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    Subject Term: Unemployment

    3 publications with a total of 4 open recommendations
    Director: William B.Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve SBA's administration and oversight of the HUBZone program and reduce the risk that firms that no longer meet program eligibility criteria receive HUBZone contracts, the Administrator of SBA should establish a mechanism to better ensure that firms are notified of changes to HUBZone designations that may affect their participation in the program, such as ensuring that all certified firms and newly certified firms are signed up for the broadcast e-mail system or including more specific information in certification letters about how location in a redesignated area can affect their participation in the program

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, SBA improved its notifications to newly certified firms but not to other certified firms. For example, SBA's certification letter to firms with principal offices in a redesignated area specifically states that the firm is in a redesignated area, explains the implications of the designation, and notes when the redesignated status will expire. However, we found in March 2016 that SBA had not yet implemented changes to better ensure that all currently certified firms would be notified of changes that could affect their program eligibility. It is important that all certified firms potentially affected by such changes receive information about the changes or are made aware in a timely fashion of any effects on their program eligibility. As of February 2017, SBA had begun to improve its notifications to all firms. According to SBA officials, the agency has started sending program notices to all the firms in its portfolio. They told us that for its most recent notice in February 2017, the agency copied all the e-mail addresses in its HUBZone database and placed them in the e-mail distribution system. According to SBA officials, SBA intends to repeat this effort with subsequent notices. We will continue to monitor SBA's implementation of this activity.
    Recommendation: To improve SBA's administration and oversight of the HUBZone program and reduce the risk that firms that no longer meet program eligibility criteria receive HUBZone contracts, the Administrator of SBA should conduct an assessment of the recertification process and implement additional controls, such as developing criteria and guidance on using a risk-based approach to requesting and verifying firm information, allowing firms to initiate the recertification process, and ensuring that sufficient staff will be dedicated to the effort so that a significant backlog in recertifications does not recur.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, SBA officials told us that they began automating the process to notify firms that were due for recertification. According to the officials, since September 2015, notification e-mails have been sent daily (compared with the former cycle of two times a year). Each firm due for recertification within the next 30 days would receive the notice. SBA sends a second e-mail to firms that have not responded within 45 days of the first notification. According to SBA officials, as of February 2017, this change has not yet eliminated the backlog. SBA officials informed GAO in May 2017 that they have developed risk-based guidance for conducting recertification reviews and requesting supporting documentation. According to SBA, any certified HUBZone small business concern that has received $1 million or more in HUBZone contract dollars since its initial certification (or its most recent recertification) must submit the following: (a) a list of all current employees, identifying the name of the employee, the employee's address, the number of hours worked per month, and the location where the employee performs his/her work; and (b) payroll documentation. SBA intends to complete the implementation of this policy by the third quarter of 2017.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure DSOs' and students' compliance with OPT requirements, and strengthen efforts to identify and assess potential risks in OPT, the Director of ICE should direct SEVP to develop and distribute guidance to DSOs on how to determine whether a job is related to a student's area of study and require DSOs to provide information in SEVIS to show that they took steps, based on this guidance, to help ensure that the student's work is related to the area of study.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2015, SEVP has made progress in developing employment guidance to support DSOs in determining whether a job is related to a student's area of study and requiring DSOs to provide such information in SEVIS. SEVP stated that it has drafted such guidance and it is being reviewed by SEVP subject matter experts. In addition, SEVP stated that it is developing information requirements for DSOs to attest that they adhered to the new employment guidance document in SEVIS, which requires system enhancements. In May 2016, the new STEM OPT regulation went into effect and, among other things, SEVP officials stated that it requires much greater detail on the scope of the employment and how it is related to the earned degree. As of October 2016, SEVP expects that non-STEM guidance on field of study would be finalized by the second quarter of fiscal year 2017. In May 2017, SEVP officials stated they had been revising the guidance and that it was undergoing final revisions, as planned. However, according to SEVP officials, due to the Executive Order on regulatory reform, ICE guidance updates were placed on hold with no clear date as to when SEVP would be able to publish the guidance. To fully address this recommendation, ICE should develop and distribute non-STEM-related guidance on determining whether a job is related to a student's area of study and require DSOs to provide relevant information in SEVIS.
    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.