GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed. GAO’s priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. Below you can search only priority recommendations, or search all recommendations.

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As of April 18, 2018, there are 5,184 open recommendations, of which 465 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

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Subject Term: "Cost drivers"

2 publications with a total of 3 priority recommendations
Director: Robert Goldenkoff
Phone: (202) 512-2757

2 open priority recommendations
Recommendation: To help ensure the Bureau produces a reliable cost estimate for the 2020 Census, the Secretary of Commerce and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs should direct the Census Bureau to take the following steps to meet the characteristics of a high-quality estimate: (1) Comprehensive--among other practices, ensure the estimate includes all life-cycle costs and documents all cost-influencing assumptions. (2) Well-documented--among other practices, ensure that its planned documentation plan captures the source data used; contains the calculations performed and the estimating methodologies used for each element; and describes step by step how the estimate was developed. (3) Accurate--among other practices, ensure the estimating technique for each cost element is used appropriately and that variances between planned and actual cost are documented, explained, and reviewed. (4) Credible--among other practices, ensure the estimate includes a sensitivity analysis, major cost elements are cross-checked to see whether results are similar, and an independent cost estimate is conducted to determine whether other estimating methods produce similar results.

Agency: Department of Commerce
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: Commerce agreed with this recommendation and has made significant progress. In October 2017 the Bureau provided an update to the 2020 Census cost estimate. The cost of the 2020 Census has increased from $12.3 billion to $15.6 billion. Our review of the Bureau's 2017 cost estimate found that the Bureau met or substantially met three out of the four characteristics of a reliable cost estimate (comprehensive, accurate, and credible), while it only partially met the characteristic for being well-documented. Since the Bureau's October 2017 cost estimate for the 2020 Census does not fully reflect the characteristics of a high-quality estimate as described in our Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide it cannot be considered reliable.
Recommendation: To ensure Bureau and congressional confidence that the Bureau's budgeted contingencies are at appropriate levels, the Secretary of Commerce and Under Secretary for Economic Affairs should direct the Census Bureau to improve control over how risk and uncertainty are accounted for and communicated with the Bureau's decennial cost estimation process, such as by implementing and institutionalizing processes or methods for doing so with clear guidance.

Agency: Department of Commerce
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: Commerce agreed with this recommendation. Specifically, we reported that the Bureau should ensure that its budget for contingencies for the 2020 Census reflect an accurate accounting of risk and uncertainty. In doing this, the Bureau should improve controls over risk and uncertainty in the cost estimate process, and institutionalize these controls by providing clear methods for their use. In 2018, we completed a review of documentation to support the updated Oct 2017 cost estimate and found that the Bureau performed uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of the estimate and appropriately added funding into the cost estimate to reflect inherent uncertainty and to account for specific risks. However, in our review of the October 2017 cost estimate we also found that the Bureau did not link specific risks to funds set aside in the $1.2 billion general risk contingency fund. We therefore continue to believe the above recommendation remains valid and should be addressed: that the Bureau properly account for risk in the 2020 Census cost estimate.
Director: Frank Rusco
Phone: (202) 512-3841

1 open priority recommendation
Recommendation: To improve the reliability of its cost estimates, as NRC revises its cost estimating procedures, the NRC Chairman should ensure that the agency aligns the procedures with relevant cost estimating best practices identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide and ensure that future cost estimates are prepared in accordance with relevant cost estimating best practices.

Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: In March 2018, NRC staff provided the draft of the final guidance to the Commission for review. In July 2018, NRC staff reported that following Commission review and approval, they will publish the guidance. We will review the cost-benefit guidance when it is released and determine if it responds to this recommendation.