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    Subject Term: "Economic stimulus"

    9 publications with a total of 16 open recommendations
    Director: Seto Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help preserve a proven resource supporting the oversight community's analytic capabilities, Congress may wish to consider directing CIGIE to develop a legislative proposal to reconstitute the essential capabilities of the ROC to help ensure federal spending accountability. The proposal should identify a range of options at varying scales for the cost of analytic tools, personnel, and necessary funding, as well as any additional authority CIGIE may need to ensure such enduring, robust analytical and investigative capability for the oversight community.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop a timetable with milestones and identify and allocate resources for adopting electronic records management for all 10 regional offices.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to EPA officials, the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) established an agency-wide electronic grants record workgroup in fiscal year 2016. The workgroup identified the contents of the electronic grant file, technical options, and evaluation criteria. OGD completed its alternatives analysis for scope, general approach, and requirements in fiscal year 2017. As of May 2017, the next phase of work is on hold, subject to available funds and prioritization of work.
    Recommendation: The EPA Administrator should direct OGD to implement plans for adopting an up-to-date and comprehensive IT system by 2017 that will provide accurate and timely data on agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts are ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD is conducting a multi-modular project to upgrade the agency's grants management IT system. As of May 2017, the final module is on schedule for deployment in fiscal year 2018. OGD will incorporate performance tracking of priority directives in accordance with the policy framework of the new grants management plan.
    Recommendation: Until the new IT system is implemented, the EPA Administrator should direct OGD to develop ways to more effectively use existing web-based tools to better monitor agencywide compliance with grants management directives.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: Implementation efforts are ongoing. According to EPA officials, OGD has developed the capability to provide managers cumulative annual baseline monitoring data. Further capabilities of web-based tools, namely the replacement of OGD's primary tool Quik Reports, was scheduled for deployment in fiscal year 2017. This effort, combined with updates to the Grants Datamart, will provide long-term enhancements for EPA's grant reporting needs. As of May 2017, the modernization of supported tools and web applications continues. EPA officials also said that extending centralized grant data to other internal systems is improving the continuity of data.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and direct field office sites with responsibility for non-M&O contractor risk assessments to address risk factors as they relate to those sites and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal year 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance. The revised guidance directs field office sites with responsibility for non-M&O contractor risk assessments to address risk factors as they relate to those sites. The guidance further requires each site Chief Financial Officer to certify to the accuracy of improper payments and risk rating. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and clarify how payment sites are to address risk factors and document the basis for their risk rating determinations and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal years 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance requiring sites to prepare risk assessments using a new risk assessment format. The guidance states that the new format was developed to improve consistency among the sites and improve documentation supporting the risk ratings. In the new format, each risk factor includes a description of the risk factor, rating criteria and/or questions to consider during the evaluation to assist sites in determining a risk rating by payment type. The guidance also requires all sites to maintain supporting documentation for their risk assessment. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and clarify who is responsible at DOE for reviewing and approving risk assessments for consistency across sites and take steps to ensure those entities implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal years 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance to require site Chief Financial Officers and the Director of Risk Management of the Loan Programs Office to provide a signed certification to DOE's Director of the Office of Finance and Accounting certifying to the accuracy of improper payments and the risk assessment and rating submitted. The guidance provides templates for these certifications. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and provide specific examples of other risk factors that present inherent risks likely to contribute to significant improper payments, in addition to the eight risk factors, direct payment sites to consider those when performing their improper payment risk assessments, and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal year 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance. In addition to the required OMB risk factors, the guidance added the following additional risk factors to be included in the risk assessments: (1) contractor payment processing oversight and (2) segregation of duties. The guidance states these factors have been added to ensure that inherently high-risk areas that can contribute to a site's susceptibility to significant improper payments are properly evaluated. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To provide better transparency regarding its total known improper payments reported under IPERA, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to improve public reporting on the amount of total known improper payments by disclosing additional information regarding this amount and the extent to which improper payments could be occurring.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had added supplemental information to its fiscal year 2016 Agency Financial Report. We will continue to gather additional information from DOE to determine the extent to which this information addresses the amount of total known improper payments.
    Director: Mark L. Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide information on the impact of federal investments in expanding broadband infrastructure, the Secretary of Agriculture should include BIP performance information as part of the USDA's annual performance plan and report by comparing actual results achieved against the current subscribership goal.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gaffigan, Mark E
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EM more effectively manages all its projects, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Senior Advisor for Environmental Management and the Director of the Office of Management, as appropriate, to provide the Office of Acquisition and Project Management with information on EM's project classification decisions to ensure that all capital asset projects have been appropriately classified and are managed in accordance with DOE Order 413.3B.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When commenting on our report, DOE agreed with our recommendation. According to agency information provided in March 2017, DOE has ongoing internal discussions to develop and document a policy addressing EM capital asset project and operations activity classifications. However, DOE has not yet established and approved such a policy.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help meet the requirements of the Recovery Act's Section 1602 provisions to help ensure the long-term viability of the buildings, the Secretary of the Treasury should assess the extent to which HFAs are utilizing information provided to them by project owners duringthe 15-year compliance period, taking into account the level of investor equity in projects.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In an email from Treasury on September 14, 2015, officials stated that they have taken no additional actions since the report was issued. At that time, they sent copies of the report to the state HFAs with instructions for the HFAs to fulfill their duties. However, this does not insure the HFAs maintain their asset management responsibilities during the 15 year compliance period as required by Section 1602. On January 24, 2017, the agency informed us that they plan no further action on this recommendation.
    Director: Wise, David J
    Phone: (202)512-5731

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve FTA's ability to determine the extent to which transit grants, current formula incentives, and FTA program activities have had a positive effect on local transit agency performance--and to the extent that FTA finds current data sources to be appropriate and reliable for such purposes-- the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to further analyze and use data submitted to FTA by local transit agencies. As part of this analysis, FTA may want to identify and evaluate, when applicable, (1) the extent to which transit grant programs are accomplishing their established goals; (2) the areas of performance in which FTA should concentrate its program activities to increase the performance of local transit agencies and the federal transit program in general; and (3) the extent to which formula incentives and other performance accountability mechanisms have influenced the activities and performance of local transit agencies.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2017, FTA had published the final National Safety Plan and a final rule on state of good repair for transit assets. However, the final Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan rule is under additional review per the transition in administration. FTA does not expect publication until Spring 2018. We will continue to monitor DOT actions pertaining to this rulemaking.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: (202)512-4431

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To further the goals of public understanding of what Recovery Act funds are being spent on and what results are expected, the Director, Office of Management and Budget, should work with executive departments and agencies to determine (1) whether supplemental guidance is needed to meet, in a reasonable and cost-effective way, the intent of the Recovery Act for reporting on projects and activities and (2) whether that supplemental guidance or other agency-proposed technical assistance dealing with narrative descriptions of awards provides for transparent descriptions of funded activities.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further the goals of public understanding of what Recovery Act funds are being spent on and what results are expected, the Director, Office of Management and Budget, should periodically (1) review, in partnership with executive departments and agencies, the descriptions of awards--in particular, the narrative fields--submitted by recipients to determine whether the information provides a basic understanding of the uses of the funds and the expected outcomes, and, if not, determine what actions to take, including encouraging agencies to develop or improve program-specific guidance and (2) work with the Recovery Board on the board's assessments of departments' and agencies' data quality reviews to ensure the adequacy of these reviews and further reinforce actions to meet transparency goals.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions OMB has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: White, James
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Congress may wish to consider broadening IRS's ability to use math error authority (MEA), with appropriate safeguards against misuse of that authority.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress has expanded IRS's math error authority in certain circumstances, but not as broadly as we suggested in February 2010. Congress enacted legislation in December 2015 that expands the circumstances in which IRS may use math error authority. Section 208 of division Q of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 (Public Law 114-113) gives IRS the authority to use math error authority if (1) a taxpayer claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) during the period in which a taxpayer is not permitted to claim such credit as a consequence of either having made a prior fraudulent or reckless claim; or (2) a taxpayer omitted information required to be reported because the taxpayer made prior improper claims of the Child Tax Credit or the AOTC. While expanding math error authority is consistent with what we recommended Congress consider, we had suggested that math error authority be authorized on a broader basis with appropriate controls rather than on a piecemeal basis. Our previous work has identified additional tax provisions for which expanded math error authority would be helpful, such as the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, Individual Retirement Accounts, and Residential Energy Property Credit. While Congress expanded math error authority for the First-Time Homebuyer Credit in November 2009 and for other individual credits as previously described, we maintain that a broader authorization of math error authority with appropriate controls would enable IRS to correct obvious noncompliance, would be less intrusive and burdensome to taxpayers than audits, and would potentially help taxpayers who underclaim tax benefits to which they are entitled. If Congress decides to extend broader math error authority to IRS, controls may be needed to ensure that this authority is used properly. Our prior work identified potential controls, such as requiring IRS to report on its use of math error authority. The administration also requested that Congress grant the Department of the Treasury regulatory authority to expand IRS's use of math error authority as part of its budget submission for fiscal year 2017. The 114th Congress did not provide Treasury with such authority. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated this change could raise $274 million through fiscal years 2018 through 2026.