GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed. GAO’s priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. Below you can search only priority recommendations, or search all recommendations.

Our recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Moreover, when implemented, some of our priority recommendations can save large amounts of money, help Congress make decisions on major issues, and substantially improve or transform major government programs or agencies, among other benefits.

As of April 18, 2018, there are 5,184 open recommendations, of which 465 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

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Subject Term: "Occupational health and safety programs"

2 publications with a total of 3 priority recommendations
Director: David C. Trimble
Phone: (202) 512-3841

1 open priority recommendation
Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's Integrated Safety Management policy and guidance to clarify what constitutes evidence of a chilled work environment and define the appropriate steps DOE should take to hold contractors accountable for creating a chilled work environment.

Agency: Department of Energy
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In January 2018, DOE issued a revision to DOE Policy 450.4A. The revised policy states that organizations should foster a culture that allows employees to "feel free to raise safety concerns without fear of retaliation...and supporting a questioning attitude concerning safety by all employees." However, the policy does not define the appropriate steps DOE should take to hold contractors accountable for creating a chilled work environment. We will continue to monitor DOE's implementation of this recommendation.
Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
Phone: (617) 788-0534

2 open priority recommendations
Recommendation: To support the collection of complete and accurate safety and health information on the condition of BIE school facilities nationally, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to ensure that all BIE schools are annually inspected for safety and health, as required by its policy, and that inspection information is complete and accurate. This could include: (1) Analyzing the key challenges to ensuring that all BIE schools are inspected, as well as implementing a plan to mitigate those challenges. (2) In the interim, prioritizing inspections at schools where facility conditions may pose a greater risk to students--such as schools with dormitories or those that have not been recently inspected.

Agency: Department of the Interior
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: In September 2016, Indian Affairs reported that it had completed annual safety inspections at all BIE school locations for the first time in at least 15 years. In late August 2017, officials reported that Indian Affairs was on course to complete all inspections in 2017 but did not provide documentation on its progress. Further, Indian Affairs stated that it understands the need to ensure that completing school inspections does not detract from inspection quality. However, as of August 2017 we had not received documentation that the agency had taken steps to ensure that its safety personnel collect inspection information that is complete and accurate. We believe the steps Indian Affairs has taken to prioritize the completion of safety inspections at all BIE schools are important ones. However, we believe it is also important that the agency take specific steps to ensure that the inspection information it collects is complete and accurate. Without complete and accurate information, BIE schools may not have the information they need on potential safety hazards, which may endanger students and staff. In June 2018, Indian Affairs provided us with information that indicated that few if any BIE school inspections had been completed in some regions for FY2018. In addition, knowledgeable Indian Affairs safety officials told us they were not confident that all completed FY2018 school inspection reports reflected complete and accurate information on the safety of school facilities. We requested regular updates from the agency on the status of BIE school inspections. In mid-August 2018, agency officials reported that 148 of the 181 school sites had been inspected. Indian Affairs policy requires that inspection reports for all BIE schools be completed no later than August 31, 2018. In September 2018, Indian Affairs provided documentation that it had completed FY2018 safety inspections of all BIE schools. The agency also reported that it is taking steps to oversee the quality of school inspections, but it has not provided us with documentation that indicates inspection information that agency personnel collect and report to schools is complete and accurate. We will continue to monitor the agency's performance in this areas.
Recommendation: To ensure that all BIE schools are positioned to address safety and health problems with their facilities and provide student environments that are free from hazards, the Secretary of the Interior should direct the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to develop a plan to build schools' capacity to promptly address safety and health problems with facilities. Such a plan could prioritize assistance to schools to improve the expertise of facility staff to maintain and repair school buildings.

Agency: Department of the Interior
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: Interior agreed with this recommendation. In June 2018, Indian Affairs provided us with documentation on its efforts to build schools' capacity to address safety and health problems with facilities. In particular, the agency updated its Service Level Agreement between BIA and BIE, which details their roles and responsibilities for inspecting and providing technical assistance to BIE schools, among other areas. However, Indian Affairs' documents provided little information on how it plans to support BIE school personnel in fixing safety hazards in their facilities. In our 2016 report, we found that school personnel often lack the necessary technical expertise, time, and resources to address safety hazards in school buildings. Further, the agency did not include information on whether it has staffed regional offices with specialists to assist schools with safety and facility issues. We have requested additional information from Indian Affairs and will continue to monitor their efforts on this recommendation.