Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    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. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • 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: "Veterans employment programs"

    8 publications with a total of 19 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Brown Barnes, Cindy S
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should publicly report DOD's performance regarding participation and career readiness attainment for all TAP-eligible servicemembers and members of the National Guard and Reserve rather than exclude those for whom data are missing or clarify the extent of missing data. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially agreed with this recommendation. The agency partially agreed to base its publicly reported performance on all those who are TAP-eligible or to clarify the extent of missing data. DOD said that compliance should only be computed based on data that are known, but the agency agreed that its public reports should include a description of the extent of missing data. DOD also noted that in FY17 it had disclosed the extent of missing data when reporting performance on the Transition to Veterans agency priority goal and that this will be included in all its public reporting starting in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 and beyond. The agency indicated that it would also continue working to reduce the extent of missing data. We will consider closing this recommendation when DOD has completed these efforts.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor and report on the extent to which servicemembers participate in TAP within prescribed timeframes. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with this recommendation. Based on feasibility of data collection and availability of funds, DOD anticipates starting data collection in fiscal year 2019, followed by data reporting in fiscal year 2020 at the earliest. We will consider closing this recommendation when DOD begins reporting on participation.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor and report on the extent to which servicemembers who elect to receive additional 2-day classes are able to receive the training. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD disagreed with this recommendation, noting that it ensures access by offering 2-day classes both in classrooms and online. Moreover, the agency stated that the purpose of 2-day classes is to help servicemembers achieve Career Readiness Standards. However, GAO does not believe this is sufficient for DOD to know whether it is ensuring compliance with this particular law. We continue to believe that DOD needs to track whether those who elect to take these classes are able to receive the training.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor and report on the extent to which servicemembers attend TAP in a classroom setting unless allowed by regulation to participate online. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with this recommendation. Based on feasibility of data collection and availability of funds, DOD anticipates starting data collection in fiscal year 2019, followed by data reporting in fiscal year 2020 at the earliest. We will close this recommendation when DOD begins reporting on attendance.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should enable unit commanders and their higher-level commanders to access DOD reports on timeliness, 2-day classes, and the use of online TAP--after DOD begins monitoring and reporting this information--to help ensure the specific units they oversee are compliant with all TAP requirements. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially agreed with this recommendation. DOD noted that once it has the capability to collect and report data on timeliness and extent of online and classroom participation, the military services will provide these data to commanders when feasible. DOD added that the intent of this recommendation should be met at the service level where transition staff can make this information available to commanders. Our report noted that some services share information on certain aspects of the program, such as participation and Career Readiness Standard attainment. However, DOD does not yet monitor timeliness of participation, access to 2-day classes, and online participation. Therefore, DOD is unable to share this particular information with commanders. While we understand that DOD needs to build its capability to collect these additional data, we urge DOD to disseminate this important information to commanders as soon as possible to enable them to fulfill their responsibility toward TAP compliance within their specific units. DOD did not address the monitoring and reporting of the additional 2-day classes, therefore, we urge DOD to also report data on access to the additional 2-day classes so that commanders are able to ensure compliance with all statutory TAP requirements.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should seek ways to minimize the subjectivity involved in making career readiness determinations, particularly where judgments are involved, such as the quality of the individual transition plan and the resume. This could include developing guidance or training that provides quality standards for assessing career readiness materials. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD agreed with this recommendation. The agency stated that, by the end of FY18, it will work with the military departments and the Department of Labor to seek ways to minimize subjectivity in assessing such things as quality of the resume or job application package. This may include developing guidance on quality standards for assessing particular career readiness materials. DOD also noted that all military services have personnel at the installation level who are trained in resume writing, resume review, and career planning and that installations can also call upon their local DOL partners for further support. Finally, DOD said it was important to note that commanders be allowed to exercise their best judgment on attainment of career readiness for their servicemembers, knowing that experts are housed within the transition assistance centers at their installation and are available to assist servicemembers.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the management of DOD's credentialing program and better determine whether the program is achieving its desired results, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to develop and implement program performance measures that include key attributes, such as a baseline and goals, that can be used to assess performance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD did not concur with our recommendation to develop and implement performance measures for its credentialing program. As of August 23, 2017, the department still has yet to develop performance measures for the program.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase accountability for program performance, the Secretary of VA should establish measures to report on program outcomes for Post-9/11 GI Bill OJT and apprenticeship programs, including considering relevant data sources and seeking legislative authority to gain access to data, if necessary.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) agreed that program performance metrics should be developed to report on program outcomes. VA initially projected it would update the GI Bill comparison tool to reflect program outcomes for on-the-job training (OJT) and apprenticeship participants by September 2017. VA's Education Service has developed business rules and definitions for the OJT and apprenticeship program, but officials said they still need to work with the VA Office of Information and Technology's Digital Services to determine when this information will be publicly available within the Comparison Tool. VA anticipates it will fully implement the recommendation by February 1, 2018.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To inform decisions on any potential future iterations of the veterans' employment workshop, the Secretary of Labor should assess and report to Congress the extent to which further delivery of employment workshops to veterans and their spouses could fill a niche not fully served by existing federal programs. Such an assessment could involve collaboration with VA and other stakeholder organizations.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, DOL repeated its assertion that the employment needs of veterans and spouses are best met through the services offered by their local American Job Centers. Additionally, DOL's Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) has published its employment workshop TAP curriculum in eBook form, making it accessible to all veterans and spouses. VETS planned to report to Congress in 2017 on whether a need exists to provide an employment workshop to veterans and spouses. DOL has not provided an update to GAO on that assessment. Further, VETS is conducting a pilot to identify additional options to connect veterans and spouses to employment services available at American Job Centers, and plans to report its initial findings to Congress in 2018.
    Director: Bertoni, Daniel
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to update the TDIU guidance to clarify how rating specialists should determine unemployability when making TDIU benefit decisions. This updated guidance could clarify whether factors such as enrollment in school, education level, and prior work history should be used and if so, how to consider them; and whether or not to assign more weight to certain factors than others. Updating the guidance would also give VBA the opportunity to re-examine the applicability, if at all, of other factors it has identified as extraneous.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August of 2017, VA updated sections of its guidance on TDIU claim decisions. We reviewed VA's efforts to clarify many of the details involved in reviewing TDIU claims. However, the majority of the revisions clarified instructions for processing TDIU claims, not clarifications on making the decision to approve or deny claims in and of themselves. As such, our concerns, as noted in the GAO-15-464 report, remain including: reviewers being unclear as to if factors such as enrollment in school, educational history, or prior work history can be considered; how to assign weight to the different factors that are considered; and how to separate extraneous and allowable factors from one another. With such clarifying details lacking, the integrity of the decision making process for TDIU benefits remains at risk and benefits could be granted for one veteran and possibly denied for another veteran with similar circumstances and impairments.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that TDIU decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to verify the self-reported income provided by veterans (a) applying for TDIU benefits and (b) undergoing the annual eligibility review process by comparing such information against IRS earnings data, which VBA currently has access to for this purpose. VA could also explore options to obtain more timely earnings data from other sources to ensure that claimants are working within allowable eligibility limits

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In September of 2017, VA halted its prior efforts for developing an upfront verification process by expanding the data sharing agreement with Social Security Administration (SSA), which enables VA to receive federal tax information via an encrypted electronic transmission through a secure portal. Upon further review, VA determined that the upfront verification process yields no information upon which denial of TDIU entitlement can be made immediately because prior earnings are not a basis for denial. VA plans to place greater effort and emphasis on the annual post-award audit for Veterans already receiving the TDIU benefit. VA is working to finalize guidance for a new annual post-award audit and ensure VA computer systems, employee training, and quality measurements are aligned. VA has set February 28, 2018 as the target completion date for these efforts and we will update this reccomendation once we have the opportunity to review the guidance.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that TDIU decisions are well supported and TDIU benefits are provided only to veterans whose service-connected disabilities prevent them from obtaining or retaining substantially gainful employment, in light of VA's agreement with the recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits to develop a plan to study the complex TDIU policy questions on (1) whether age should be considered when deciding if veterans are unemployable and (2) whether it is possible to disallow TDIU benefits for veterans whose vocational assessment indicated they would be employable after rehabilitation.

    Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs
    Status: Open

    Comments: VA is studying its Total Disability Individual Unemployability (TDIU) benefit and plans to complete the study by September 30, 2017. In December 2015, VA began developing a study and VA officials reported that the scope of the study will include, but not be limited to, consideration of age in TDIU benefit decisions. As part of this effort a work group has been focusing on obtaining all data sets related to awarded TDIU benefits. As of February 2017, the work group continued to develop an inter-rater variability study to examine the variance in rating decisions involving both TDIU and service connection disability compensation, which could be incorporated in VA's larger review of TDIU eligibility standards. Changes to the TDIU eligibility standards could result in cost savings.
    Director: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure servicemember participation in and completion of TAP, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness to require that all services provide unit commanders and their leaders information on TAP participation levels of servicemembers under their command, similar to that provided by the Army and Air Force. Such information could be used to help hold leaders accountable for ensuring TAP participation and completion.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although DOD disagreed with this recommendation, it has taken steps to make TAP participation information available at the installation and unit-command level. Specifically, in November 2016, DOD launched a new system to electronically collect TAP-related data: the TAP-IT Enterprise System. DOD officials said this system will allow the services to generate installation and unit-level data reports once fully operational. This system is currently being used at all installations to collect data on VOW compliance and Career Readiness Standards attainment. However, installation and unit-command specific reports describing TAP performance levels may not be available until October 2018, according to a senior DOD official. We continue to believe that providing unit-level data to commanders is needed because these commanders are responsible for ensuring that eligible servicemembers have full access to and successfully complete required TAP components. Consequently, providing commanders and their leaders information on TAP participation levels of servicemembers under their command could promote accountability and oversight. Servicemember participation in TAP is generally required by law and DOD policy, and also relates to a Cross-Agency Priority Goal, reinforcing the need for such a mechanism. For GAO to close this recommendation, DOD should require all services to provide unit commanders and their leaders information on TAP participation levels of servicemembers under their command.
    Recommendation: To provide information on the extent to which the revamped TAP is effective, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary for Personnel and Readiness to work with the partner agencies to develop a written strategy for determining which components and tracks to evaluate and the most appropriate evaluation methods. This strategy should include a plan to use the results of evaluations to modify or redesign the program, as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has partially addressed GAO's recommendation on evaluating the effectiveness of the revamped TAP, information that is currently limited. DOD's 2016 presentation to OMB on the status of TAP implementation and evaluation efforts lists specific TAP components and tracks in which VA, DOL, and SBA planned to assess TAP effectiveness or post-transition outcomes. In June 2016, the Small Business Administration released results of an evaluation on the Boots to Business program (White Paper: Operation Boots to Business Veteran Entrepreneurship Assessment). According to DOL officials, the agency has an ongoing quasi-experimental TAP evaluation of the employment workshop. Further, VA is in the process of contracting for a survey of veterans that will include questions regarding the transition services received under TAP, according to agency officials. However, DOD and the agencies have not fully demonstrated a strategic approach to planning higher level evaluations. GAO will consider the recommendation met once the TAP evaluation plan articulates a strategy to rigorously evaluate TAP's impact on post-program outcomes and specifies how the interagency partners plan to use the results of any evaluations.
    Director: Sherrill, Andrew
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration among the various entities involved in delivering employment services to military spouses and to better monitor the effectiveness of these services, the Secretary of Defense should consider incorporating key practices to sustain and enhance collaboration when developing and finalizing its spouse employment guidance, such as agreeing on roles and responsibilities and developing compatible policies and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. While DOD said it would incorporate collaboration practices as the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program matures, it has already taken initial action in this area. For example, DOD noted that it created the advisory group, as well as partnerships developed with various organizations. These are laudable efforts, however, they do not directly address the specifics of our recommendation to develop and finalize guidance for spouse employment programs. Incorporating key collaboration practices into the guidance that DOD is developing, such as agreeing on roles and responsibilities, would be beneficial. In September 2014, the agency reported that the Spouse Education and Career Opportunities (SECO) program drafted a DoD Instruction (DoDI) and Field Guide that outlines roles and responsibilities and establishes compatible policies and procedures across DoD and MSEP programs. These documents include coordination from the Spouse Ambassador Network (SAN). A SECO DoDI Working Group will be convened in FY15 to assist in policy development and coordination. The estimated date of completion for the SECO DoDI and Field Guide was originally December 2015 but DOD reported in 2016 that possible coordination through the Federal Register may delay final publication until early 2016. SECO drafted a SECO Performance Management Plan that documents all elements of the comprehensive, integrated SECO program, including SECO Processes (Programs and Services), SECO Outputs (Products), SECO Outcomes (Product Results), and SECO Impact Evaluation (Product Effectiveness targets and measures). Due to its comprehensive nature, this tool will be tested and further refined during FY15.
    Director: Jones, Yvonne D
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Congress is fully apprised of efforts to resolve a case, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOJ and OSC to report on additional time taken to resolve a matter after they decline representation.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 29, 2018, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that that servicemembers who file complaints are adequately being informed of their USERRA complaint process rights in accordance with VBIA 2008, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOL to report on the extent to which it is notifying complainants of their USERRA complaint process rights within 5 days of filing a complaint.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 29, 2018, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOJ handles state cases as expediently as private employer cases, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to specifically require DOJ to adhere to the same 60-day deadline for state employer matters that they must adhere to for matters against private employers.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 29, 2018, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that servicemembers in state employer cases are kept apprised of the status of DOJ's decision making without potentially compromising DOJ's ability to successfully bring suit against state employers, Congress may wish to consider amending USERRA to require DOJ to notify these servicemembers of the status of DOJ's efforts.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 29, 2018, this matter has not yet been considered by Congress.