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    Subject Term: "Public assistance programs"

    6 publications with a total of 15 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Allison Bawden
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Recovery should design and implement the necessary processes and procedures to ensure a uniform and consistent approach for tracking first-level appeals data to better integrate regional trackers with the Public Assistance Appeals and Audits Branch's (PAAB) own first-level appeals tracker. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Recovery should design and implement the necessary controls to ensure the quality of the first-level appeals data collected at and reported from the regional offices to PAAB. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Recovery should develop a detailed workforce plan that documents steps for hiring, training, and retaining key appeals staff. The plan should also address staff transitions resulting from deployments to disasters. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Recovery should work with Regional Administrators in all 10 regional offices, to establish and use goals and measures for processing first-level PA appeals to monitor performance and report on progress. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery should complete a workforce staffing assessment that identifies the appropriate number of staff needed at joint field offices, Consolidated Resource Centers, and in FIMA's hazard mitigation cadre to implement the new delivery model nationwide. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery should establish controls for tracking FAC-Trax capabilities to the system's functional and operational requirements to more fully satisfy requirements development controls and ensure that the new information system provides capabilities that meets users' needs and expectations. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery should establish system testing criteria, such as a "definition of done," to assess FAC-Trax as it is developed; define the roles and responsibilities of all participants; and develop the sequence and schedule for integration of other systems with FAC-Trax to more fully satisfy systems testing and integration controls. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery, in coordination with the Associate Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, should implement procedures to standardize planning for addressing PA hazard mitigation at the joint field offices, for example, by requiring FEMA and state officials to develop a memorandum of understanding outlining how they will prioritize and address hazard mitigation following a disaster as it did through prior policy. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery, in coordination with the Associate Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, should develop performance measures and associated objectives for the new delivery model to better align with FEMA's strategic goal for hazard mitigation in the recovery process. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Michael Courts
    Phone: (202) 512-8980

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish a mechanism to ensure that sponsors provide complete and consistent lists of fees that participants must pay.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish a mechanism to ensure that sponsor provide complete and consistent lists of fees that exchange visitors on the Summer Work Travel program must pay, State acknowledged it collected such fee information in 2016. As of August 3, 2017, we are awaiting State's review and analysis of this information to ensure the price lists are consistent and comprehensive.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish a mechanism to establish a mechanism to ensure that information about these participant fees is made publicly available.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish a mechanism to ensure that information about Summer Work Travel participant fees is made publically available, State noted that it had published a notice for proposed rulemaking on January 12, 2017. When finalized, this would require would require each sponsor to include in its recruiting material, and post on its main Web site (e.g., with a visible link to such a page on the sponsor?s homepage), examples of the typical monthly budgets of exchange visitors placed in various regions of the United States to illustrate wages (based on the required weekly minimum of 32-hours of work at a typical host placement) balanced against itemized fees and estimated costs. Until State finalizes this rule, they cannot enforce this requirement. As of July 27, 2017, this information was not available to the public on the six sponsor websites we checked.
    Recommendation: To enhance State's efforts to protect SWT participants from abuse and the SWT program from misuse, the Secretary of State should direct the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs to establish detailed criteria that will allow State to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of opportunities for cultural activities outside the workplace that sponsors provide to SWT participants.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to our recommendation that the State Department (State) establish detailed criteria that will allow it to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of opportunities for cultural activities outside the workplace that sponsors provide to Summer Work Travel participants, State published a notice for proposed rulemaking on January 12, 2017. When finalized, this would require sponsors and their host entities to create cultural opportunities at least once per month. The proposed rule also notes that State will issue guidance outlining best practices for cross-cultural programming. As of July 27, 2017 this is not finalized.
    Director: Brown, Kay E
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To encourage broader adoption and evaluation of promising approaches and address impediments to the use of the career pathways approach among TANF agencies, HHS should, in consultation with Congress, identify potential changes that would address the lack of incentives for states and localities to adopt promising approaches and then develop and submit a legislative proposal outlining those changes.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2015, HHS noted that the agency's fiscal year 2016 budget includes a proposal to increase incentives for states to implement or strengthen subsidized employment programs and notes the Administration's willingness to work with Congress to improve the TANF program's effectiveness in accomplishing its goals. Additionally, HHS reported that it continues to provide technical assistance and disseminate research to help encourage TANF agencies to adopt or strengthen employment-focused approaches. While we commend these efforts, we continue to believe it is important for HHS, in consultation with Congress, to identify potential changes that would address the lack of incentives for states and localities to adopt promising approaches and develop and submit a legislative proposal outlining those changes. As of October 2017, we have not received any additional status updates on this recommendation from HHS.
    Director: Currie, Christopher
    Phone: (404)679-3000

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the process for disaster declarations, the FEMA Administrator should develop and implement a methodology that provides a more comprehensive assessment of a jurisdiction's capability to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance. This should include one or more measures of a jurisdiction's fiscal capacity, such as TTR, and consideration of the jurisdiction's response and recovery capabilities. If FEMA continues to use the PA per capita indicator to assist in identifying a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster, it should adjust the indicator to accurately reflect the annual changes in the U.S. economy since 1986, when the current indicator was first adopted for use. In addition, implementing the adjustment by raising the indicator in steps over several years would give jurisdictions more time to plan for and adjust to the change.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: On January 20, 2016, FEMA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit comments on an option FEMA is considering to establish a disaster deductible, which would require a predetermined level of financial or other commitment from a recipient, generally the state or territorial government, before FEMA would provide assistance under the Public Assistance Program. According to FEMA, the agency received 150 responses during the 60-day public comment period, which ended on March 21, 2016, and used this input to develop a plan for further engagement on a more detailed proposal for public comment. The Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published on January 12, 2017, provided another opportunity for stakeholder input prior to any changes to the Public Assistance program. This proposal included an explanation of how deductible amounts might be calculated, identified specific credits that states could apply for, and detailed how the deductible would be applied post-declaration. Comments on the Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking must be submitted by April 12, 2017. Until FEMA implements a new methodology, FEMA will not have an accurate assessment of a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance and runs the risk of recommending that the President award Public Assistance to jurisdictions that have the capability to respond and recover on their own.
    Director: Yocom, Carolyn L
    Phone: (202)512-4931

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal funding efficiently and effectively responds to the countercyclical nature of the Medicaid program, Congress may wish to consider enacting an FMAP formula that is targeted for variable state Medicaid needs and provides automatic, timely, and temporary increased FMAP assistance in response to national economic downturns.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: On February 10, 2016, GAO testified on considerations related to the Medicaid funding formula. See Medicaid: Changes to Funding Formula Could Improve Allocation of Funds to States GAO-16-377T January 26, 2016. We also cited this report in our discussion on Medicaid funding during economic downturns in Medicaid: Key Policy and Data Considerations for Designing a Per Capita Cap on Federal Funding(GAO-16-726).