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    Federal Agency: "Department of State"

    54 publications with a total of 109 open recommendations including 20 priority recommendations
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that the office of the CAO is involved in the process to identify IT acquisitions. (Recommendation 21)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that IT acquisition plans or strategies are reviewed and approved according to OMB's guidance. (Recommendation 22)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs to identify and address factors that affect the reliability of its democracy assistance data, such as miscoded or missing data. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: Department of State concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. When we confirm what actions Department of State has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources to implement a process to improve the reliability, accessibility, and standardization of democracy assistance data across the geographic regions of the Bureaus of European and Eurasian Affairs and South and Central Asian Affairs, such as utilizing a centralized database for award data. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: Department of State concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. When we confirm what actions Department of State has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should ensure that the CIO of State updates the agency's policy and process for the CIO's certification of major IT investments' adequate use of incremental development, in accordance with OMB's guidance on the implementation of FITARA, and confirm that it includes: a description of the CIO's role in the certification process; a description of how CIO certification will be documented; and a definition of incremental development and time frames for delivering functionality, consistent with OMB guidance. (Recommendation 8)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on our report, the Department of State (State) reported that it has developed an incremental development policy that addresses our recommendation and it is currently in the process of being approved. We will follow up with State to ascertain whether an agency-wide policy and process for the CIO's certification of major IT investments' adequate use of incremental development has been developed during fiscal year 2018.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: State's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) should identify and implement a mechanism to conduct in-person monitoring visits in countries where security conditions limit such visits by PRM officials. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with GAO's recommendation and noted that it will work to identify mechanisms for conducting additional in-person monitoring visits in Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq where security conditions prevent U.S. personnel from regularly accessing PRM-funded programming. State also noted that it is currently seeking to add Syrian refugee programming in northern Iraq to the scope of an existing contract for third-party monitoring of PRM programs assisting internally displaced persons.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should work with the Task Force to clarify roles and responsibilities of mission staff engaged in collaborative efforts on combating wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with this recommendation and indicated it would take steps to implement it. When we confirm what actions State has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Timothy J. DiNapoli
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance management attention to closing out contracts, the Secretary of State should develop a means at the agency level to track data on the entirety of the number and type of contracts eligible for closeout, where the contracts are in the closeout process, and establish goals and performance measures for closing contracts. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should take steps to ensure the implementation of revised standard operating procedures for collecting electronic ATA course and participant data. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: On August 28, 2017, having reviewed a draft version of GAO-17-704, State concurred with this recommendation and noted that ATA had revised its standard operating procedures for collecting data and shared the document with us. We will follow-up with ATA regarding steps taken to ensure the implementation of those procedures.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security should develop and implement a process to confirm and document whether future ATA participants return to their home countries following the completion of ATA training and, for any participants trained in the United States who do not, share relevant information with the Department of Homeland Security. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In August 2017, following the review of our draft report, State concurred with this recommendation. As of January 2018, State has taken steps to develop a process to ensure that ATA participants trained in countries other than their home countries return to their home country upon completion of that training. We will continue to follow-up with ATA regarding evidence of the implementation of that process.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs should work with other U.S. federal entities participating in the CHCC to develop goals for the CHCC and its working groups. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments on our report, State concurred with this recommendation. State noted its agreement with the need for outcomes and accountability and stated that the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC) working groups aim to draft mission statements and objectives.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs should work with other U.S. federal entities participating in the CHCC to clarify participants' roles and responsibilities in the CHCC and its working groups. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments on our report, State concurred with this recommendation. State noted that following the adoption of the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC) working groups' mission statements and objectives, State foresees clarifying roles and responsibilities of CHCC participants.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs should work with other U.S. federal entities participating in the CHCC to document agreement about how the CHCC and its working groups will collaborate, such as their goals and participants' roles and responsibilities. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments on our report, State concurred with this recommendation. State noted that once participants reach accord on the goals of the Cultural Heritage Coordinating Committee (CHCC) and its working groups, State could foresee documenting such goals through memoranda of understanding.
    Director: Courts, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Director of the Office of Allowances (ALS) should clearly document how the conditions at relevant posts meet the criteria for Director Points to ensure that hardship pay rates for overseas posts are consistently determined across posts and tenures of ALS Directors. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the report State concurred with the recommendation. We are awaiting evidence of their documentation to ensure the consistent determination of Director points.
    Recommendation: The Undersecretary of Management should assess the cost-effectiveness of State's policies and procedures for stopping and starting hardship pay for employees who temporarily leave their assigned overseas posts. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the report State concurred with the recommendation. We are awaiting evidence of their review and assessment of the cost-effectiveness of policies, procedures, and processes for stopping and starting hardship pay for employees who temporarily leave their assigned post.
    Recommendation: The Department's Comptroller should analyze available diplomatic cable data from overseas posts to identify posts at risk of improper payments for hardship pay, identify any improper payments, and take steps to recover and prevent them. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the report, State concurred with the recommendation. We are awaiting evidence of their efforts to enhance analytical tools to ensure posts are properly identifying and reporting starts and stops for hardship pay, and to identify, recover, and prevent improper payments.
    Director: William B. Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address demonstrated noncompliance with section 15(k) of the Small Business Act, as amended, the Secretary of State should comply with sections 15(k)(8) and (k)(17) or report to Congress on why the agency has not complied, including seeking any statutory flexibilities or exceptions believed appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Energy, HHS, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and VA; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of EPA, GSA, and SBA; the Director of OPM; and the Chairman of NRC should take action to, within existing OMB reporting mechanisms, complete plans describing how the agency will achieve OMB's requirement to implement automated monitoring tools at all agency-owned data centers by the end of fiscal year 2018.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation and described completed and planned actions to address it. Specifically, the department stated that it performed an analysis of tools, including shared services and commercial-off-the-shelf products. The department also stated that it is developing an acquisition strategy based on its research and plans to pursue a commercially available product. However, the department noted that budgetary constraints may delay the acquisition until fiscal year 2019 or later. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better assess whether RSCs are meeting USRAP objectives, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration should develop outcome-based indicators, as required by State policy.

    Agency: Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that the Department of State has control activities in place to monitor how Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) implement policies and procedures for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Specifically, we reported that State has established objectives and monitors several quantitative goals for RSCs--including the number of refugees that depart each year for the United States and the number of applicants who receive cultural orientation training. However, State has not established outcome-based performance indicators for key RSC activities such as prescreening applicants or accurate case file preparation. Therefore, we recommended that State develop outcome-based indicators, as required by State policy. In response, State reported that it developed a new monitoring and evaluation framework for RSC activities. As part of the framework, State reported that all future funding opportunity announcements for the RSCs funded through cooperative agreements will include standardized outcome-based performance measures. GAO reviewed the fiscal year 2018 funding announcement and noted reference to such outcome-based measures. In addition, State officials stated that these measures will be incorporated into a revised memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the International Organization for Migration, which manages the remaining RSCs through voluntary contributions from the United States. As of November 2017, State officials indicated that the revised MOU should be finalized by the spring of 2018. To fully address this recommendation, State should ensure that has developed such standardized outcome-based performance measures across all RSCs.
    Recommendation: To better assess whether RSCs are meeting USRAP objectives, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration should monitor RSC performance against such indicators on a regular basis.

    Agency: Department of State: Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that the Department of State has control activities in place to monitor how Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) implement policies and procedures for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). Specifically, we reported that State has established objectives and monitors several quantitative goals for RSCs--including the number of refugees that depart each year for the United States and the number of applicants who receive cultural orientation training. However, State has not established outcome-based performance indicators for key RSC activities such as prescreening applicants or accurate case file preparation. Therefore, we recommended that State develop outcome-based indicators, as required by State policy. In response, State reported that it developed a new monitoring and evaluation framework for RSC activities. As part of the framework, State reported that all future funding opportunity announcements for the RSCs funded through cooperative agreements will include standardized outcome-based performance measures. Further, State reported that all RSCs will be required to report regularly to these indicators to measure RSC performance in meeting USRAP objectives. GAO reviewed the fiscal year 2018 funding announcement and noted reference to such outcome-based measures. In addition, State officials stated that these measures will be incorporated into a revised memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the International Organization for Migration, which manages the remaining RSCs through voluntary contributions from the United States. As of November 2017, State officials indicated that the revised MOU should be finalized by the spring of 2018. To fully address this recommendation, State should ensure that it is monitoring all RSCs on a regular basis against such standardized outcome-based performance measures.
    Recommendation: To provide reasonable assurance that USRAP applicant fraud prevention and detection controls are adequate and effectively implemented, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State should conduct regular joint assessments of applicant fraud risk across USRAP.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that the Department of State and DHS's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have not jointly assessed applicant fraud risks across the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, consistent with federal internal control standards and leading practices for fraud risk management. Specifically, we reported that although State and USCIS perform a number of fraud risk management activities and have responded to individual instances of applicant fraud in the program, these efforts do not position State and USCIS to assess fraud risks program-wide for USRAP or know if their controls are appropriately targeted to the areas of highest risk in the program. Therefore, we recommended that recommend that the Secretaries of Homeland Security and State conduct regular joint assessments of applicant fraud risk across USRAP. State concurred with our recommendation. In response, in September 2017, State reported that the department will work together with USCIS to conduct joint risk assessments by jointly developing a risk assessment framework. State indicated that the framework will be developed by the end of 2017 and initiated by the end of fiscal year 2018. To fully address the recommendation, State and USCIS should jointly conduct regular fraud risk assessments across USRAP.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To support efforts to reduce staff fraud at RSCs, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to actively pursue efforts to ensure that RSCs comply with required, applicable measures in the Program Integrity Guidelines.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation and agreed with GAO's assessment that these measures will support efforts to reduce staff fraud at Resettlement Support Centers (RSC). According to State officials, the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) has developed new guidance to enhance monitoring of RSCs. They explained that a new monitoring and evaluation framework serves as the foundational document for this guidance, which has incorporated and formalized PRM's existing RSC monitoring practices and established further requirements to address gaps identified by internal and external evaluative processes. According to the officials, the framework outlines roles, responsibilities, and tools for program officers and refugee coordinators. These responsibilities include formalizing and expanding monitoring of RSC compliance with the Program Integrity Guidelines. As of January 2018, State had not finalized this guidance.
    Recommendation: To better identify risks from RSC staff fraud, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to update guidance, such as the Program Integrity Guidelines, to require each RSC to conduct regular staff fraud risk assessments that are tailored to each RSC's specific operations.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation and agreed with GAO's assessment that this requirement would strengthen Resettlement Support Centers' (RSCs) ability to identify risks of staff fraud. As of January 2018, State has not finalized guidance to require that each RSC conduct regular staff fraud risk assessments tailed to each RSC's specific operations.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that control activities are designed to mitigate identified RSC staff fraud risks, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to regularly review RSC staff fraud risk assessments and use them to examine the suitability of existing staff fraud controls and revise controls as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The State Department concurred with our recommendation and agreed with GAO's assessment that this would help ensure that control activities are designed to mitigate identified Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) staff fraud risks. As of January 2018, State had not finalized guidance that would require the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration to regularly review RSC staff fraud risk assessments to examine the suitability of existing staff fraud risk controls.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To address gaps in State's crisis and evacuation preparedness, that the Secretary of State should establish a monitoring and tracking process to ensure that DS fully reviews and documents the review of key sections of EAPs submitted to it during the annual EAP review cycle.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with the recommendation and indicated that the Department plans to address this recommendation by adding a feature to their Post Emergency Guidance and Authorizing System due for release in 2018. This feature would consolidate their Emergency Action Plan (EAP) review and publication history for individual EAP sections into a single report for review and tracking. As of January 2018, State has not taken actions to address this recommendation. GAO will continue to track State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To address gaps in State's crisis and evacuation preparedness, that the Secretary of State should take steps to make the EAP more readily usable during emergency situations. For example, State could develop a more streamlined version of the EAP--consisting of key sections, checklists, and contact lists--that could be used by overseas post staff, in addition to the full EAP. In addition, for its new system planned for later this year, State could consider including requirements for streamlined EAPs.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with the recommendation and indicated that the Department plans to address this recommendation by incorporating a streamlined Emergency Action Plan format into their Post Emergency Guidance and Authorizing System due for release in 2018. As of January 2018, State has not taken actions to address this recommendation. GAO will continue to track State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To address gaps in State's crisis and evacuation preparedness, that the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that overseas posts complete and report completion of required drills within mandated time frames.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with the recommendation and indicated that the Department plans to address this recommendation by incorporating the drill reporting requirement into their Post Emergency Guidance and Authorizing System due for release in 2018. As of January 2018, State has not taken actions to address this recommendation. GAO will continue to track State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The following 17 agencies (the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Small Business Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration) should each take action to complete the missing elements in their respective DCOI strategic plan, including addressing any identified challenges, and submit their completed strategic plan to OMB.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation and described planned actions to address it. Specifically, the department described plans to acquire, subject to funding availability, automated monitoring tools for its enterprise data centers. It also described plans to engage OMB to rebaseline the closure target for its non-tiered data centers located outside the United States, based on the department's mission needs. In addition, the department noted that it is in the process of identifying the number of server rooms in the United States that meet the DCOI definition of a data center. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: Finally, the following 11 agencies (the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, and the U.S. Agency for International Development) should also each take action to ensure that the amounts of achieved data center cost savings and avoidances are consistent across all reporting mechanisms, including the quarterly data submissions and DCOI strategic plans.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation and described planned actions to address it. Specifically, the department described plans to acquire, subject to funding availability, automated monitoring tools for its enterprise data centers. It also described plans to engage OMB to rebaseline the closure target for its non-tiered data centers located outside the United States, based on the department's mission needs. In addition, the department noted that it is in the process of identifying the number of server rooms in the United States that meet the DCOI definition of a data center. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to address persistent gaps in foreign language proficiency at overseas posts and make informed future resource investments, the Secretary of State should evaluate the effectiveness of efforts implemented under the "Strategic Plan for Foreign-Language Capabilities."

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In his May 25, 2017 letter to the relevant congressional committees leadership, the Department of State reiterated its concurrence with this recommendation and stated that the department will develop a process to evaluate implementation of the 2011 Strategic Plan and future plans. As of February 2018, we expect State to produce a report on results of the evaluation by the end of fiscal year 2018.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should determine whether the existing OBO program performance measure and annual target of moving 1,500 people into safe, secure, and functional facilities is still appropriate or needs to be revised.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: OBO stated that it would perform a multi-year, comprehensive evaluation of this performance metric and determine whether the target remains appropriate. As of October 2017, OBO anticipated this evaluation to be completed in fiscal year 2019.
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should establish additional performance measures applicable to the new goals of the Excellence approach in support of the Capital Security Construction Program.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, OBO had stated it would develop Excellence-related performance metrics to assess the execution and delivery of its projects. Specifically, these would be tied to the Bureau's strategic plan, which is reviewed annually and updated every three years. The next strategic plan update was estimated to occur in early 2020.
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should finalize the mechanisms OBO will use to better track and evaluate the actual operations and maintenance performance of its buildings--whether Excellence or SED--and document through appropriate policies, procedures, or guidance.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, OBO was engaged in a life cycle cost analysis methodology project intended to take an in-depth look at OBO's processes, practices, and procedures, compare and contrast them with best industry practices, and make recommendations to the bureau. OBO anticipated finalizing this by early 2018.
    Recommendation: To better assess OBO's performance, the Secretary of State should finalize the mechanisms OBO will use to centrally manage project management data (to include project cost and schedule information), currently termed the Ideal Operational State, and document through appropriate policies, procedures, or guidance.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, OBO was working on the implementation of its Ideal Operational State initiative, which it envisioned as a multi-year effort subject to budget realities. OBO anticipates having an integrated program schedule by early 2018, although full implementation would take longer.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. The policy and its implementation, along with the recently published Program Design and Performance Management toolkit, as well as updated policy guidance, constitute State's plan to improve evaluations. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of State should amend State's evaluation policy to require the completion of dissemination plans for all agency evaluations

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. State reported that it would add a requirement for dissemination plans to the new policy. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that all relevant U.S. agencies have information on the effect of changes in U.S. policy related to Cuba, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other relevant agencies, should take steps to identify and begin to collect the information that would allow them to monitor changes in economic engagement, including with the Cuban private sector.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation. In April 2017, State reported that it was taking steps to identify and collect information that would enable it to monitor the Cuban economy and changes in the economic environment, including with the Cuban private sector. For example, State noted that Embassy Havana had developed a plan for in-country travel and reporting by identifying key sectors and provinces that could provide additional insights on the Cuban economy. As of July 2017, State reported that the U.S. government had paused most bilateral engagement with the Cuban government while the incoming presidential administration conducted an interagency policy review. However, State noted that during this time the U.S. embassy in Havana produced several analytic cables discussing developments in the Cuban economy. With the release of the administration's National Security Presidential Memorandum "Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba" in June 2017, State reported that it would work to implement this policy and would monitor developments in U.S. engagement with the private sector and Cuban economic trends. As of November 2017, State said that it was consulting with interagency partners on developments impacting the Cuban private sector and that it was working with other U.S. agencies to determine how to most effectively redirect resources away from the Cuban government and towards the private sector as called for in the administration's Cuba policy. However, State also noted that operations at Embassy Havana had been significantly affected by Hurricane Irma and the health attacks against U.S. diplomats in Cuba. According to State, the Secretary of State's September 2017 order for all non-emergency U.S. personnel to depart Cuba has limited the ability of Embassy Havana to report on developments there, but that the department will continue to monitor and report on Cuba's private sector to the greatest extent possible and as resources permit. GAO will continue to monitor State's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and clarity of the Trafficking in Persons Report and improve its usefulness as a diplomatic tool to encourage countries to address trafficking, the Secretary of State should improve explanations in narratives for Tier 1 rankings, including using consistent language, as feasible, in the Trafficking in Persons Report.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and said that it seeks to make the Trafficking in Persons Report as useful as possible to a broad array of stakeholders and will continue its commitment to ensure each narrative better serves this purpose. GAO analyzed State's 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report and found improvements in the explanations in narratives for Tier 1 countries. However, narratives for some Tier 1 countries did not clearly explain their placement, including language that seemed contradictory to certain standards and criteria and ambiguous language that meant we were unable to determine how State had determined whether certain standards and criteria were met. GAO will continue to monitor State's efforts to fully implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and clarity of the Trafficking in Persons Report and improve its usefulness as a diplomatic tool to encourage countries to address trafficking, the Secretary of State should take actions, such as tracking the recommendations in the Trafficking in Persons Report, to assess the effectiveness of the report as a tool to encourage countries to address human trafficking.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In comments on the draft report, State concurred with this recommendation and described steps it is taking to more systematically assess the effectiveness of the Trafficking in Persons Report in encouraging governments to address human trafficking, including the recent establishment of a monitoring and evaluation position in the Trafficking Office. In addition, State hired a performance measurement specialist in December 2016. GAO will continue to monitor State's implementation efforts.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    5 open recommendations
    including 5 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to create consolidated guidance for RSOs that specifies required elements to include in post travel notification and transportation security policies. For example, as part of its current effort to develop standard templates for certain security directives, DS could develop templates for transportation security and travel notification policies that specify the elements required in all security directives as recommended by the February 2005 Iraq ARB as well as the standard transportation-related elements that DS requires in such policies.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of January 2018, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to clarify whether or not the FAH's armored vehicle policy for overseas posts is that every post must have sufficient armored vehicles, and if DS determines that the policy does not apply to all posts, articulate the conditions under which it does not apply.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of January 2018, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to develop monitoring procedures to ensure that all posts comply with the FAH's armored vehicle policy for overseas posts once the policy is clarified.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of January 2018, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to clarify existing guidance on refresher training, such as by delineating how often refresher training should be provided at posts facing different types and levels of threats, which personnel should receive refresher training, and how the completion of refresher training should be documented.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of January 2018, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage transportation-related security risks overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to improve guidance for RSOs, in coordination with other relevant State offices and non-State agencies as appropriate, on how to promote timely communication of threat information to post personnel and timely receipt of such information by post personnel.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and provided an update in April 2017 describing its plans to address the recommendation. However, as of January 2018, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve federal agencies' efforts to rationalize their portfolio of applications, the heads of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; and heads of the Environmental Protection Agency; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Office of Personnel Management; Small Business Administration; Social Security Administration; and U.S. Agency for International Development should direct their Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and other responsible officials to improve their inventories by taking steps to fully address the practices we identified as being partially met or not met.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We reported that the Department of State partially met the following software application inventory practices: (1) specifies basic application attributes; and (2) is regularly updated with quality controls to ensure reliability. In June 2017, department officials reported that they are working to align IT assets to the appropriate IT investments through both the capital planning and investment control process and the cloud governance process. The agency intends that these efforts will be the first step in better aligning assets to a defined business function. Department officials also stated that to improve quality control, they are developing additional guidance on the process to review all IT assets throughout their lifecycle, which includes a multi-stakeholder approach to confirm each asset contains accurate, appropriate and relevant information. We plan to continue to monitor the department's efforts.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide a basis for comparing actual results with intended results that can generate more meaningful performance information, the Secretaries of the Interior and State and the Attorney General of the United States should jointly work with the Task Force to develop performance targets related to the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking Implementation Plan.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agencies agreed with recommendation and plan to implement it. As of Feb 12, 2018, agencies indicated that they remain committed to implementation and may distribute indicator recommendations and guidance by May 2018.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the CISO is defined in department policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Secretary of State should define the CISO's role in department policy for ensuring that the department has procedures for incident detection, response, and reporting.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) concurred with this recommendation. We are currently reviewing the evidence provided by State to determine whether the role of the CISO has been defined in its policy for ensuring that State has procedures for incident detection, response, and reporting.
    Director: David B. Gootnick
    Phone: (202) 512-3149

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, undertake a review of the efforts to date on ensuring data quality

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State concurred with this recommendation and noted that it will continue to work with USAID in consultation with OMB to assess whether additional existing resources are required to meet the goals of ForeignAssistance.gov. As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of February 2018, GAO was following up with State to obtain additional information on how the established review process would or has helped improve the quality of the data reported on Foreignassistance.gov.
    Recommendation: To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, develop additional guidance that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, State has taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. For example, in January 2017, State co-hosted an interagency meeting with OMB and USAID to discuss data quality and reporting requirements. As of February 2018, GAO was following up with State to determine if additional guidance has been developed that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM/C among visa recipients, the Secretary of State should update the Foreign Affairs Manual to require posts located in countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced to directly provide information about FGM/C to nonimmigrant visa recipients in the same manner as is done for immigrant visa recipients.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will expand the pool of visa applicants who will receive information on FGM/C. Specifically, once its transition to providing paperwork electronically during the visa application process is complete, State will directly distribute the fact sheet on FGM/C to both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients. According to State, both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients will have to certify that they have read and understood the fact sheet on FGM/C before signing and submitting their respective visa applications. As of August 2017, State has not yet completed these actions.
    Recommendation: To increase awareness of the health and legal consequences of FGM/C among visa recipients, the Secretary of State should update the Foreign Affairs Manual to require posts located outside of the countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced to directly provide information on FGM/C to immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients who are nationals of countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) concurred with this recommendation, and noted in a September 2016 update that it will expand the pool of visa applicants who will receive information on FGM/C. Specifically, once its transition to providing paperwork electronically during the visa application process is complete, State will directly distribute the fact sheet on FGM/C to both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa recipients who are from or were nationals of a country where FGM/C is commonly practiced. State noted that this change will ensure the widest distribution possible by providing all individuals from countries where FGM/C is commonly practiced with access to the fact sheet on FGM/C regardless of place of application or visa recipient type. As of August 2017, State has not yet completed these actions.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each develop a written plan that describes the agency's approach for conducting education and outreach to key stakeholders in the United States regarding FGM/C.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) did not concur with our recommendation, and, as of August 2017, has not indicated that it would implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To make the best use of federal resources directed toward combating FGM/C in the United States, the Attorney General and the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and State should each communicate the plan with other relevant federal agencies and stakeholder groups, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State (State) did not concur with our recommendation, and, as of August 2017, has not indicated that it would implement this recommendation.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard ratings more accurately reflect risk, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, the Interior, State, and Veterans Affairs; and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management should direct their CIOs to factor active risks into their IT Dashboard CIO ratings.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department agreed with the recommendation, and, in an October 2017 response, stated that it currently evaluates risk as part of its IT governance activities. However, the department has not yet provided supporting documentation. When we confirm what actions have been taken, we will update the status.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard ratings more accurately reflect risk, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, Transportation, the Treasury, Veterans Affairs; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should direct their CIOs to ensure that their CIO ratings reflect the level of risk facing an investment relative to that investment's ability to accomplish its goals.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department agreed with the recommendation, but has not yet provided supporting documentation. When we confirm what actions have been taken, we will update the status.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To address obsolete IT investments in need of modernization or replacement, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, the Treasury, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Commissioner of Social Security should direct their respective agency CIOs to identify and plan to modernize or replace legacy systems as needed and consistent with OMB's draft guidance, including time frames, activities to be performed, and functions to be replaced or enhanced.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The agency agreed with the recommendation and stated that it plans to work with OMB upon the publication of OMB's guidance to identify opportunities for modernization. In an April 2017 update, the agency stated that it had extended plans to replace the systems mentioned in the report by several years. As of August 2017, the agency stated that it had finalized a new capital planning guide which includes investment review policy to identify opportunities for modernization and away from legacy systems. However, it is too soon to tell if it is in line with OMB's forthcoming guidance. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To strengthen compliance with the Leahy laws and implementation of State's human rights vetting process and to help ensure that U.S. funded assistance is not provided to Egyptian security forces that have committed gross violations of human rights, as State works to implement a revised version of the International Vetting and Security Tracking system (INVEST) system that is expected to help facilitate equipment vetting, the Secretary of State should develop time frames for establishing corresponding policies and procedures to implement a vetting process to help enable the U.S. government to provide a more reasonable level of assurance that equipment is not transferred to foreign security forces, including those in Egypt, when there is credible information that a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State acknowledged challenges identifying recipients of equipment across the range of assistance activities, but noted that it would continue to update its systems and procedures to facilitate human rights vetting for recipients of equipment. In April 2017, State reported that it had provided finalized guidance on vetting Egyptian recipients of Foreign Military Financing-funded equipment to Embassy Cairo. These procedures have been incorporated into a revised version of Embassy Cairo's guide for conducting human rights vetting. According to State, Embassy Cairo has implemented these procedures. Also, as of June 2017, State had added new features to INVEST to help facilitate vetting of equipment recipients. However, as of June 2017, State had not developed plans for adopting the procedures used in Egypt more broadly in other countries that also receive equipment through the Foreign Military Financing account or through other U.S. assistance programs. In addition, State had not established requirements for posts to use the new equipment vetting features in INVEST. In January 2018, State reported that it had developed draft standard operating procedures for conducting equipment vetting globally; however these procedures are being reviewed internally within the department and are not expected to be finalized until later in 2018. We will continue to monitor agency efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that federal data center consolidation and optimization efforts improve governmental efficiency and achieve cost savings, the Secretaries of the Departments of the Interior, State, Transportation, and the Treasury; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Small Business Administration; the Directors of the National Science Foundation and Office of Personnel Management; and the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should take action to address challenges in establishing, and to complete, planned data center cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it was in the process of reviewing pending guidance on the Office of Management and Budget's Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI). The department further stated that once the DCOI guidance was issued, the department would update its targets and finalize a plan to more adequately address cost savings and avoidance targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. However, as of July 2017, the department has not updated its Data Center Optimization Strategic Plan to include planned cost savings and avoidances targets for fiscal years 2016 through 2018. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In June 2016, the department stated in correspondence to GAO that it planned to follow the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) guidance on optimizing data centers and would take action to improve the defined areas that Data Center Optimization Initiative identifies. Specifically, as of July 2017, the department reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it meets only one (power usage efficiency) of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. However, the department reported that it does not meet the remaining four targets (related to server utilization and monitoring, energy metering, server virtualization, and data center facility space). We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. agencies' performance monitoring of counter-firearms trafficking activities, the Secretary of State should work with other U.S. agencies and implementers to help ensure that quarterly progress reports identify key challenges and plans to address them.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with this recommendation and stated that it planned to work with other agencies to implement it. State officials noted that the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Bureau's quarterly reporting template for interagency partners currently contains a segment entitled "Problems or Challenges and Corrective Action Plan/Risk Identification Mitigation" in which the interagency partner is expected to detail any problems or challenges in implementing any of the program components and activities. State officials stated they will continue to remind interagency partners of this requirement and assist with correct completion of the reporting templates.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the department's IT savings reinvestment plans, the Secretary of State should direct the CIO, as part of any future update to the department's IRM strategic plan or equivalent document, to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources (including data centers) in accordance with OMB's guidance.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State has not yet taken steps to implement our recommendation. Specifically, as of May 2017, the agency had not yet updated its Information Technology Strategic Plan to include information regarding the approach to reinvesting savings from the consolidation of commodity IT resources. We will continue to evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further improve State's processing of nonimmigrant visas, the Secretary of State should evaluate the relative impact of efforts undertaken to reduce nonimmigrant visa interview wait times to help managers make informed future resource decisions.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to State officials, as of October 20017, the Bureau of Consular Affairs has not completed an analysis of the impact of process or program changes on adjudicator productivity using wait times as a metric.
    Recommendation: To further improve State's processing of nonimmigrant visas, the Secretary of State should document a plan for obtaining end user (i.e., consular officers) input to help improve end user satisfaction and prioritize enhancements to information technology systems.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, State officials reported that State does not have a plan to obtain end-user input to improve its current information technology systems, but instead relies on suggestions and complaints by users which are centrally tracked and then prioritized by the Visa Office. State officials, however, reported that the Office of Consular Systems and Technology is drafting a plan to gather end-user input for its new ConsularOne system, which is still in development and does not yet have a date for deployment. State officials told GAO they would provide a copy of that plan once it has been finalized and approved.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.,
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given that countering violent extremism is a priority for the U.S. government in general and State's Bureau of Counterterrorism (CT Bureau), the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that CVE program efforts abroad are evaluated.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017 the CT Bureau received a final evaluation completed by a third-party evaluator of its Countering Violent Extremism program. The evaluation focused on process and program results and impact, including CVE projects funded between fiscal years 2012 and 2016 and resulted in two related but disparate sets of recommendations and findings. The CT Bureau indicated that it has begun incorporating the recommendations made in the evaluation into its overall CVE efforts.
    Recommendation: To improve State's CT Bureau's program management efforts, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure the Bureau of Counterterrorism establishes specific time frames for addressing recommendations from program evaluations.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, the CT Bureau indicated it had completed comprehensive evaluations covering its programs for Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). The CT Bureau has identified and assigned timelines to those recommendations that the bureau deems relevant and achievable.
    Director: Michael J. Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) to institute procedures to improve posts' compliance with requirements for conducting residential security surveys.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To improve posts' compliance with residential survey requirements, State is developing a global standardized residential survey program that, according to DS, will give DS officials at State headquarters and security officers at posts the ability to access and audit security surveys for all residential holdings. DS estimated a 12-month development cycle for this program beginning in February 2017. As of January 2018, State had not completed the described actions. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to take steps to clarify existing standards and security-related guidance for residences. For example, DS could conduct a comprehensive review of its various standards and security-related guidance for residences and take steps to identify and eliminate gaps and inconsistencies.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State conducted a review of existing standards and identified numerous gaps, inconsistencies, and standards receiving exceptions more than being followed. As of January 2018, State was in the process of updating these standards. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to manage risks to residences, schools, and other soft targets overseas, the Secretary of State should direct DS to develop procedures for ensuring that all residences at posts overseas either meet applicable standards or have required exceptions on file.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To ensure residences meet applicable standards, State is developing a global standardized residential survey program that, according to DS, will give DS officials at State headquarters and security officers at posts the ability to access and audit security surveys for all residential holdings. DS has estimated a 12-month development cycle for this program beginning in February 2017. As of October 2017, DS had also launched a system to track exception requests and approvals. State had not completed the described actions as of January 2018. We will continue to monitor State's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agency review processes provide frequent, regular opportunities to assess progress on agency priority goals (APG), and are conducted in a manner consistent with GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requirements, OMB guidance, and leading practices, the Secretary of State should work with the COO and PIO to modify the Department's review processes to ensure that progress on each APG is reviewed in an in-person review meeting at least quarterly.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to information provided by State Department staff in June 2017, efforts to address this recommendation are currently on hold until a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the department has been appointed. Once a new COO is in place the department plans to move forward with in-person quarterly reviews based on the COO's guidance. We will continue to monitor the status of actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agency review processes provide frequent, regular opportunities to assess progress on agency priority goals (APG), and are conducted in a manner consistent with GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRAMA) requirements, OMB guidance, and leading practices, the Secretary of State should work with the COO and PIO to modify the Department's review processes to ensure that the reviews are led by the agency head or COO.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to information provided by State Department staff in June 2017, efforts to address this recommendation are currently on hold until a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the department has been appointed. Once a new COO is in place the department plans to move forward with in-person quarterly reviews based on the COO's guidance. We will continue to monitor the status of actions to address this recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should reconsider State's INKSNA process to ensure that it (1) complies with INKSNA's 6-month reporting cycle, and (2) minimizes delays in its ability to opt to impose sanctions.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments on the draft report, the Department of State concurred with our recommendation while expressing concerns about what it referred to as the inherent difficulties of producing 2006 Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) reports every six months as required by law. In a July 2016 letter, State noted that it had worked to minimize delays in its ability to impose sanctions pursuant to INKSNA reports and that it aims to eventually comply with INKSNA's six-month reporting cycle as it clears the existing backlog of INKSNA cases. Moreover, it noted that State had transmitted three INKSNA reports covering three years of activity (the latest covering calendar year 2013) within the last 18 months as evidence that it was making progress towards meeting the GAO recommendation. In 2017, State informed us that it was regularly reviewing lessons learned from previous reports and incorporating best practices into follow-on iterations of INKSNA reports. For example, it informed us, it had now streamlined the decision-making process to reduce the workload in making sanctions determinations by modifying the INKSNA decision and background memo to consolidate certain cases on which the interagency has achieved consensus recommendations, thereby simplifying the review and approval process. State reiterated its intention to eventually comply with INKSNA?s six-month reporting cycle as it clears the existing backlog. GAO will continue monitoring State's efforts to fully implement the recommendation.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help the department effectively manage spending on mobile devices and services, the Secretary of State should ensure an inventory of mobile devices and services is established department-wide (i.e., all components' devices and associated services are accounted for).

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State has not yet implemented this recommendation. In July 2017, the department stated that it planned to transition its mobile devices and services to the General Services Administration's Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative. However, the department has not addressed developing an inventory of mobile devices and services. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help the department effectively manage spending on mobile devices and services, the Secretary of State should ensure a reliable department-wide inventory of mobile service contracts is maintained.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State has not implemented this recommendation. In July 2017, the department stated that it plans to transition its mobile devices and services to the General Services Administration's Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative. However, the department has not addressed developing an inventory of mobile service contracts. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help the department effectively manage spending on mobile devices and services, the Secretary of State should ensure procedures to monitor and control spending are established department-wide. Specifically, ensure that (1) procedures include assessing devices for zero, under, and over usage; (2) personnel with authority and responsibility for performing the procedures are identified; and (3) the specific steps to be taken to perform the process are documented.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State has not yet implemented this recommendation. In July 2017, the department stated that it was in the process of implementing a Telecommunications Expense Management System to provide visibility into mobile spending, asset management, usage, and tracking. However, the department has not provided evidence that it has established procedures that address the elements of our recommendation . We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that OBO fully documents and keeps readily available the basis for its planning decisions according to State's policy for new embassy compounds and major renovation projects, such as decisions to construct a building on-site or lease space off-site.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: Beginning in 2016, major programmatic decisions related to choosing new embassy construction projects for award each fiscal year will be documented using a risk-based decision-making model. This model incorporates concepts of multi-attribute decision analysis and risk analytics to suggest an ideal project sequencing. Model inputs and outputs are stored on the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations (OB0) SharePoint directory. State expects to develop a similar method for the major rehabilitation program that may be implemented as early as 2017. Major project level decisions are documented through a variety of methods. OBO and other offices at State develop new embassy compound alternative analyses to document decisions about whether to pursue new construction, renovate and stay-in-place, or relocate to new leased space. Warehouse business cases document decisions to build on, or lease off compound. Those are kept, readily available, in OBO's SharePoint Directory. As projects proceed further through design and construction phases, any major decisions required are generally documented in decision memoranda and saved in OBO Link.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish a mechanism to ensure that sponsors provide complete and consistent lists of fees that participants must pay.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish a mechanism to ensure that sponsor provide complete and consistent lists of fees that exchange visitors on the Summer Work Travel program must pay, State acknowledged it collected such fee information in 2016. As of Jan. 31.2018, we are awaiting State's review and analysis of this information to ensure the price lists are consistent and comprehensive.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish a mechanism to establish a mechanism to ensure that information about these participant fees is made publicly available.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish a mechanism to ensure that information about Summer Work Travel participant fees is made publically available, State noted that it had published a notice for proposed rulemaking on January 12, 2017. When finalized, this would require would require each sponsor to include in its recruiting material, and post on its main Web site (e.g., with a visible link to such a page on the sponsor?s homepage), examples of the typical monthly budgets of exchange visitors placed in various regions of the United States to illustrate wages (based on the required weekly minimum of 32-hours of work at a typical host placement) balanced against itemized fees and estimated costs. Until State finalizes this rule, they cannot enforce this requirement. As of Jan. 31. 2018, this information was not available to the public on the five sponsor websites we checked.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish detailed criteria that will allow State to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of opportunities for cultural activities outside the workplace that sponsors provide to SWT participants.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish detailed criteria that will allow it to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of opportunities for cultural activities outside the workplace that sponsors provide to Summer Work Travel participants, State published a notice for proposed rulemaking on January 12, 2017. When finalized, this would require sponsors and their host entities to create cultural opportunities at least once per month. The proposed rule also notes that State will issue guidance outlining best practices for cross-cultural programming. As of Jan. 31.2018 this is not finalized.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the timely completion of an evaluation of security assistance to Egypt that is required by State policy, the Secretary of State should establish specific time frames for completing such an evaluation.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: State agreed with this recommendation. State noted that while evaluation of security assistance to Egypt poses challenges, it views evaluation as a critical tool for accountability and program improvement and will continue to pursue a formal evaluation of security assistance to Egypt. As of August 2017, State had not established specific time frames for such an evaluation. However, according to State officials, the department had begun preliminary data collection in anticipation of an evaluation at some point in the future. GAO will continue to monitor agency efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure a consistent and more collaborative approach to the protection of critical technologies, the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, State, and the Treasury; as well as the Attorney General of the United States, who have lead and stakeholder responsibilities for the eight programs within the critical technologies portfolio, should take steps to promote and strengthen collaboration mechanisms among their respective programs while ongoing initiatives are implemented and assessed. These steps need not be onerous; for example, they could include conducting an annual meeting to discuss their programs, including the technologies they are protecting, their programs' intent, any new developments or changes planned for their programs, as well as defining consistent critical technologies terminology and sharing important updates.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, the agency concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. In Sept. 2017, State provided updates on actions taken within the department, but none across affected agencies.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct State's Office of the Procurement Executive to incorporate leading practices into any future single insurer solicitations by determining whether existing guidance could be used, or by developing guidance based on leading practices in federal and State Department acquisition regulations and State internal control standards.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with the recommendation and said it would incorporate leading practices into any future single insurer solicitation if a determination is made to pursue a single insurer program. However, as of September 2017 State had not made a determination to pursue a single insurer program. GAO will continue to monitor State's effort to implement the recommendation.
    Director: Johnson Jr, Charles M
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the definition of the GSCF program and assist stakeholders in assessing whether GSCF is meeting its goals, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense should provide a range of time to clarify the time frames associated with near- to mid-term GSCF projects.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State did not agree that the departments should define what time frames constitute "near- to mid-term" for GSCF projects. As of September 2015, State has not published a definition for what time frame constitutes "near to mid-term" for GSCF projects.
    Recommendation: To enhance the definition of the GSCF program and assist stakeholders in assessing whether GSCF is meeting its goals, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense should track GSCF projects against established time frames.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State agreed that the departments should track GSCF projects against established time frames. As of September 2015, State is not tracking GSCF projects against time frames.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: For elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, the Secretary of State should provide the relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In the absence of such information, State should explain to the congressional committees why it was not included in the strategy.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated December 23, 2014, the Department of State (State) noted that the elements identified in the GAO report as not being adequately addressed by State were matters where the consensus of the intelligence community was that there was not an identifiable threat to counter. GAO's report assessed that State did not address four specific elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012. State's December 2014 letter provided explanations for these four elements, including the availability of information on existing agency websites, briefings provided to Congress, and State's lack of finding that foreign governments showed clear threats. We continue to maintain that the strategy did not include all of the elements that the law stated should be included, and State did not demonstrate that it provided relevant congressional committees with information that would fully address these elements. In December 2015, State noted that it remains in close contact with the relevant congressional committees across a range of security, economic and political with regard to the Western Hemisphere on a regular and continuing basis. State further noted that it provided an oral briefing along with its original submission of the report to Congress and answered questions posed by Congress. State officials said that they stand ready to provide further information in the appropriate setting should it be requested. However, State did not provide GAO with information about whether it had provided information to Congress specifically for the elements identified in the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012 that were not fully addressed in the strategy, nor provide additional information about whether State explained to the congressional committees why any absence of such information was not included in the strategy. Furthermore, GAO learned from the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff that State and the Office of the Director for National Intelligence provided a briefing to the committee regarding Iranian activities in Latin America on February 25, 2016. As of August 2016, GAO did not receive any documents related to the briefings because, according to State, the talking points document was considered deliberative and therefore could not be shared. According to State officials, they continue to monitor the issue and brief Congress as appropriate. As of December 2017, State noted that its position regarding this recommendation and the deliberative nature of the talking points document remains unchanged.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of State should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, security and privacy requirements are communicated to contractors.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with our recommendation and is planning to develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for each contractor-operated, contractor-owned system. However, STATE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when STATE informs us that it has satisfactorily implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of State should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, an independent assessor is selected to assess the system.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with our recommendation and is planning to develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for each contractor-operated, contractor-owned system. However, STATE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when STATE informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of State should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, a system test is fully executed.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with our recommendation and is planning to develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for each contractor-operated, contractor-owned system. However, STATE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when STATE informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of State should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, test results are reviewed by agency officials.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with our recommendation and is planning to develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for each contractor-operated, contractor-owned system. However, STATE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when STATE informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of State should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, plans of action and milestones with estimated completion dates and resources assigned for resolution are maintained.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with our recommendation and is planning to develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for each contractor-operated, contractor-owned system. However, STATE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when STATE informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Director: Courts, Michael J
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen the applicability and effectiveness of the Department of State's physical security standards, the Secretary of State should work through DS or, in his capacity as chair, through the OSPB to clarify existing flexibilities in the FAH to ensure that security and life-safety updates to the OSPB standards and Physical Security Handbook are updated through an expedited review process.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of September 2017, State had drafted a revision to the Overseas Security Policy Board (OSPB) Working Group Guidelines in the Foreign Affairs Handbook (FAH) to clarify existing flexibilities for and to formalize an expedited process for making security and life-safety updates to the OSPB standards and Physical Security Handbook. In January 2018, State said the revisions are still under review.
    Recommendation: To strengthen the effectiveness of the Department of State's risk management policies, the Secretary of State should develop a risk management policy and procedures for ensuring the physical security of diplomatic facilities, including roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and a routine feedback process that continually incorporates new information.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In December 2016, we learned that State had convened a working group to develop a comprehensive risk management policy. According to State, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security is coordinating this working group. As of January 2018, State expects to publish the new risk management policy by December 31, 2018.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of State should develop an agency-wide comprehensive policy for the management of software licenses that addresses the weaknesses we identified.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2017, the Department of State reported that it is working to develop a comprehensive policy for the management of software licenses. In addition, the department reported that it has a policy that identifies a single office within the department that is responsible for managing the enterprise software licensing agreements. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of State should employ a centralized software license management approach that is coordinated and integrated with key personnel for the majority of agency software license spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2017, the department reported that existing policy identifies roles and responsibilities for key stakeholders in the acquisition of software including the CIO and systems owners. In addition, the department reported that it uses a centralized approach for five products. However, the department did not provided evidence that it is employing a centralized management approach for other software licenses. We will continue to monitor its efforts to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of State should establish a comprehensive inventory of software licenses using automated tools for the majority of agency software license spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2017, the Department of State reported that it owns several tools that assist the department with software asset management. In addition, the department reported that it currently has insight into procurement information as well as a broad range of software inventory information available via the department's current network monitoring toolset and purchasing system. In addition, the department stated that it is in the process of implementing the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) initiative spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security. According to the department, the CDM is expected to provide an improved, more consolidated, user-friendly, and actionable view into software license data on its network. However, the department has not yet provided documentation of a comprehensive inventory of software licenses using automated tools. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of State should regularly track and maintain a comprehensive inventory of software licenses using automated tools and metrics.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October2017, the department reported that it currently has insight into procurement information as well as a broad range of software inventory information available via the department's current network monitoring toolset and purchasing system. In addition, the department stated that it is in the process of implementing the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) which is expected to become the department's automated tool to track its software inventory. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of State should analyze agency-wide software license data, such as costs, benefits, usage, and trending data, to identify opportunities to reduce costs and better inform investment decision making.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2017, the department reported that it has established a centralized procurement for five products. Further, the department reported that it has saved over $69 million by using this approach. Moreover, the department reported that it is considering other products that might benefit from a centralized approach. In addition, the department reported that its software asset management framework is being updated to centralize, standardize and consolidate purchases of software licenses. However, the department reported that it currently conducts software licenses analysis on a contract-by-contract basis, and has not provided documentation showing that it is analyzing agency-wide software license data. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of State should provide software license management training to appropriate agency personnel addressing contract terms and conditions, negotiations, laws and regulations, acquisition, security planning, and configuration management.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2017, the Department of State reported that it employees have access to the Foreign Service Institute's training, which includes acquisition courses. However, the department has not provided documentation showing that these courses address software licenses. In addition, in July 2017 the department reported that it has provided software license management training to the agency's Information Resource Management and acquisition personnel and that the agency plans to provide more relevant software license training in the future. We will follow-up with the agency to obtain supporting documentation and we will continue to monitor its efforts to address this recommendation.
    Director: Charles Michael Johnson, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-7331

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should take steps to ensure that management personnel responsible for assigning personnel to designated high-threat countries consistently verify that all assigned U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are required to complete FACT training have completed it before arrival in the designated high-threat countries.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: State agreed with the recommendation, and on July 7, 2014--subsequent to our report issuance and addressing this finding--State issued a memo to all agencies that states that it is the responsibility of each agency to ensure its employees are in compliance with FACT training requirements prior to travel to the relevant posts. The memo also requires employees to provide a FACT completion certificate to posts upon request. In October 2016, State officials reported that State had rolled out a ClassNet SharePoint site, and that they expected that the site would include Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs posts by January 1, 2017. The SharePoint site allows designated users in Washington, D.C. and at posts to access the Foreign Service Institute's training records database. As of January 2018, GAO continues to monitor State's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen State's ability to ensure that U.S. civilian personnel are in compliance with the FACT training requirement, the Secretary of State should monitor or evaluate overall levels of compliance with the FACT training requirement among U.S. civilian personnel under chief-of-mission authority who are subject to the requirement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of May 2015, State officials said that they are developing a plan to utilize various electronic systems to monitor overall levels of compliance for assigned and short-term TDY personnel. The plan is being developed iteratively and is subject to change based on findings and lessons learned from each stage as well as constraints based on cyber security compliance. As of January 2018, State did not report further progress on this recommendation.
    Director: Powner, David A
    Phone: (202)512-9286

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the department's implementation of PortfolioStat, the Secretary of State should direct the CIO to reflect 100 percent of information technology investments in the department's enterprise architecture.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the Department of State, since August 2014 all major and non-major IT investments and corresponding assets have been captured in enterprise architecture artifacts. We will follow up with the department to obtain documentation supporting this claim.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's implementation of PortfolioStat, in future reporting to OMB, the Secretary of State should direct the CIO to fully describe the following PortfolioStat action plan elements: (1) consolidate commodity IT spending under the agency CIO; (2) establish targets for commodity IT spending reductions and deadlines for meeting those targets; (3) move at least two commodity IT areas to shared services; (4) target duplicative systems or contracts that support common business functions for consolidation; and (5) establish a process to identify those potential investments and a schedule for eliminating them from the portfolio.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2014, the Department of State reported taking several actions to address the action plan elements we determined had not been fully described in our review. For example, it provided the Integrated Logistics Management System and the Global IT Modernization program as examples of two commodity IT investments it had moved to shared services and reported that it instituted review processes to identify duplicative efforts within the IT portfolio. The department, however, did not state whether it had reported these actions to OMB, which was the focus of our recommendation. We will follow up with the department on this.
    Recommendation: To improve the department's implementation of PortfolioStat, the Secretary of State should direct the CIO to report on the department's progress in consolidating the Foreign Affairs Network and content publishing and delivery services to shared services as part of the OMB integrated data collection quarterly reporting until completed.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2014, the Department of State reported that it had completed the content publishing and delivery services initiative and was reporting on its progress in consolidating the Foreign Affairs Network initiative to shared services through the OMB budget process. We plan to follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documentation.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202)512-9601

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance U.S. efforts to promote international religious freedom, the Secretary of State and the Chair of USCIRF should jointly define how State and USCIRF should interact in their efforts to promote international religious freedom, paying particular attention to defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom as a nonvoting USCIRF member.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: After the report was issued, in a letter dated May 28, 2013, the State Department said it has met with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to discuss a plan for better systematizing the interactions between the entities, including by more clearly defining the ex-officio role of the Ambassador-at-Large. In October 2013 and again in March 2014, State said it continued to discuss this plan with USCIRF. In October 2014, State said it had drafted a joint letter with USCIRF in response to our recommendation, but that it was awaiting a Front Office signature. In March 2015, officials from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor (DRL) said that the DRL Front Office and senior management have yet to approve a joint letter between State's Office of International Religious Freedom and the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that addresses GAO's recommendation. According to the officials, the DRL front office wanted to revisit the letter given the recent appointment of a new Ambassador-at-Large. According to the Ambassador, he met with USCIRF and wanted to provide input to the joint letter, but as of March 2015, the letter had not been approved by State. We followed up again in both August 2015 and August 2016 and were told that no progress on the letter or a joint understanding had been made. In July 2017, the President announced his nominee to be the new Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. As of November 3, 2017, the nomination has been referred to the full Senate for confirmation. State and USCIRF have not reached agreement on a letter responding to our recommendation. On January 24, 2018 the Senate confirmed the nomination of Governor Samuel Brownback to be the Ambassador-at-Large at the State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom.
    Director: Melito, Thomas
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more effectively manage NDF's resources, increase program accountability, and ensure that NDF has the information necessary to improve program performance, the Secretary of State should direct ISN and NDF to periodically and systematically conduct and document program evaluations of NDF.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State concurred with the recommendation. We contacted State in September 2017 to ascertain what it has done to address this recommendation. State responded in October, 2017. As of the end of October 2017, State had not conducted a formal evaluation of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund as called for under the Department's evaluation policy. State has improved the quality of the documentation that it requires managers to provide as part of its project close-out procedures.
    Director: Cha, Carol
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance federal agencies' ability to realize enterprise architecture benefits, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Air Force, the Army, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, the Interior, Labor, the Navy, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Small Business Administration; the Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Social Security Administration; and the Directors of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management should fully establish an approach for measuring enterprise architecture outcomes, including a documented method (i.e., steps to be followed) and metrics that are measurable, meaningful, repeatable, consistent, actionable, and aligned with the agency's enterprise architecture's strategic goals and intended purpose.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State has yet to implement this recommendation. In June 2017, the department's Information Resource Management GAO liaison stated that the department was in the process of developing an enterprise architecture plan. According to the liaison, the plan is to include a structured approach to capturing, evaluating, and assessing relevant performance related data. The liaison also that the target completion date for the plan is June 2018.
    Recommendation: To enhance federal agencies' ability to realize enterprise architecture benefits, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Air Force, the Army, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, the Interior, Labor, the Navy, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Small Business Administration; the Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Social Security Administration; and the Directors of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management should periodically measure and report enterprise architecture outcomes and benefits to top agency officials (i.e., executives with authority to commit resources or make changes to the program) and to OMB.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of State has not implemented our recommendation. According to the department's Information Resource Management GAO liaison, the department will complete an updated enterprise architecture plan and establish desired performance outcomes by December 2017.