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Priority Open Recommendations: U.S. Department of Transportation

GAO-20-513PR Published: Apr 23, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 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 16 priority open recommendations for the Department of Transportation (DOT) as of April 2020.

For example, in 2019, we made 2 recommendations for addressing oversight of unmanned aircraft systems—commonly known as drones—to safely integrate them into the national airspace.

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

DOT priority recommendation graphic

DOT priority recommendation graphic

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What GAO Found

In April 2019, GAO identified 16 priority recommendations for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Since then, DOT has implemented 8 of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to strengthen aviation cybersecurity and to improve the oversight of federal awards for funding surface transportation.

In April 2020, GAO identified 8 additional priority recommendations for DOT, bringing the total number to 16. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • funding surface transportation.
  • addressing safety risks.
  • improving transparency and communication.
  • cybersecurity risks.
  • improving management of information technology (IT) workforce planning.
  • improving federal grant management.
  • Improving transportation readiness.

DOT’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 Dan Bertoni at (202) 512-2834 or

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AviationCommunicationCompliance oversightCybersecurityGovernment transparencyGrant managementInfectious diseasesInformation technologyIT managementPublic health emergenciesRisk assessmentSafetySurface transportationTransportationTransportation safetyWorkforce planning