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Highlights

Congress established the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im) to encourage U.S. exports. Congress has directed Ex-Im to consider the economic impact of its work and not to fund activities that will adversely affect U.S. industry. In this context, GAO reviewed (1) Ex-Im's policies and procedures for determining economic impact, (2) the extent to which Ex-Im appropriately identifies and analyzes projects that could cause adverse economic impact, and (3) the extent to which Ex-Im's process is transparent. To conduct this work, GAO reviewed Ex-Im's procedures, data on projects applicable for the economic impact process, and detailed economic impact analyses. GAO also interviewed Ex-Im and reviewing agency officials and industry representatives.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Export-Import Bank of the United States To improve Ex-Im's identification and analysis of applications for economic impact, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States should review the $10 million threshold to determine whether additional steps are needed to mitigate the risk of exempting from more detailed review applications that could meet the definition of substantial injury. The additional steps could include, for example, selectively reviewing transactions that would affect relatively small U.S. industries or sensitive sectors.
Closed - Implemented
According to information provided by Ex-Im Bank concerning their review of applications above and below the $10 million threshold, we are closing this recommendation as implemented.
Export-Import Bank of the United States To improve Ex-Im's identification and analysis of applications for economic impact, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States should create specific methodological guidelines for staff analyzing applications for economic impact, bearing in mind relevant Office of Management and Budget guidance where appropriate.
Closed - Implemented
Ex-Im Bank generally concurred with the recommendation and stated that it would continue to explore feasible ways to improve the economic impact procedures and make the process more consistent and use-friendly. Ex-Im Bank also agreed to seek to incorporate GAO suggestions as it refines its analytic methodology. After our report was published, and following references to the GAO report by the Ex-Im Bank Inspector General and Congress, Ex-Im Bank developed its "Economic Impact Procedures and Methodological Guidelines" (effective April 1, 2013) and published them on the Bank's web site. The document contains specific methodological guidelines, as recommended by GAO.
Export-Import Bank of the United States To improve Ex-Im's identification and analysis of applications for economic impact, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States should review and strengthen internal controls concerning the economic impact analysis to ensure, for example, that staff members conducting the analyses have sufficient training and guidance in Ex-Im's economic impact methodology, that relevant Ex-Im staff verify and approve the analyses, and that sufficient documentation is maintained to record key information.
Closed - Implemented
Ex-Im Bank generally agreed with the report's recommendations. Since then, Ex-Im Bank has hired economists to aid in conducting and verifying the economic impact analyses and has sent staff to sector-specific training sessions to gain insight into the markets for particular products. Ex-Im Bank has also established procedures which call for the creation of transaction-specific electronic filing systems within which staff maintain information relevant to the analysis, such as data sources and dates.
Export-Import Bank of the United States To improve the public transparency of the economic impact process for interested and affected parties, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States should clarify publicly available procedures by including more information regarding Ex-Im's methodology for analyzing applications, such as defining how it incorporates "oversupply" determinations in its analysis and what measures it uses and specifying under what conditions "proportionality" would be used.
Closed - Implemented
Ex-Im Bank generally concurred with the GAO recommendations and stated that it would continue to explore feasible ways to improve the economic impact procedures and make the process more consistent and use-friendly. Ex-Im Bank stated that it would clarify the basis for an assessment of "oversupply" and create criteria for using "proportionality." The Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 requested that Ex-Im Bank provide a report on the implementation or rejection of the recommendations contained in GAO-07-1071. Ex-Im's report, dated November 26, 2012, notes that on November 19, 2012, the Bank Board approved the "Economic Impact Procedures and Methodological Guidelines" (effective April 1, 2013) and published them on the Bank's web site. The report also notes that Ex-Im has codified several terms, such as "structural oversupply" and "proportionality" in its new procedures. These procedures and guidelines provide additional information on what measures Ex-Im uses to determine "oversupply," as well as specifying the conditions under which "proportionality" would be used, thereby implementing GAO's recommendation.
Export-Import Bank of the United States To improve the public transparency of the economic impact process for interested and affected parties, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States should inform interested parties about the sensitive sector list by including a reference to the list in the economic impact procedures.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 requested that Ex-Im provide a report on the implementation or rejection of the recommendations contained in GAO-07-1071. Ex-Im's report noted that they have not implemented the GAO recommendation because the economic impact procedures are approved by the entire Board, while the maintenance of the Sensitive Sector List is the solely the Chairman's responsibility, and inclusion of the list in the procedures may imply Board approval of the list.
Export-Import Bank of the United States To improve the public transparency of the economic impact process for interested and affected parties, the Chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States should publish either individually, or in the publicly available board minutes, the final determinations regarding whether a project would have a positive or negative impact.
Closed - Not Implemented
The Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2012 requested that Ex-Im provide a report on the implementation or rejection of the recommendations contained in GAO-07-1071. Ex-Im's report noted that Congress has already clearly delineated how the Bank should provide information on transactions involving economic impact issues. Their report cites two provisions of their charter that state that Ex-Im will provide (by request) a non-confidential summary of the final determination of the economic impact analysis to the affected party 30 days after the Board decision, and similarly, Ex-Im will provide (by request) to a commenter on the application or decision a non-confidential summary of the final determination of economic impact analysis.

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