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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Commerce

GAO-24-107326 Published: Jun 05, 2024. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 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 Commerce outlines 11 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, we recommended that Commerce's Census Bureau determine if its previous efforts to reach hard-to-count populations were effective and if any should be repeated in future censuses.

Commerce implemented 6 recommendations we identified as a priority last year.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

Graphic that says, "GAO's Priority Open Recommendations" and includes the Commerce seal.

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What GAO Found

In May 2023, GAO identified 17 priority recommendations for the Department of Commerce (Commerce). Since then, Commerce has implemented 6 of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to better identify the effects of design changes on future decennial census costs and improving its ability to identify cybersecurity work roles of critical need.

These remaining 11 recommendations involve the following areas:

  • decennial census,
  • improving the nation's water quality,
  • privacy,
  • international trade,
  • managing climate change risks,
  • managing the radio-frequency spectrum, and
  • conflict minerals rule.

Commerce's continued attention to these open recommendations 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 Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or

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Climate changeDecennial censusInternational tradePrivacyRadio frequency spectrumSpectrum managementWater qualityCensusHigh-risk issuesClimate