Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Justice

GAO-21-371PR Published: Jun 30, 2021. Publicly Released: Jul 07, 2021.
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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 12 priority open recommendations for the Department of Justice (DOJ) as of June 2021.

The recommendations relate to opioids, the federal prison system, whistleblowers, immigration courts, cybersecurity, and improper payments.

Since our previous letter in April 2020, DOJ implemented 9 of our priority recommendations.

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What GAO Found

In April 2020, GAO identified 18 priority recommendations for the Department of Justice (DOJ). Since then, DOJ has implemented nine of those recommendations by, among other things, improving the accuracy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) face recognition capabilities and the public's understanding of how the FBI uses and protects personal information, assessing its progress in its efforts to more efficiently handle FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints, developing better ways to assess its ability to combat illicit opioids, better addressing immigration judge staffing needs, and overseeing implementation of an electronic-filing system for immigration courts.

In June 2021, GAO identified three additional priority recommendations for DOJ, bringing the total number to 12. The 12 recommendations fall into the following areas:

  • Efforts to combat illicit opioid abuse.
  • Federal prison system.
  • FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints.
  • Immigration courts.
  • Cybersecurity.
  • Improper payments.

DOJ'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 Charles M. Johnson, Jr. at (202) 512-8777 or

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