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    Subject Term: "Economic development"

    10 publications with a total of 27 open recommendations including 8 priority recommendations
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the activities carried out under the ITM program do not duplicate the efforts of other federal loan guarantee programs, such as SBA's 7(a) program, the Secretary of Commerce should direct EDA to work with SBA and NIST to further identify any gaps in capital access that may be present that the program could fill, and then develop marketing materials and conduct outreach to help target those gaps.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: Partially addressed. As of November 2016 the Economic Development Administration (EDA) had begun taking action on GAO's February 2016 recommendation to work with SBA and NIST to identify gaps in capital access and develop marketing materials and conduct outreach based on any gaps identified for the Federal Loan Guarantees for Innovative Technologies in Manufacturing program (ITM). Due to delays in establishing the program, however, these efforts are still in progress. According to EDA officials, as of November 28, 2016 EDA contractors working on the ITM program had held a preliminary discussion with SBA to discuss program marketing, outreach and potential gaps in capital access that the ITM program may be able to fill, among other topics, but had not yet initiated additional coordination with NIST. We continue to believe that coordination with SBA and NIST to identify gaps in capital access, and then marketing the program to target those gaps could help EDA ensure that ITM program activities do not duplicate the efforts of other federal loan guarantee programs.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    8 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better leverage the commissioners' expertise in the development of the annual work plan, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act, potentially with one of the identified options.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 10, 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN Act. As of December 14, 2016, the legislation had not yet been signed by the President. Section 5002 of the legislation included provisions related to the Denali Commission. If the legislation becomes law we will review it in more detail to see if it addresses this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: To address barriers to the operation of the Commission, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act to include either a holdover or delegation of authority provision when the Federal Cochair position is vacant.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 10, 2016, Congress passed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, or WIIN Act. As of December 14, 2016, the legislation had not yet been signed by the President. Section 5002 of the legislation included provisions related to the Denali Commission. If the legislation becomes law we will review it in more detail to see if it addresses this matter for congressional consideration.
    Recommendation: To enhance the Commission's operations, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to consider options for fulfilling the Commission's statutory purpose and finalize that new approach in a new strategic plan.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to issue Commission-specific policies for awarding and managing grants.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to establish a documented process for ensuring that the findings of single audits of grantees are promptly resolved and take action to resolve any recent single audits that showed evidence of a potential problem.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to continue efforts to close out grants and projects, including deobligating unspent grant funds in a timely manner.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the Commission's grants management, the Commission's Federal Cochair should direct the Commission to take steps to consistently manage and retain Commission records, including implementing its record retention policy once it is approved.

    Agency: Denali Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is reviewing actions by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To allow for greater flexibility in the Commission's operations, Congress should consider amending the Denali Commission Act to modify or end the 5 percent cap on administrative expenditures.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 14, 2016, no legislation had been enacted to address this issue.
    Director: William B.Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve SBA's administration and oversight of the HUBZone program and reduce the risk that firms that no longer meet program eligibility criteria receive HUBZone contracts, the Administrator of SBA should establish a mechanism to better ensure that firms are notified of changes to HUBZone designations that may affect their participation in the program, such as ensuring that all certified firms and newly certified firms are signed up for the broadcast e-mail system or including more specific information in certification letters about how location in a redesignated area can affect their participation in the program

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, SBA improved its notifications to newly certified firms but not to other certified firms. For example, SBA's certification letter to firms with principal offices in a redesignated area specifically states that the firm is in a redesignated area, explains the implications of the designation, and notes when the redesignated status will expire. However, we found in March 2016 that SBA had not yet implemented changes to better ensure that all currently certified firms would be notified of changes that could affect their program eligibility. It is important that all certified firms potentially affected by such changes receive information about the changes or are made aware in a timely fashion of any effects on their program eligibility. As of February 2017, SBA had begun to improve its notifications to all firms. According to SBA officials, the agency has started sending program notices to all the firms in its portfolio. They told us that for its most recent notice in February 2017, the agency copied all the e-mail addresses in its HUBZone database and placed them in the e-mail distribution system. According to SBA officials, SBA intends to repeat this effort with subsequent notices. We will continue to monitor SBA's implementation of this activity.
    Recommendation: To improve SBA's administration and oversight of the HUBZone program and reduce the risk that firms that no longer meet program eligibility criteria receive HUBZone contracts, the Administrator of SBA should conduct an assessment of the recertification process and implement additional controls, such as developing criteria and guidance on using a risk-based approach to requesting and verifying firm information, allowing firms to initiate the recertification process, and ensuring that sufficient staff will be dedicated to the effort so that a significant backlog in recertifications does not recur.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, SBA officials told us that they began automating the process to notify firms that were due for recertification. According to the officials, since September 2015, notification e-mails have been sent daily (compared with the former cycle of two times a year). Each firm due for recertification within the next 30 days would receive the notice. SBA sends a second e-mail to firms that have not responded within 45 days of the first notification. According to SBA officials, as of February 2017, this change has not yet eliminated the backlog. SBA officials informed GAO in May 2017 that they have developed risk-based guidance for conducting recertification reviews and requesting supporting documentation. According to SBA, any certified HUBZone small business concern that has received $1 million or more in HUBZone contract dollars since its initial certification (or its most recent recertification) must submit the following: (a) a list of all current employees, identifying the name of the employee, the employee's address, the number of hours worked per month, and the location where the employee performs his/her work; and (b) payroll documentation. SBA intends to complete the implementation of this policy by the third quarter of 2017.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve federal-state collaboration in providing export promotion services in accordance with the National Export Initiative, and the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, the Secretary of Commerce, as Chair of the TPCC, should take steps consistent with key practices to enhance, where possible, federal information sharing with state trade offices on Commerce's export promotion activities. This could include more formal guidance to Commerce staff regarding the circumstances, in light of legal restrictions, in which information can be shared with state trade offices and other nonfederal entities, and exploring ways for clients to give permission to release information useful to such nonfederal entities.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) notified GAO that it did not fully concur with GAO's May 2014 recommendation, preferring instead to maintain a case-by-case approach rather than issuing more formal guidance on federal information sharing with state trade offices. According to Commerce, as of March 2016, the agency was in the process of implementing a new client relationship management system. Commerce officials said that as future iterations of this system and public websites come online, they would seek to identify ways for clients to give permission to release information useful to other federal agencies, state trade offices, and other local service providers. In February 2016, Congress passed The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Public Law 114-125, which requires that within a year of the act's passing, Commerce must develop a federal-state export promotion coordination plan that addresses, among other things, information sharing between federal and state trade offices. The act also requires Commerce and state trade promotion agencies to develop a framework to share information on export successes, and report to Congress on this framework within a year of the law's enactment. Later in 2016, Commerce officials began holding monthly calls with SIDO and state trade offices to share information on topics such as client intake, performance measures, and new federal export promotion activities. In March 2017, Commerce officials informed GAO that after further review of information-sharing limitations under the Trade Secrets Act, Commerce has determined that Written Impact Narratives (WINs) that have been approved for public use by the clients can be shared with State trade agencies. Commerce is currently developing a policy to ensure they are shared in a timely manner. In addition, the newly formed Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC) state and federal export promotion working group is expected to create a framework for information sharing. Without greater information sharing in the provision of similar services, Commerce will likely be limited in its ability to help ensure that export promotion services are efficiently managed across federal and state efforts, and that resources are appropriately leveraged.
    Recommendation: To improve federal-state collaboration in providing export promotion services in accordance with the National Export Initiative, and the Export Enhancement Act of 1992, the Secretary of Commerce, as Chair of the TPCC, should take steps consistent with key practices for collaboration to enhance TPCC agencies' partnering on export promotion with nonfederal entities, such as State International Development Organizations and Global Cities. This could include reassessing and strengthening the TPCC's intergovernmental partnerships by clarifying expected outcomes, defining roles and responsibilities, monitoring results, and planning resource needs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Commerce (Commerce) and the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee (TPCC), which is responsible for providing a unified national framework for export promotion, have taken some steps to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion, as GAO recommended in May 2014 and as called for in a subsequent law. In February 2016, Congress passed The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, Public Law 114-125, which according to the State International Development Organizations (SIDO), contained provisions intended to enhance federal-state collaboration in export promotion. First, the act directs the President to establish a state and federal export promotion coordination working group as a subcommittee of the TPCC and appoint at least one representative from a state trade promotion agency to the TPCC. Second, beginning in February 2017, the act requires Commerce to annually submit to the TPCC a federal-state export strategy for each state that submits its export strategy to Commerce for that year that, among other things, addresses efforts to reduce duplication. Third, the act requires Commerce and state trade promotion agencies to develop a coordinated set of performance metrics, and report to Congress on these metrics within a year of the law's enactment. Fourth, the act mandates an annual survey and analysis, in coordination with state trade promotion agencies, of the overall effectiveness of federal-state coordination in export promotion. In April 2016 Commerce and SIDO signed a memorandum of intent to develop joint strategies and implement activities to enhance federal and state agency coordination and cooperation . In September 2016 Commerce issued a Federal Register Notice announcing the establishment of a state and federal export promotion coordination working group under the TPCC. The Secretary of Commerce appointed 14 members to this new working group in January 2017, which has met several times according to Commerce officials. The working group is developing a federal-state export coordination strategy that is expected to define roles and responsibilities, among other things. Successfully completing these activities is important, because without joint federal-state planning, programs at different levels of government will likely continue to be duplicative, and effective resource planning will likely be hampered.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help clarify the direction of future U.S. participation and position the United States for a successful Arctic Council chairmanship, the Secretary of State should assess the status of recommendations adopted through the Council, and strengthen the Council's ability to address Arctic issues within its purview. As a part of its responsibilities in assuming the Council chair in 2015 and in collaboration with other relevant agencies, the Secretary of State should develop a joint strategy for U.S. participation in the Council that outlines a clear direction for the agencies and identifies resources needed to sustain collaborative efforts and consistent participation in the Council.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: We are working with Department of State officials to track the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to demonstrate compliance across the program with the statutory limit on funds that can be used for administration, the Secretary of HUD should direct the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development to develop a process for generating annual reports on compliance across the program, including making any requisite changes to IDIS to better ensure that the agency has complete and analyzable data to support such reporting.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, a HUD official told us that the agency did not have the funding necessary to make any changes to IDIS. According to this official, HUD was willing to create the recommended across-program report, but did not have the information technology funding required to make other, higher-priority changes to IDIS (such as fixing identified defects) or the change GAO recommended.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202)512-4101

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the performance measures used to evaluate the TAA for Firms program demonstrate program results and to help ensure that EDA can comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of the program, the Secretary of Commerce should broaden the program's evaluation approach, for instance, by developing additional quantifiable outcome-oriented performance goals and measures for key program areas and conducting further analysis of the data to isolate the impact of the TAA for Firms program from other influences, such as economic trends.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Commerce concurred with our findings and recommendations. In April 2017, EDA provided additional information on its progress in implementing our recommendation. In 2012, EDA commissioned a study to inform the development of performance metrics and evaluation methods for the TAA for Firms program. Issued in October 2014, the study provided recommendations to EDA on potential performance metrics, tested the metrics by conducting a statistical analysis of TAA for Firms clients against a control group as well as a survey, and suggested data sources for conducting future evaluations of the TAA for Firms program. According to EDA officials, the study will help provide a foundation for more robust longitudinal performance measurement and enhanced policy analysis, thereby enabling EDA to more comprehensively evaluate the program. These officials noted that, as of April 2017, EDA is continuing to collaborate with the authors of the study to help develop, validate, and implement recommended performance metrics. According to EDA officials, the authors of the study have finalized an operational toolkit containing recommended metrics and protocols for data collection and impact evaluation methods. EDA plans to review and pilot test these recommended metrics and evaluation methods to improve program evaluation. We will continue to monitor Commerce's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the data available to manage and evaluate the TAA for Firms program, the Secretary of Commerce should develop a data system to consistently collect, maintain, and analyze sufficiently reliable and up-to-date data on program operations and participant firms.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: Commerce concurred with our findings and recommendations. In April 2017, EDA provided additional information on its progress in implementing our recommendation. Commerce's Office of the Chief Information Officer has undertaken a variety of activities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Commerce's data systems, including those of EDA. According to EDA officials, as of April 2017, EDA is evaluating its agency-wide data system and alternative systems for collecting data on program operations with which to measure program performance. According to these officials, EDA expects that the transition to the new data system for the TAA for Firms program will be completed pending the outcome of the evaluation. We will continue to monitor Commerce's efforts to implement our recommendation.
    Director: Shear, William B
    Phone: (202)512-4325

    8 open recommendations
    including 4 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, USDA noted that its Rural Business-Cooperative Service had implemented procedures to improve data collected on program performance, including procedures to validate data entered into its Guarantee Loan System. In addition, USDA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce?s Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for USDA to follow through on the initiatives described above.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it announced additional reporting requirements for grantees as part of its Fiscal Year 2017 Economic Development Assistance Programs federal funding opportunity that are intended to improve program evaluation. EDA added that it plans to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize the new survey forms needed to implement the new requirements with a goal of piloting them in fiscal year 2017. In addition, Commerce participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for Commerce to follow through on the initiatives described above.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD noted that the department had completed its effort to clean up its Community Development Block Grant data and is working to resolve issues with grantees for which costs have been disallowed. HUD expects to resolve these issues by December 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, SBA noted that it continues to evaluate its entrepreneurial development programs through third-party evaluations and limited data collected from their resource partners and will use this information to guide program development. In addition, SBA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for SBA to follow through on the initiatives described above and collect information for the additional six programs identified in our report as lacking information.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, USDA noted that its Rural Business-Cooperative Service had implemented procedures to improve data collected on program performance, including procedures to validate data entered into its Guarantee Loan System. In addition, USDA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for USDA to follow through on the initiatives described above that are intended to improve the evaluation of programs that provide assistance to entrepreneurs.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it announced additional reporting requirements for grantees as part of its Fiscal Year 2017 Economic Development Assistance Programs federal funding opportunity that are intended to improve program evaluation. EDA added that it plans to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to finalize the new survey forms needed to implement the new requirements with a goal of piloting them in fiscal year 2017. In addition, Commerce participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for Commerce to follow through on the initiatives described above and conduct evaluations of the three economic development programs that have not yet been assessed.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In February 2017, HUD noted that the department had completed its effort to clean up its Community Development Block Grant data and is working to resolve issues with grantees for which costs have been disallowed. HUD expects to resolve these issues by December 2017.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2017, SBA noted that it had taken a number of steps to build its program evaluation function, including (1) hiring its first lead program evaluator in August 2016 to manage new and coordinate ongoing agency program evaluations, (2) drafting a program evaluation framework that will support the agency's efforts to conduct, monitor, and implement findings from evaluations, and (3) creating a performance and evaluation community of practice that meets on a monthly basis to discuss program evaluation principles and address questions for the framework (e.g., data sharing, definitions, learning agendas). SBA expects to start new program evaluations in 2017. In addition, SBA participates in an OMB-led interagency working group convened to share best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance analysis. In March 2017, OMB noted that SBA and Commerce's Office of Performance and Risk Management plan to co-publish a report outlining several best practices in program evaluation, data sharing, and technical assistance. It will be important for SBA to follow through on the initiatives described above that are intended to improve the evaluation of programs that provide assistance to entrepreneurs.
    Director: White, James
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the lack of information on IRD users and where property claimed under IRD is placed in service, Congress may wish to consider requiring IRS to collect information identifying which taxpayers use IRD and the reservation and/or address where they have placed the property into service. In deliberating additional requirements, Congress should weigh the need for more IRD information with the associated costs of collecting and analyzing the information as well as the effects on IRS's other priorities.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, we continue to monitor the issue.
    Director: Ragland, Susan
    Phone: (202)512-9471

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs to develop a framework for OIA employees to use in conducting site visits to help ensure objectives are achieved, to assure that relevant information is shared with responsible officials, and to allow more efficient and effective monitoring of issues.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: On May 24, 2017, the Department of Interior (DOI) sent out an email to its staff showing the dissemination of the new format required for completing trip reports by the staff of the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA). The new format requires staff to include travel justification (i.e., purpose/objective, location, and travel period) and trip report (i.e., meetings, site visits, results, and next steps, as applicable.) The intent of the recommendation is for DOI to have a framework that includes (1) status of required single audit reports; (2) the progress of actions to resolve reported internal control weaknesses; and (3) current needs for technical assistance, capacity building, and staff level expertise. Further, the intent of GAO's recommendation is that this information be integrated into a comprehensive monitoring process. We did not see these elements included in DOI's new format. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.