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.

Browse or Search Open Recommendations

Search



Have a Question about a Recommendation?

  • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
  • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
« Back to Results List Sort by   

Results:

Subject Term: "Payment errors"

1 publication with a total of 6 priority recommendations
Director: Khan, Asif A
Phone: (202)512-9869

6 open priority recommendations
Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to estimating improper payments, to establish and implement key quality assurance procedures, such as reconciliations, to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the sampled populations.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD), in concurring with this recommendation, stated that DOD will work with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) to implement key quality assurance procedures, such as reconciliations, to ensure the completeness and accuracy of sampled populations. In August 2017, DOD officials stated that its Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) will continue its work with DFAS to annually reconcile gross outlays (as stated on its Statement of Budgetary Resources) with outlays as reported in its Agency Financial Report. These reconciliations are currently done only on a summary level. In the future, DOD's validation of its universe of transactions combined with planned reconciliations with the Defense Departmental Reporting System trial balance and transaction data from DOD's entitlement systems will provide more complete reconciliations. As of May 2018, this recommendation remains open.
Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to reducing improper payments, to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that comply fully with IPERA and OMB implementation guidance, including at a minimum, holding individuals responsible for implementing corrective actions and monitoring the status of the corrective actions.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD), in concurring with this recommendation, stated that it would work collaboratively with the applicable components to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that incorporate best practices, including those recommended by the Chief Financial Officers Council. DOD's corrective action plans would include information on (1) measuring the progress made toward remediating root causes and (2) communicating to agency leaders and key stakeholders the progress made toward remediating the root causes of improper payments. According to DOD's fiscal year 2015 Agency Financial Report, DOD's travel pay had the highest error rate among all DOD-reported improper payment programs, and therefore DOD would place its initial focus to achieve measurable progress more quickly in this area. In June 2016, DOD officials told us that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) (OUSD(C)) will revise and expand the DOD Travel Remediation Plan into a more comprehensive plan for travel improper payments which will include establishing Senior Accountable Officials (SAOs) within each military service. OUSD(C) will collaborate with each SAO to ensure the development of standardized procedures and corrective action plans to include training, root cause identification, and quality assurance goals that comply with improper payment law and regulatory guidance for travel pay. In October 2016, DOD issued its corrective/remediation plan entitled "Preventing Travel Pay Improper Payments and Recovery." This plan required the military services and major defense agencies to designate a Senior Accountable Official (SAO) at the Senior Executive Service level, for reducing travel pay improper payments. In April 2017, we learned that the Office of Management and Budget had done an assessment of this plan and provided helpful suggestions. In an August 2017 response to an inquiry on the status of DOD's implementation of GAO's improper payment recommendations, DOD officials stated that the Department's SAO (Deputy Chief Financial Officer) is considering expanding the focus of the travel pay improper payments working group to include the other major areas of DOD's improper payment program. In September 2017, the department's Senior Accountable Official (SAO) recommended the establishment of a SAO Steering Committee as well as Action Officer Working Groups for DOD's other improper payment programs. The SAO Steering Group would, among other duties, provide oversight and drive action for compliance with IPERA. The Action Officer Working Groups would be responsible for determining root causes and developing effective written corrective action plans, among other duties. As of February 2018, this recommendation remains open as DOD works to produce corrective action plans that comply fully with IPERA and OMB implementation guidance, including holding individuals responsible for implementing corrective actions and monitoring the status of those corrective actions.
Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to reducing improper payments, to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that are in accordance with best practices, such as those recommended by the Chief Financial Officers Council (CFOC), and include (1) measuring the progress made toward remediating root causes and (2) communicating to agency leaders and key stakeholders the progress made toward remediating the root causes of improper payments.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD), in concurring with this recommendation, stated that it would work collaboratively with the applicable components to establish procedures that produce corrective action plans that incorporate best practices, including those recommended by the Chief Financial Officers Council. DOD's corrective action plans would include information on (1) measuring the progress made toward remediating root causes and (2) communicating to agency leaders and key stakeholders the progress made toward remediating the root causes of improper payments. According to DOD's fiscal year 2015 Agency Financial Report, DOD's travel pay had the highest error rate among all DOD-reported improper payment programs, and therefore DOD would place its initial focus to achieve measurable progress more quickly in this area. In June 2016, DOD officials told us that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) (OUSD(C)) will revise and expand the DOD Travel Remediation Plan into a more comprehensive plan for travel improper payments which will include establishing Senior Accountable Officials (SAOs) within each military service. OUSD(C) will collaborate with each SAO to ensure the development of standardized procedures and corrective action plans to include training, root cause identification, and quality assurance goals that comply with improper payment law and regulatory guidance for travel pay. In October 2016, DOD issued its corrective/remediation plan entitled "Preventing Travel Pay Improper Payments and Recovery." This plan required the military services and major defense agencies to designate a Senior Accountable Official (SAO) at the Senior Executive Service level, for reducing travel pay improper payments. In April 2017, we learned that the Office of Management and Budget had done an assessment of this plan and provided helpful suggestions. In an August 2017 response to an inquiry on the status of DOD's implementation of GAO's improper payment recommendations, DOD officials stated that the Department's Deputy Chief Financial Officer is considering expanding the focus of the travel pay improper payments working group to include the other major areas of DOD's improper payment program. In September 2017, the department's Senior Accountable Official (SAO) recommended the establishment of a SAO Steering Committee as well as Action Officer Working Groups for DOD's other improper payment programs. The SAO Steering Group would, among other duties, provide oversight and drive action for compliance with IPERA. The Action Officer Working Groups would be responsible for determining root causes and developing effective written corrective action plans, among other duties. As of February 2018, this recommendation remains open as DOD determines root causes and develops corrective action plans for its other improper payment programs.
Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to implementing recovery audits, to monitor the implementation of the revised FMR chapter on recovery audits to ensure that the components either develop recovery audits or demonstrate that it is not cost effective to do so.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) officials, in concurring with this recommendation, stated that DOD would work with the applicable components to monitor the implementation of the revised Financial Management Regulation (FMR) chapter on recovery audits. According to DOD officials, this action would help to ensure that recovery audits are developed, or will demonstrate that it is not cost-effective to do these audits. In July 2015, DOD was working to update the FMR chapter on recovery audits to reflect revised Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance issued in October 2014. DOD issued its revised FMR chapter in November 2015. This chapter requires components to develop cost-effective payment recapture audits or to submit a quantitative justification to the Office of the Under Secretary (Comptroller) for approval. However, we consider this recommendation to be open because DOD did not provide documentation demonstrating that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) is monitoring component implementation of recovery auditing. Further, as of April 2017, DOD's efforts to develop cost-estimates for recovery audits were still under way. As of February 2018, this recommendation remains open.
Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to implementing recovery audits, to develop and submit to OMB for approval a payment recapture audit plan that fully complies with OMB guidance.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) officials, in concurring with this recommendation, stated that DOD would develop and submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a payment recapture plan that fully complies with OMB guidance and is informed by a cost-effectiveness analysis. In July 2015, DOD's Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) efforts to develop a payment recapture audit plan to ensure cost-effectiveness were ongoing and these efforts must be completed before a plan can be submitted to the OMB. In June 2016, DOD officials stated that the Comptroller's efforts to develop a payment recapture audit plan to ensure cost-effectiveness were ongoing. As of August 28, 2017, DOD officials stated that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) will determine if a payment recapture audit plan was developed and submitted to OMB for approval in the previous fiscal years. If so, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) will determine its relevance and significance (i.e. cost effectiveness)to the improper payments program. If the payment recapture audit plan is considered to be applicable, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) will update the previous plan to comply with current OMB guidance. As of February 2018, this recommendation remains open.
Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), with regard to reporting, to design and implement procedures to ensure that the department's annual improper payment and recovery audit reporting is complete, accurate, and in compliance with IPERA and OMB guidance.

Agency: Department of Defense
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: Department of Defense (DOD) officials, in concurring with this recommendation, stated that DOD would design and implement procedures to further ensure that its annual improper payment and recovery audit reporting is complete, accurate, and in compliance with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) requirements and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance. In June 2015, DOD revised its FMR chapter on improper payments to require components to provide information needed to report on improper payment and recovery audit activities in its annual financial report (AFR) in accordance with IPERA requirements and OMB guidance. DOD's fiscal year 2015 AFR reflected its implementation of the revised FMR. We found that DOD's improper payment reporting in its fiscal year 2015 AFR had improved. However, we were not provided with evidence that Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) is performing oversight and monitoring activities to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the improper payment and recovery audit data submitted by DOD components for inclusion in the AFR. As of April 2017, DOD is continuing to work on procedures for ensuring that its reporting on improper payment and recovery audits is accurate, complete, and in compliance with IPERA and OMB guidance. We will continue to follow-up on actions to address this recommendation.