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    Subject Term: Transparency

    62 publications with a total of 163 open recommendations including 24 priority recommendations
    Director: Jennifer Grover
    Phone: (202) 512-7141

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard should either develop new performance goals to address mission activity gaps, or explain in the Coast Guard's Annual Performance Report (APR) why certain aspects of mission performance are measured while others are not. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, should make the Coast Guard's future Annual Performance Reports publicly available on the Coast Guard's website. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard, should coordinate with the Secretary of Homeland Security, and assess the extent to which documentation on performance data reliability, including Performance Measure Definition Forums and DHS and Coast Guard APRs, contain appropriate information on known data reliability limitations, and update these documents, as needed, based on the results of the assessment. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard should develop and document, in its APR or elsewhere, corrective actions for unmet performance goals that are measurable and include time frames for implementation. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Commandant of the Coast Guard should document, in its APR or elsewhere, its efforts to monitor and evaluate the implementation of corrective actions for unmet performance goals. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Chairman of the FCC should establish quantifiable goals and related measures--performance indicators, targets, and timeframes--for its enforcement program and annually publish the results to demonstrate the performance of this program and improve transparency regarding FCC's enforcement priorities. (Recommendation 1)

    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.
    Recommendation: The Chairman of the FCC should establish, and make publically available, a communications strategy outlining the agency's enforcement program for external stakeholders, to improve engagement with the telecommunications community on the purposes, objectives, and processes the Enforcement Bureau employs to achieve its mission. (Recommendation 2)

    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: Dave Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct NHTSA to define, document, and externally communicate the agency's roles and responsibilities in relation to connected vehicle data privacy.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As described in the 60-day letter from October 17, 2017, NHTSA plans to create a vehicle data privacy page to be added to their website that will include information on the types of personal data collected by motor vehicles and provide links to additional resources, including the Federal Trade Commission(FTC) and industry groups. On this web page, NHTSA also plans to outline its roles and responsibilities related to vehicle data privacy. In addition, NHTSA will consult with FTC as it develops the web page content and allow for industry and public comments. We will continue to monitor NHTSA's actions related to these efforts.
    Director: Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D.
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase transparency and obtain information to better inform decisions on whether to investigate potentially unfair or deceptive practices in the air ambulance industry, the Secretary of Transportation should take steps, once complaints are collected, to make pertinent aggregated complaint information publicly available for stakeholders, such as the number of complaints received by provider, on a monthly basis.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the Department has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To increase transparency and obtain information to better inform decisions on whether to investigate potentially unfair or deceptive practices in the air ambulance industry, the Secretary of Transportation should assess available federal and industry data and determine what further information could assist in the evaluation of future complaints or concerns regarding unfair or deceptive practices.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the Department has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To increase transparency and obtain information to better inform decisions on whether to investigate potentially unfair or deceptive practices in the air ambulance industry, the Secretary of Transportation should consider consumer disclosure requirements for air ambulance providers, which could include information such as established prices charged, business model and entity that establishes prices, and extent of contracting with insurance.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As DOD continues to improve the completeness and transparency of subsequent joint reports' methodologies in order to assist Congress in understanding the basis of the NC3 estimates by documenting the methodological assumptions and limitations affecting the report's estimates for sustaining and modernizing the NC3 system, as we previously recommended, for future joint reports, the DOD CIO should include explanations of how DOD (1) selects program elements for inclusion in its NC3 estimate, (2) determines its weighted analysis ratios, and (3) differentiates its methodology for calculating operation and maintenance estimates from its methodologies for calculating estimates for the other NC3 line items.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Chief Information Officer
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation, stating that it has incorporated it into the fiscal year 2018 joint report. DOD also said that subsequent joint reports will provide updated methodological inputs, assumptions and limitations affecting NC3 estimates. Once DOD releases the fiscal year 2018 joint report, we will determine the extent to which it addresses the recommendation.
    Recommendation: In order to assist Congress in comparing year-to-year cost estimates between joint reports, for future joint reports, the Secretary of the Air Force should provide information about any programmatic changes (i.e., programs being moved from one line item to another) in its estimates and include an explanation of the reasons for those changes and how those changes may affect year-to-year comparisons of the budget estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation, stating that it has been incorporated into the fiscal year 2018 joint report. DOD further stated that subsequent joint reports will continue to provide the recommended information but also will be revised as necessary to ensure a complete and transparent statement on programmatic changes and their possible effect on year-to-year comparisons of budget estimates. Once DOD releases the fiscal year 2018 joint report, we will determine the extent to which it addresses the recommendation.
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should require Commissioners to review and approve, as appropriate, spending above the budget in a timely manner.

    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.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should maintain and disseminate an updated list of state eligibility databases available to Lifeline providers that includes the qualifying programs those databases access to confirm eligibility; this step would help ensure Lifeline providers are aware of state eligibility databases and could also help ensure USAC audits of Lifeline providers can verify that available state databases are being utilized to verify subscriber eligibility.

    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.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should establish time frames to evaluate compliance plans and develop instructions with criteria for FCC reviewers how to evaluate these plans to meet Lifeline's program goals.

    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.
    Recommendation: To address control weaknesses and related program-integrity risks we identified in Lifeline, the Chairman of FCC should develop an enforcement strategy that details what violations lead to penalties and apply this as consistently as possible to all Lifeline providers to ensure consistent enforcement of program violations; the strategy should include a rationale and method for resource prioritization to help maximize the effectiveness of enforcement activities.

    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.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to ensure that the preliminary plans to transfer the USF funds from the private bank to the U.S. Treasury are finalized and implemented as expeditiously as possible.

    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.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to require a review of customer bills as part of the contribution audit to include an assessment of whether the charges, including USF fees, meet FCC Truth-in-Billing rules with regard to labeling, so customer bills are transparent, and appropriately labeled and described, to help consumers detect and prevent unauthorized charges.

    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.
    Recommendation: To address our findings regarding the USF, the Chairman of FCC should take action to respond to USAC requests for guidance and address pending requests concerning USF contribution requirements to ensure the contribution factor is based on complete information and that USF pass-through charges are equitable.

    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: Paula M. Rascona
    Phone: (202) 512-9816

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of OMB and the Secretary of the Treasury should establish mechanisms to assess the results of independent audits and reviews of agencies' compliance with the DATA Act requirements, including those of agency OIGs, to help inform full implementation of the act's requirements across government.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Treasury stated it will establish mechanisms to assess the results of independent audits and reviews of agencies' compliance with the DATA Act requirements, including those of agency OIGs. Treasury also stated these mechanisms will inform Treasury's efforts on whether and how to tailor its future outreach efforts to help agencies meet their DATA Act requirements. We will continue to assess Treasury's efforts to address this recommendation as IGs plan to issue their required reports in November 2017.
    Recommendation: The Director of OMB and the Secretary of the Treasury should establish mechanisms to assess the results of independent audits and reviews of agencies' compliance with the DATA Act requirements, including those of agency OIGs, to help inform full implementation of the act's requirements across government.

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

    Comments: OMB stated that it reviewed available IG readiness review reports in its assessment of agency implementation efforts, and it also relied on other, more up-to-date sources of information from agencies including data obtained from one-on-one meetings and agency self-assessments. We will continue to assess OMB's efforts to address this recommendation as IGs plan to issue their required reports in November 2017.
    Director: Lori Rectanus
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Attorney General should instruct the Director of the Marshals Service to ensure that the improvements being made to the Marshals Service's information on the security concerns of individual buildings allow the Marshals Service to understand the concerns across the portfolio.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the Marshalls Service has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA and the Director of the AOUSC, on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States, in conjunction with the Marshals Service and FPS, should improve CSP documentation in order to improve transparency and collaboration in the CSP program.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions GSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA and the Director of the AOUSC, on behalf of the Judicial Conference of the United States, in conjunction with the Marshals Service and FPS, should improve CSP documentation in order to improve transparency and collaboration in the CSP program.

    Agency: Administrative Office of the United States Courts
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions AOUSC has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Administrator of GSA--in conjunction with AOUSC, the Marshals Service, and FPS--should establish a national-level working group or similar forum, consisting of leadership designees with decision-making authority, to meet regularly to address courthouse security issues.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions GSA has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gretta L. Goodwin
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Capitol Police Board's current and any new approaches help enhance accountability, transparency, and effective external communication with its stakeholders, the Board should revise its Manual of Procedures to fully incorporate each of the leading practices for internal control and governance standards discussed in this report. In so doing, the Board should engage stakeholders in the revision process, such as by soliciting their input on any non-statutory changes that could particularly address the concerns stakeholders have raised, and incorporating their views as appropriate. If, in making revisions to its Manual, the Board determines that statutory changes may be helpful to enhance Board operations, then the Board should also engage with stakeholders on such proposed changes.

    Agency: Capitol Police Board
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the transparency and timeliness of NRC's fee-setting process, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should direct NRC staff to clearly present information in NRC's proposed fee rule, final fee rule, and fee work papers, by defining and consistently using key terms, providing complete calculations for how fees are determined, and ensuring the accuracy of the fee rules and work papers, so that stakeholders can understand fee calculations and provide substantive comments to the agency on them.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to NRC, it has provided more detailed explanations and calculations in its fiscal year 2017 proposed fee rule. The agency plans to propose codifying some of these changes in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 170 during its fiscal year 2018 fee rulemaking. We will review NRC's changes after it has codified them in the Code of Federal Regulations and will update the status of this recommendation at that time.
    Recommendation: To enhance the transparency and timeliness of NRC's fee-setting process, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should direct NRC staff to develop objective, measurable, and quantifiable performance goals and measures that enable NRC to assess the extent to which its efforts to improve transparency and timeliness are successful and implement a plan and schedule for comparing results with the established performance goals.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: NRC convened a steering committee to provide leadership for implementing its efforts to improve transparency and timeliness of its fee-setting process. According to NRC, the steering committee has developed performance measures to gauge success and will monitor planned activities to compare results with the performance goals. We will review NRC's activities to improve transparency and timeliness, as well as the steering committee's actions to measure and monitor success. We will update the status of this recommendation upon completion of our review.
    Director: Michael Clements
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote transparency and accountability of federal spending, the Commissioner of the Fiscal Service should make basic information about Fiscal Service's use of financial agents publicly available in a central location, including compensation paid to each financial agent under its financial agency agreement and a description of the services provided.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Bureau of the Fiscal Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Allison B. Bawden
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in the grant merit-review process, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance to require all competitive grant programs to clarify in the public notice of funding opportunity all review criteria, including cost sharing factors as relevant, and their related scores to be used to make final award decisions.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, Interior had updated its notice of funding opportunity template for competitive grant programs to clarify that the review process must ensure that applications are scored and selected based on announced criteria. In addition, competitive grant programs must establish a written merit review plan that details the merit review factors and sub-factors and the rating system and evaluation standards which explain the scoring basis. Furthermore, the Fish and Wildlife Service is developing new guidance to ensure discretionary grant programs include all required elements to be completed in December of 2017.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of the Department of the Interior should direct the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service to issue written guidance that ensures their grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding their competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Fish and Wildlife Service issued guidance to ensure grant applications are reviewed for potential overlap and duplication, as GAO recommended in January 2017, but as of August 2017 the National Park Service had yet to issue such guidance. In August 2017, the Department of Interior (Interior) provided documentation showing that the Fish and Wildlife Service now requires discretionary grant applicants to provide a statement that addresses whether there is any overlap or duplication of proposed projects or activities to be funded by the grant. Fish and Wildlife also updated its guidance to grant awarding offices instructing them to perform a potential overlap and duplication review of all selected applicants prior to award. Interior said the National Park Service had yet to issue guidance on duplication and overlap review, but it would provide the guidance to GAO when it is finalized and implemented. Completing these improvements will help the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of duplicative and overlapping funding at the grant award level, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Food and Nutrition Service to issue written guidance that ensures its grant management staff review grant applications for potential duplication and overlap before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, the Department of Agriculture (Agriculture) said the Food and Nutrition Service was developing written guidance that will ensure its grants management staff identify grant programs for potential duplication and overlap with other federal agencies before awarding competitive grants and cooperative agreements, as GAO recommended in January 2017. Agriculture officials said the guidance would be based on input from grants management staff, relevant Food and Nutrition program officials, and reviews of similar guidance already in place at other Agriculture sub-agencies. The Food and Nutrition Service plans to issue this guidance by the end of federal fiscal year 2017 for use beginning in fiscal year 2018. Issuing and implementing this guidance will reduce the risk of unnecessary or inadvertent overlap or duplication in grant funding.
    Director: Zina Merritt
    Phone: (202) 512-5257

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOD's biennial core reporting procedures align with the reporting requirements in Section 2464 and each reporting agency provides accurate and complete information, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to update DOD's guidance--in particular DOD Instruction 4151.20--to require future Biennial Core Reports to include instructions to the reporting agencies on how to (1) report additional depot workload performed that has not been identified as a core requirement, (2) accurately capture inter-service workload, (3) calculate shortfalls, and (4) estimate the cost of planned workload.

    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: To increase the transparency of future Biennial Core Reports, Congress should consider amending 10 USC 2464 to require DOD to include information such as (1) workload shortfalls at lower-level categories; (2) executed workload in similar categories that could be used to mitigate shortfalls; (3) progress on implementing mitigation plans; (4) data reported at the first-level category of the work breakdown structure, except for when shortfalls are identified; (5) explanations for first-level categories (i.e., Special Interest Items and Other) of the work breakdown structure; and (6) whether the core requirements reported in the previous Biennial Core Report have been executed.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

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

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

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

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

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

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Valerie Melvin
    Phone: (202) 512-6304

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide greater transparency in the reporting of FOIA litigation costs, Congress could consider requiring Justice to provide a cost estimate for collecting and reporting information on costs incurred when defending lawsuits in which the plaintiffs prevailed.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not yet considered if it plans to amend FOIA regarding the reporting of costs for defending lawsuits in which the plaintiffs prevailed.
    Recommendation: Congress could consider amending the act to require Justice to reflect in its Litigation and Compliance reports, changes in the award of attorneys' fees and costs resulting from the appeals process and settlement agreements between agencies and plaintiffs, if deemed to be cost-effective.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has not yet considered if it plans to amend FOIA to require Justice to make changes to its Litigation and Compliance reports.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, undertake a review of the efforts to date on ensuring data quality

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and noted that it will continue to work with USAID in consultation with OMB to assess whether additional existing resources are required to meet the goals of ForeignAssistance.gov. As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of December 2017, GAO was following up with State to obtain additional information on how the established review process would or has helped improve the quality of the data reported on Foreignassistance.gov.
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, develop additional guidance that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of December 2017, GAO was following up with State to determine if additional guidance has been developed that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data.
    Director: Paula M. Rascona
    Phone: (202) 512-9816

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure effective government-wide implementation and that complete and consistent spending data will be reported as required by the DATA Act, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should establish or leverage existing processes and controls to determine the complete population of agencies that are required to report spending data under the DATA Act and make the results of those determinations publicly available.

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

    Comments: OMB stated that each agency is responsible for determining whether it is subject to the DATA Act. To help agencies make that determination, OMB published guidance in the form of frequently asked questions and stated that the agencies may consult with OMB for additional counsel. In response to our recommendation, OMB staff told us they have reached out to federal agencies to identify which agencies have determined that they are exempt from reporting under the DATA Act and prepared a list of such agencies. However, OMB has not provided us the list or the procedures for reviewing agency determinations and compiling the results. In addition, OMB has not established procedures for ensuring non-exempt agencies are reporting spending data as required. Finally, OMB has not stated whether it will make the results of the determinations publicly available. Further, additional clarification would improve the usefulness of the frequently asked questions. For example, they state "Any Federal agency submitting data that OMB posts on its SF 133 Report on Budget Execution and Budgetary Resources is required to comply with DATA Act reporting." However, the SF 133 Report for the third quarter of 2016 includes entities such as the Postal Service which are not required by the DATA Act to report financial and payment information. In explaining the frequently asked questions to us, OMB officials clarified that they meant that an entity is required to report if its data appears on the SF 133 and it meets the applicable statutory definition of agency. The frequently asked questions document does not clearly communicate this two-prong approach. Additionally, OMB's verbal clarification when meeting with us does not account for those entities that meet the statutory definition of agency and are required by the DATA Act to report financial and payment information but do not appear on the SF 133. We will continue to assess OMB's efforts to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure effective government-wide implementation and that complete and consistent spending data will be reported as required by the DATA Act, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should reassess, on a periodic basis, which agencies are required to report spending data under the DATA Act and make appropriate notifications to affected agencies.

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

    Comments: OMB does not have plans to reassess, on a periodic basis, which agencies are required to report spending data under the DATA Act. We continue to believe action on this recommendation is important to effectively implement the DATA Act. We will continue to assess OMB's efforts to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure effective implementation of the DATA Act by the agencies and facilitate the further establishment of overall government-wide governance, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should request that non-CFO Act agencies required to report federal spending data under the DATA Act submit updated implementation plans, including updated timelines and milestones, cost estimates, and risks, to address new technical requirements.

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

    Comments: On June 15, 2016, OMB directed CFO Act agencies to update key components of their implementation plans by August 12, 2016. The requirement did not extend to non-CFO Act agencies. OMB stated that it is monitoring non-CFO Act agencies by providing feedback to non-CFO Act agencies through workshops instead of requesting updated implementation plan information. According to OMB officials, OMB has not followed-up with non-CFO Act agencies or requested updated implementation plan information because they are working with the CFO Act agencies which comprise approximately 90 percent of federal spending. In addition to these outreach efforts, OMB has worked with Treasury to engage with small and independent agencies through weekly phone calls and other forms of communication. However, the DATA Act applies to most federal agencies, and we believe that it is important to monitor smaller agencies' implementation plans as well as large agencies. We will continue to assess OMB's efforts to address this recommendation.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of public reporting on CAP goal progress, the Director of OMB should, working with the PIC, report on Performance.gov the actions that CAP goal teams are taking, or plan to take, to develop performance measures and quarterly targets.

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

    Comments: We reviewed selected CAP goals quarterly performance information on the Performance.Gov website as of Q4 of FY 2016, which updates the status of the CAP goals through September 2016. Some of the selected CAP goals have updated and new performance measures, but it was not clear the extent to which CAP goal teams included information on the actions they are taking to develop such measures, consistent with our recommendation. We contacted OMB in June 2017 on the current status of this recommendation. We will provide an update to its status once OMB responds to our request.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase the transparency to Congress about the total amount of funds agencies have available in a given year, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should identify and publicly report the total amount of actual budget authority government-wide that is temporarily sequestered and "pops up," or becomes available again to agencies for obligation in the subsequent fiscal year.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OMB staff told us they will consider additional options for reporting a government-wide total amount of actual budget authority that is temporarily sequestered during preparation of the full 2018 President's Budget.
    Recommendation: To promote further transparency in measuring the federal government's progress against deficit reduction targets required under current law, the Director of the Office of Management of Budget should identify and publicly report the total amount of actual reductions in budget authority government-wide each year as a result of sequestration or the reduction of discretionary spending limits under BBEDCA.

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

    Comments: In February 2017, OMB staff maintained their position of disagreement with this recommendation as summarized in our April 2016 report.
    Director: Michael J. Sullivan
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that proper statutory and regulatory oversight mechanisms are in place and to increase transparency into a major new investment in the F-35 program, the Secretary of Defense should hold a Milestone B review and manage F-35 Block 4 as a separate and distinct Major Defense Acquisition Program with its own acquisition program baseline and regular cost, schedule, and performance reports to the Congress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD did not concur with GAO's recommendation and the agency has not taken any action to implement this recommendation. However, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 which mandated that the Secretary of Defense may not award any follow-on modernization development contracts for the F-35 until the Secretary has submitted a report that contains the basic elements of an acquisition program baseline for Block 4 modernization. This report should include elements such as cost estimates, schedule estimates, technical performance parameters and technology readiness levels that are typical of an acquisition program baseline. The Secretary is also required to update this report annually for the congressional defense committees. DOD currently plans to issue the Block 4 modernization report in late calendar year 2017.
    Director: Dave Wise
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the quality and transparency of data entered into FRPP as GSA transitions the database to a platform that would enable greater government-wide use, the Administrator of GSA, in consultation with OMB and federal agencies, should (1) assess the reliability of FRPP data by determining how individual agencies collect and report FRPP data for each FRPP field, including any supplemental guidance used by agencies to comply with government-wide FRPP data definitions as part of the annual certification of FRPP data; (2) analyze the differences in collecting and reporting practices used by these agencies; and (3) identify and make available to FRPP users the limitations of using FRPP data, in the context of how the data are intended to be used in real property decision making and to measure real property performance across agencies and update federal guidance to address limitations, as needed.

    Agency: General Services Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: GSA partially agreed with the recommendation noting that it has limited resources to fully analyze and map the data relative to FRPP data definitions, and that it is the responsibility of individual agencies to ensure reliability of the data and compliance with FRPP definitions. As of October 2016, GSA has taken some action to implement this recommendation. GSA told us it has made progress by conducting an in-depth survey in June 2106 focusing on several data elements including: replacement value, status, owned and otherwise management operating costs, repair needs, utilization, and lease costs. The survey asked agencies questions regarding the processes/resources used to source and compile these data elements from agency IT systems as well as internal agency guidance. GSA received responses from 24 agencies and stated it plans to complete its initial analysis of the survey in the fall of 2016 and indicate limitations of these data elements. GSA plans to conduct a series of working group meetings with agencies to conduct an in depth review of the survey results and to develop a set of recommendations for the Federal Real Property Council. GSA said these recommendations may include, but are not limited to, altering data dictionary definitions, sharing best or common practices for reporting these data elements, and sharing the limitations on the use of these data elements. Based on the working group outcomes and input from the Federal Real Property Council and OMB, GSA plans to produce a white paper on these topics by the latter part of 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance the usefulness of the National Strategy for managing federal real property government-wide, the Director of OMB should expand the National Strategy to further address long-standing real property management challenges by: (1) expanding the scope to include maintenance and repair needs; (2) articulating planned actions and identifying alternative approaches, including alternative-funding mechanisms, to address underlying causes of the real property problems; (3) ensuring that performance measures at the agency level inform the overall progress of the National Strategy; and (4) determining the government-wide costs, benefits, and risks by leveraging agencies' long-term capital plans and identifying approaches to optimally manage that risk.

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

    Comments: When we confirm the actions that OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Mihm, J Christopher
    Phone: (202) 512-3236

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies report consistent and comparable data on federal spending, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should provide agencies with additional guidance to address potential clarity, consistency, or quality issues with the definitions for specific data elements including Award Description and Primary Place of Performance and that they clearly document and communicate these actions to agencies providing this data as well as to end-users.

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

    Comments: In May 2016, OMB issued guidance for DATA Act Implementation entitled, Implementing Data-Centric Approach for Reporting Federal Spending Information (Management Procedures Memorandum No. 2016-03). This memorandum provided guidance on new federal prime award reporting requirements, agency assurances, and authoritative sources for reporting. In August 2016, OMB released additional draft guidance describing how agencies should report financial information involving intragovernmental transfers and personally identifiable information, as well as how agency Senior Accountable Officials should provide quality assurances for submitted data. Despite these positive steps, we continue to have concerns about the need for additional guidance to facilitate agency implementation of certain data definitions (such as "primary place of performance" and "award description") in order to produce consistent and comparable information, and whether the guidance provides sufficient detail in areas such as the process for providing assurance on data submissions.
    Director: Robert Goldenkoff
    Phone: (202) 512-2757

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure agencies fulfill their requirements, including implementing IQA guidelines and helping to promote easier public access to IQA information on agency websites, the Director of OMB should consolidate and centralize on OMB's IQA guidance website a government-wide summary of requests for correction submitted under the IQA.

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

    Comments: Spoke with OMB Contact on 1/30/17. She agreed to provide an update on OMB's actions in response to this recommendation in the near future.
    Recommendation: To better ensure agencies fulfill their requirements, including implementing IQA guidelines and helping to promote easier public access to IQA information on agency websites, the Director of OMB should work with the Department of Defense and the Federal Housing Finance Agency to help ensure that they post their IQA administrative mechanisms and IQA guidance online.

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

    Comments: Spoke with OMB Contact on 1/30/17. She agreed to provide an update on OMB's actions in response to this recommendation in the near future.
    Recommendation: To better ensure agencies fulfill their requirements, including implementing IQA guidelines and helping to promote easier public access to IQA information on agency websites, the Director of OMB should provide additional guidance for agencies to help improve the transparency and usability of their IQA websites to help ensure the public can easily find and access online information about agency IQA implementation. Such guidance should include (1) specific time frames for agencies to post information on the IQA correction requests they have received, including making it clear when agencies have not received IQA requests; (2) instructions for agencies to include a statement on their IQA websites that the agencies may address correction requests through other administrative processes; (3) instructions for agencies to include, when responding to correction requests, whether those agencies plan to address the request through another administrative processes, and if so, which process they will use; and (4) suggestions for improving usability of agencies' websites including fixing broken links.

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

    Comments: Spoke with OMB Contact on 1/30/17. She agreed to provide an update on OMB's actions in response to this recommendation in the near future.
    Director: Daniel Bertoni
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    7 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in reporting processing errors, SSA should provide additional information on the margins of error or confidence intervals, and clearly identify any limitations in its findings on overpayment information provided to Congress and the public.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA agreed with this recommendation and reported in January 2016 that it would include a discussion about the limitations of error deficiencies data in future reports. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to report any limitations, such as small sample sizes, that would affect the reliability of its estimates of DI improper payments due to specific types and causes of errors. Although SSA provided recommendation updates on this report in April 2017, it did not comment on this particular recommendation.
    Recommendation: To minimize the potential effect of vulnerabilities in the work reporting process, SSA should take steps to help ensure that work information is entered directly into eWork, the system of record for work information, and issue required receipts. Such steps could include: (a) Improving and issuing guidance and training to field and 800- number staff to help ensure they log information into eWork and issue required receipts. (b) Establishing policies to monitor alerts to help ensure that work information for concurrent beneficiaries is reflected in SSI and DI systems, and take steps to monitor and make enhancements to systems or guidance, as needed.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, SSA reported that it updated training to Field and Processing Center staff and issued an administrative message to staff to remind them about issues related to overpayments and waivers. SSA also reported that, as part of its implementation of Section 826 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (P.L.114-74), it is creating a business process and building an internet work reporting system that will allow both SSDI beneficiaries and SSI recipients to report work and earnings electronically. According to SSA, this system will determine the individual's entitlement and automatically forward the work report to the appropriate staff for processing CDR decisions. To close this recommendation, SSA will need to provide documentation that shows the agency provided training and reminders to staff, and that the agency implemented a mechanism that ensures work information for concurrent beneficiaries is reflected in both SSI and DI systems.
    Recommendation: To further ensure the effective screening of work reports, SSA should monitor its process for handling work reports to determine whether staff are taking action on work reports in accordance with proper procedures, and provide feedback to staff as needed.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its April 2017 update, SSA continued to disagree with this recommendation. SSA stated that the outcome of a work continuing disability review (CDR) is not dependent on the accuracy of the work report. However, as we noted in our report, inaccurate work reports may result in overpayments or work receipts (which are required by law) to not be issued. Further, pending work reports may be closed inappropriately without resulting in a work CDR. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to show how it plans to monitor its process for handling work reports to determine compliance with agency procedures, and how feedback, if any, will be provided to staff.
    Recommendation: To enhance the ease and integrity of the work reporting process, SSA should study the costs and benefits of automated reporting options, including options similar to those currently available for SSI recipients, but that do not go as far as automating the continuing disability review process.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, SSA reported that the agency has made progress on two fronts, which could enhance the ease and integrity of its work reporting process, both pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA). In response to Section 826 of BBA, which requires SSA to permit Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries to report their earnings via electronic means similar to what is available for SSI recipients, SSA reported that it has drafted a business process to build an Internet and wage reporting system for SSDI beneficiaries. SSA also noted that this business process contains plans for an Internet work reporting system that will allow both SSDI and SSI recipients to report work and earnings electronically and will automatically forward the work report to either SSI or eWork (for DI beneficiaries), and will automatically generate a receipt to the beneficiary. SSA has also completed a business process for Section 824 of the BBA, which allows SSA to contract with third party payroll providers to receive earnings in a monthly file. SSA reported that these data will allow SSI to automate benefit adjustments based on the monthly earnings report, and for DI, the information will be incorporated into the agency's Work Smart process--a new technique that combines several business processes into one unified approach to identify cases in need of a work continuing disability review. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to provide documentation of its proposed business process for building Internet and telephone wage reporting systems for DI beneficiaries.
    Recommendation: To enhance beneficiary understanding of work reporting requirements, SSA should: (a) Clarify work reporting requirements provided to beneficiaries. (b) Explore options for increasing the frequency of reporting reminders to DI beneficiaries, similar to those currently available to SSI recipients.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SSA agreed with this recommendation and noted in January 2016 that it plans to assess its method of communication and explore options to strengthen its message to Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries regarding the importance of consistent wage reporting. The agency also plans to consider whether direct phone outreach, currently being piloted to improve wage reporting for SSI recipients, would be appropriate for the DI program. In its April 2017 update, SSA indicated progress toward: updating policies and procedures related to "treatment of earnings derived from services," implementing a commercial payroll data exchange pursuant to section 824 of the BBA, and implementing electronic reporting of earnings pursuant to section 826 of the BBA. While the agency's actions to implement BBA requirements may improve program administration, SSA did not explain how these actions or its efforts to update to policies and procedures related to "treatment of earnings derived from services" would clarify work reporting requirements for or increase the frequency of reporting reminders to DI beneficiaries. SSA also did not provide an update on its plans to assess communication and explore options, as it reported in January 2016. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to show how these or other actions taken clarify work reporting requirements for and increase reporting reminders for DI beneficiaries.
    Recommendation: improve compliance with waiver policies, SSA should develop a timetable for implementing updates to its Debt Management System to: (a) Align system controls with SSA policy, so that waivers over $1,000 cannot be administratively waived. (b) Ensure that evidence supporting waiver decisions is sufficiently maintained to allow for subsequent monitoring and oversight.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: According to SSA, in February 2016, the agency implemented an edit to the Debt Management System remarks that amended a deficiency in the system that prevented system remarks from being deleted after a case is closed. The edit locks Debt Management System remarks to prevent technicians from overwriting existing remarks in closed cases. With respect to ensuring that overpayments over $1,000 cannot be administratively waived, SSA reported in November 2016 that it will provide a timeline for and take steps to update the Debt Management System when the agency obtains resources to fund the update. SSA reported in April 2017 that its ability to update system controls to align with SSA policy was dependent on resources. To help close this recommendation, SSA will need to show its plans and time frames for updating system controls to align them with SSA policy.
    Recommendation: To improve compliance with waiver policies, SSA should take steps to regularly assess the accuracy of DI waiver decisions, particularly for administrative waivers and for some waivers under $2,000. This could include periodically reviewing approved and denied DI waivers through its continuous quality initiative.

    Agency: Social Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, the agency reported that it had taken several actions, including producing a comprehensive training series on overpayment and waiver policy and procedures, building a policy cluster to serve as a "one-stop resource shop" of policy references and tools for technicians, and clarifying agency policies including the Administrative Tolerance Decision Tree to assist technicians with making appropriate low-dollar overpayment waiver decisions. The agency also reported that its Continuous Quality work group continues to review the accuracy of waivers under Title II of the Social Security Act. Based on these efforts, in November 2016, SSA reported that it has closed this recommendation. However, as of April 2017, SSA did not specifically report that its review of Title II waivers will target DI waivers, including administrative waivers and waivers less than $2,000, or that such review will be an ongoing effort. To close this recommendation, SSA will need to show its plans for periodically assessing the accuracy of DI waiver decisions--particularly for administrative waivers and waivers under $2,000--through its continuous quality initiative or other means.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    9 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by working with OMB to describe on Performance.gov how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: On June 15, 2017, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated in a memorandum to agency heads that reporting on Performance.gov concerning the previous Administration's priority goals is suspended through the end of fiscal year 2017. The OMB Director stated that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor the Department of Agriculture's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by working with OMB to describe on Performance.gov how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: On June 15, 2017, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated in a memorandum to agency heads that reporting on Performance.gov concerning the previous Administration's priority goals is suspended through the end of fiscal year 2017. The OMB Director stated that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor the Department of Defense's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by working with OMB to describe on Performance.gov how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: On June 15, 2017, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated in a memorandum to agency heads that reporting on Performance.gov concerning the previous Administration's priority goals is suspended through the end of fiscal year 2017. The OMB Director stated that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor the Department of the Interior's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by working with OMB to describe on Performance.gov how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: Labor officials informed us that they had planned to address this recommendation by using a data quality self-assessment pilot they had conducted with component agencies that support Labor's priority goals. Labor had described its plans for this pilot in its fiscal year 2015 performance report and a link is provided from Performance.gov to agencies' performance plans and reports. Labor officials told us they described the results of this pilot in their draft fiscal year 2016 performance report, but according to Labor officials were advised by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff to deemphasize the priority goals and thus they dropped this section from the published performance report. On June 15, 2017, the Director of OMB stated in a memorandum to agency heads that reporting on Performance.gov concerning the previous Administration's priority goals is suspended through the end of fiscal year 2017. The OMB Director stated that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor Labor's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by describing in their agencies' annual performance plans and reports how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Agriculture's (USDA) annual performance report for fiscal year 2016 and performance plan for fiscal year 2018 continues to provide a general statement on how the agency uses a standardized methodology to measure its performance and that agency officials attest to the quality of the performance information. However, USDA does not provide more specific explanation of how it is ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the performance information used to measure progress on the priority goals the agency identified for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. On June 15, 2017, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget stated in a memorandum to agency heads that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor USDA's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by describing in their agencies' annual performance plans and reports how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Defense's (DOD) performance report for fiscal year 2016 continues to state that performance goal owners are expected to attest that their performance data is complete, accurate, and reliable. However, the report does not provide more specific explanation for individual priority goals. On June 15, 2017, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget stated in a memorandum to agency heads that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by describing in their agencies' annual performance plans and reports how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of the Interior's 2017/2018 Annual Performance Plan & 2016 Report (APP&R) includes a section concerning data accuracy and reliability and describes in general terms how Interior ensures the accuracy and reliability of performance information and how it addresses the five data quality requirements in the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010(GPRAMA). However, Interior does not provide more specific explanation for individual priority goals. For example, Interior states that the source of performance information are program managers, but does not provide more specific explanation of how the agency obtains performance information for priority goals that address a diverse array of issues, such as assisting Indian tribes, addressing climate change, and managing oil and gas resources. In September 2016, we provided feedback to Interior officials, at their request, and suggested they provide more specific data quality explanation. On June 15, 2017, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget stated in a memorandum to agency heads that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor Interior's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting about how agencies are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their priority goals, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Defense, Interior, and Labor, and the Administrator of NASA should more fully address GPRAMA requirements and OMB guidance by describing in their agencies' annual performance plans and reports how they are ensuring the quality of performance information used to measure progress towards their APGs.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: On June 15, 2017, Labor officials informed us that they had planned to address this recommendation by using a data quality self-assessment pilot they had conducted with component agencies that support Labor's priority goals. Labor had described its plans for this pilot in its fiscal year 2015 performance report. Labor officials told us they described the results of this pilot in their draft fiscal year 2016 performance report, but according to Labor officials were advised by Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff to deemphasize the priority goals and thus they dropped this section from the published performance report. On June 15, 2017, the Director of OMB stated in a memorandum to agency heads that reporting on Performance.gov concerning the previous Administration's priority goals is suspended through the end of fiscal year 2017. The OMB Director stated that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor Labor's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help participating agencies improve their public reporting, the Director of OMB, working with the PIC Executive Director, should identify additional changes that need to be made in OMB's guidance to agencies related to ensuring the quality of performance information for APGs on Performance.gov.

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

    Comments: On June 15, 2017, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated in a memorandum to agency heads that reporting on Performance.gov concerning the previous Administration's priority goals is suspended through the end of fiscal year 2017. The OMB Director stated that priority goals are intended to focus efforts toward achieving the priorities of the current political leadership and that new goals would be established when the President's fiscal year 2019 Budget is released. We will continue to monitor OMB's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Director: Joe Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with better insight and additional context to identify any significant changes to the estimates in the joint report from the prior year and understand the reasons for such changes, and to improve the completeness and transparency of the budget estimates in the report, we recommend that, for future joint reports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer (DOD CIO), and the Secretary of Energy direct the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to provide more thorough documentation in the joint report on the methodologies used to develop the budget estimates, including information that may be available in related planning documents, and ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information included.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD and DOE concurred with our recommendation to provide more thorough documentation in the joint report on the methodologies used to develop the budget estimates and ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information included. DOD stated that it added information on the methodologies used to develop the estimates in the April 2015 joint report and would consider including further information in subsequent reports. However, neither department provided information on the specific steps it would take to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information included in future joint reports. DOD and DOE have included additional information in subsequent annual versions of the joint report. However, the usefulness and transparency of the joint report could be further improved if DOD more explicitly identified and explained the methodological assumptions and limitations affecting the nuclear command, control, and communications system estimate and included additional information to clarify assumptions and limitations for its year-to-year comparisons, particularly regarding changes in the alignment of the Air Force's programs. We continue to believe that the joint reports should include accurate and complete budget estimates, which includes methodological information that explicitly identifies and explains all assumptions and limitations affecting the budget estimates.
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with better insight and additional context to identify any significant changes to the estimates in the joint report from the prior year and understand the reasons for such changes, and to improve the completeness and transparency of the budget estimates in the report, we recommend that, for future joint reports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer (DOD CIO), and the Secretary of Energy direct the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to provide more thorough documentation in the joint report on the methodologies used to develop the budget estimates, including information that may be available in related planning documents, and ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information included.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will follow up with DOE and NNSA in fiscal year 2018 to assess whether and how this recommendation has been implemented.
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with better insight and additional context to identify any significant changes to the estimates in the joint report from the prior year and understand the reasons for such changes, and to improve the completeness and transparency of the budget estimates in the report, we recommend that, for future joint reports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Navy, and the DOD CIO, and the Secretary of Energy direct the Administrator of NNSA to provide comparative information on changes in the budget estimates from the prior year and explain the reasons for those changes.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will follow up with DOE and NNSA in fiscal year 2018 to assess whether and how this recommendation has been implemented.
    Director: James C. Cosgrove
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve CMS's process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, the Administrator of CMS should better document the process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, including the methods used to review RUC recommendations and the rationale for final relative value decisions.

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

    Comments: To help improve the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's (CMS) process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, in May 2015 we recommended that the Administrator of CMS better document the process, including the methods used to review recommendations from the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC) and the rationale for final relative value decisions. CMS concurred with this recommendation, stating that CMS establishes relative values for new, revised, and potentially misvalued physicians' services based on its review of a variety of sources of information, including the RUC. CMS officials told us the agency continues to improve the transparency of its process by proposing and finalizing changes to the process in the annual rule for the Physician Fee Schedule. Officials also told us that the agency is developing a means of displaying the direct practice expense inputs component of relative values in a consistent manner that will allow for greater transparency and documentation of the process, since currently the RUC recommends direct practice expense inputs to CMS through inconsistent formats that are not conducive to public transparency. Officials estimated that this process will take several years to complete. In order to close this recommendation as implemented, CMS will need to demonstrate that it has improved its internal and external documentation of its process for establishing relative values. As of August 2016, CMS has not provided any additional information about actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help improve CMS's process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, the Administrator of CMS should develop a process for informing the public of potentially misvalued services identified by the RUC, as CMS already does for potentially misvalued services identified by CMS or other stakeholders.

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

    Comments: To help improve the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's (CMS) process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, in May 2015 we recommended that the Administrator of CMS develop a process for informing the public of potentially misvalued services identified by the American Medical Association/Specialty Society Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), as CMS already does for potentially misvalued services identified by CMS or other stakeholders. CMS did not concur with this recommendation, asserting that the RUC is completely independent of CMS, and as such CMS has no authority to set the RUC's agenda for which services are reviewed. CMS reiterated their non-concurrence in February 2016. CMS officials noted that they recognize that some stakeholders, including those who are not participants in the RUC process, may not be aware of the new, revised, and potentially misvalued services that are under review by CMS prior to the establishment of interim final values in a final rule. For this reason and others, CMS proposed and finalized a change in its process for establishing or revising relative values for new, revised, or potentially misvalued services. Beginning in 2016, CMS will begin including proposed values for some of services in the annual proposed rulemaking for the Physician Fee Schedule, which means that the changes in values for these services will be open for public comment prior to them being finalized. In 2017, changes in values for almost all services will be included in the proposed rule for the Physician Fee Schedule. We continue to believe that CMS needs to inform the public of potentially misvalued services identified by the RUC, as the agency does for potentially misvalued services identified by other stakeholders for review. While the elimination of most interim final values in 2017 will allow stakeholders to comment on values before they become effective, we believe it is still important for CMS to inform stakeholders of those services identified by the RUC as potentially misvalued before CMS received RUC recommendations for these services and subsequently publishes the values in the proposed rule each year. Doing so would give stakeholders more time to provide input on values for services if they so choose before CMS included its proposed values in the annual proposed rulemaking, and we worded our recommendation to allow CMS to determine how to inform stakeholders of these services without delaying the timing of its revision of misvalued services.
    Recommendation: To help improve CMS's process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, the Administrator of CMS should incorporate data and expertise from physicians and other relevant stakeholders into the process as well as develop a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.

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

    Comments: To help improve the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's (CMS) process for establishing relative values for Medicare physicians' services, in May 2015 we recommended that the Administrator of CMS incorporate data and expertise from physicians and other relevant stakeholders into the process, as well as develop a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA). CMS concurred with this recommendation, stating that stakeholders have the opportunity each year to nominate potentially misvalued services for review through a public nomination process. In order to develop a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by PAMA, CMS is assessing the research conducted by two external contractors to determine the most effective and fiscally responsible way to use the funds. This work is ongoing, and CMS is using this work to understand the data collection limitations that exist and help inform the development of a timeline for the use of PAMA funds. CMS anticipates releasing a contract solicitation prior to the end of the calendar year. In order to close this recommendation as implemented, CMS will need to demonstrate that it has incorporated data and expertise from relevant stakeholders and has developed a timeline and plan for using the funds appropriated by PAMA. As of August 2016, CMS has not provided any additional information about actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help FCC determine whether its efforts to provide consumers with broadband performance information are effective and meeting consumers' needs, and whether additional efforts--such as a standardized label suggested by FCC's transparency working group--could benefit consumers, FCC should conduct or commission research on the effectiveness of FCC's efforts to provide consumers with broadband performance information and make the results of this research publicly available.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments provided on the draft report, FCC indicated that it concurred with this recommendation. However, as of August 2017, FCC has not taken steps to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help FCC determine whether its efforts to provide consumers with broadband performance information are effective and meeting consumers' needs, and whether additional efforts--such as a standardized label suggested by FCC's transparency working group--could benefit consumers, FCC should establish performance goals and measures under the agency's relevant strategic objectives that allow it to monitor and report on the impact and effectiveness of its efforts.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: FCC noted that its fiscal year 2015-2018 strategic plan has strategic objectives related to providing consumers with broadband performance information; however, these objectives lack performance goals that define desired outcomes for FCC's efforts to provide consumers with broadband performance information as well as performance measures to monitor the effectiveness of FCC's efforts.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve internal control and promote transparency and to ensure consistency with OMB's guidance for internal control assessment, DNFSB should clearly document each step of its control assessment activities; maintain that documentation to provide evidence that assessment and control activities are being performed; and ensure that key responsibilities, such as reviewing control assessments, should be segregated among different people to help ensure that control activities are being accurately performed.

    Agency: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DNFSB officials, DNFSB has updated its policies to maintain paper and electronic documentation of its internal control activities and ensure that key responsibilities, such as reviewing internal control assessments, are segregated among different staff. In addition, DNFSB has contracted for an independent evaluation of its internal control policies. We will continue to monitor actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve internal control and promote transparency and to promote public transparency and openness, DNFSB should clearly distinguish in Federal Register notices and during the proceedings between (1) public hearings held pursuant to DNFSB's statutory authority and (2) meetings as defined by the Sunshine Act, required to be open to the public.

    Agency: Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DNFSB officials, as of October 2016, the agency has taken no action in response to this recommendation. We will continue to monitor actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Lawrance L. Evans, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve FSOC's control activities and help ensure that it better manages its determination process and achieves intended results, the Secretary of the Treasury, in his capacity as the Chairperson of FSOC and in consultation with FSOC members, should systematically record the staff contributing to determination evaluations, and monitor such information to help assess the progress and efficiency of determination evaluations..

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSOC has created a document to track agencies participating in evaluations and has said that it will record and monitor information as new companies are evaluated. Although FSOC has created a template to record agency participation, FSOC still needs to collect and monitor such information including information on the agency staff participating in determination evaluations.
    Recommendation: To enhance disclosure and strengthen transparency, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with FSOC members, for future determinations, to the maximum extent possible, should include additional details in its public basis documentation about why FSOC determined that the company met one or both of the statutory determination standards. Specifically, in addition to identifying that the size, significance, or other attributes of the company's characteristics could pose a threat to U.S. financial stability, FSOC should explain--without revealing sensitive information--how it concluded that the characteristics were sufficiently large or significant enough, or had other attributes, to meet one or both of the statutory determination standards.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSOC stated that it intends to include more detail in its public basis document while meeting its legal obligations to protect confidential information. In February 2015, FSOC issued supplemental procedures for nonbank financial company designations that stated its commitment to continuing to set forth sufficient information in its public bases to provide the public with an understanding of the Council's analysis while protecting sensitive, confidential information submitted by the company to the Council. FSOC's public basis document for its most recent designation, issued on December 18, 2014, included additional information compared to prior basis documents. However, the recent basis document did not fully explain how FSOC concluded that the company's characteristics were sufficiently large or significant enough, or had other attributes, to meet a determination standard.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FSOC is comprehensively identifying and considering companies, the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with FSOC members, should establish procedures to evaluate companies in Stage 2 and Stage 3 under both statutory determination standards when an evaluation in either stage concludes that a company does not meet one of the standards, or document--on a company-specific or more general basis--why the second determination standard is not relevant for determination evaluations.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSOC conducted a review of its nonbank designation procedures, including consideration of this recommendation, which resulted in issuance of supplemental procedures in February 2015. FSOC stated that it has not adopted formal changes to implement this recommendation but noted that the Council will continue to work to identify and evaluate potential changes to its practices and procedures and will revisit this recommendation in mid-2016.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that FSOC is comprehensively identifying and considering companies, the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with FSOC members, should develop a process to collect information necessary for Stage 1 analysis, as appropriate, from certain nonbank financial companies for which public or regulatory information is otherwise unavailable. For example, FSOC could have companies for which such information is unavailable and that meet certain characteristics (such as quantitative thresholds similar to those used in Stage 1) report necessary information to the Office of Financial Research.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSOC staff are currently reviewing potential ways to supplement the existing public and regulatory information available to identify companies for evaluation in Stage 1. FSOC stated that it will revisit this recommendation in mid-2016.
    Recommendation: To improve FSOC's control activities and help ensure that it better manages its determination process and achieves intended results, the Secretary of the Treasury, in his capacity as the Chairperson of FSOC and in consultation with FSOC members, should systematically record the dates of key process steps.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Financial Stability Oversight Council
    Status: Open

    Comments: FSOC has created a document to centrally track key dates in each evaluation and has said that it will record and monitor the information as new companies are evaluated. However, FSOC has not yet recorded these dates in the document that it has created for this purpose.
    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: Linda T. Kohn
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to include in the CMS Compare websites, to the extent feasible, estimated out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries for common treatments that can be planned in advance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015 CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. Specifically, it is actively investigating options for allowing a more targeted and consumer-centric individual user experience on Physician Compare. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to organize cost and quality information in the CMS Compare websites to facilitate consumer identification of the highest-performing providers, such as by listing providers in order based on their performance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to include in the CMS Compare websites the capability for consumers to customize the information presented, to better focus on information relevant to them.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. Specifically, it is evaluating feasibility of including estimated out-of-pocket costs on physician compare. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Recommendation: To improve consumers' access to relevant and understandable information on the cost and quality of health care services, the Secretary of HHS should direct the Administrator of CMS to develop specific procedures and performance metrics to ensure that CMS's efforts to promote the development and use of its own and others' transparency tools adequately address the needs of consumers.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2015, CMS indicated that it is working to implement this recommendation. CMS also noted that Physician Compare is in the early stages of public reporting, and is evaluating the feasibility of listing providers based on their performance in the new carefinder.gov project. We will follow up to gather additional information from CMS officials as they continue their work.
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

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

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2017, FHWA has not implemented this recommendation. In December 2015, the President signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act or "FAST Act". Sec. 1402 of the Act requires DOT to annually report, for all projects administered by FHWA with a total estimated cost of $25 million or more (and for all other projects to the extent practicable), on the total cost of funded projects, the amount of federal funds obligated, and other information, and to make this information "available in a user-friendly manner on the public Internet website of the Department of Transportation." DOT has not yet implemented this provision of the Act. GAO is monitoring DOT's efforts to implement this provision and the extent to which it fulfills GAO's recommendation.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in the rulemaking process, provide agencies and the public with information on why regulations are considered to be significant regulatory actions, and promote consistency in the designation of rules as significant regulatory actions, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should work with agencies to clearly communicate the reasons for designating a regulation as a significant regulatory action. Specifically, OMB should encourage agencies to clearly state in the preamble of final significant regulations the section of Executive Order 12866's definition of a significant regulatory action that applies to the regulation.

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

    Comments: In a May 14, 2015 letter to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Director of OMB stated that nothing in the Executive Order 12866 prevents agencies from identifying the particular relevant definition of significance in rules, and that some rules do contain this information. However, OMB believes it is appropriate to leave agencies flexibility in how they comply with Executive Order 12866, since such specific procedures for including such information is not a requirement of the Executive Order itself. As of February 2017, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not taken action. We will continue to monitor this to see whether action is taken.
    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: J. Alfredo Gomez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve future adherence to OMB guidance for conducting RIAs, the EPA Administrator should enhance the agency's review process for RIAs to ensure the transparency and clarity of information presented for selected elements in and across RIAs.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, EPA reported that it is committing to have its National Center for Environmental Economics in the Office of Policy review regulatory impact analyses (RIAs) for economically significant rules and provide a written review prior to their submission to OMB, indicating progress toward implementing this recommendation. GAO is keeping this recommendation open until seeing how EPA implements this commitment, including any written documentation or guidance to support this process and the type of criteria the agency plans to use for these reviews to ensure the transparency and clarity of information presented for selected elements in and across EPA's RIAs.
    Recommendation: To clarify the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and an Interagency Working Group's Technical Support document for estimating the effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions, and the approach agencies should use when informing decision makers and the public of their findings, the Director of OMB should consider continuing monitoring the economic literature and working with agencies to identify approaches for presenting social cost of carbon estimates with other analytical results that have been discounted at different rates to help agencies more transparently communicate about the circumstances unique to assessing the long-term effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions.

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

    Comments: In a March 2016 update, OMB reported that the Interagency Working Group continues to monitor the economic literature and will also consider whether there are any new approaches for presenting social cost of carbon estimates with other analytical results that have been discounted at different rates that would help agencies more transparently communicate about the circumstances unique to assessing the long-term effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions. It added that, as the National Academy of Sciences Committee may address the appropriate use of discount rates in calculating and presenting the social cost of carbon in Phase 2 of its report, it would be prudent to wait for Phase 2 of the report before making changes in this area to ensure that such changes are fully informed by any Committee recommendations. GAO will continue to monitor the Interagency Working Group's progress toward implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In addition, to enhance the usefulness of EPA's RIAs, the EPA Administrator should identify and prioritize for research key categories of benefits and costs that the agency cannot currently monetize that, once monetized, would most enhance the agency's ability to consider economic trade-offs associated with different regulatory alternatives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA said that it continues to make progress in the spirit of this recommendation, including its consideration of the Science Advisory Board's (SAB) April 2017 draft report and research recommendations regarding the use of economy-wide modeling in benefit-cost analysis for environmental regulations. GAO is keeping this recommendation open until it is clearer how EPA is using the SAB's work to develop its regulatory impact analyses.
    Recommendation: To clarify the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and an Interagency Working Group's Technical Support document for estimating the effects of changes in carbon dioxide emissions, and the approach agencies should use when informing decision makers and the public of their findings, the Director of OMB should consider clarifying the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and the Technical Support Document by increasing the visibility of relevant language in the Technical Support Document.

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

    Comments: In a March 2016 update, OMB said that in the Interagency Working Group's next update of the Technical Support Document, the Interagency Working Group will consider further clarification of the relationship between OMB Circular A-4 and the Technical Support Document through increasing the visibility of relevant language in the Technical Support Document. OMB did not specify the time frame for the next update. GAO will continue to monitor the Interagency Working Group's progress toward implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: In addition, to enhance the usefulness of EPA's RIAs, the EPA Administrator should continue efforts to update and improve the agency's approach to estimating employment effects.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, EPA reported that it continues to make progress in the spirit of this recommendation, with plans to implement a three-part program dealing with employment impacts. EPA also plans to review its Guidelines for Preparing Economic Analysis to expand and update the discussion of how to consider employment effects in RIAs. GAO is keeping this recommendation open until seeing the outcome of these planned efforts.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should issue guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the NMTC including the extent to which other government funds can be used to leverage the NMTC by being included in the qualified equity investment.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Although the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) has not issued guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC), as GAO recommended in July 2014, it has taken steps toward addressing this action. Specifically, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the NMTC program, awarded a contract in September 2015 for new empirical research assessing the extent to which other government programs are being used to leverage the NMTC. The findings of this research (issued in August 2017) indicate that some NMTC projects, especially those using other government funds to leverage the NMTC, potentially received more government funds than needed to close a financing gap. The report recommended that Treasury further evaluate the use of other public funds, specifically combinations of federal and state NMTCs. Treasury guidance on how other public funds may be leveraged and combined with NMTC could help ensure that low-income community projects do not receive more government assistance than required to finance a project.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should ensure that controls are in place to limit the risk of unnecessary duplication at the project level in funding or assistance from government programs and to limit above market rates of return, i.e., returns that are not commensurate with the NMTC investor's risk.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program, has developed a plan to issue guidance to help ensure that Community Development Entities (CDE) accurately report on sources of public funds and projected internal rates of return, as GAO recommended in July 2014. In January 2016, the CDFI Fund released updated guidance that explains in more detail how CDEs should report data on the use of other public sources in financing NMTC projects. The updated guidance should help ensure that CDEs accurately report on sources of public funds. CDFI Fund officials are also evaluating changes to guidance on how CDEs are to report different project rates of return. The CDFI Fund awarded a contract in September 2015 for new empirical research assessing the extent to which other government programs are being used to leverage the NMTC. The report on this research (issued in August 2017) found that NMTC projects using the leveraged structure described in GAO's July 2014 report were more likely to receive higher-than-expected rates of public funding. The report cautioned, however, that limits on the use of leveraged structures could have significant effects on the types of NMTC projects financed, and that some projects in highly distressed communities may need more public funding to attract private investment. The report recommended that the CDFI Fund conduct further research on the relationship between distress and the depth of public funding, and develop tools to help CDEs better evaluate appropriate levels of public funding in their NMTC projects. Additional research will help inform further analysis on the need for any controls to limit rates of return and unnecessary duplication with other public sources, as detailed in GAO's July 2014 report.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the completeness and accuracy of data submissions to the USASpending.gov website, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in collaboration with Treasury's Fiscal Service, should clarify guidance on (1) agency responsibilities for reporting awards funded by non-annual appropriations; (2) the applicability of USASpending.gov reporting requirements to non-classified awards associated with intelligence operations; (3) the requirement that award titles describe the award's purpose (consistent with our prior recommendation); and (4) agency maintenance of authoritative records adequate to verify the accuracy of required data reported for use by USASpending.gov.

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

    Comments: As of July 2017, OMB and Treasury were working to implement the DATA Act, which includes several provisions that may address these recommendations once fully implemented. 1) OMB staff said they continue to deliberate on agency responsibilities for reporting awards funded by non-annual appropriations. 2) OMB staff provided a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) addressing the applicability of USASpending.gov reporting requirements for recipient information related to classified or sensitive information. GAO reviewed the FAQ and determined that additional guidance is still needed to ensure complete reporting of unclassified awards as required by FFATA. 3) OMB staff have agreed that it will be important to clarify guidance on how agencies can report on award titles that appropriately describes the awards' purposes and noted that they are working on providing additional guidance to agencies as part of their larger DATA Act implementation efforts. 4) OMB released policy guidance in May 2016 (MPM 2016-03) that identifies the authoritative sources for reporting procurement and award data. However, GAO's review of this policy guidance determined that it does not address the underlying source that can be used to verify the accuracy of non-financial procurement data or any source for data on assistance awards.
    Recommendation: To improve the completeness and accuracy of data submissions to the USASpending.gov website, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in collaboration with Treasury's Fiscal Service, should develop and implement a government-wide oversight process to regularly assess the consistency of information reported by federal agencies to the website other than the award amount.

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

    Comments: As part of their DATA Act implementation efforts, OMB issued policy guidance in May 2016 (MPM 2016-03) that identifies authoritative systems to validate agency spending information. The guidance also directs agency DATA Act Senior Accountable Officials (SAOs) to provide a quarterly assurance regarding the data reported to USASpending.gov and specifies that this assurance should leverage data quality and management controls established in statute, regulation, and Federal-wide policy and be aligned with the internal control and risk management strategies in Circular A-123, and provides information on how agency DATA Act SAOs are to provide assurances over the spending data reported to USASpending.gov. In addition, Treasury's broker is to provide an additional set of validation rules to further ensure the proper formatting of data submitted to USAspending.gov. OMB staff noted that OMB and Treasury had prioritized the linking of financial data to award data as a means of addressing the issue of unreported awards we previously identified. We agree that linking financial and award data can help agencies identify gaps in reporting. However, as of July 2017, OMB did not identify any new or revised processes aimed at addressing the accuracy concerns we addressed other than citing agencies' responsibility to certify the accuracy of their data.
    Recommendation: To improve the completeness of foreign recipient data on the USASpending.gov website, the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation should direct responsible officials within the Corporation's Department of Administration and Finance to report spending information on all assistance award programs to USASpending.gov for prior and future fiscal years in accordance with statutory requirements and OMB guidance.

    Agency: Millennium Challenge Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Millennium Challenge Corporation has begun reporting awards made in fiscal year 2015. As of July 2017, it has not yet reported awards for previous fiscal years, as we had recommended. We will continue to follow up.
    Director: John Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve subsequent joint reports to Congress on plans for sustaining and modernizing U.S nuclear weapons capabilities and to improve the transparency of the joint report's methodologies, thereby assisting Congress in understanding the basis for DOD's NC3 estimates in subsequent joint reports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Chief Information Officer to document in the report the methodological assumptions and limitations affecting the report's estimates for sustaining and modernizing the NC3 system.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on our 2014 report, DOD stated that it concurred with our recommendation, and that it would include all key assumptions and potential limitations utilized in the nuclear command, control, and communications estimates in future joint reports. DOD included more information on the methodologies the Air Force, Navy, and DOD CIO used to develop their 5- and 10-year budget estimates for sustaining and modernizing nuclear delivery systems and nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) systems in the fiscal year 2016 joint report. However, DOD's methodology for the NC3 estimates was not fully transparent, because it did not document some of the assumptions and potential limitations of the methodology in the report. DOD CIO has continued to use the same methodology for preparing its NC3 estimates each year, but did not document any limitations of that methodology and the potential effect on the estimates. In the joint reports for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, DOD included some methodological information for its NC3 estimates but still did not identify or explain the assumptions or limitations of its methodology. We continue to believe the usefulness and transparency of the joint report could be further improved if DOD implemented this recommendation to document the methodological assumptions and limitations affecting the NC3 estimate.
    Director: Joseph Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOD's investments are being applied toward developing medical countermeasures to respond to the most serious and likely biological threat agents, the Secretary of Defense should direct the appropriate DOD officials to develop and implement a process to update and validate DOD's list of biological threats, as required by DOD Directives 5160.05E and 6205.3, or implement a process that aligns with the department's current policies, practices, and priorities as reflected in the 2001 and 2010 Quadrennial Defense Reviews .

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation. DOD has been reviewing directives addressing biological warfare threats and is in the process of revising DOD Directive 5160.05E to ensure that the directive appropriately captures and institutionalizes the use of risk assessments to support research, development, and acquisition of chemical and biological defense capabilities. The Chemical and Biological Defense Program (CBDP) piloted the risk assessment process in 2014 and will continue to conduct annual risk assessments to support portfolio planning and guidance. In addition to this revision, the CBDP continues to improve stakeholder awareness and discussions on threats through the utilization of an annual threat day review and on-going Joint Service discussions on chemical and biological threats and capabilities to address those threats. Alignment of the threat information and medical countermeasure capabilities are discussed through the CBDP Medical Prime/Non-Prime Working Group, which was established in February 2015 to ensure the CBDP medical portfolio is addressing the highest priority threats considering available candidates and resources. The group meets quarterly to address key programmatic changes, discuss program strategic guidance, and to address information presented and discussed at the annual threat review sessions. In total, these efforts have improved the Department's ability to ensure biological threats are aligned and considered through holistic, threat-informed, risk-based assessments. DOD is also taking actions to improve the development of medical countermeasures against priority threats through a number of actions such as developing a process guide, holding threat days, and performing in-depth analyses on medical science and technology solutions. Once DOD completes and issues Directive 5160.05E, we will assess the extent to which DOD's combined actions address the recommendation.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's cooperative agreement and internal documentation supporting its June 2012 acceptance of depleted uranium tails are accurate and transparent, the Secretary of Energy should continue to review the accuracy of its documentation associated with this transaction and seek an independent review of this documentation by a third party, such as the DOE Inspector General.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: If DOE continues to transfer, sell, or barter depleted uranium tails pursuant to its general authority under the Atomic Energy Act, notwithstanding that the USEC Privatization Act likely prohibits such actions, to ensure that DOE is receiving the required compensation under the Atomic Energy Act and DOE policy, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance for setting an appropriate method for determining the value of depleted uranium tails when transferring them as an asset and apply the method consistently and transparently, prior to conducting such transfers, sales, or barters.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation and, as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. DOE has maintained that the department is not required to establish guidance or a pricing policy for depleted uranium and that doing so would hinder DOE's ability to maximize the value received by the government in a given transaction. We continue to believe that having guidance that provides a consistent and transparent method of determining the value of tails in the context of a transaction is necessary to help DOE ensure that it is receiving reasonable compensation in return for its tails, especially given the potential for future tails transactions
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE mitigates risks associated with achieving the expected benefits of future uranium transactions that may rely on third-party contracts, the Secretary of Energy should take steps to mitigate the risks for each uranium transaction, in accordance with federal internal control standards.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the quality, credibility, and transparency of any future uranium market impact studies, the Secretary of Energy should (1) conduct a rigorous and documented internal assessment consistent with contract provisions and the Department of Energy's Information Quality Guidelines of the quality of such studies and/or have an independent third party conduct a peer review; and (2) to the extent that market impact studies are made publicly available, require that studies include information on the methods, data sources, and assumptions used in such a way that allows others to understand, interpret, and evaluate the studies consistent with DOE's Information Quality Guidelines.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that DOE's future uranium transfers do not have an adverse material impact on the domestic uranium market, the Secretary of Energy should seek and consider industry input both on the amount of DOE sales or transfers of uranium the market can absorb annually and on whether there is a need to reinstitute a guideline that limits annual uranium sales or transfers.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish a separate cost and schedule baseline for work required to support the SLS Block I Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) and report this information to the Congress through NASA's annual budget submission. If NASA decides to fly the SLS Block I beyond EM-2, establish separate life cycle cost and schedule baseline estimates for those efforts, to include funding for operations and sustainment, and report this information annually to Congress via the agency's budget submission.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it defined and documented life cycle costs for SLS to a first demonstrated capability, consistent with cost estimating best practices and NASA project and program management policy and that it would report costs associated with the second exploration mission via its annual budget submission. Best practices for cost estimating recognize that NASA's evolutionary development approach for SLS helps reduce risk and provide capabilities more quickly, but reporting costs via the budget alone will not provide information about potential costs over the long-term and progress cannot be assessed without a baseline that serves as a means to compare current costs against expected costs. To address this recommendation, NASA needs to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for work required to support SLS for EM-2.
    Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, because NASA intends to use the increased capabilities of the SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations efforts well into the future and has chosen to estimate costs associated with achieving the capabilities, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for each additional capability that encompass all life cycle costs, to include operations and sustainment. When NASA cannot fully specify costs due to lack of well-defined missions or flight manifests, forecast a cost estimate range -- including life cycle costs -- having minimum and maximum boundaries. These baselines or ranges should be reported to Congress annually via the agency's budget submission.

    Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it had established separate programs for Space Launch System, Orion, and the ground systems and adopted a block upgrade approach for SLS. While NASA's prior establishment of SLS, Orion, and the ground systems as separate programs lends some insight into expected costs and schedule at the broader program level, it does not meet the intent of the recommendation because cost and schedule identified at that level is unlikely to provide the detail necessary to monitor the progress of each block against a baseline. To address this recommendation, NASA needs to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for each additional SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations capability blocks that encompass all life-cycle costs, to include operations and sustainment.
    Director: Lawrance L. Evans, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that foreclosure prevention principles are being incorporated into servicers' practices, the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System should ensure that the planned activities to oversee the foreclosure prevention principles include evaluation and testing of servicers' implementation of the principles.

    Agency: Federal Reserve System: Board of Governors
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, Federal Reserve staff indicated that examiners are continuing to review servicers' efforts to incorporate the foreclosure prevention principles into their practices. Our assessment of the extent to which those reviews include evaluation and testing of servicers' implementation of the principles is pending additional discussions with the Federal Reserve.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide increased transparency about the funding amounts agencies are spending to maintain their assets and manage their backlogs, the Director of OMB should require the OMB Deputy Director for Management, as chair of the FRPC, in collaboration and consultation with FRPC member agencies, to collect information--through FRPP or other mechanisms--on funding agencies annually spent to address existing deferred maintenance and repair deficiencies and report summary level information in the FRPC's fiscal year report.

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

    Comments: As of December 2015, OMB had worked with the FRPC to develop a method to collect annual recurring maintenance and repair data in the FRPP. This effort includes (1) developing separate definitions for "operations" and "maintenance" costs, which are currently reported in the FRPP as a combined cost number, and (2) defining a methodology that agencies can use to consistently collect and report annual deferred maintenance and repair expenditures. OMB expects these actions to be completed by the fiscal year 2018 FRPP reporting cycle. As of March 28, 2017, OMB had not provided GAO with any additional updates regarding the status of this recommendation..
    Director: Jeszeck, Charles A
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase the accuracy of "potential private pension benefit information" notices that SSA sends to Social Security claimants, Congress should consider legislation shifting responsibility and necessary resources to Labor for (a) electronically collecting form 8955-SSA information on participants' deferred vested benefits, (b) maintaining an accurate federal database of those benefits, and (c) periodically sending SSA accurate information about such benefits for recent Social Security claimants identified by SSA, so that SSA may provide notices to retirees.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2017, no congressional action has been taken in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ease the burden on plan sponsors, enhance compliance, and help ensure that disclosures to participants are written in a manner that can be understood by the average participant, Labor, IRS, and PBGC should work together to create and regularly update a comprehensive online tool for plan sponsors to search for the reports and disclosures they are required to provide based on plan type, design, and circumstances.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2013, Labor officials said that they would consult with their colleagues at the Treasury Department/IRS and PBGC regarding creation of one unified online tool for plan adminstrators to search for the reports and disclosures they are required to submit based on a plan's type, design, and circumstances. However, in FY 2014, officials indicated that, although they will continue to consult with their other agency colleagues regarding creation of such a tool, they now tentativley disagree with the recommendation and believe that such a tool could be confusing, especially for small employers. In 2015, Labor raised concerns about this recommendation, continuing to question whether a unified tri-agency online tool would be valuable for sponsors of large pension plans and may be confusing to some plan sponsors, especially small employers. They further noted that they do not believe it would be appropriate for EBSA to adjust its regulatory or guidance priorities at this time or reallocate resources currently dedicated to other priority projects in order to further explore any possible merit of such an online tool. GAO continues to believe just the opposite, that a well-designed comprehensive online tool could be very helpful, especially for small employers. In FY 17, Labor reiterated its opinions from previous years.
    Recommendation: To ease the burden on plan sponsors, enhance compliance, and help ensure that disclosures to participants are written in a manner that can be understood by the average participant, Labor, IRS, and PBGC should work together to create and regularly update a comprehensive online tool for plan sponsors to search for the reports and disclosures they are required to provide based on plan type, design, and circumstances.

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

    Comments: IRS officials initially noted that they are continuing their efforts to ensure that plan sponsors have access to comprehensive and up-to-date online resources. They said they had met with Labor and PBGC officials to discuss the value and feasibility of developing and maintaining a comprehensive online tool. However, with decreased resources, they believe it is unlikely for the agency to create and regularly update such a tool. However, they would continue to confer with Labor and PBGC colleagues to determine if it is possible to cross-reference existing agency resources online. As of September 2017, IRS has not provided an update on its efforts. GAO continues to believe that such a tool would be beneficial to plan sponsors of all sizes.
    Recommendation: To ease the burden on plan sponsors, enhance compliance, and help ensure that disclosures to participants are written in a manner that can be understood by the average participant, Labor, IRS, and PBGC should work together to define criteria for complying with the readability provisions in ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), and apply the criteria to agency-generated model notices as well as those developed by plan sponsors. As part of these criteria, consider requiring clear, simple, brief highlights at the beginning of disclosures, reflecting federal plain language guidelines.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: Labor officials stated that, while sensitive to plan sponsor concerns regarding liabilities that may result from ambiguities that arise when complex information is summarized using plain English criteria, they will, nevertheless, explore the application of readability standards in this context. Officials indicated they may decide it would be helpful to engage a contractor and undertake a survey or other data collection in order to evaluate this recommendation, but do not have resources budgeted in FY 2014 for such an exercise. In the meantime, they plan to continue to use modern communication techniques (such as focus group testing) to improve the effectiveness of their model notices and other standardized disclosures. In 2015, Labor reported that they need to explore the application of readability standards in light of concerns about liabilities that may result from ambiguities when complex information is summarized or presented using "plain English" criteria. Contracting for data collection would help them make an informed evaluation of this recommendation but they do not have the budgeted resources and believe it would not be appropriate to adjust priorities or reallocate resources. They will use techniques such as focus group testing to improve the effectiveness model notices and other standardized disclosures. GAO continues to believe it is important to implement a requirement to have clear, simple, brief highlights. In FY 17, Labor noted that the agency had not yet made a decision regarding future rulemaking and had suggested that the ERISA advisory counsel look at the effectiveness of disclosures.
    Recommendation: To ease the burden on plan sponsors, enhance compliance, and help ensure that disclosures to participants are written in a manner that can be understood by the average participant, Labor, IRS, and PBGC should work together to define criteria for complying with the readability provisions in ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), and apply the criteria to agency-generated model notices as well as those developed by plan sponsors. As part of these criteria, consider requiring clear, simple, brief highlights at the beginning of disclosures, reflecting federal plain language guidelines.

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

    Comments: IRS officials said that they are committed to using the Federal Plain Language Guidelines as a resource in preparing model disclosures and that they will consider including brief highlights at the beginning of model disclosures. They said that it is unclear that imposing defined readability criteria on employer and plan communications is in the best interests of plan participants, administrators, sponsors, and the retirement system as a whole. However, they do see merit in directing employers and plan sponsors to the Guidelines as a resource for developing readable notices and disclosures, and are considering how best to communicate that resource to stakeholders. As of September 2017, IRS has not provided an update on these efforts.
    Recommendation: To better ensure plan participants have access to information about their rights and benefits, as currently in force under their plans, Labor should direct plan sponsors to post to any intranet website maintained by the employer, as soon as determined feasible by Labor, a copy of the most current summary plan description (SPD) and any summary of material modifications issued subsequent to that SPD.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: Labor officials said that they generally support implementing such a requirement, subject to a legal determination of their authority absent legislation to issue such a directive. However, rather than addressing the recommendation as a stand-alone item, they believe it would be better to consider the benefits of such an intranet posting requirement in connection with efforts to expand or modify disclosure standards in response to their 2011 Request for Information (RFI) regarding electronic disclosure. Moreover, officials noted that, during FY 2014, Labor was focusing its regulatory resources on other higher priority projects and did not have a specific timeline for any next action on e-disclosure issues. In their 2015 response, Labor reiterated their agreement from agency comments. Based on comments from their RFI, they understand that many plan sponsors, especially those that have intranet websites, already post plan-related information for employees and that input from consumer advocates that have expressed concern about replacing employees? paper disclosure rights under ERISA with internet access. Labor has not added an e-disclosure project to its regulatory agenda but is still focusing its regulatory resources on other higher priority projects. GAO continues to believe that this is an important pursuit. In FY 17, Labor stated that they do not have any specific timeline for actions on e-disclosures.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202)512-3604

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with more-complete information on the planned implementation, management, and oversight of DOD's newly created DHA, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to develop and present to Congress a comprehensive timeline that includes interim milestones for all reform goals that could be used to show implementation progress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2015, DOD has not submitted a comprehensive timeline that includes interim milestones for all reform goals. Further, as we reported in September 2015, DOD's plan for assessing the personnel requirements of the DHA lacks a detailed timeline with milestones and interim steps. Until DOD develops a comprehensive timeline for its reform, this recommendation should remain open. June 2017 Update: The DHA strategic plan/CONOPS showing a comprehensive timeline for all of its reform goals has yet to be released.
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with more-complete information on the planned implementation, management, and oversight of DOD's newly created DHA, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) to monitor implementation costs to assess whether the shared-services projects are on track to achieve projected net cost savings or if corrective actions are needed.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As we reported in September 2015, DOD has taken some action on this recommendation for 8 of its 10 shared services. The DHA's internal leadership briefings now identify the major types of implementation costs where relevant, or otherwise address their potential impact. For example, information technology costs are identified as one primary type of costs for the Health Information Technology and Medial Logistics shared services, while contract costs are identified for the Budget and Resource Management, Medical Logistics, and Health Information Technology shared services. By identifying the major types of implementation costs, decision makers are better able to gauge the sensitivity of areas of uncertainty as they make decisions concerning future investments in shared services. MAY 2016 UPDATE: DHA reported and we verified financial savings of $722 million for FY14 and FY15 due to shared services implementation. June 2017 Update: DHA reported and we verified financial savings of $686.6 million for FY 16 due to shared services implementation.
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should identify and carry out steps that can be taken to help CBP port officials overcome challenges to consistent implementation of existing wait time estimation methodologies. Steps for ensuring consistent implementation of these methodologies could include, for example, implementing the fiscal year 2008 Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative report recommendations to use closed-circuit television cameras to measure wait time in real time and provide a standardized measurement and validation tool.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP officials report that in order to avoid further investment in a manual wait time methodology, the agency plans to focus resources on developing an enterprise-wide solution for automating the measurement of border delays. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the usefulness of southwest border crossing wait time data for informing public and management decisions, the Commissioner of CBP should, in consultation with Federal Highway Administration and state DOTs, assess the feasibility of replacing current methods of manually calculating wait times with automated methods, which could include assessing all of the associated costs and benefits, options for how the agency will use and publicly report the results of automated data collection, the potential trade-offs associated with moving to this new system, and other factors such as those influencing the possible expansion of existing automation efforts to the 34 other locations that currently report wait times but have no automation projects under way.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports working to identify a feasible and cost effective wait time solution to measure commercial vehicle delays along the southern border. Specifically, CBP officials report that they have been partnering with the Federal Highway Administration and the Texas A&M's Transportation Institute on the deployment of an automated radio-frequency identification measurement solution to measure commercial delays at eight crossings. To verify the accuracy of the automated wait time data, CBP officials report that in June 2016 they conducted a ground-truth analysis with mixed results. CBP officials report DHS Science and Technology directorate delivered their final report in February 2017 and by the end of September 2017, pending review and acceptance of the report's findings, CBP will coordinate efforts to develop the required communication protocols and data schematics for near real-time commercial vehicle wait time updates to the CBP Border Wait Time website and Border Wait Time app. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in October 2017.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that CBP's Office of Field Operations' (OFO) staffing processes are transparent and to help ensure CBP can demonstrate that these resource decisions have effectively addressed CBP's mission needs, the Commissioner of CBP should document the methodology and process OFO uses to allocate staff to land ports of entry on the southwest border, including the rationales and factors considered in making these decisions.

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

    Comments: As of May 2017, CBP's Office of Field Operations (OFO) reports that they have adopted a workload staffing model to identify CBP staffing requirements at land ports of entry. CBP officials report that the workload staffing model provides senior leadership with a decision-support tool to identify the number of required resources for each location and accounts for distinct operating environments, unique variables, and major functions and activities. CBP officials report that they use the workload staffing model results in its budget requests and when allocating staff to the ports of entry. However, CBP has not provided GAO with documentation showing how staff are allocated among land ports of entry including how workload staffing model results are used in this process. CBP officials report that in May 2017 OFO began working with contracted experts to synthesize the quantitative and qualitative data available and develop a comprehensive CBP position allocation methodology. CBP estimates that this recommendation will be completed in March 2018.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine M
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of the process for reviewing and approving spending limits for comprehensive section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should update the agency's written budget neutrality policy to reflect actual criteria and processes used to develop and approve demonstration spending limits, and ensure the policy is readily available to state Medicaid directors and others.

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

    Comments: HHS does not agree with this recommendation. However, we continue to believe that HHS should have a formal written budget neutrality policy in place that reflects the Department's actual criteria and processes. HHS's written budget neutrality policy was last issued in 2001 and is not publicly available, and staff have acknowledged that aspects of the policy as written do not reflect their current criteria or processes.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency of the process for reviewing and approving spending limits for comprehensive section 1115 demonstrations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should reconsider adjustments and costs used in setting the spending limits for the Arizona and Texas demonstrations, and make appropriate adjustments to spending limits for the remaining years of each demonstration.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2016, HHS officials reported that they have not implemented this recommendation. GAO considers it to be open. We will update this information when we receive additional information
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: 202-512-9338

    5 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the credibility of IRIS assessments by enhancing their timeliness and certainty, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Research and Development to assess the feasibility and appropriateness of the established time frames for each step in the IRIS assessment process and determine whether different time frames should be established, based on complexity or other criteria, for different types of IRIS assessments.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that IRIS assessments that support policy and regulatory decisions for EPA's programs and regions, and state agencies, are being consolidated into a new portfolio to optimize the application of best available science and technology. According to IRIS Program officials, the IRIS workflow will be reoriented and timelines and resources will be tailored to fit the intended purpose of the IRIS assessment. This approach was presented to EPA's Science and Technology Policy Council in July 2017 and was presented to the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017 for their consideration and evaluation. In addition, according to EPA IRIS officials, there were improvements in project management for IRIS assessments, such as working with IRIS assessment chemical managers individuals who manage IRIS assessments to develop timelines and a system that tracks the portfolio of IRIS products in development, to allow the IRIS Program to more effectively use resources across assessment projects and ensure timely delivery of products. GAO continues to believe that these efforts show important progress, but that EPA needs to continue to determine whether different time frames should be established for different types of assessments, and the feasibility and appropriateness of the established time frames.
    Recommendation: To better ensure the credibility of IRIS assessments by enhancing their timeliness and certainty, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Research and Development, should different time frames be necessary, to establish a written policy that clearly describes the applicability of the time frames for each type of IRIS assessment and ensures that the time frames are realistic and provide greater predictability to stakeholders.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that they met with the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017 to discuss responses to this recommendation. After the meeting, EPA's IRIS Program officials expect to issue a public statement that will emphasize the new portfolio approach to chemical evaluation and reflect that IRIS milestones will be varying based on the scale and type of assessment needed. EPA's IRIS Program officials told GAO that these activities will also provide the Program an opportunity to evaluate whether additional training on project management has provided the consistency in planning and delivery that was expected. GAO continues to believe that EPA has made progress and we will continue to review information provided by EPA as the agency works to ensure that the time frames are realistic and provide greater predictability to stakeholders.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to annually publish the IRIS agenda in the Federal Register each fiscal year.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that starting in 2017, on an annual basis, the IRIS Program is reviewing the information in the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda to ensure that it remains responsive to GAO's recommendation. According to IRIS Program officials, this process was informal in 2017 but will be formalized starting in 2018 and updates to the Multi-Year Agenda will be published on the IRIS website and disseminated appropriately. GAO continues to believe that current and accurate information on the chemicals EPA plans to assess through IRIS should be made available to IRIS users. As the program continues its work, GAO will monitor EPA's progress to determine if information is provided annually in the Federal Register.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to indicate in published IRIS agendas which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of Fall 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that starting in 2017, on an annual basis, the IRIS Program is reviewing the information in the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda to ensure that it remains responsive to GAO's recommendation. According to IRIS Program officials, this process was informal in 2017, but will be formalized starting in 2018, and updates to the Multi-Year Agenda will be published on the IRIS website and disseminated appropriately. EPA IRIS Program officials stated that they received feedback from the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017. IRIS officials intend to publish an updated Agenda that will list which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals. GAO continues to believe that annually providing current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through the IRIS program is critical for IRIS users as well as specifically identifying which chemicals EPA is actively assessing and when EPA plans to start assessments of the other listed chemicals.
    Recommendation: To ensure that current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through IRIS is available to IRIS users--including stakeholders such as EPA program and regional offices, other federal agencies, and the public--the EPA Administrator should direct the Office of Research and Development to update the IRIS Substance Assessment Tracking System (IRISTrack) to display all current information on the status of assessments of chemicals on the IRIS agenda, including projected and actual start dates, and projected and actual dates for completion of steps in the IRIS process, and keep this information current.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials stated that starting in 2017, on an annual basis, the IRIS Program is reviewing the information in the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda to ensure that it remains responsive to GAO's recommendation. According to EPA IRIS Program officials, this process was informal in 2017 but will be formalized starting in 2018, and updates to the Multi-Year Agenda will be published on the IRIS website and disseminated appropriately. EPA IRIS Program officials stated that they received feedback from the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017. Officials indicated that after the feedback is received, the IRIS website will be updated with information consistent with GAO's recommendation, such as projected and actual start dates. GAO will monitor EPA's progress, and consider whether updates are annually providing current and accurate information on chemicals that EPA plans to assess through the IRIS program, as necessary for IRIS users.
    Director: Kohn, Linda T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As HHS implements its current and forthcoming efforts to make transparent price information available to consumers, HHS should determine the feasibility of making estimates of complete costs of health care services available to consumers through any of these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2013, CMS released average inpatient hospital charge information for more than 3,000 hospitals that receive Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System payments for the 100 most frequently billed discharges using DRGs from FY2011 and corresponding average Medicare payments. Shortly thereafter CMS also released outpatient charges. In April 2014, CMS also released data on payments to physicians under Medicare part B. This represents an effort to provide price transparency, although these are not complete cost estimates according to our definition in this report. As of September 2015, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Recommendation: As HHS implements its current and forthcoming efforts to make transparent price information available to consumers, HHS should determine, as appropriate, the next steps for making estimates of complete costs of health care services available to consumers.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of September 2015, we are awaiting an update from HHS on the status of this recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation when we receive additional information.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen its baselines, facilitate external and independent reviews of those baselines, ensure effective oversight of the BMDS, and further improve transparency and accountability of its efforts, and to improve clarity, consistency, and completeness of the baselines reported to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that MDA, for resource baselines, obtain independent cost estimates for each baseline.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on our report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken all actions necessary to implement it. Although the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has received independent cost estimates from its internal independent cost group for some programs and components that support the baselines provided in MDA's Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report (BAR), MDA officials told us they have not yet completed independent estimates for all the BAR baselines. In addition, the independent estimates will not have full lifecycle costs which will hamper their effectiveness. We will continue to monitor MDA's progress over the course of our next annual review.
    Recommendation: To strengthen its baselines, facilitate external and independent reviews of those baselines, ensure effective oversight of the BMDS, and further improve transparency and accountability of its efforts, and to improve clarity, consistency, and completeness of the baselines reported to Congress, the Secretary of Defense should ensure that MDA, for schedule baselines, in meeting new statutory requirements to report variances between reported acquisition baselines, also report variances between the test plan as presented in the previous acquisition baseline and the test plan as executed that explain the reason for any changes.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the Department of Defense concurred with our recommendation and has taken initial steps to report the test variances, by laying out the dates of the proposed changes. However, the variances do not include all changes to test objectives, detail when tests are deleted, nor when the altered objectives will be satisfied. MDA has initiated an effort with DOT&E and the OTA to track the movement of test objectives, however these changes are not reported and are only used internally. In addition, MDA utilizes a "mid-year" test change memorandum. The change explains the difference from the prior master test plan, but is not reported. Thus, changes that are included in the mid-year memorandum can not be tracked if one only receives the annual test plan. We will continue to monitor MDA's progress in fiscal year 2017 and determine whether MDA lays out the changes in its upcoming integrated master test plan.
    Director: Sherrill, Andrew
    Phone: (202)512-7252

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the number of new H-1B workers who are subject to the cap--both entering the United States and changing to H-1B status within the United States--does not exceed the cap each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services should take steps to improve its tracking of the number of approved H-1B applications and the number of issued visas under the cap by fully leveraging the transformation effort currently under way, which involves the adoption of an electronic petition processing system that will be linked to the Department of State's tracking system. Such steps should ensure that linkages to the Department of State's tracking system will provide Homeland Security with timely access to data on visa issuances, and that mechanisms for tracking petitions and visas against the cap are incorporated into U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' business rules to be developed for the new electronic petition system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, USCIS officials reported that, according to their current timeframes, the business rules associated with the nonimmigrant visa petition process (including Form I-129) in the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS) were slated to be developed in late 2017, with implementation projected for the beginning of 2018. They stated that during the requirements-gathering phase, the Service Center Operations officials and the Office of Transformation Program officials planned to discuss potential options for improving the tracking of the number of approved H-1B applications and the number of issued visas under the cap, including assessing the feasibility of linking DHS and State Department data. GAO will follow-up with USCIS on the status of this recommendation when business rules for the nonimmigrant line of the ELIS are developed and released.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202)512-4431

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further the goals of public understanding of what Recovery Act funds are being spent on and what results are expected, the Director, Office of Management and Budget, should work with executive departments and agencies to determine (1) whether supplemental guidance is needed to meet, in a reasonable and cost-effective way, the intent of the Recovery Act for reporting on projects and activities and (2) whether that supplemental guidance or other agency-proposed technical assistance dealing with narrative descriptions of awards provides for transparent descriptions of funded activities.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further the goals of public understanding of what Recovery Act funds are being spent on and what results are expected, the Director, Office of Management and Budget, should periodically (1) review, in partnership with executive departments and agencies, the descriptions of awards--in particular, the narrative fields--submitted by recipients to determine whether the information provides a basic understanding of the uses of the funds and the expected outcomes, and, if not, determine what actions to take, including encouraging agencies to develop or improve program-specific guidance and (2) work with the Recovery Board on the board's assessments of departments' and agencies' data quality reviews to ensure the adequacy of these reviews and further reinforce actions to meet transparency goals.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Goldenkoff, Robert N
    Phone: (202)512-2757

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide more meaningful access to LEP populations, the Administrator of SBA should finalize and issue its LEP plan and recipient guidance.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Executive Order 13166 requires federal agencies to examine how to improve access for persons with limited English proficiency (LEP) to programs, services, and activities conducted by both federal agencies as well as state, local, and regional entities that receive federal financial assistance (a group referred to in the Executive Order as "recipients"). While the Executive Order does not prescribe specific approaches for improving access for LEP persons, it does require federal agencies to develop guidelines (referred to as "recipient guidance") that clarify the obligations of state, local, and regional entities. Agencies are also required to prepare LEP plans outlining the steps the agency will take to ensure that eligible LEP persons can access their programs and activities. In our April 2010 report on language access issues, we determined that the Small Business Administration (SBA) had not issued its recipient guidance or LEP plan. SBA officials attributed the delay to several factors, including staff turnover in key positions responsible for developing and approving their LEP Plan and recipient guidance as well as a major transformation effort involving SBA's business operations, goals, and staffing arrangements. As a result, our report recommended that the SBA Administrator finalize and issue SBA's LEP Plan and recipient guidance. As of February 2017, SBA's audit liaison reported that SBA's LEP Plan and recipient guidance are being revised based on comments from a review by the Department of Justice.
    Director: Chaplain, Cristina T
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct MDA to ensure that developmental hardware and software changes are not made to the operational baseline that disrupt the assessments needed to understand the capabilities and limitations of new BMDS developments.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation. In the June 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report (BAR), Missile Defense Agency (MDA) provided some operational baselines and continues to do so annually. Nonetheless, configuration changes continue to pose challenges to a thorough assessment of the BMDS architecture. For example, the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation stated that the many configurations of the fielded ground-based interceptor inhibits a full evaluation of the GMD program. Moreover, some changes to BMDS elements are still delivered while testing of the architecture is already underway. We will continue to assess whether MDA fully adopts an approach allowing time for the warfighter and testers to fully understand hardware and software before placing it in the operational baseline.
    Director: White, James
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Congress may wish to consider broadening IRS's ability to use math error authority (MEA), with appropriate safeguards against misuse of that authority.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has expanded IRS's math error authority in certain circumstances, but not as broadly as we suggested in February 2010. Congress enacted legislation in December 2015 that expands the circumstances in which IRS may use math error authority. Section 208 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) gives IRS the authority to use math error authority if (1) a taxpayer claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) during the period in which a taxpayer is not permitted to claim such credit as a consequence of either having made a prior fraudulent or reckless claim; or (2) a taxpayer omitted information required to be reported because the taxpayer made prior improper claims of the Child Tax Credit or the AOTC. While expanding math error authority is consistent with what we recommended Congress consider, we had suggested that math error authority be authorized on a broader basis with appropriate controls rather than on a piecemeal basis. Our previous work has identified additional tax provisions for which expanded math error authority would be helpful, such as the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, Individual Retirement Accounts, and Residential Energy Property Credit. While Congress expanded math error authority for the First-Time Homebuyer Credit in November 2009 and for other individual credits as previously described, we maintain that a broader authorization of math error authority with appropriate controls would enable IRS to correct obvious noncompliance, would be less intrusive and burdensome to taxpayers than audits, and would potentially help taxpayers who underclaim tax benefits to which they are entitled. If Congress decides to extend broader math error authority to IRS, controls may be needed to ensure that this authority is used properly. Our prior work identified potential controls, such as requiring IRS to report on its use of math error authority. The administration also requested that Congress grant the Department of the Treasury regulatory authority to expand IRS's use of math error authority as part of its budget submission for fiscal year 2017. The 114th Congress did not provide Treasury with such authority. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated this change could raise $274 million through fiscal years 2018 through 2026.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To clarify FCC's policies on providing commissioners access to information from bureaus and offices about agenda items, each FCC chairman, at the beginning of his or her term, should develop and make publicly available internal policies that outline the extent to which commissioners can access information from the bureaus and offices during the decision-making process, including how commissioners can request and receive information.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Chairman has established guidance for how offices and bureaus should consult one another and work together. However, this guidance does not address or clarify policies on commissioner access to information from bureaus and offices.
    Recommendation: To clarify FCC's policies on providing commissioners access to information from bureaus and offices about agenda items, the FCC should provide this policy to FCC's congressional oversight committees to aid their oversight efforts.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Chairman has established guidance for how offices and bureaus should consult one another and work together. However, this guidance does not address or clarify policies on commissioner access to information from bureaus and offices.
    Recommendation: To improve FCC's workforce planning efforts, the FCC should, in revising its current Strategic Human Capital Plan, include targets that identify the type of workforce expertise needed, strategies for meeting these targets--including methods to more flexibly augment the workforce--and measures for tracking progress toward these targets.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: FCC has begun development of a new strategic workforce plan to be folded into its overall strategic plan. FCC is working with OPM to provide assistance. Specifically, OPM has been tasked with developing a product that will improve workforce planning, to be completed in the fall of 2014. The product will be the basis of FCC's next strategic workforce plan. According to FCC officials, the plan will align with FCC's strategic plan and OPM's requirements for small agencies. It will include metrics on specific HR and workforce activities to evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of the plan's strategic goals. The plan will provide a roadmap for implementing the strategies but include flexibility to meet the dynamic and changing FCC organizational requirements. Given the ongoing nature of FCC's work in this area, we are keeping this recommendation open until OPM and FCC complete their work product.
    Director: Dicken, John E
    Phone: (202)512-7043

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help states identify and address quality-of-care concerns among individuals with developmental disabilities receiving Medicaid HCBS waiver services, the Administrator of CMS should encourage states to (1) include death as a critical incident and conduct mortality reviews if they do not already do so and (2) broaden their mortality review processes if they already include death as a critical incident and conduct mortality reviews.

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

    Comments: In August 2009, CMS stated that it anticipated adding a question about mortality reviews to its next web-based version of the Home and Community-Based Services waiver application. CMS also indicated at that time that the next application version (i.e., Version 3.6) would be released in 2010. However, in July 2010, CMS indicated that this version would not be produced until 2011. In its 2011 update, CMS indicated that the version 3.6 online application had not yet been operationalized and therefore the recommendation should be left open until next year. In July 2013, CMS stated that version 3.6 remains on hold and that the agency is exploring other options for addressing this recommendation, with a target completion date of 12/31/2014.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To develop timely chemical risk information that EPA needs to effectively conduct its mission, the Administrator, EPA, should require the Office of Research and Development to re-evaluate its draft proposed changes to the IRIS assessment process in light of the issues raised in this report and ensure that any revised process periodically assesses the level of resources that should be dedicated to this significant program to meet user needs and maintain a viable IRIS database.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of August 2017, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that they are in the process of directly reviewing program and regional office priority needs annually and will then evaluate the December 2015 Multi-Year Agenda and realign resources and priories as needed. EPA IRIS Program officials stated that this review will occur in 2017, and subsequently they plan to receive feedback from the Science Advisory Board's Chemical Assessment Advisory Committee in September 2017. After the feedback is received, they will formalize this process starting in 2018. When GAO receives documentation regarding the periodic assessments of resources that should be dedicated to the program to meet user needs and to maintain a viable IRIS database, GAO will reevaluate the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Iritani, Katherine M
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the transparency of CMS oversight and clarify and communicate the types of allowable state financing arrangements, the Administrator of CMS should provide each state CMS reviews under its initiative with specific and written explanations regarding agency determinations on the allowability of various arrangements for financing the nonfederal share of Medicaid payments and make these determinations available to all states and interested parties.

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

    Comments: As of July 2016, HHS officials reported that they 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: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: 2025128984

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve Amtrak's efforts in addressing financial management challenges and better support management decision making, the president of Amtrak should perform a comprehensive risk assessment of financial reporting processes that support preparation of monthly performance reports and the RPI, to include determining areas of vulnerability, implementing appropriate compensating and mitigating internal controls, and ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is continuing to work with Amtrak to obtain information on the status of this recommendation and will update provide updates as available.
    Recommendation: To improve Amtrak's efforts in addressing financial management challenges and better support management decision making, the president of Amtrak should document policies and procedures related to controlling the information in the monthly performance reports, including the RPI. The policies and procedures should cover how expenses are allocated to Amtrak's routes, as well as specific guidance on documenting the justification and authorization of changes made to allocation methods.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to work with Amtrak to obtain information about the status of this recommendation and will provide updates as available.
    Recommendation: To improve Amtrak's efforts in addressing financial management challenges and better support management decision making, the president of Amtrak should develop a comprehensive action plan for immediately implementing preventive controls to enhance the reliability of financial data and address the reportable condition over accounting for capital assets in the most recent reports and letters of comment from the independent public accountant.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to work with Amtrak to obtain information about this recommendation and will provide updates as available.
    Recommendation: To ensure that Amtrak can better meet the challenge of increasing its efficiency and reducing its operating costs, the president of Amtrak should establish efficiency and unit cost measures with clear inputs to benchmark individual asset and corporate productivity, which will demonstrate efficient use of Amtrak's resources.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to work with Amtrak to obtain information about the status of this recommendation and will provide updates as available.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should resume presenting tax expenditures in the budget together with related outlay programs to show a truer picture of the federal support within a mission area.

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

    Comments: No executive action taken. OMB had not presented tax expenditures in the budget together with the related outlay programs in the fiscal year 2018 budget released in May 2017. OMB did not agree that GAO's September 2005 recommendation is necessary and stated that presenting information on tax expenditures together with related outlay programs is not useful for budgeting and that such a presentation is not part of the congressional budget process. However, the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires a list of tax expenditures, including special tax credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, deferrals, and preferential tax rates. Whereas OMB favors reporting tax expenditures separately from the rest of the budget, GAO has reported that an integrated presentation is also useful to show the relative magnitude of tax expenditures compared to spending and credit programs across mission areas. OMB previously presented tax expenditure sums alongside outlays and credit activity for each budget function in the federal budget from fiscal year 1998 through fiscal year 2002, but discontinued the practice. Tax expenditures resulted in $1.4 trillion in forgone revenue in fiscal year 2016, more than the discretionary spending level that year.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should require that tax expenditures be included in the PART process and any future such budget and performance review processes so that tax expenditures are considered along with related outlay programs in determining the adequacy of federal efforts to achieve national objectives.

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

    Comments: OMB made some progress in including tax expenditures along with related outlay programs in the executive branch's budget and performance review processes, as GAO recommended in September 2005, but as of July 2017, OMB had not developed a systematic approach for conducting such reviews. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that the administration would work toward examining the objectives and effects of the wide range of tax expenditures in the budget. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB and the agencies to identify the relevant tax expenditures that contribute to each crosscutting priority goal. Beginning with its August 2012 update to Circular No. A-11 with guidance for implementing GPRAMA and continuing in subsequent annual updates, OMB has directed agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to each of their agency priority goals. Beginning with the July 2013 update, OMB expanded its guidance to include identifying these contributions to agency strategic objectives. In both its July 2013 and July 2014 guidance, OMB stated that it planned to work with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and agencies to facilitate alignment of tax expenditure information with agency priority goals and strategic objectives. However, in its June 2015 update of this guidance, OMB removed the language about working with Treasury and agencies to align tax expenditures with agency goals. OMB staff told GAO in July 2017 that it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints. OMB's July 2017 guidance still requires agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to their agency priority goals and strategic objectives.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should develop and implement a framework for conducting performance reviews of tax expenditures. In developing the framework, the Director should (1) determine which agencies will have leadership responsibilities to review tax expenditures, how reviews will be coordinated among agencies with related responsibilities, and how to address the lack of credible performance information on tax expenditures; (2) set a schedule for conducting tax expenditure evaluations; (3) re-establish appropriate methods to test the overall evaluation framework and make improvements as experience is gained; and (4) to identify any additional resources that may be needed for tax expenditure reviews.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: No executive action taken. As of the last President's budget released in May 2017, the Director of OMB had not developed a framework for reviewing tax expenditure performance, as GAO recommended in June 1994 and again in September 2005. Since their initial efforts in 1997 and 1999 to outline a framework for evaluating tax expenditures and preliminary performance measures, OMB and the Department of the Treasury have ceased to make progress and retreated from setting a schedule for evaluating tax expenditures.The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that developing an evaluation framework is a significant challenge due to limited data availability and analytical constraints of isolating the effect of any single program. The administration planned to focus on addressing some of these challenges so it can work toward crosscutting analyses that examine tax expenditures alongside related spending programs. However, OMB and Treasury have not reported on progress on this recommendation since the President's fiscal year 2012 budget.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should develop and implement a framework for conducting performance reviews of tax expenditures. In developing the framework, the Director should (1) determine which agencies will have leadership responsibilities to review tax expenditures, how reviews will be coordinated among agencies with related responsibilities, and how to address the lack of credible performance information on tax expenditures; (2) set a schedule for conducting tax expenditure evaluations; (3) re-establish appropriate methods to test the overall evaluation framework and make improvements as experience is gained; and (4) to identify any additional resources that may be needed for tax expenditure reviews.

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

    Comments: No executive action taken. As of the last President's budget released in May 2017, the Director of OMB had not developed a framework for reviewing tax expenditure performance, as GAO recommended in June 1994 and again in September 2005. Since their initial efforts in 1997 and 1999 to outline a framework for evaluating tax expenditures and preliminary performance measures, OMB and the Department of the Treasury have ceased to make progress and retreated from setting a schedule for evaluating tax expenditures. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that developing an evaluation framework is a significant challenge due to limited data availability and analytical constraints of isolating the effect of any single program. The administration planned to focus on addressing some of these challenges so it can work toward crosscutting analyses that examine tax expenditures alongside related spending programs. However, OMB and Treasury have not reported on progress on this recommendation since the President's fiscal year 2012 budget.
    Recommendation: To ensure that policymakers and the public have the necessary information to make informed decisions and to improve the progress toward exercising greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, the Director of OMB, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, should require that tax expenditures be included in the PART process and any future such budget and performance review processes so that tax expenditures are considered along with related outlay programs in determining the adequacy of federal efforts to achieve national objectives.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2005, the Department of the Treasury responded that this recommendation did not relate to Treasury. OMB made some progress in including tax expenditures along with related outlay programs in the executive branch's budget and performance review processes, as GAO recommended in September 2005, but as of July 2017, OMB had not developed a systematic approach for conducting such reviews. The President's fiscal year 2012 budget stated that the administration would work toward examining the objectives and effects of the wide range of tax expenditures in the budget. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requires OMB and the agencies to identify the relevant tax expenditures that contribute to each crosscutting priority goal. Beginning with its August 2012 update to Circular No. A-11 with guidance for implementing GPRAMA and continuing in subsequent annual updates, OMB has directed agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to each of their agency priority goals. Beginning with the July 2013 update, OMB expanded its guidance to include identifying these contributions to agency strategic objectives. In both its July 2013 and July 2014 guidance, OMB stated that it planned to work with the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) and agencies to facilitate alignment of tax expenditure information with agency priority goals and strategic objectives. However, in its June 2015 update of this guidance, OMB removed the language about working with Treasury and agencies to align tax expenditures with agency goals. OMB staff told GAO in July 2017 that it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints. OMB's July 2017 guidance still requires agencies to identify tax expenditures that contribute to their agency priority goals and strategic objectives.