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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of State

GAO-23-106531 Published: May 10, 2023. Publicly Released: May 17, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help the federal government save money, address issues on our High Risk List, and significantly improve government operations.

This letter to the State Department outlines 12 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, revenue from passport and visa fees dropped during COVID-19, and may not return to pre-pandemic levels for several years. We recommended that State identify what fee amounts or other changes would help increase this revenue.

State implemented 3 recommendations we identified as a priority last year.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

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What GAO Found

In May 2022, GAO identified 13 priority recommendations for the Department of State. Since then, State has implemented 3 of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to regularly inform stakeholders on how the cost of inflation will affect embassy construction and time frames.

In April 2023, GAO identified 2 additional priority recommendations for State, bringing the total number to 12. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • strengthening emergency preparedness;
  • enhancing training efforts;
  • improving data quality;
  • improving overseas maintenance;
  • improving cybersecurity; and
  • complying with congressional reporting requirements. 

State'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 Jason Bair at (202) 512-6881 or

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