD information and operations, in accordance with DOD guidance, or address operations security risks posed by IoT devices through other DOD risk assessments.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Principal Cyber Advisor, in coordination with the DOD Chief Information Officer; the Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy; Intelligence; Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics; and Personnel and Readiness; and with military service and agency stakeholders, should (1) review and assess existing departmental security policies and guidance--on cybersecurity, operations security, physical security, and information security--that may affect IoT devices; and (2) identify areas where new DOD policies and guidance may be needed--including for specific IoT devices, applications, or procedures--and where existing security policies and guidance can be updated to address IoT security concerns.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Principal Cyber Advisor to the Secretary of Defense
    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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to ensure that NOAA's efforts to improve its cost comparison reports include actions to fully track capital asset depreciation costs and account for ships in port undergoing major maintenance in accordance with its standard operating procedure.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, NOAA reported that it has taken steps to start developing procedures to fully track capital asset depreciation costs. NOAA expects to implement draft procedures by September 30, 2018, and fully implement them in fall 2019. In addition, NOAA stated that, by January 31, 2018, it will review and assess the current methodology it uses to account for the costs of ships in port undergoing major maintenance. NOAA intends to implement a revised methodology by February 28, 2018.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to develop a strategy for expanding NOAA's use of the private sector in its hydrographic survey program, as required by law.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, NOAA reported that it had begun developing a strategy to expand its hydrographic data collection program, and has determined that there are significant growth opportunities for private sector involvement in its program. NOAA intends to take several actions to promote the hydrographic surveying industry, and will compile the findings from the actions taken and issue a final strategy report by December 31, 2019.
    Director: Michael E. Clements
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help SEC address identified personnel management challenges, the Chair should enhance or expand the responsibilities and authority of the COO or other official or office so they can help ensure that improvements to communication and collaboration across SEC are made. For instance, if the duties of the COO were expanded, the COO could establish liaisons in each mission-critical office and division for SEC employees to contact or develop procedures to help facilitate communication and collaboration among the mission-critical office and divisions.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help SEC address identified personnel management challenges, the Chair should develop and implement training for hiring specialists that is informed by a skills gap analysis.

    Agency: United States Securities and Exchange Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: William B. Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help business disaster victims and resource partners better access information about the disaster loan process, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should integrate information resources such as the fact sheet, reference guide, and three-step process flier into its disaster loan assistance web portal and Partner Training Portal in a way that is more accessible to users.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the disaster loan assistance portal includes links to various loan-related resources and a link to SBA.gov, where users can access the SBA Disaster Loan Program Reference Guide and online learning center. We will continue to follow up with SBA on whether the agency plans to centrally integrate the links to loan-related resources into its disaster loan assistance web portal and Partner Training Portal, so resources can be more accessible to users.
    Recommendation: To help reduce confusion about the disaster loan process and the time frames applicants may experience, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should ensure the consistency of content across its disaster loan process resources by including in these written and online resources, as appropriate, the following: (1) the three-step process; (2) the types of documentation SBA may request and the general reasons why such information may be requested; and (3) estimates of loan processing time frames applicants might experience and external factors, such as the severity of a disaster, that may affect these time frames using, for example, estimates from its forecasting and related planning tools.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the agency has provided a consistent messaging about the timeframe for making approval decisions on disaster loan applications: SBA's goal is to make a decision on all home and business disaster loan applications within 2-3 weeks, and this loan approval timeframe also is referenced in other loan-related resources and media interviews. We will continue to follow up with SBA on whether the agency plans to (a) ensure informational content is consistent across written and online resources, (b) also include in written and online resources the types of documentation SBA may request and general reasons for the information requests, and (c) tailor the general 2-3 week loan decision timeframe to the each disaster, including the severity of the disaster and other factors that may affect the timeframe, by using the agency's forecasting and related planning tools.
    Recommendation: To further assist disaster business loan applicants, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should define technical terminology related to financial statements and other finance terminology on the disaster business loan application forms, in both electronic and paper format. For example, in the online application portal, SBA could incorporate a glossary in the "help" feature. Additionally, SBA could include a glossary in the paper application, so that business applicants who apply by mail can access the definitions as well as the general reasons why such information may be requested.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the agency is developing a glossary of business financial terms to clearly define terminology used in SBA home and business disaster loan applications and required supporting financial documents. Once completed, SBA stated that it will make the glossary available through the agency's disaster loan assistance portal and the SBA.gov website. We will follow up with SBA once the agency completes the glossary of business financial terms.
    Director: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As DOD assesses potential cost savings under the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board or through other cost savings initiatives identified, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command, and the Marine Corps Exchange to provide information to Congress that includes data, assumptions, and methodology supporting DOD's conclusion for not achieving budget neutrality.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOD assesses potential cost savings under the Defense Resale Business Optimization Board or through other cost savings initiatives identified, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command, and the Marine Corps Exchange to develop a plan with assumptions, a methodology, cost estimates, and specific time frames for achieving alternative reductions to appropriations, to support DOD's efforts to ensure that DOD's cost savings target is feasible and accurate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DOD conducts pilot programs, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Defense Commissary Agency, the Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Exchange Service Command, and the Marine Corps Exchange to identify specific metrics to determine whether DOD has fulfilled the mandated requirement to maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, the provision of high-quality products, and the sustainment of patron savings.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Debra A. Draper
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to define the roles and responsibilities of VAMCs in operationalizing VHA's strategic goals and objectives; this could be accomplished by establishing roles and responsibilities for VAMCs similar to how VHA defines roles and responsibilities for VISNs in VHA Directive 1075 and by developing guidance for VAMCs similar to guidance developed for VISNs.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to officials, VHA's Office of Policy and Planning continues to routinely communicate that all components of the organization should align their activities and resources to VA's 2014-2020 strategic goals and objectives, the MyVA Priority and Management Initiatives, and to the five VHA Priorities for Strategic Action. VHA's Office of Policy and Planning has also developed and disseminated Strategic Principals for Operational and Programmatic Decision Making, which was intended to provide a set of unifying principles for operational and programmatic decision-making. In its September 2017 update, VHA provided GAO with a copy of its draft FY 2018-2019 Operational and Modernization Plan. VHA is also in process of developing an Operational Planning Worksheet that is intended to provide instructions, definitions and examples to help create meaningful tactics, identify accountable leads, and document relevant interdependencies and requirements across the organization for VAMCs, VISNs and Program Offices. In its September 2017 update, VHA also noted that the National Leadership Council Strategic Planning Summit was held in June 2017, and that the focus of the summit was to ensure a clear understanding of the five VA/VHA priorities and how to operationalize the priorities at all levels of the organization. According to officials, VHA also held its National Planning Training (NPT) in August 2017 and the training was designed around the five VA/VHA priorities with a significant emphasis on clarifying the roles and responsibilities of VA Health Care Systems, VISNs and Program Offices in operationalizing the five priorities. According to officials, presentations incorporated the five priorities and a discussion on the various operational roles across the organization. VHA also noted that an online discussion board was opened at the conclusion of each NPT session with discussion questions specific to clarifying implementation responsibilities for the five VA/VHA priorities and other strategic initiatives. GAO has requested that VHA provide documentary evidence of these activities to support closure of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to consistently develop strategies that can be used by VISNs and VAMCs to operationalize VHA's goals and objectives, ensuring that they clearly link directly to VHA's goals and objectives.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to officials, VHA held its annual National Leadership Council Strategic Planning Summit in June 2017, during which NLC members and other strategic thinkers representing Program Office and VA Health Care Systems identified a set of strategies and milestones that link to and support operationalizing the five VA/VHA priorities. According to officials, these 16 strategies and milestones serve as the initial framework for operational planning at the VA Health Care System, VISN, and Program Office levels. VHA has provided evidence that it is currently developing its 2018 modernization and operational planning guidance, which is expected to link VA's strategic goals and objectives to the modernization plan and the five VA/VHA priorities. The guidance is also expected to require program offices, VISNs, and VAMCs to submit plans that articulate tactics and milestones and identify requirements that clearly link organizational activities back to operationalizing strategies and accomplishing priorities and goals. According to officials, the next phase of operational planning will occur at the VA Senior Leaders' Business Meeting, during which VA Health Care System, VISN, and Program Office leaders will further detail plans by identifying the tactics and requirements each will implement to operationalize the strategies and achieve the priorities, including identifying individuals that will be responsible for leading implementation of tactics. According to officials, VHA will initiate the final phase of operational planning following this meeting. During this final phase, VHA expects to disseminate its operational plan, and guidance, to VISNs and Program Offices with guidance to work with their subcomponents (VAMCs and other divisions) to finalize details in support of the operational plan. Following, the VISNs and Program Offices are expected to return their plans to VHA's Office of Policy and Planning to be incorporated into VHA's final modernization and operational plan. According to officials, VHA's Office of Policy and Planning has also continued to work very closely with the VA Office of Enterprise Integration to link VHA's strategies and measures with VA's draft 2018-2024 goals, objectives, strategies and measures to ensure consistency and alignment in planning and operationalization. According to officials, these linkages will enable VHA and VA to monitor and report progress on achieving the five VA/VHA priorities.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to develop an oversight process to assess progress made in meeting VHA's strategic goals and objectives, including feedback on how well activities and programs are contributing to achieving these goals and objectives.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day update, VHA notified GAO that performance plans for senior executives will be updated to include requirements to provide oversight to assure that day-to-day activities on initiatives and programs are consistent with organizational goals, objectives and priorities. Furthermore, VHA informed GAO that executive performance, and performance of the organizations they lead, will be assessed using periodic review of performance against established organizational metrics associated with priorities, and annual performance plans of senior executives. In its 60 day update, VHA also notified GAO that VHA's Office of Policy and Planning will monitor implementation on a periodic basis to identify when initiatives or programs are progressing appropriately or at risk of not achieving goals and objectives in accordance with priorities. In VHA's August 2017 update on open recommendations, officials noted that VHA has also developed an internal Healthcare Operations Dashboard--which provides immediate and daily information regarding veterans' health care access, including wait times, productivity, and utilization--and an externally-facing Access and Quality in VA Healthcare web site--which provides veterans, caregivers, and other stakeholders with tools to view access and quality performance for specific VA facilities. According to VHA officials, both VA and VHA are monitoring strategic programs and activities to identify barriers that may impede progress towards the achievement of goals and objectives, which can then be elevated to leadership, as appropriate. In VHA's September 2017 update, officials also noted that VHA's Office of Policy and Planning and Office of Strategic Integration are coordinating the monitoring and quarterly reporting of progress on achievements related to the five VA/VHA priorities and the supporting strategies. According to officials, Priority and Strategy leads have been identified and are responsible for reporting operational progress and for managing any challenges that slow or prevent operationalization. According to officials, progress on all strategies and priorities is being reported at the VHA senior leaders morning meeting on a routine basis. GAO has requested that VHA provide documentary evidence of these activities to support closure of this recommendation.
    Director: Kay E. Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should take additional steps to collect and disseminate information on promising practices that could help improve data matching processes among state SNAP agencies, including broad and timely dissemination of information on results of recent relevant pilots or demonstrations.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted it is moving in this direction and would build on current efforts to address them. GAO will monitor these efforts and consider closing the recommendation when these efforts have been completed.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should work with the Department of Health and Human Services (as appropriate) to analyze spending and understand data needs for SNAP across federal and state contracts and in relation to other programs as FNS explores ways to potentially reduce the costs of using commercial data services.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted it has been moving in this general direction and would build on current efforts to address it. GAO will monitor these efforts and consider closing the recommendation when these efforts have been completed.
    Director: Jenny Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to implement a mechanism for regularly collecting and incorporating incumbent air marshals' feedback on the training they receive from field office programs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    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 effective evaluation of air marshal training, the TSA Administrator should direct OTD to take additional steps to improve the response rates of the training surveys it conducts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to specify in policy who at the headquarters level has oversight responsibility for ensuring that field office Supervisory Air Marshals-in-Charge or their designees meet their responsibilities for ensuring that training completion records are entered in a timely manner.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to specify in policy who at the headquarters level is responsible for ensuring that headquarters personnel enter approved air marshals' training exemptions into the Federal Air Marshal Information System, and define the timeframe for doing so.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that air marshals are complying with recurrent training requirements and have the capability to carry out FAMS's mission, the TSA Administrator should direct FAMS to develop and implement standardized methods, such as examinations and checklists, for determining whether incumbent air marshals continue to be mission ready in key skills.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration
    Status: Open

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

    6 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that key information provided by claims specialists to potential claimants of Social Security retirement benefits is clear and consistent with POMS, the Commissioner of the SSA should take steps to ensure when applicable, claims specialists inform that delaying claiming will result in permanently higher monthly benefit amounts, and at least offer to provide claimants their estimated benefits at their current age, at full retirement age (FRA) (unless the claimant is already older than FRA), and age 70.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: On 10/19/16, SSA sent a message to technicians (including claims representatives who discuss claiming with clients in field offices or over the phone) reminding them to 1) inform claimants that delaying results in permanently higher benefits; and 2) provide estimated benefits at different claiming ages. While the reminder message to claims specialists is a positive step by the agency, SSA should continue to send periodic messages about these requirements to claims specialists. Further, SSA should have field office managers periodically discuss best practices for providing this information to potential claimants at office training sessions.
    Recommendation: To ensure that key information provided by claims specialists to potential claimants of Social Security retirement benefits is clear and consistent with POMS, the Commissioner of the SSA should take steps to ensure claims specialists understand that they should avoid the use of breakeven analysis to compare benefits at different claiming ages.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: On 10/19/16, SSA sent a message to technicians (including claims representatives who discuss claiming with clients in field offices or over the phone) reminding them not to use breakeven analysis or discuss breakeven points with claimants to compare benefits at different claiming ages. While the reminder message to claims specialists is a positive step by the agency, SSA should continue to send periodic messages to claims specialist to ensure that they understand the requirement to avoid use of breakeven analysis to compare benefits at different claiming ages.
    Recommendation: To ensure potential claimants are consistently provided with key information during the claiming process to help them make informed decisions about when to claim benefits, SSA should take steps to ensure that when applicable, claims specialists inform claimants that monthly benefit amounts are determined by the highest (indexed) 35 years of earnings, and that in some cases, additional work could increase benefits.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA reported that, as appropriate, it will issue a reminder to technicians or include instructions in SSA's Program and Operations Manual System (POMS) to reinforce the instructions. The agency did not provide information on how it plans to include this information in the online claims process.
    Recommendation: To ensure potential claimants are consistently provided with key information during the claiming process to help them make informed decisions about when to claim benefits, SSA should take steps to ensure that when appropriate, claims specialists clearly explain the retirement earnings test and inform claimants that any benefits withheld because of earnings above the earnings limit will result in higher monthly benefits starting at FRA.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: On 10/19/16, SSA sent a message to technicians (including claims representatives who discuss claiming with clients in field offices or over the phone) reminding them to inform claimants that any amounts withheld due to earnings (over limits) will result in higher benefits later on. While the reminder message to claims specialists is a positive step by the agency, SSA should continue to send periodic messages to claims specialist reinforcing the importance of explaining the earnings test, and informing potential claimants that any benefits withheld due to earnings will result in higher benefits starting at FRA. Further, SSA should have field office managers periodically discuss best practices for providing this information to potential claimants at office training sessions.
    Recommendation: To ensure potential claimants are consistently provided with key information during the claiming process to help them make informed decisions about when to claim benefits, SSA should take steps to ensure that claims specialists explain that lump sum retroactive benefits will result in a permanent reduction of monthly benefits. For the online claiming process, SSA should evaluate removing or revising the online question that asks claimants to provide a reason for not choosing retroactive benefits.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA stated that it will issue a reminder to technicians, instructing them to explain that a lump sum retroactive benefit would result in a permanent reduction in monthly benefits; or include instructions in SSA's Program and Operations Manual System (POMS). As for the question included in the online process, SSA said it will explore the underlying rationale for this question and consider modifying the question.
    Recommendation: To ensure potential claimants are consistently provided with key information during the claiming process to help them make informed decisions about when to claim benefits, SSA should take steps to ensure that the claims process include basic information on how life expectancy and longevity risk may affect the decision to claim benefits.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA updated Pub No. 05-10147 to mention that: 1) monthly benefits are higher for the rest of one's life the longer one delays claiming; 2) retirement may be longer than you think; and 3) for married couples, delaying claiming may increase survivor benefits. SSA also added a new question on this topic to its frequently asked questions (FAQ) page, "At what age should I start receiving my Social Security Retirement benefits?" The answer provides key information for individuals to consider, and links to the newly updated publication, the Retirement Estimator tool, and other resources that SSA offers. Updating and improving a key publication on this topic is a positive step by the agency. However, it is not clear if claimants will be able to access this information while they are applying for retirement benefits online. Further, SSA did not specify how it plans to instruct claims specialists to provide information on life expectancy and longevity risk during the in-person claims process.
    Director: Kimberly M. Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness of the SEC's conflict minerals disclosure rule, the Secretary of Commerce should submit to the appropriate congressional committees a plan outlining steps that Commerce will take, with associated time frames, to (1) assess the accuracy of the independent private sector audits (IPSA) and other due diligence processes described under section 13(p) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; (2) develop recommendations for the process used to carry out such audits, including ways to improve the accuracy of the audits and establish standards of best practices for such audits; and (3) acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to carry out these responsibilities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Commerce agreed with this recommendation. In response to this recommendation, Commerce indicated in an October 25, 2016 letter to GAO that it has developed a three-step approach which parallels the three distinct elements of the recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, Commerce needs to submit the said three-step plan, including associated timeframes for their completion, to the appropriate congressional committees. Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act defines "appropriate committees" to mean the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Ways and Means, and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives; and the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Committee on Finance, and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate.
    Director: Kathleen M. King
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve available data about the direct care workforce, the Acting Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration should take steps to produce projections of direct care workforce supply and demand and develop methods to address data limitations in order to do so.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Health Resources and Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation, agreeing that developing projections of the direct care workforce is timely and important. Since the release of the report, HHS's Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) published a fact sheet presenting national demand projections for nursing assistants and home health aides. HRSA also reported awarding a contract to develop a projection model for the supply, demand, and distribution of long-term service and support providers. The agency expects reports from this model to be available in 2018.
    Director: Gretta L. Goodwin
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the clarity and transparency of sexual violence data that is reported to the public, the Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Attorney General should direct the Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics to make information on the acts of sexual violence and contextual factors that are included in their measurements of sexual violence publicly available. This effort could entail revising their definitions of key terms used to describe sexual violence so that the definitions match the measurements of sexual violence.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To enhance the clarity and transparency of sexual violence data that is reported to the public, the Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Attorney General should direct the Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics to make information on the acts of sexual violence and contextual factors that are included in their measurements of sexual violence publicly available. This effort could entail revising their definitions of key terms used to describe sexual violence so that the definitions match the measurements of sexual violence.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human 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 enhance the clarity and transparency of sexual violence data that is reported to the public, the Secretary of Education should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Attorney General should direct the Director of the Bureau of Justice Statistics to make information on the acts of sexual violence and contextual factors that are included in their measurements of sexual violence publicly available. This effort could entail revising their definitions of key terms used to describe sexual violence so that the definitions match the measurements of sexual violence.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help lessen confusion among the public and policy makers regarding federal data on sexual violence, the Director of OMB should establish a federal interagency forum on sexual violence statistics. The forum should consider the broad range of differences across the data collection efforts to assess which differences enhance or hinder the overall understanding of sexual violence in the United States.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the food assistance needs that exist for active-duty servicemembers and their families, and to help ensure that DOD effectively targets its support to those in need of assistance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to revise, as appropriate, any existing data-collection mechanisms, such as periodic surveys, to collect and analyze more complete data on the use of food assistance programs by servicemembers and their families and use the data to determine if any further actions are needed, such as assigning responsibilities at the department-level for monitoring the use of food assistance programs by active-duty servicemembers.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, The Department of Defense (DOD) revised the questions on the September 2016 Status of Force Survey of Active Duty Members to include questions on whether servicemembers and their families had in the past 12 months run out of food, skipped meals, or were unable to eat balanced meals due to a lack of money. The survey also included questions on whether the servicemembers or their families had used food pantries in the past twelve months and asked the servicemembers to identify the factors that had contributed to their food concerns and/or need to use a food pantry. Finally, the survey included questions on the extent servicemember had ever applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), whether they were currently receiving SNAP benefits, their paygrade at the time they first started receiving SNAP benefits, the total number of people in the household when they first started receiving SNAP benefits, and how long they have received SNAP benefits. DOD official stated that the results of the survey were not published until July 31, 2017 so they have not had the opportunity to review the results of the survey to determine what further actions, if any, are needed.
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the food assistance needs that exist for active-duty servicemembers and their families, and to help ensure that DOD effectively targets its support to those in need of assistance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to coordinate with USDA to leverage its access to data on active-duty servicemembers and their families who use its programs and services and consider outreaching to other organizations that have data on servicemembers' use of food assistance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, DOD has not provided information on steps it has taken to address this recommendation. When more information becomes available, we will update the recommendation?s status accordingly.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve access to and awareness and applicability of ITS resources for ITS deployment, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the ITS Joint Program Office (JPO), in coordination with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), to develop a strategy to raise awareness of JPO's training, technical assistance, and knowledge resources for transit ITS deployment in the transit community.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation agreed with GAO's recommendation and stated that its Professional Capacity Building Program has two initiatives under development that will raise awareness of existing Intelligent Transportation System knowledge resources. First, the department will develop an overall course catalog that will describe all existing resources offerings. Second, the department will develop a new strategic plan that will utilize information from the updated course catalog as well as internal analyses to determine which new knowledge resources need to be developed to meet the needs of the transit community. As of June 2017, GAO is awaiting the Department's response regarding the status of its efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve access to and awareness and applicability of ITS resources for ITS deployment, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the ITS JPO, in coordination with FTA, to include ITS adoption by small urban and rural transit providers in ITS monitoring efforts.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Transportation agreed with GAO's recommendation and stated that the Federal Transit Administration is considering the development of a small urban and rural Intelligent Transportation System survey component as part of its 2019 Intelligent Transportation System Deployment Survey. As of June 2017, GAO is awaiting the Department's response regarding the status of its efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Daniel Garcia-Diaz
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure sustained leadership commitment to and accountability for CFPB's efforts to promote a diverse, inclusive, and fair workplace, in coordination with representatives of CFPB's employee union, the Director should develop tools to collect more comprehensive employee feedback on the grievance complaint processes to understand and remedy factors that may reduce employee confidence in these processes.

    Agency: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, CFPB had reached agreement with its employee union on a process to collect more comprehensive employee feedback on its grievance complaint processes, but CFPB had not yet implemented this new process. This new process will include a short survey that will be provided to employees who participate in the grievance process. A CFPB official said that CFPB will begin using this survey to collect feedback once it has determined the best point in the grievance process to distribute it.
    Director: Randall B. Williamson
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance oversight of access to mental health care and help ensure that servicemembers have timely access to mental health care, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs to establish an access standard for mental health follow-up appointments and regularly monitor data on these appointments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to establish time frames to complete actions that its Federal Voting Assistance Program has identified it will take to address challenges, and also to use these time frames to demonstrate progress for stakeholders, including through its statutorily required annual reporting.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, through the Defense Human Resources Activity, should direct FVAP's Director to fully implement the six selected leading practices of federal strategic planning into the day-to-day operations of the program.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, through the Defense Human Resources Activity, should direct FVAP's Director to complete the development of a strategic plan that fully exhibits the six selected leading practices of federal strategic planning, including, but not limited to: (1) a statement of FVAP's revised mission and goals; (2) an identification of strategies that address management challenges and resources needed to achieve goals; (3) a description of leadership involvement and accountability; (4) a description of stakeholder involvement in the development of FVAP priorities; (5) a coordination strategy to communicate the program's mission and goals to other federal agencies; and (6) a description of performance measures, aligned with program goals that FVAP will use to track progress toward achieving goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Linda Kohn
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the measurement of nursing home quality, the Administrator of CMS should establish specific timeframes, including milestones to track progress, for the development and implementation of a standardized survey methodology across all states.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and in September 2017 reported that CMS is taking steps to address. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To improve the measurement of nursing home quality, the Administrator of CMS should establish and implement a clear plan for ongoing auditing to ensure reliability of data self-reported by nursing homes, including payroll-based staffing data and data used to calculate clinical quality measures.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and in September 2017 reported that CMS is taking steps to address. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure modifications of CMS's oversight activities do not adversely affect the agency's ability to assess nursing home quality and that effective modifications are adopted more widely, the Administrator of CMS should establish a process for monitoring modifications of essential oversight activities made at the CMS central office, CMS regional office, and state survey agency levels to better understand the effects on nursing home quality oversight.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation and in September 2017 reported that CMS is taking steps to address. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen states' monitoring and facilitate local MOE compliance, the Secretary of Education should prioritize technical assistance and information sharing across states on ways to facilitate local MOE compliance with respect to the use of the four calculation methods and the exceptions.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, Education officials reported that the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has been working on guidance on local educational agency maintenance of effort (LEA MOE) and intends to issue an expanded question and answer document by the end of 2016. In addition, the officials reported that the OSEP-funded Center for Idea Fiscal Reporting (CIFR) has taken additions steps, including creating an LEA MOE calculator projected for publication in fall 2016. GAO anticipates closing this recommendation when these activities have been implemented.
    Recommendation: To help districts address key challenges in meeting MOE and mitigate unintended consequences that may affect services for students with disabilities, while preserving the safeguard for funding for students with disabilities, Congress should consider options for a more flexible MOE requirement. This could include adopting a less stringent MOE requirement to align with the MOE requirements in other education programs or adding to or modifying exceptions. For example, current exceptions could be changed to allow one-time increases in spending without changing a district's MOE baseline in order to encourage pilot innovations or to allow certain spending decreases (e.g., state caps on teacher benefits), as long as a district can demonstrate the decrease does not negatively affect services.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not taken legislative action on this issue.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote and enhance familiarity with values-based ethical decision-making across the department, the Secretary of Defense should direct appropriate departmental organization(s), in consultation with the Office of General Counsel and the Senior Advisor for Military Professionalism (SAMP) or its successor organization(s), to assess the feasibility of expanding annual values-based ethics training to include currently non-mandatory recipients.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred, with comment, with this recommendation, noting that the Office of the Senior Advisor for Military Professionalism is a temporary office established by Secretary Hagel for a two year term ending no later than March of 2016. DOD confirmed its position with regard to this recommendation on October 19, 2015. As of October 6, 2016, DOD has not responded to further inquiries regarding any actions it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the need for a department-wide values-based ethics program has been addressed, the Secretary of Defense should direct appropriate departmental organization(s), in consultation with the Office of General Counsel, to identify actions and timeframes for responding to the Panel on Contracting Integrity recommendation, including the 14 related 2012 study recommendations, or alternatively demonstrate why additional actions are unwarranted.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred, with comment, with this recommendation, stating among other things that it has practices in place that are consistent with a number of the study recommendations and that it is most receptive to assessing and recommending implementation of additional measures. DOD confirmed its position with regard to this recommendation on October 19, 2015. As of October 6, 2016, DOD has not responded to further inquiries regarding any actions it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help inform decision makers on the SAMP's progress as well as the decision regarding the extension of the SAMP's term, the Secretary of Defense should direct the SAMP to define timelines and measures to assess its progress in completing its major tasks.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD did not concur with this recommendation, stating that the department will submit its Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act report on military programs and controls regarding professionalism to Congress on September 1, 2015, thereby satisfying the requirements of this recommendation. DOD confirmed its position with regard to this recommendation on October 19, 2015. As of October 6, 2016, DOD has not responded to further inquiries regarding any actions it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To increase assurance that commanders are conducting command climate assessments in accordance with statutory requirements and departmental guidance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps to modify existing guidance or develop new guidance to comply with requirements set forth in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act and internal DOD guidance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation, stating that existing Army practice is consistent with the intent of departmental guidance for command climate survey utilization. DOD confirmed its position with regard to this recommendation on October 19, 2015. As of October 6, 2016, DOD has not responded to further inquiries regarding any actions it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better inform the department's approach to senior officers' professional development, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to assess the need for and feasibility of implementing 360-degree assessments for all general and flag officers.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation, stating that it concurs with the recommendation to assess the need for and feasibility of implementing 360-degree assessments, or 360-degree-like feedback assessments, where they are not already being performed, but that it believes that it should only do so for general and flag officers at the three star ranks and below. DOD confirmed its position with regard to this recommendation on October 19, 2015. At that time, DOD also stated that it believes in a holistic approach to developing and assessing professionalism, noting, as an example, the Joint Staff's use of staff assistance visits and Senior Leader "roundtables" to complement the use of 360-degree assessments. As of October 6, 2016, DOD has not responded to further inquiries regarding any actions it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to assess its progress in addressing ethics and professionalism issues, the Secretary of Defense should direct the SAMP, through the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, or SAMP's successor organization(s), to identify information sources and develop intermediate goals and performance metrics. At minimum, these performance metrics should be clear, quantifiable, and objective, and they should include a baseline assessment of current performance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred, with comment, with this recommendation, noting that the office of the Senior Advisor for Military Professionalism is a temporary office established by Secretary Hagel for a two year term ending no later than March of 2016. DOD confirmed its position with regard to this recommendation on October 19, 2015. As of October 6, 2016, DOD has not responded to further inquiries regarding any actions it has taken to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should develop a risk-based, cost-effective strategy to verify that states are implementing a process for assessing whether any teacher preparation programs are low-performing.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education reported adding additional questions about states' processes for identifying low-performing and at-risk programs to its annual state data collection form. The Department reported that this revised data collection form was submitted to OMB in April 2016 and was still undergoing OMB review as of September 2017. In the meantime, Education reported that it is conducting a temporary risk-based monitoring approach to determine how states report information on low-performing teacher preparation programs. GAO will monitor Education's efforts to finalize and implement these initiatives.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should study the usefulness of Title II data elements for policymakers and practitioners, and, if warranted, develop a proposal for Congress to eliminate or revise any statutorily-required elements that are not providing meaningful information.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education reported that its regulations published in October 2016 included new Title II data elements related to program quality. However, this action is distinct from our recommendation to assess whether existing fields required by law should be eliminated or revised. During our review, Education officials noted that such data elements could only be eliminated or revised through legislation, rather than regulation. Therefore, we continue to believe that it would be valuable for Education to review the existing data elements required by law and submit a proposal to Congress to eliminate or revise any of these fields, if warranted.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Education should develop and implement mechanisms to systematically share information about teacher preparation program quality with relevant Department of Education program offices and states (including state Independent Standards Boards).

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education reported that, subject to available staff resources, the agency would be designing an internal work group to increase information-sharing about teacher preparation program quality within and outside the Department. As of August 2017, ED reported that actions on this recommendation were pending. GAO will monitor Education's continued steps to design and implement this working group.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to institute procedures to improve posts' compliance with requirements for conducting residential security surveys.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To improve posts' compliance with residential survey requirements, State is developing a global standardized residential survey program that, according to DS, will give DS officials at State headquarters and security officers at posts the ability to access and audit security surveys for all residential holdings. As of April 2017, DS estimated a 12-month development cycle for this program beginning in February 2017. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to take steps to clarify existing standards and security-related guidance for residences. For example, DS could conduct a comprehensive review of its various standards and security-related guidance for residences and take steps to identify and eliminate gaps and inconsistencies.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State conducted a review of existing standards and identified numerous gaps, inconsistencies, and standards receiving exceptions more than being followed. As of April 2017, State was in the process of updating these standards. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to develop procedures for ensuring that all residences at posts overseas either meet applicable standards or have required exceptions on file.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To ensure residences meet applicable standards, State is developing a global standardized residential survey program that, according to DS, will give DS officials at State headquarters and security officers at posts the ability to access and audit security surveys for all residential holdings. DS has estimated a 12-month development cycle for this program beginning in February 2017. As of April 2017, DS had also launched a system to track exception requests and approvals. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that states are better able to sustain RTT reforms and that Education can effectively support other grant programs managed by the Office of State Support, the Secretary of Education should direct the Office of State Support to fully implement and incorporate into its coordinated technical assistance policies and procedures the types of support that would be useful in sustaining RTT reforms and providing effective support to grantees in other programs supporting education reform that the Office of State Support oversees. These could include: (1) providing individualized technical assistance to states, such as that currently provided by Education program officers; (2) facilitating communities of practice to promote opportunities for collaboration across states; (3) providing professional development (or training) throughout the grant period, as opposed to only during the early stages of the grant; (4) making training more easily accessible by conducting training locally in their respective states, when possible; and (5) to the extent permissible in the context of federal and state requirements and restrictions, exploring the possibility of assisting states in identifying skilled contractors to help implement reform efforts.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education stated that, as of October 20, 2015, the Office of State Support has a draft technical assistance plan in place that is currently being revised based on stakeholder input. Officials stated that the technical assistance plan addresses all of the numerated suggestions from GAO that were included in the recommendation. We look forward to reviewing the technical assistance plan once it is finalized. Education plans to provide an update by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To help states address capacity challenges as they sustain comprehensive education reforms similar to RTT, the Secretary of Education direct the Office of State Support to take steps, such as: (1) providing ongoing individualized technical assistance to states to help them target assistance to rural districts, particularly in the reform areas that were most challenging for rural districts; (2) finalizing and disseminating guidance to be included in Education's toolkit to help states leverage federal formula grants to sustain education reforms; and (3) clarifying and improving understanding of how funding flexibilities in existing formula grants could be used to support education reform efforts to help states and the audit community address impediments to using formula grants in different ways.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: Education stated that it expected to release a toolkit for states and districts on ways to leverage federal grants to sustain educational reforms. As of October 20, 2015, officials stated that the toolkit is in clearance. Staff are developing a dissemination plan that will outline how the toolkit will be rolled out to states and support its use. However, they do not yet have an estimated release date. We look forward to reviewing the toolkit once it has been released. Education plans to provide an update by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Susan Fleming,
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of NHTSA to identify actions--in addition to the agency's currently planned efforts--to support state efforts to increase public awareness of the dangers of drug-impaired driving. This effort should be undertaken in consultation with ONDCP, HHS, state highway-safety offices, and other interested parties as needed.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: NHTSA met with ONDCP, HHS, and GHSA in March 2016 and discussed what consumer research has been done and education materials have been used in raising awareness for the drug-impaired driving issue. NHTSA completed marijuana creative concept focus group market research in the Fall of 2016; however, the findings from this research were inconclusive. NHTSA plans to determine next steps and develop a new strategy in communicating on this challenging topic by Spring 2017. NHTSA anticipates conducting additional market research that will provide the direction for the development of creative materials by Fall 2017.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Bureau is better positioned to deliver an Internet response option for the 2020 Decennial Census, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs to direct the Director of the Census Bureau to ensure that the estimated costs associated with the Internet response option are updated to reflect significant changes in the program and to fully meet the characteristics of a reliable cost estimate.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, the Census Bureau's updated cost estimate needs to reflect significant changes in the program as they relate to the Internet response option and fully meet the characteristics of a reliable cost estimate. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the Bureau's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Bureau is better positioned to deliver an Internet response option for the 2020 Decennial Census, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs to direct the Director of the Census Bureau to ensure that the methodologies for answering the Internet response rate and IT infrastructure research questions are determined and documented in existing or future project plans in time to inform key design decisions.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. The Census Bureau has developed the methodologies for answering IT infrastructure research questions in its 2020 Census Enterprise Architecture and Infrastructure Transition Plan, which describes the Bureau's multi-year plan for evolving the IT infrastructure to support all 2020 Census operations. However, to fully implement this recommendation the Bureau needs to provide documentation that describes the methodology for determining the Internet response rate for the 2020 Census. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the Bureau's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote effective operation of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Congress may wish to consider amending the commission's authorizing statute to clearly specify the roles and responsibilities of the commission chairperson, commissioners, and staff director, such as who has the authority to develop and implement commission operating policies and procedures, to manage commission staff, and to represent commission decisions and views, including those views expressed on commission letterhead.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: A Senate Committee on Appropriations report released on June 16, 2015, which accompanied a bill that provided for the Commission's FY 2016 appropriations, included a provision that directed the Commission to address one of the issues highlighted in our recommendation. Specifically, the report calls for the Commission to limit the use of letterhead to items that reflect the views of the entire Commission.
    Recommendation: To more fully inform congressional consideration of the commission's fiscal year 2016 budget submission, the commission should develop and submit to the appropriate congressional committees a comprehensive workforce plan that assesses skills needed and the appropriate distribution of commission staff to fulfill the agency's mission and statutory responsibilities. This plan should incorporate relevant information from the report that Congress recently directed the commission to provide.

    Agency: Commission on Civil Rights
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Commission on Civil Rights stated that the Commissioners will work closely with the incoming Staff Director, once the President makes an appointment, to develop a comprehensive workforce plan. The agency stressed the importance of involving the new Staff Director in this process. We recognize the importance of involving the Staff Director - the agency's chief administrative official - in an analysis of the Commission's workforce and look forward to the results of this analysis.
    Recommendation: To enhance the commission's consideration of State Advisory Committee work in planning its National Office projects, the commission should increase the visibility of SAC work at commission meetings. For example, the commission could invite SACs to present the results of their work during monthly commission business meetings.

    Agency: Commission on Civil Rights
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Commission on Civil Rights highlighted several initiatives that it plans to consider, pending resource availability, to better highlight and consider the work of its state advisory committees (SAC). First, the agency stated that it would like to re-introduce an annual conference where SAC chairs from around the country can meet and share information. Second, the agency stated that it is looking to leverage technology, such as video conferencing and live streaming, to allow the general public and stakeholders to view SAC meetings. Lastly, the agency stated that the Commission's Chair is planning to develop a list-serve for SAC chairs, send out monthly updates to SACs, and institute quarterly conference calls between the Chair, Vice Chair, and SAC Chairs. We are encouraged by the Commission's efforts to explore ways to better engage with SACs and look forward to the implementation of these planned actions.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-2717

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Any federal agency designated to investigate future USERRA claims against federal executive agencies should undertake efforts to increase the response rate of the customer satisfaction survey if it continues to be administered, so more tenable conclusions can be drawn from its data. Such efforts may include follow-up phone calls to nonrespondents, additional email notifications requesting participation in the survey, or making the survey easier to complete and submit.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2016, Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL/VETS) reported their office is handling all USERRA complaints, Federal and non-Federal following conclusion of the demonstration project with OSC. DOL/VETS reported the agency deployed its customer satisfaction survey in May 2016 and will be monitoring and collecting responses on a quarterly basis. The agency plans to employ the same follow-up technique used during the demonstration project and will determine if additional follow-up emails are warranted.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, to improve Forest Service's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures, (3) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (4) develop a feedback mechanism to collect comments agency-wide, which should include guidance or criteria to elevate customer feedback from local and regional offices to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, Forest Service provided an update for completing the tasks necessary to respond to our recommendations. In accordance with our recommendations, for each of its customer service standards, the Forest Service has developed goals, targets and measures and we consider this part of the recommendation closed. Forest Service stated the remaining part of the recommendation will be implemented by December 2018. Specifically, the Forest Service stated by December 2018 it will begin to make standards easily publicly available on its public-facing websites. The Forest Service provided the criteria for elevating customer comments and by December 2018 stated it will begin to deploy and collect feedback forms. We will close this recommendation as implemented when standards are publicly available and customer feedback forms are deployed.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of Education should direct Federal Student Aid's Chief Operating Officer, to improve Federal Student Aid's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (2) develop a feedback mechanism that includes guidance or criteria for service providers to elevate customer feedback to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: We emailed Department of Education in June 2017 for an update on the status of this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection should, to improve CBP's customer service standards: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Customs and Border Protection
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, CBP sent an email stating that the agency has done all it can to fully implement the recommendation at this time. Because CBP does not have performance goals or targets for customer service standards this recommendation remains open. In April 2016, CBP provided us with customer service survey questions they use to collect data. Based on our review of that information, we were unable to confirm CBP had established performance targets and goals for the data being collected. As we stated in the report, performance goals should be in a quantifiable and measurable form to define the level of performance to be achieved for program activities each year. Although CBP is collecting new customer service data based on survey responses, without predetermined performance targets that align with a customer service standard it is not clear what or if internal targets or customer needs are being met. In June 2017, we emailed CBP for an update on the status of this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Recommendation: Recognizing that moving toward a more customer-oriented culture within federal agencies is likely to be a continuous effort, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, to improve the National Park Service's customer service standards and feedback review, to: (1) ensure standards include performance targets or goals, (2) ensure standards include performance measures, (3) ensure standards are easily publicly available, (4) develop a feedback mechanism that includes guidance or criteria to review and elevate customer feedback from local and regional offices to identify the need for and to make service improvements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to NPS officials, NPS plans on defining a strategy that describes the intended customer experience for highest customer interactions such as Volunteer in Parks program and Teacher engagement program. NPS will align the strategy with overall organizational strategy, share the strategy with all employees (e.g., documentation, training), and update strategy plans to include performance targets and goals for customer service. NPS also plans on soliciting feedback from customers about their experiences with the VIP and Teacher Outreach Programs, collecting unsolicited feedback from customers about their experiences with the organization (e.g., by mining calls, emails, or social media posts), and gathering input from employees about their experiences with customers and their role in delivering the customer experience. NPS plans to share customer experience metrics and models with all employees (e.g., distribute reports and dashboards, conduct training sessions), publish customer service standards on website so that customers know what to expect, and publish customer service data to ensure actual service levels are transparent. Finally NPS plans on piloting the "Federal Feedback" Button and evaluate for expanded use in fiscal year 2018. In June 2017, we emailed NPS for an update on this recommendation. Once a response is received we will update this recommendation.
    Director: Jacqueline M. Nowicki
    Phone: (617) 788-0580

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Based on GAO's review, the Secretary of Education should direct the Office of Special Education Programs to increase transparency regarding the timeliness of due process hearing decisions for Congress and better target its monitoring and technical assistance to states, revise its performance measure to collect information from states on the amount of time that extensions add to due process hearing decisions.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: : In April 2017, Education reported that it had developed and implemented a plan to monitor states with 10 or more fully adjudicated hearings in a given year where at least 75 percent of the decisions are issued with extended timelines. Specifically, the agency reported it was actively monitoring 6 states meeting these criteria. It would also provide technical assistance to states, as appropriate, to facilitate more timely resolution of due process disputes. Education also reported that it would gather information on the burden and cost of revising its performance measure, however, as of June 2017, it had not provided documentation that it had done so. While these are positive steps, we will consider closing this recommendation when Education's revises its performance measure on the timeliness of due process hearing decisions.
    Recommendation: Based on GAO's review, the Secretary of Education should direct the Office of Special Education Programs to assist its oversight of dispute resolution, take steps to improve the comparability of parental involvement data while minimizing the burden to states, and use the data for better management decision making. Steps to consider could include establishing and requiring that states follow standard data collection and analysis procedures.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In FY15, Education reported that the IDEA Data Center, in relation to the parent involvement portion of the audit, has continued review of APR [need to spell out] indicator B8 to collect information related to data collection methods, results, and improvement activities for the indicator summary for OSEP. It also began reviewing existing sources for information on how parent data are collected and best practices/ exemplars that are publicly available. In April 2017, Education reported it would direct Parent Technical Assistance Centers and other Education-funded centers to work together to develop and disseminate materials to assist states in analyzing and using parental involvement data to improve the provision of special education services. We believe this effort could help individual states improve methods for analyzing and using parental involvement data. However, we await documentation that such materials were developed and distributed. Also, it is unclear how it would improve the comparability of parental involvement data across states and allow Education to accurately assess states' performance on this IDEA indicator.
    Director: Eileen Larence
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that I&A maintains critical skills and competencies, when planning for and implementing current and future workforce actions, the Secretary of Homeland Security should establish mechanisms to monitor and evaluate workforce initiatives and use results to determine any needed changes.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO will update the status of this recommendation when the Department of Homeland Security provides documentation and other information on actions it has taken to monitor and evaluate workforce initiatives.
    Director: Brown, Kay E
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to help inform federal, state, and local initiatives to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse by school personnel, the Secretary of Education should lead an effort, in collaboration with the Secretary of HHS and the Attorney General, to leverage resources, expertise, and capacities across the departments to determine the most cost-effective way to disseminate federal information so that relevant state and local educational agencies, child welfare agencies, and criminal justice entities are aware of and have access to it.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, the Department of Education reported that on November 16, 2015, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students within the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education convened a meeting with federal partners to explore ways in which the agencies can better support states and to devise dissemination strategies for sharing information and providing technical assistance in the most cost- effective ways to state and local educational agencies and child welfare agencies, and ensure that resources are accessible to the various stakeholders. It noted several next steps including creating and implementing a Federal dissemination plan for the new adult sexual misconduct guidance, repository of federal resources, and for information on all state-level mandates and policies addressing adult sexual misconduct in schools. GAO will consider this recommendation closed when the department provides timelines for the completion of these activities and documentation of their completion.
    Recommendation: In order to help inform federal, state, and local initiatives to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse by school personnel, the Secretary of Education should lead an effort, in collaboration with the Secretary of HHS and the Attorney General, to leverage resources, expertise, and capacities across the departments to identify mechanisms to better track and analyze the prevalence of child sexual abuse by school personnel through existing federal data collection systems, such as the School Survey on Crime and Safety, the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, and the National Crime Victimization Survey.

    Agency: Department of Education
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Education reported that experts within the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) consulted with research partners in the Department of Justice and academic research experts to determine if an effective item or item set about this important issue could be derived. After review of extant sources and consultation with item development experts, a clear question that would result in meaningful information from school administrator respondents could not be developed. They also noted that they understand there is continuing interest on this issue and will continue studying item possibilities for the next School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS) provided the collection is funded. As of May 2016, NCES does not have funds to field SSOCS after 2016, but there is a request in the 2016 budget to support a 2018 collection. GAO will consider this recommendation closed when the department has taken the above mentioned action to continue studying item possibilities for the next SSOCS if the collection is funded.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve communication between the Corps and nonfederal sponsors of flood control projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take steps to ensure that flood control project delivery teams comply with agency guidance to develop communications plans for flood control projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to monitor the relationship between PPACA-based FULs and the NADACs on an ongoing basis to help determine whether PPACA-based FULs effectively control federal Medicaid expenditures without reducing beneficiary access to drugs subject to FULs over time.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As part of the final rule implementing the PPACA-based FUL formula, CMS monitors the relationship between the FUL and the NADAC for individual drugs on an ongoing basis and ensures that the FUL does not fall below the NADAC. CMS, however, does not monitor the relationship between the FUL and NADAC in aggregate. This monitoring would provide CMS information on the extent to which the FUL effectively controls federal Medicaid expenditures, particularly in cases where there may be potential for over-reimbursement. CMS officials expect that, by mid-2017, many states will determine reimbursement using an average acquisition cost based on the NADAC. As a result, any potential variation between the FUL and NADAC would be reduced according to CMS officials. We plan to obtain state plan amendments from CMS to confirm whether states are reimbursing at an average acquisition cost or using some other methodology to control Medicaid expenditures.
    Director: Goldenkoff, Robert N
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    4 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To help maintain a more thorough and insightful 2020 Census development schedule in order to better manage risks to a successful 2020 Census, the Secretary of Commerce and Undersecretary of Economic Affairs should direct the U.S. Census Bureau to improve the comprehensiveness of schedules, including ensuring that all relevant activities are included in the schedule.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Bureau agreed with this recommendation and stated that it is reviewing and refining project schedules to ensure that they include the full scope of work needed to reach operational decision points for the 2020 Census. The 2020 Research and Planning Office currently has 55 decennial project schedules, consisting of more than 3,700 activities. Several project schedules were re-baselined and pushed into production in January 2014. Focused integration sessions occurred in late January and February 2014, resulting in revised schedules. The Bureau released its operational plan and other documentation in November 2015, and announced in June 2016 that it would finalize and release its 2020 Census schedule in July 2016. To fully implement this recommendation, the Bureau needs to include within its integrated master activity schedule at lower levels the activities and milestones it has already identified as needed throughout the 2020 Census lifecycle. We are beginning an audit of the Bureau's scheduling practices this summer and will review actions the Bureau may have taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help maintain a more thorough and insightful 2020 Census development schedule in order to better manage risks to a successful 2020 Census, the Secretary of Commerce and Undersecretary of Economic Affairs should direct the U.S. Census Bureau to improve the construction of schedules, including ensuring complete logic is in place to identify the preceding and subsequent activities as well as a critical path that can be used to make decisions.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Bureau agreed with this recommendation and stated that it has already begun maturing project schedules to ensure that the logical relationships between discrete schedules are put into place. Schedule integration sessions across projects and programs were held in late January 2014 and into February 2014 and periodically since then, where work is deconstructed into detailed schedules. As the Bureau continues to mature its schedule and scheduling process for the 2020 Census and related tests, its officials say they are taking care to ensure that logical linkages are in place within the schedule and that they are adding additional activities on a rolling basis. Bureau officials believe this ongoing work with the 2020 schedule will ensure they have a robust tool to help manage the 2020 program and make key decisions. The Bureau released its operational plan and other documentation in November 2015 and announced in June 2016 that it would finalize and release its 2020 Census schedule in July 2016. To fully implement this recommendation, the Bureau needs to ensure linkage between activities and the estimated resources needed to complete them. We are beginning an audit of the Bureau's scheduling practices this summer and will review actions the Bureau may have taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help maintain a more thorough and insightful 2020 Census development schedule in order to better manage risks to a successful 2020 Census, the Secretary of Commerce and Undersecretary of Economic Affairs should direct the U.S. Census Bureau to improve the credibility of schedules, including conducting a quantitative risk assessment.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Bureau agreed with this recommendation and stated that it has already begun maturing project schedules to ensure that the logical relationships between discrete schedules are put into place. Schedule integration sessions across projects and programs were held in late January 2014 and into February 2014 and periodically since then, where work is deconstructed into detailed schedules. As the Bureau continues to mature its schedule and scheduling process for the 2020 Census and related tests, its officials say they are taking care to ensure that logical linkages are in place within the schedule and that they are adding additional activities on a rolling basis. Bureau officials believe this ongoing work with the 2020 schedule will ensure they have a robust tool to help manage the 2020 program and make key decisions. The Bureau released its operational plan and other documentation in November 2015 and announced in June 2016 that it would finalize and release its 2020 Census schedule in July 2016. As part of the maturation process, the Bureau expects to conduct a quantitative risk assessment of decennial project schedules. In 2015, the Bureau provided us with a preliminary output from its risk analysis software as a demonstration of the type of analysis it is committed to, but more recently its officials said that they may not be able to take all the steps needed to satisfy this recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, the Bureau needs to conduct quantitative schedule risk analyses with the resulting schedule. We are beginning an audit of the Bureau's scheduling practices this summer and will review actions the Bureau may have taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Director of the U.S. Census Bureau should initiate a robust workforce planning process for those working on schedules related to the Master Address File, including actions such as an analysis of skills needed, to identify and address gaps in scheduling skills.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Bureau of the Census
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Census Bureau agreed with this recommendation and states it is taking steps to improve its scheduling practices and to initiate a comprehensive workforce planning process for those working on decennial project schedules. Bureau officials state they are currently evaluating the skills needed for scheduling support of the 2020 Census and will take the appropriate steps to acquire and develop the appropriate mix of skill sets, including but not limited to developing certified scheduling staff, hiring expert contractors to assist with periodic training, and scheduling standards implementation. They also state that the Bureau is committed to continuing to strengthen the schedule management plan, practices, and methods in place for the 2020 Census. The Bureau has experienced turnover in the leadership of the team responsible for 2020 scheduling, and, as of July 2017, Bureau officials have said they are working to collect artifacts that may demonstrate how this recommendation was addressed.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address challenges the Task Force faces in producing comprehensive and useful assessments of progress and addressing factors that may limit GLRI progress, the EPA Administrator, in coordination with the Task Force, as appropriate, should establish an adaptive management plan that includes all of the key elements of adaptive management and provides details on how these elements will be implemented.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, EPA notified GAO that the final GLRI adaptive management report is due to be released in December 2017. We will review the report after it becomes available.
    Director: Mihm, J Christopher
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve implementation of GPRAMA and help address pressing governance issues, given the common, long-standing difficulties agencies continue to face in measuring the performance of various types of federal programs and activities--contracts, direct services, grants, regulations, research and development, and tax expenditures--the Director of OMB should work with the PIC to develop a detailed approach to examine these difficulties across agencies, including identifying and sharing any promising practices from agencies that have overcome difficulties in measuring the performance of these program types. This approach should include goals, planned actions, and deliverables along with specific time frames for their completion, as well as the identification of the parties responsible for each action and deliverable.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff told us that they have made no further progress on this recommendation since their last update in June 2016. At that time, according to information provided by staff from OMB and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC), they had taken some initial steps to address this recommendation in a few areas, such as acquisition management (contracts). In addition, the PIC formed a working group on performance measurement that, in part, is focusing on how to develop appropriate performance measures. However, OMB and the PIC have not yet developed a comprehensive and detailed approach to address these issues as envisioned in our report. We will continue to monitor progress.
    Director: Mihm, J Christopher
    Phone: (202)512-3236

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better leverage agency quarterly performance reviews as a mechanism to manage performance toward agency priority and other agency-level performance goals, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should work with the Performance Improvement Council and other relevant groups to identify and share promising practices to help agencies extend their quarterly performance reviews to include, as relevant, representatives from outside organizations that contribute to achieving their agency performance goals.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: Staff from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Performance Improvement Council (PIC) have taken little action to address this recommendation, according to information they shared in May 2016. OMB staff said that while they have found it is useful to engage external stakeholders in improving program delivery at times, agencies view reviews as internal agency management meetings. Thus, they believe it would not always be appropriate to regularly include external representatives. According to PIC staff, the PIC continues to work with agencies to identify examples where agencies have included representatives from outside organizations in quarterly reviews, and to identify promising practices based on those experiences. As those promising practices are identified, PIC staff plan to disseminate them through the PIC Internal Reviews Working Group and other venues. We will continue to monitor progress.
    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: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that air ventilation systems in manufactured homes perform as specified and meet the HUD Code, HUD should develop an appropriate method to test and validate the performance of the ventilation system as part of the HUD certification process.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, HUD stated that it has not developed a test to validate the performance of the whole-house ventilation specification. We continue to believe that developing such a test will better ensure that air ventilation systems in manufactured homes perform as specified and meet the HUD Code.
    Director: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202)512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FAA's efforts to improve general aviation safety, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to improve measures of general aviation activity by requiring the collection of the number of hours that general aviation aircraft fly over a period of time (flight hours). FAA should explore ways to do this that minimize the impact on the general aviation community, such as by collecting the data at regular events (e.g., during registration renewals or at annual maintenance inspections) that are already required.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, GAO confirmed that FAA's collection of flight hour data during registration renewals or annual maintenance inspections is not feasible because it would require rulemaking and potentially have a significant economic and paperwork impact on the GA community. FAA noted that, although previously the GA Activity Survey was somewhat limited for collecting more extensive flight hour data, improvements to the survey regarding flight hour data collection have resulted in a low standard error of 1.1 percent, which means that the agency and industry can have confidence in the aggregate results regarding how GA is operated in the national airspace system. While there may have been methodological improvements to the survey, FAA's response indicates that it does not require the collection of GA flight hour data. GAO maintains that estimates from the survey still may not be sufficient for drawing conclusions about changes in crash rates over time and that more precise flight hour data could allow FAA to better target its safety efforts within the general aviation community.
    Recommendation: To enhance FAA's efforts to improve general aviation safety, and to ensure that ongoing safety issues are addressed, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to set specific general aviation safety improvement goals--such as targets for fatal accident reductions--for individual industry segments using a datadriven, risk management approach.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO confirmed in August 2017 that FAA's General Aviation Joint Steering Committee has undertaken a data-driven approach to resolving and mitigating the risks associated with all General Aviation (GA) fatal accidents and is exploring different metrics for monitoring individual industry segments utilizing tools such as the GA Activity Survey but that credible metrics for each industry sub-sector are currently not feasible. However, our recommendation was for FAA to develop metrics for industry segments because we found a variety of differences in accident and fatality rates among industry segments and believe that focusing on segments with higher instances of both is a better use of FAA's limited resources.
    Recommendation: To enhance FAA's efforts to improve general aviation safety, and to determine whether the programs and activities underlying the 5-year strategy are successful and if additional actions are needed, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to develop performance measures for each significant program and activity underlying the 5-year strategy.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO confirmed in August 2017 that FAA has established performance metrics for the activities underlying the 5-year strategy and that the GA fatal accident rate remains its primary performance measure. FAA also reported that additional performance measures would be developed in association with the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee working groups. However, FAA has provided no documentation of its metrics for the associated activities underlying the 5-year strategy therefore this recommendation remains open.
    Director: Goldenkoff, Robert N
    Phone: (202)512-2757

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to maintain progress in maximizing the efficiency of existing data sources, and to improve the broader efficiency of the federal statistical system and improve communication among agencies and others, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Chief Statistician, should work with the ICSP, when OMB next updates guidance on agency survey and statistical information collection and dissemination methods, to include additional details on actions agencies can take to meet requirements to identify duplication, to consult with persons outside of the agency, and address other requirements as appropriate.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: OMB concurred with our recommendation. As of August 2017, the team is awaiting an update from the agency on the status of OMB's actions to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In order to maintain progress in maximizing the efficiency of existing data sources, and to improve the broader efficiency of the federal statistical system and improve communication among agencies and others, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Chief Statistician, should work with the ICSP to create new methods or enhance existing methods to improve the dissemination of information and resources produced by interagency statistical committees. For example, such enhancements could include increasing the timeliness and availability of information on websites to better capture the full range of products and identify committee priorities.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: OMB concurred with our recommendation and in July 2014 reported that it plans to implement it by launching a new website for the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology. The new website will be hosted by the General Services Administration and will give interagency statistical committees the ability to manage their own webpages and disseminate products. As of August 2017, the team is awaiting an update from the agency on the status of OMB's actions to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In order to maintain progress in maximizing the efficiency of existing data sources, and to increase the reliability of the information presented on the Reginfo.gov website and in OMB's internal system, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Chief Statistician, should work with the ICSP to implement quality-control procedures designed to identify and remedy any differences between cost and burden information provided on the website and in the related supporting statement documentation that underlies this information.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: OMB concurred with our recommendation. As of August 2017, the team is awaiting an update from OMB on the status of actions taken to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Gootnick, David B
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to strengthen its ability to collect, evaluate, and transmit reliable information to Congress, the Secretary of the Interior should disseminate guidelines to the affected jurisdictions that adequately address concepts essential to producing reliable impact estimates, and call for the affected jurisdictions to apply these guidelines when developing compact impact reports.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a January 13, 2012 letter, Interior provided a status update to GAO and the Congress on this recommendation. Interior stated that it generally concurred with the recommendation and that it would advise the governors of affected jurisdictions of possible guidelines to develop compact reports. In addition, Interior officials met with staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and GAO representatives on January 17, 2012 to discuss approaches to preparing this guidance. Interior targeted a completion date of September 15, 2012 for the guidance at that time. In March 2012, Interior met with three of the four governors of affected jurisdictions, Hawaii, the CNMI, and Guam. According to Interior, the governors reached the consensus that Hawaii would develop a template for developing guidelines by December 2012. Although the completion date was revised, such guidance was not prepared. Section 13 of S. 1237, as introduced June 27, 2013, would have required Interior to identify the amount of compact impact costs in affected jurisdictions for the purpose of permitting the amount of impact cost to be used as in-kind contributions for federal grants. In its statement at a July 11, 2013 Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing on S. 1237, Interior stated that it "has urged the governors [of affected jurisdictions] to develop consistent standards of reporting among themselves, including the definition of FAS migrants, accurate accounting of migrant costs to the affected government, and benefits received by the affected jurisdiction from employment, taxation and consumption." but that it opposed the enactment of Section 13. On August 20, 2013, Interior sent letters to all four governors of affected jurisdictions stating that it was available to provide comments on any guidelines for measurement that the governors may choose to develop and present. Simultaneously, Interior sent a letter to GAO stating that the governing law, P.L. 108-188, does not give Interior authority to mandate either measurement processes or the reporting of impacts to the Congress. Therefore, Interior stated that it was unable to ensure that guidelines for reports to Congress are completed by the affected jurisdictions and that it can take no further action. However, our report found that, though the guidelines were not required under the law, without such guidelines, there were a number of weaknesses in affected jurisdictions' reporting of compact impacts to Interior from 2004 through 2010 related to accuracy, adequacy of documentation, and comprehensiveness. Interior prepared draft guidelines in late 2014, but these were not issued. In March 2016, Interior stated that OIA, in consultation with the leaders from the affected jurisdictions, would develop guidelines for measuring compact impact and that the guidelines would be completed in December 2016. In August 2016, Interior again stated to GAO that the guidelines would be completed by the end of the year, but they were not completed. In September 2017, Interior provided GAO with a draft template for recording costs but stated that, given new leadership at Interior and in the affected jurisdictions, more discussion would be needed before the template can be finalized. We continue to believe that providing more rigorous guidelines to the affected jurisdictions and promoting their use for compact impact reports would increase the likelihood that Interior can provide reliable information on compact impacts to Congress.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202)512-7043

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that information entered into CMS's complaints database is reliable and consistent, the Administrator of CMS should identify issues with data quality and clarify guidance to states about how particular fields in the database should be interpreted, such as what it means to substantiate a complaint.

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

    Comments: HHS concurred with this recommendation. In November 2014, CMS officials reported that the agency's Survey and Certification Group was in the early stages of a planned multi-year review of all of its business processes, including those related to nursing home complaint investigations. Officials stated that, as part of that review, agency staff would seek to provide clarification on all aspects of the complaint process, including what it means to substantiate a complaint. As of September 2016, CMS officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CMS's assessment of state survey agencies' performance in the management of nursing home complaints, the Administrator of CMS should conduct additional monitoring of state performance using information from CMS's complaints database, such as additional timeliness measures.

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

    Comments: In November 2014, CMS officials reported that the fiscal year 2014 protocol for assessment of state agency performance includes a new measure that tracks how soon after the completion of a complaint investigation a state agency uploads data from that investigation to CMS's complaint tracking system. However, the protocol does not call for assessment of the number of days by which state survey agencies miss the deadlines for some complaint investigations--a measure that we suggested could provide a more comprehensive picture of state agency performance. As of September 2016, CMS officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen CMS's assessment of state survey agencies' performance in the management of nursing home complaints, the Administrator of CMS should assure greater consistency in assessments by identifying differences in interpretation of the performance standards and clarifying guidance to state survey agencies and CMS regional offices.

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

    Comments: HHS agreed that CMS needed to strengthen its assessment of state survey agencies' performance in the management of nursing home complaints. In November 2014, CMS officials reported that the agency's fiscal year 2014 protocol for assessment of state agencies' performance requires CMS regional offices to review the extent to which the states' policies are consistent with CMS policies. CMS officials acknowledged that there was some variation among states and noted that the agency's Survey and Certification Group is in the early stages of a multi-year review of all of its business processes. Officials expected this review would identify additional opportunities to improve consistency among states in the application of the performance standards. As of September 2016, CMS officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen and increase accountability of state survey agencies' management of the nursing home complaints process, the Administrator of CMS should clarify guidance to the state survey agencies about the minimum information that should be conveyed to complainants at the close of an investigation.

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

    Comments: HHS agreed that CMS needed to take steps to strengthen and increase accountability of state survey agencies' management of nursing home complaints. In November 2014, CMS officials reported that while they believed the CMS State Operations Manual, which specifies procedures for addressing complaints, provides significant guidance regarding the information that state agencies should convey to complainants at the close of an investigation, they would review the guidance to identify any needed changes. As of September 2016, CMS officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen and increase accountability of state survey agencies' management of the nursing home complaints process, the Administrator of CMS should provide guidance encouraging state survey agencies to prioritize complaints at the level that is warranted, not above that level.

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

    Comments: HHS agreed that CMS needed to take steps to strengthen and increase accountability of state survey agencies' management of the nursing home complaints process and stated that CMS would provide clarification and guidance to states to ensure complaints were prioritized at the appropriate level. However, in CMS's fiscal year 2014 protocol for assessment of state agency performance, the prioritization standard still required only that complaints be assigned a priority level at or above the level assigned by CMS reviewers. We remain concerned that defining the standard this way may create an incentive for survey agencies to prioritize some complaints at a higher level than is warranted--which could increase workload and potentially jeopardize the timeliness of investigations that warrant the higher priority level. As of September 2016, CMS officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: To strengthen and increase accountability of state survey agencies' management of the nursing home complaints process, the Administrator of CMS should implement CMS's proposed plans to publish state survey agencies' scores but limit publication to those performance standards that CMS considers the most reliable and clear.

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

    Comments: HHS agreed that CMS needed to take steps to strengthen and increase accountability of state survey agencies' management of the nursing home complaints process and said that CMS would work with state officials and others to identify key performance information that would be of public value. In November 2014, CMS officials reported that the agency had not yet outlined a method or timetable for publishing states' performance scores. As of September 2016, CMS officials have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Goldenkoff, Robert N
    Phone: (202)512-2757

    7 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help improve the effectiveness of the Bureau's outreach and enumeration efforts, especially for HTC populations, should they be used again in the 2020 Census, and to improve the Bureau's marketing/outreach efforts, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to use evaluation results, response rate, and other data to develop a predictive model that would inform decisions on how much and how best to allocate paid media funds for 2020.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: During 2013, the Bureau reported on the agency's assessments of the 2010 communications campaign. The Bureau concluded that extra investment of advertising in certain markets increased awareness of the Census. During 2015, the Bureau conducted research and testing on activities to support planning for the 2020 communications campaign. The Bureau based its testing, in part, on evaluation results of paid media activities the 2010 integrated communications program. In December 2015, the Census Bureau issued a draft Request for Proposal of the 2020 Integrated Communications Contract. According to the Request for Proposal, the contractor will develop a paid media plan based on tests of advertising with target audiences and complete analysis of media buys. The contractor will develop an ad tracking system to help inform decisions on allocating paid media funds for 2020. The Bureau awarded the contract in August 2016. Bureau officials have indicated action on this recommendation is due by December 31, 2017, and as of July 2017, we continue to monitor the Bureau progress in developing its approach for the 2020 Integrated Communications Program.
    Recommendation: To help improve the effectiveness of the Bureau's outreach and enumeration efforts, especially for HTC populations, should they be used again in the 2020 Census, and improve the Bureau's marketing/outreach efforts, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to develop mechanisms to increase coordination and communication between the partnership and local census office staff. Possible actions include offering more opportunities for joint training, establishing protocols for coordination, and more effectively leveraging the partnership contact database to better align partnership outreach activities with local needs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2011, the Bureau reported on the agency's assessment of the partnership program. According to the Bureau, the Regional Partnership is developing a strategy for the 2020 Census Partnership and Outreach Program. In September 2014, the Bureau's Path to the 2020 Census, identified the Partnership Program as one of the best methods for communicating the importance of response and states its intent to map out details about the Partnership Program in early 2016. In December 2015, the Census Bureau issued a draft Request for Proposal of the 2020 Integrated Communications Contract. According to the Request for Proposal, the Contractor will collaborate with program areas, the Field Division, and regional offices to implement the partnership program. The Bureau awarded the contract in August 2016. As of July 2017, Bureau officials are gathering artifacts that they believe may demonstrate progress with this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the effectiveness of the Bureau's outreach and enumeration efforts, especially for HTC populations, should they be used again in the 2020 Census, and to improve the Bureau's marketing/outreach efforts, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to improve the user-friendliness of the partnership database to help ensure more timely updates of contact information and enhance its use as a management tool.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2012, the Bureau issued an assessment of the partnership program that highlighted user problems with the partnership database. One of the report's recommendations was to ensure ease of data entry for users of the Integrated Partner Contact Database (IPCD). In 2014, the Bureau reported the agency is continuing to modifications to the Integrated Partner Contact Database (IPCD) system and discussing options for improving the efficiency and usability of the IPCD. In December 2015, the Census Bureau issued a draft Request for Proposal of the 2020 Integrated Communications Contract. According to the Request for Proposal, the Contractor will work closely with the regional offices to implement the partnership program. The Bureau awarded the contract in August 2016. Bureau officials have indicated that action on this recommendation is due by September 30, 2017. As of July 2017, we continue to monitor the Bureau progress in improving the efficiency and usability of its partnership database.
    Recommendation: To help improve the effectiveness of the Bureau's outreach and enumeration efforts, especially for HTC populations, should they be used again in the 2020 Census, and to improve the Bureau's marketing/outreach efforts, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that promotional materials, including in-language materials for the partnership program, are available when partnership staff are first hired.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2011, the Bureau issued an assessment of the partnership program. One of the report's recommendations was to provide promotional materials that fit partner needs. During April 2014, Bureau reported its staff in the field and communications directorates have plans to review assessments, lessons learned reports and debriefings with key staff, stakeholders, and partners to inform an effective strategy for the development, production, and delivery of promotional materials, including non-English language materials, for the 2020 Census. In December 2015, the Census Bureau issued a draft Request for Proposal of the 2020 Integrated Communications Contract. According to the Request for Proposal, the Contractor will produce materials such as promotional items for partners to use in promoting awareness of the census. The Bureau awarded the contract in August 2016. As of July 2017, Bureau officials are attempting to identify and provide evidence that they met their April 1, 2017 deadline of implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the effectiveness of the Bureau's outreach and enumeration efforts, especially for HTC populations, should they be used again in the 2020 Census, and to improve some of the Bureau's key efforts to enumerate HTC populations, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to assess visitation, response rate, and other applicable data on Be Counted/QAC locations and use that information to revise site selection guidance for 2020.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: During May 2012 the Bureau reported on its assessment of the Be Counted/ Questionnaire Assistance Center program. The assessment included information on the number of individuals counted and number of location established but did not identify response rates for hard-to enumerate groups. In April 2013, the Bureau reported on its assessment of coverage measurement issues related to hard-to-enumerate populations. In its 2020 Census Operational Plan, issued in October 2015, the Bureau provided a high level overview of reengineered field operations plans and has not provided details on making decisions on special enumeration efforts such as Be Counted. As of July 2017, we continue to monitor the Bureau's plans for special enumeration activities that target hard to enumerate groups, and Bureau officials are gathering artifacts to support implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the effectiveness of the Bureau's outreach and enumeration efforts, especially for HTC populations, should they be used again in the 2020 Census, and to improve some of the Bureau's key efforts to enumerate HTC populations, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the factors that led to the staffing issues observed during SBE and take corrective actions to ensure more efficient SBE staffing levels in 2020.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2012, the Bureau issued its assessment of the Service Based Enumeration Program. The assessment reported on the number of individuals counted and the complexities of this special enumeration activity. The assessment did not address the Bureau's approach to staffing this special enumeration activity. In its 2020 Census Operational Plan, issued in October 2015, the Bureau provided a high level overview of reengineered field operations plans and has not provided details on making decisions on special enumeration efforts. As of July 2017, we continue to monitor the Bureau's plans for special enumeration activities that target hard to enumerate groups, and Bureau officials are gathering artifacts to support implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve the effectiveness of the Bureau's outreach and enumeration efforts, especially for HTC populations, should they be used again in the 2020 Census, and to improve some of the Bureau's key efforts to enumerate HTC populations, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs as well as the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to evaluate the extent to which each special enumeration activity improved the count of traditionally hard-to-enumerate groups and use the results to help inform decision making on spending for these programs in 2020.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In 2012, the Bureau reported on assessments of many 2010 special enumeration activities such as the Service-Based Enumeration and the Be Counted/Questionnaire Assistance Center Programs. These assessments revealed the number of persons counted and spending for the special enumeration activities. Separately, the Bureau issued results of the 2010 Census Coverage Measurement Program that described the level of coverage of various hard-to-enumerate populations generally without attributing coverage to specific enumeration activities. In 2015, the Bureau issued its 2020 Census Operational Plan outlining design changes for enumeration activities. According to the Bureau, the changes are designed to optimize self-response and use administrative records and third party data to reduce field work. However, the Bureau had not provided details of its plans for various special enumeration activities. In April 2017 Bureau officials provided us with evaluation results of its 2010 communication efforts and other documents related to ongoing efforts to reduce errors in the census. As of mid-July 2017, Bureau officials reported they were working to provide other artifacts they believe may demonstrate that recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202)512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better determine the effects of nonresponse bias on the Status of Forces survey results, the Secretary of Defense should direct Director of DMDC to develop and implement guidance both for conducting nonresponse analysis and for using the results of nonresponse analysis to inform DMDC's statistical weighting techniques, as part of the collection and analysis of the Status of Forces survey results.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2012, DMDC indicated that, although it continues to agree with the recommendation that DOD develop and implement guidance both for conducting nonresponse analysis and for using the results of nonresponse analysis to inform DMDC's statistical weighting techniques, funding is not currently available to carry out the full intent of the recommendation. Therefore, DMDC stated that it can only comply with the spirit of the recommendation at this time. Further, DMDC is looking for further direction from GAO with regard to this recommendation.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202)512-7043

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address state agency practices and external pressure that may compromise survey accuracy, the Administrator of CMS should reestablish expectations through guidance to state survey agencies that noncitation practices--official or unofficial--are inappropriate, and systematically monitor trends in states' citations.

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

    Comments: September 2017: HHS reported CMS is working to address this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive further information. September 2016: CMS has not yet provided additional information. GAO will update the recommendation, as appropriate, when information is received. July 2015: CMS indicated it will provide GAO with updated actions in early 2016. May 2014: Though the best method to address external pressures on State Agencies was not identified, CMS is continuing to address the consistency, effectiveness, and integrity of the survey process through the following activities: reviewing citation patterns for the nursing home surveys; systematically identifying and testing opportunities to make the survey process more efficient and effective; and holding monthly CO and RO calls to address consistencies in the survey and enforcement process. CMS Regional Offices also routinely hold conference calls (e.g., monthly) with the State Survey Agencies in their region to address survey, enforcement and certification issues and conduct the federal validation survey of the state's findings. CMS is looking to review specific regulatory deficiencies for trends and areas where additional guidance is needed. Anticipated completion date of October 31, 2014. June 2013: Though the best method to address external pressures on State Agencies was not identified. CMS is continuing to address the consistency, effectiveness, and integrity of the survey process through the following activities: reviewing citation patterns for the nursing home surveys; systematically identifying and testing opportunities to make the survey process more efficient and effective; and holding monthly CO and RO calls to address consistencies in the survey and enforcement process. CMS Regional Offices also routinely hold conference calls (e.g., monthly) with the State Survey Agencies in their region to address survey, enforcement and certification issues and conduct the federal validation survey of the state's findings. September 2010: CMS held a State/Federal meeting in April 2010. The discussion with the State/Federal meeting did not shed light on best method to address possible external pressures on State Agencies. Some expressed that poor documentation/inadequate investigation may cause deficiencies to be dropped and not necessarily external pressure. They will continue to work on developing next steps.
    Recommendation: To address state agency practices and external pressure that may compromise survey accuracy, the Administrator of CMS should establish expectations through guidance to state survey agencies to communicate and collaborate with their CMS regional offices when they experience significant pressure from legislators or the nursing home industry that may affect the survey process or surveyors' perceptions.

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

    Comments: September 2017: HHS reported CMS is working to address this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive further information. September 2016: CMS has not yet provided additional information. GAO will update the recommendation, as appropriate, when information is received. July 2015: CMS indicated it will provide GAO with updated actions in early 2016. May 2014: CMS has undertaken a broader review of both the QIS and traditional survey processes, and the extent to which the methodology and guidance result in an effective and efficient survey process. In August 2012, CMS convened a broad group of surveyors to address these issues and make recommendations which have resulted in continuing work to develop and test alternative guidance and processes. CMS is looking to review specific regulatory deficiencies for trends and areas where additional guidance is needed. Anticipated Completion date of December 31, 2014. June 2013: Though the best method to address external pressures on State Agencies was not identified. CMS is continuing to address the consistency, effectiveness, and integrity of the survey process through the following activities: reviewing citation patterns for the nursing home surveys; systematically identifying and testing opportunities to make the survey process more efficient and effective; and holding monthly CO and RO calls to address consistencies in the survey and enforcement process. CMS Regional Offices also routinely hold conference calls (e.g., monthly) with the State Survey Agencies in their region to address survey, enforcement and certification issues and conduct the federal validation survey of the state's findings. September 2010: CMS held a State/Federal meeting in April 2010. The discussion with the State/Federal meeting did not shed light on best method to address possible external pressures on State Agencies. CMS will continue to work on developing next steps.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202)512-7043

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the longer-term compliance of nursing homes that have successfully returned to substantial compliance under temporary management, the Administrator of CMS should develop guidance for states to enhance their oversight of such homes, such as implementing reactivation of temporary management if the home does not maintain substantial compliance over the 2 years following the conclusion of the sanction.

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

    Comments: September 2017: CMS provided documentation of training documents developed for State Agency Directors and Enforcement Specialists covering a variety of topics including when to use the temporary management sanction. Neither the new training nor relevant sections of the CFR or State Operations Manual appear to provide guidance on longer-term oversight of nursing homes that have returned to substantial compliance under temporary management. September 2016: GAO has not received additional information from CMS. July 2015: CMS indicated it will provide GAO with updated actions in early 2016. July 2014: CMS said the recommendation was in process and CMS was drafting an internal enforcement action plan to discuss enforcement remedies including temporary management. June 2013: CMS officials said they have been making an effort to work with the Regional Offices and states on the appropriate use of all sanctions in general, including the use of Temporary Management. June 2012: CMS officials said that the agency continues to investigate the various uses of CMP monies and the potential to use CMPs to recruit, train and supervise temporary managers is one of several options under consideration. May 2011: CMS agreed this was an important recommendation, but due to the Affordable Care Act implementation, the agency said they temporarily deferred planned work until 2012.
    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: Dillingham, Gerald L
    Phone: (202)512-4803

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help FAA improve the data on and the safety of air cargo operations, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FAA Administrator to gather comprehensive and accurate data on all part 135 cargo operations to gain a better understanding of air cargo accident rates and better target safety initiatives. This can be done by separating out cargo activity in FAA's annual survey of aircraft owners or by requiring all part 135 cargo carriers to report operational data as part 121 carriers currently do.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2017, FAA reported that the agency has determined that a redesign of the General Aviation and Part 135 Activity Survey (GA Survey) is not required to address the recommendation, as originally considered. Beginning with the GA survey for year 2016--survey results are being processed--FAA will identify aircraft certified for cargo operations and use the certificate type to break out operational data for cargo operations. FAA also discussed this plan with stakeholders, including the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association, and believe this new approach will meet the recommendation for gathering comprehensive and accurate data on all part 135 cargo operations. In June 2017, FAA informed us that the agency expects to release the 2016 GA survey by October 31, 2017.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-2649

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance FDA's oversight of dietary supplements and foods with added dietary ingredients, and to better enable FDA to meet its responsibility to regulate dietary supplements that contain new dietary ingredients, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to issue guidance to clarify when an ingredient is considered a new dietary ingredient, the evidence needed to document the safety of new dietary ingredients, and appropriate methods for establishing ingredient identity.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2011, FDA published draft guidance for industry on new dietary ingredient notifications and related issues. This draft guidance includes information on when a dietary ingredient is considered new, evidence of safety, and methods for ingredient identity. We are waiting for the draft guidance to become final to close the recommendation.
    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.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202)512-6670

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to provide the Congress and federal and state officials with an accurate assessment of the progress being made toward the goal of full deployment of wireless E911, the Department of Transportation should work with state-level E911 officials, the National Emergency Number Association, and other public safety groups to determine which public safety answering points will need to have their equipment upgraded. This information should then be reflected in the PSAP database managed by NENA under contract with DOT. This will provide the baseline needed to measure progress toward the goal of full nationwide deployment of wireless E911 service.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO has made several attempts to contact DOT to update the status of this recommendation and are awaiting a reply.