Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Commerce

GAO-20-497PR Published: Apr 20, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 2020.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to the recommendations where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 20 priority open recommendations for the Department of Commerce as of April 2020.

For example, 2 of our priority recommendations are to help improve federal entrepreneurial assistance programs.

Since our previous letter in April 2019, Commerce implemented 8 of our priority recommendations.

Department of Commerce Priority Recommendations Graphic

Department of Commerce Priority Recommendations Graphic

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What GAO Found

In April 2019, GAO identified 21 priority recommendations for the Department of Commerce (Commerce). Since then, Commerce has implemented 8 of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to improve its management of the 2020 Decennial Census by improving training of field staff, integrating changes in hard-to-count decisions with other hard-to-count related efforts, and finalizing backup instructions for the secure transmission of data.

In April 2020, GAO identified 7 additional priority recommendations for Commerce, bringing the total number to 20. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • improving management of the 2020 Decennial Census
  • ensuring the cybersecurity for the nation
  • improving information technology workforce planning
  • evaluating programs that support entrepreneurs
  • developing performance metrics for trade adjustment assistance programs
  • improving the effectiveness of the conflict minerals disclosure rule

Commerce's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact William B. Shear at (202) 512-8678 or

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