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    Results:

    Subject Term: Telephones

    7 publications with a total of 13 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: Kathleen King
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that timely primary care is available and accessible to AI/AN people, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Director of IHS to monitor patient wait times in its federally operated facilities and ensure corrective actions are taken when standards are not met.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of June 2017, according to IHS, the implementation of an agency-wide standard for patient wait times will be accomplished as follows: A decision will be made on the standard to be used, by the IHS Director no later than July 2017. Using a pilot sample of facilities (two to four facilities), the standard will be assigned to the Area Directors over the selected pilot facilities in October 2017. Systems of measurement will be decided and communicated to the Area Directors for the pilot facilities. By December 31, 2017, three months of activity will be analyzed and evaluated against the standard. Between January and March, 2018, adjustments to the necessary systems of measure, or adjustments to the reasonably expected performance standard will be made. A final evaluation will be performed not later than September 2018, and final adjustments will be made to either the measurement system or the standard to allow for full implementation of the standard across all IHS Areas by October, 2018.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen FCC's data collection efforts, the Chairman of FCC should develop a strategy to gather additional information on the IP transition to assess the transition's potential effects on public safety and consumers.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: FCC stated it will continue to use its existing strategy to obtain data necessary to ensure that core values remain intact through the tech transitions with present resource commitment levels. FCC plans to dedicate resources toward upgrading FCC systems and software to better use "big-data" capabilities.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve performance management of the Telecommunications Relay Service, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should develop specific performance goals and measures for the TRS program. FCC should establish goals that would guide its efforts on major program dimensions--for example, consider goals and performance measures related to, but not limited to, service quality or competition among providers.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 12, 2017, FCC's Liaison reported to us that FCC is working towards implementing these recommendations, but FCC does not have any specific achievements or documentation to report at this time. GAO will continue to monitor and update the status of this rec.
    Recommendation: To improve performance management of the Telecommunications Relay Service, following the establishment of TRS's performance goals, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should conduct a robust risk assessment that can help FCC design a comprehensive internal-control system.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 12, 2017, FCC's Liaison reported to us that FCC is working towards implementing these recommendations, but FCC does not have any specific achievements or documentation to report at this time. GAO will continue to monitor and update the status of this rec.
    Recommendation: To improve performance management of the Telecommunications Relay Service, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission should improve FCC's communication of TRS rules and procedures to the community of individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech disabilities and the companies providing TRS services through the creation and dissemination of a handbook, program manual, or other consolidation of TRS rules and procedures.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 12, 2017, FCC's Liaison reported to us that FCC is working towards implementing these recommendations, but FCC does not have any specific achievements or documentation to report at this time. GAO will continue to monitor and update the status of this rec.
    Director: Draper, Debra A
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure reliable measurement of veterans' wait times for medical appointments, the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to take actions to improve the reliability of wait time measures either by clarifying the scheduling policy to better define the desired date, or by identifying clearer wait time measures that are not subject to interpretation and prone to scheduler error.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendations to revise its scheduling policy to implement more reliable wait time measures and require all schedulers to complete standardized training on a revised scheduling policy. In July 2016, VA published VHA Directive 1230-Outpatient Scheduling Processes and Procedures, which updated and replaced the prior policy. Although the updated directive provides new instructions for scheduling appointments, the new instructions, which form the basis for measuring wait times, are still subject to scheduler interpretation, making training vital to consistent and accurate implementation of the policy. According to VHA, Directive 1230 was developed to correspond with a technical enhancement to the scheduling system, known as the Vista Scheduling Enhancement (VSE), which will also require training. As of November 2016, VHA reported that the majority of staff with scheduling access had been trained on the new directive and that separate training on VSE was scheduled to begin in February 2017. GAO cannot assess whether VHA scheduling staff are accurately implementing the new scheduling policy until the VSE roll-out is complete and all relevant staff are trained on the new system.
    Recommendation: To better facilitate timely medical appointment scheduling and improve the efficiency and oversight of the scheduling process,the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to take actions to ensure that VAMCs consistently and accurately implement VHA's scheduling policy, including use of the electronic wait list, as well as ensuring that all staff with access to the VistA scheduling system complete the required training.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: VA concurred with our recommendations to revise its scheduling policy to implement more reliable wait time measures and require all schedulers to complete standardized training on a revised scheduling policy. In July 2016, VA published VHA Directive 1230-Outpatient Scheduling Processes and Procedures, which updated and replaced the prior policy. Although the updated directive provides new instructions for scheduling appointments, the new instructions, which form the basis for measuring wait times, are still subject to scheduler interpretation, making training vital to consistent and accurate implementation of the policy. According to VHA, Directive 1230 was developed to correspond with a technical enhancement to the scheduling system,known as the Vista Scheduling Enhancement (VSE), which will also require training. As of November 2016, VHA reported that the majority of staff with scheduling access had been trained on the new directive and that separate training on VSE was scheduled to begin in February 2017. GAO cannot assess whether VHA scheduling staff are accurately implementing the new scheduling policy until the VSE roll-out is complete and all relevant staff are trained on the new system.
    Recommendation: To improve timely medical appointment scheduling, the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to develop a policy that requires VAMCs to routinely assess clinics' scheduling needs and resources to ensure that the allocation of staffing resources is responsive to the demand for scheduling medical appointments.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation and noted that it would ask VA facilities to routinely assess clinics' availability and ensure staff are distributed to meet access standards for clinics, as well as revising and implementing improved clinic management tools. In February 2015, VHA noted that it had finalized a Scheduling Resource Assessment report to address this recommendation. In December 2016, VHA noted that the Scheduling Resource Assessment tool had been further enhanced and clarified that the training for this tool is not mandatory and use of the tool is optional. Although VHA has developed this and other tools, such as the Clinic Access Report, Wait Time List Report, Missed Opportunity report, it has not developed and implemented a policy that requires VAMCs to routinely assess clinics' scheduling needs and resources. Without such policy, we believe it is not clear how these tools should be used together or who is responsible for assessing scheduling needs and resources and for making operational decisions. To close this recommendation, VA needs to develop a policy that requires its medical centers to routinely assess clinics' scheduling needs and resources to ensure that the allocation of staffing resources is responsive to the demand for scheduling medical appointments.
    Recommendation: To improve timely medical appointments and to address patient and staff complaints about telephone access,the Secretary of VA should direct the Under Secretary for Health to ensure that all VAMCs provide oversight of telephone access and implement best practices outlined in its telephone systems improvement guide.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation and stated that VISN and VA Medical Center leadership would use best practices to develop and implement improved telephone service plans. As of March 2015, VHA had developed a standardized telephone assessment tool and requested that facilities that care for 5,000 or more veterans complete the assessment and select actions for improvement based on its existing telephone systems improvement guide. Based on this request, VHA received telephone assessment and improvement plans from 286 facilities that care for 5,000 or more veterans. VHA is monitoring the facilities' telephone performance and is re-baselining call center infrastructure at each facility with a survey and new performance goals. In September 2015, VHA issued an updated Telephone Access and Contact Management Improvement Guide. VHA has also drafted an update to its directive on telephone access, but as of January 2017, it had not been published.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop a new refund timeliness measure and goal to more appropriately reflect current capabilities.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS had not developed a new measure for refund timeliness. In August 2016, IRS reiterated that it has no plans to develop a new refund timeliness performance measure or goal, nor does it plan to revise its existing measure or goal to issue refunds due for tax returns filed on paper within 40 days. During the 2016 tax filing season, taxpayers filed nearly 90 percent of returns electronically, and, as a means to set taxpayer expectations, IRS publicly reports that about 90 percent of taxpayers owed a refund received it in less than 21 days. Accordingly, we continue to believe that IRS's sole performance measure of issuing paper-filed refunds within 40 days is outdated and does not acknowledge advances in technology that allow IRS to issue refunds faster. We agree with IRS that the environment has changed considerably since we made this recommendation--the growth in identity theft refund fraud has increased the need for additional scrutiny of tax refunds, which can add to the time needed to process tax returns. IRS can take into account its concerns and set a performance measure and goal that would be both challenging and obtainable. Without a measure and goal to assess refund timeliness that includes both paper and electronically filed returns and is reflective of IRS's current capabilities, IRS is missing opportunities to provide optimum levels of taxpayer service while also ensuring that taxpayers receive accurate refunds. As such, we believe that our recommendation remains valid.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should complete an Internet strategy that (1) provides a justification for the implementation of online self-service tools and includes an assessment of providing online self-service tools that allow taxpayers to access and update elements of their account online; (2) acknowledges the cost and benefits to taxpayers of new online services; (3) sets the time frame for when the online service would be created and available for taxpayer use; and (4) includes a plan to update the strategy periodically.

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

    Comments: IRS has made progress in improving its online services strategy, as we recommended; however, as of March 2017 IRS has not yet completed its efforts. In February 2016, IRS announced its new "Future State" vision for agency-wide operations, which aims to improve services across different taxpayer interactions such as individual account assistance, exams, and collections. IRS requested funding in the fiscal year 2017 budget justification to enhance web applications, including the online account component of its Future State Initiative. In December 2016, IRS took a step forward with this by announcing that it had launched a new online tool that would allow taxpayers to view their IRS account balance, including the amount they owe for tax, penalties, and interest. However, the documentation IRS provided on the Future State Initiative did not fully address our recommendation. For example, it is missing the costs and benefits to taxpayers of the online services, and time frames for when the online services would be created and available for taxpayers. We will continue to assess the new initiative as IRS continues its development. A long-term comprehensive strategy for its online services will help ensure IRS is maximizing the benefit to taxpayers from this investment and reduce costs in other areas, such as for IRS's telephone operations.
    Director: St James, Lorelei
    Phone: (214)777-5719

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the management and oversight of the Low-Income Program, the Chairman of the FCC should conduct a robust risk assessment of the Low-Income Program.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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.