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    Subject Term: "Entitlement programs"

    3 publications with a total of 10 open recommendations
    Director: Gambler, Rebecca S
    Phone: (202) 512-6912

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and implement a mechanism to oversee agencies' completion of training on additional verification in accordance with SAVE MOA provisions and program policies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, we found that USCIS does not track or monitor whether SAVE users have completed training and therefore does not have reasonable assurance that users have mastered SAVE policies and procedures prior to accessing the system. We recommended that USCIS develop and implement a mechanism to oversee agencies' completion of training on additional verification in accordance with SAVE provisions and program policies. The USCIS Verification Division reported that it intends to have a plan to address providing additional training for SAVE users developed by December 31, 2017. The SAVE Program will then offer training events for agencies on the new material reflecting the agency user requirements for additional verification as well as system enhancements. The estimated completion date for these activities is September 30, 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should provide notifications to user agencies when a case is ready for the user agency to review.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found that from fiscal years 2012 through 2015, USCIS exceeded its targets for providing agencies with timely SAVE responses, but agencies and benefit applicants were not always aware the SAVE response has been returned to them and therefore may be delayed in processing benefit determinations. We recommended that USCIS provide notifications to user agencies when a SAVE case is ready for the user agency to review. SAVE Program officials reported that they will develop an Automated Case Response Alerts feature for second and third-level responses with expected completion of the planning by December 31, 2017 and full implementation by the end of September, 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and implement a documented, risk-based approach to monitoring and compliance, including (1) a risk-based approach to selecting behaviors to monitor; (2) standards for what triggers compliance actions for the selected behaviors; and (3) a risk-based process for how USCIS will prioritize and select agencies for compliance actions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, we reported that the SAVE Monitoring and Compliance (M&C) Division does not have a documented, risk-based strategy that addresses a risk-based approach to selecting behaviors or memorandum of agreement (MOA) provisions to monitor, compliance standards for selected behaviors, and a risk-based process for how to prioritize and select agencies for compliance actions. In May 2017, USCIS reported that the Verification Division will create risk assessment standard operating procedures that include a risk based approach that incorporates GAO standards. The activities will include the development of a risk intake form; the development of an impact analysis form; and the completion of a master risk register and tracker spreadsheet. The Verification Division will also conduct risk assessments on all current and pending behaviors monitored by SAVE M&C, as well as existing policies, by September 30, 2017. Before the end of the calendar year, the Verification Division will hold meetings with colleagues to identify additional risks and gaps to better inform risk assessments. The Verification Division will create and/or amend policies and behaviors monitored by SAVE M&C based on risk assessment outcomes, to include the development and testing of new behavior reports, which fully implement monitoring of all behaviors after testing. USCIS estimates completing these activities by March 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and communicate a process for user agencies to update contact information.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, we found that the SAVE program's list of user agency points of contact (POCs) was not kept up to date and the SAVE program did not have a systematic process for ensuring the POCs are current and accurate, which presents challenges when contacting agencies for site visits or desk reviews. We recommended that USCIS develop and communicate a process for user agencies to update contact information. In December 2017, USCIS reported that SAVE was on track with its planning and prioritization work to improve user administration, including more effective ways to update contact information. However, because this system enhancement will be completed as part of a larger SAVE Modernization effort that is not scheduled for completion until December 2018, the estimated date of completion is December 31, 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should identify the root causes of agencies' noncompliance with SAVE MOA provisions and program policies and tailor agency recommendations to those identified causes.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, we found that SAVE Monitoring and Compliance (M&C) does not consistently identify the root cause of noncompliance and develop or tailor recommendations specific to each agency and cause as part of its compliance activities. As a result, we recommended that USCIS identify the root causes of agencies' noncompliance with SAVE Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) provisions and program policies and tailor agency recommendations to those identified causes. In December, 2017, USCIS reported that the Verification Division expects to complete its review of current policies and behavior reports to identify areas for improvement by December 31, 2017. In addition, it will undertake a variety of activities to determine the root causes for agency non-compliance. These activities will include reviewing all past compliance assistance activities, conducting interviews with SAVE Program account managers, and increasing engagements with agencies through phone calls, desk reviews, and site visits (including virtual site visits). These efforts should be completed by March 31, 2018, followed by the development of a template of tailored responses for all SAVE M&C behaviors. USCIS expects to complete these activities by June 30, 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve management and oversight of the SAVE program, the director of USCIS should develop and implement a process for ensuring user agencies implement corrective actions such as through a system of escalating compliance assistance actions and follow-up.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, we reported that SAVE Monitoring and Compliance (M&C) monitoring and oversight efforts have generally not improved agency compliance with SAVE Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) provisions. This is in part because SAVE M&C does not engage in escalating compliance assistance actions for those agencies that remain noncompliant and because SAVE M&C does not ensure agencies take corrective actions after receiving recommendations. We recommended that USCIS develop and implement a process for ensuring user agencies implement corrective actions, such as through a system of escalating compliance assistance actions and follow-up. In March 2017, USCIS reported that the Verification Division will identify ways to incorporate improved escalating compliance assistance models into its procedures. This will include ongoing monitoring of agency use to ensure SAVE customer agencies comply with SAVE program requirements. In May 2017, UCIS reported that SAVE M&C is developing a Quality Control Review approach that includes the requested GAO escalations and follow-up compliance actions. These activities are expected to be completed by March 30, 2018.
    Director: Farrell, Brenda S
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Gold Star Advocate Program achieves its mission and objectives and to enhance outreach for the program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the service secretaries, to determine outreach goals and metrics by which to measure progress in attaining those goals.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2018, DOD had not yet taken action to implement this recommendation. We will continue to follow-up on DOD's progress.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Gold Star Advocate Program achieves its mission and objectives and to enhance outreach for the program, the Commandant of the Coast Guard should determine outreach goals and metrics by which to measure progress in attaining those goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Coast Guard
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2018, we have not received enough information to close this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the Coast Guard's progress.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficacy of the training provided, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop indicators to help determine how casualty assistance officer training contributes to the quality of the casualty assistance program.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2018, DOD had not yet taken action to implement this recommendation. We will continue to follow-up on DOD's progress.
    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.