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    Subject Term: "Federal prisons"

    5 publications with a total of 14 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: Gretta L. Goodwin
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better understand the available opportunities for collecting inmate health care utilization data, BOP should conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of potential solutions, and take steps toward implementation of the most effective solution.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, BOP stated that it had taken steps to implement a data analytics solution to enable the collection and analysis of health care utilization data. BOP hosted industry presentations and issued a request for information to identify vendors that would be interested and capable of providing a data analytics solution. BOP stated that it will issue a solicitation when funding permits, but did not provide timeframes for when funding might be available.
    Recommendation: To better understand the available opportunities for controlling health care costs, BOP should implement its guidance to conduct "spend analyses" of BOP's health care spending, using data sources already available

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, BOP stated that it had taken steps to contract with a health care finance expert to help identify an appropriate medical cost-benefit analysis model and relevant sources of existing data sources. The expert will work with BOP staff once a contract is awarded. BOP did not provide any timeframes for when it expects to award the contract.
    Recommendation: To determine the actual or likely effectiveness of its ongoing or planned health care cost control initiatives, BOP should evaluate the extent to which its initiatives achieve their cost control aim.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, BOP stated that it had taken steps to contract with a health care finance expert to evaluate the cost effectiveness of key health care cost control initiatives. The expert will work with BOP staff once a contract is awarded. BOP did not provide any timeframes for when it expects to award the contract.
    Recommendation: To enhance its strategic planning for and implementation of health care cost control efforts, BOP should incorporate elements of a sound planning approach and (1) establish a means of measuring progress toward and effectiveness of its activities for its current strategic objectives and goals related to controlling health care costs; and (2) identify the resources and investments necessary for implementation of its planned health care cost control initiatives.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, BOP stated that it had taken steps to contract with a health care finance expert to develop target performance metrics along with a cost accounting model to guide the measurement of its health care cost control efforts. The expert will work with BOP staff once a contract is awarded. BOP did not provide any timeframes for when it expects to award the contract.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and utility of its Federal Medical Center mission analyses, BOP should document the analyses and findings that underlie its recommendations.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: In September 2017, BOP stated that it will develop and implement a template to document its Federal Medical Center mission and costa analyses. BOP did not provide any timeframes for when it expects to complete this.
    Director: Diana C. Maurer
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help determine if pretrial diversion programs and practices are effectively contributing to the achievement of department goals and enhance DOJ's ability to better manage and encourage the use of such programs and practices, the Attorney General should identify, obtain, and track data on the outcomes and costs of pretrial diversion programs.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a December 2017 update, DOJ stated that it is reviewing this recommendation and did not provide evidence that it has taken steps to implement it. We continue to believe that by obtaining data on the costs and outcomes of pretrial diversion programs, DOJ would gain multiple advantages in its ability to manage these programs and optimize their outcomes and cost implications.
    Recommendation: To help determine if pretrial diversion programs and practices are effectively contributing to the achievement of department goals and enhance DOJ's ability to better manage and encourage the use of such programs and practices, the Attorney General should develop performance measures by which to help assess program outcomes.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a December 2017 update, DOJ stated that it is reviewing this recommendation and did not provide evidence that it has taken steps to implement it. We continue to believe that by developing performance measures to help assess program outcomes, DOJ would gain multiple advantages in its ability to manage these programs and optimize their outcomes and cost implications.
    Recommendation: To determine how the use of RRCs and home confinement contribute to its goal of helping inmates successfully reenter society, and to better enable BOP to adjust its policies and procedures for the optimal use of these alternatives, as necessary and within statutory requirements, the Director of BOP should identify, obtain, and track data on the outcomes of the programs.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2017, BOP had taken steps to implement our recommendation to identify, obtain, and track data on the outcomes of RRCs and home confinement. In particular, BOP reported that it has developed a revised Statement of Work for use with its RRC contractors that requires the contractors to track and report quarterly to BOP on, among other things, the number of placements into and releases from RRCs and home confinement; revocations from RRCs or home confinement; and RRC and home confinement residents that have secured full, part-time, or temporary employment. BOP plans to compile these data to track contractor performance and program outcomes. Further, BOP reported that it has developed a voluntary survey that asks RRC residents about their RRC experiences, including the amount of help they received in finding and keeping a job, and finding a place to live. These actions are in line with our recommendation and we will continue to monitor their implementation.
    Recommendation: To determine how the use of RRCs and home confinement contribute to its goal of helping inmates successfully reenter society, and to better enable BOP to adjust its policies and procedures for the optimal use of these alternatives, as necessary and within statutory requirements, the Director of BOP should develop performance measures by which to help assess program outcomes.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of November 2017, BOP has not provided evidence to us that it has developed performance measures by which to help assess program outcomes. We continue to believe BOP should do so.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that costs savings estimates are reliable, the Director of the USMS should direct its Prisoner Operations Division to develop reliable methods for estimating cost savings and validating reported savings achieved.

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported on United States Marshals Service's (USMS) actions to reduce prisoner-related costs from fiscal years 2010 through 2015. During the course of our review, we found that while USMS implemented actions that it reports have continued to save prisoner-related costs, USMS's methods to determine savings for certain actions were not reliable. For example, USMS identified $375 million in savings from the alternatives to pre-trial detention program for fiscal years 2010 through 2015, but did not verify the data or methodology used to develop the estimate or provide documentation supporting its reported savings for fiscal years 2012 onward. Consequently, we recommended that USMS direct its prisoner operations division to develop reliable methods for estimating cost savings and validating reports savings achieved. USMS concurred with our recommendation. In July 2016, USMS provided more information about how it would address the recommendation by confirming that its future cost savings estimates would be consistent with OMB guidelines for conducting benefit-cost analyses and GAO-identified practices for assessing the reliability of computer-processed data. Aligning USMS estimates with these identified practices would better position the agency to assess the effectiveness of its cost savings efforts. As USMS develops such mechanisms, we will request and consider documentation and other evidence to determine that USMS has implemented this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable USMS to more consistently identify deficiencies and monitor corrective actions, the Director of the USMS should establish a mechanism to aggregate and analyze the results of annual district self-assessments.

    Agency: Department of Justice: United States Marshals Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, we reported on United States Marshals Service's (USMS) actions to design systems to help identify cost savings opportunities. During the course of our review, we found that USMS has designed several systems for identifying cost savings, including, for example, developing a strategic plan and guidance for district officials that reinforce policies to provide for the safe, secure, and cost-effective containment of its prisoners. In addition, USMS requires districts to conduct annual self-assessments of their procedures to identify any deficiencies which could lead to cost savings. However, USMS cannot aggregate and analyze the results of the assessments across districts. As a result, we recommended that USMS establish a mechanism to aggregate and analyze the results of annual district self-assessments. USMS concurred with our recommendation. In July 2016, USMS informed us that the agency will develop a method to aggregate and analyze the results of the annual district self-assessments. However, it has not provided information on its plans or timelines to implement the recommendation. As USMS develops such mechanisms, we will consider documentation and other evidence to determine that USMS has implemented this recommendation.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Department of Justice effectively measures its efforts to address incarceration challenges, the Attorney General should explore additional data collection opportunities and modify its Smart on Crime indicators to incorporate key elements of successful performance measurement systems.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In August 2015, DOJ reported that it has taken steps to obtain new, more granular data elements that it hoped to incorporate into its indicators. However, DOJ also stated that it did not believe that measureable targets were appropriate for its Smart on Crime indicators because prosecutors need to make case by case decisions without regard to targets or concerns for any other incentive. As of October 2016, DOJ had not provided any updates on its progress addressing this recommendation to enhance performance measurement. Until DOJ provides this information, we cannot determine whether its efforts resulted in indicators that incorporate key elements of successful performance measurement systems. In March, 2017, DOJ noted that, due to a change in administration, the consequences of the Smart on Crime initiative are uncertain, and did not provide any further updates on its progress addressing our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the Department of Justice effectively measures its efforts to address incarceration challenges, the Attorney General should direct the Office of the Pardon Attorney, in conjunction with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, to (1) track how long it takes, on average, for commutation of sentence petitions to clear each step in the review process under DOJ's control, and (2) identify and address, to the extent possible, any processes that may contribute to unnecessary delays.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In August 2015, DOJ reported that tracking the steps of its review would not provide meaningful data because the Department prioritizes those cases for review that appear likely to meet the Clemency Initiative factors announced in April 2014. Nevertheless, DOJ stated that it agreed that identifying and addressing unnecessary delays in the review process is important, and that it has been regularly working to identify and address such delays. As of October 2016, DOJ had not provided any updates on its progress addressing this recommendation to better track and address any unnecessary delays. Until it does so, we cannot determine whether it is meeting the key goal of the new Clemency Initiative--to expeditiously identify and review especially meritorious petitions. In March 2017, DOJ noted that due to the accelerated clemency review process implemented in 2015, it currently has no standard process to evaluate, and did not provide any further updates on its progress in addressing our recommendation.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-9627

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better address obstacles that occur during the activation process and to help ensure that institutions are activated within estimated timeframes, including those institutions that do not currently have inmates, such as Administrative USP Thomson and USP Yazoo City, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons should develop and implement an activation schedule that incorporates the four characteristics of scheduling best practices.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Bureau of Prisons
    Status: Open

    Comments: On November 25, 2014, DOJ provided a written response to GAO-14-709 that stated that BOP was in the process of developing a new activation handbook and comprehensive schedule and that BOP would establish a multi-disciplinary working group of BOP subject-matter experts to work on this project. On June 3, 2015, BOP reported that it had assembled a multidisciplinary workgroup as planned, and based on BOP's March 16, 2016 status update, the workgroup's efforts were ongoing at the time. On September 20, 2016, BOP provided the schedule to us, as part of its newly developed activation handbook. While the Activation Handbook's schedule addresses in detail what needs to be done and who should do the work, it is not fully inclusive of the best practices related to scheduling that we outlined in our report. To fully address this recommendation, BOP would need to fully incorporate best practices. This includes creating a baseline schedule that incorporates all of the tasks identified in the responsibility matrix, determining the duration for each effort, and incorporating the appropriate predecessor and successor logic. Per scheduling best practices, BOP would also need to determine which activities make up the critical path and develop procedures for conducting a schedule risk analysis, ensuring that the schedule can be traced both horizontally and vertically, and that mechanisms are in place for maintaining the baseline schedule and an updated schedule as projects progress.