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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of the Interior

GAO-24-107309 Published: Jun 07, 2024. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 2024.
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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 Department of the Interior outlines 11 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, Interior should improve its oversight of offshore oil and gas activities and address the safety and environmental risks associated with shutting down offshore pipelines.

Interior implemented 8 recommendations we identified as a priority last year.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

Graphic that says, "GAO's Priority Open Recommendation Letters" and includes the Interior seal.

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What GAO Found

In May 2023, GAO identified 12 priority recommendations for the Department of the Interior. Since then, Interior has implemented eight of those recommendations. For example, in December 2023, Interior developed and documented an updated cybersecurity and privacy risk management strategy that details how the department will assess, respond to, and monitor privacy risks, which GAO recommended in September 2022.

In May 2024, GAO identified seven additional priority recommendations for Interior, bringing the total number to 11. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • Improving oversight of offshore oil and gas activities,
  • Ensuring access to special education services at Bureau of Indian Education schools,
  • Conducting strategic workforce planning and oversight,
  • Managing liabilities associated with federal property, and
  • Resolving the ownership of submerged lands in Alaska.

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

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are 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 open recommendations.

For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at: (202) 512-3841 or

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CybersecurityFederal propertyHardrock minesHigh-risk issuesLand ownershipNative American educationOffshore gas resourcesOffshore oil resourcesOil and gasSpecial educationWorkforce planning