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.
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As of June 17, 2020, there are 4969 open recommendations, of which 518 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.
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Recommendation: To help ensure that the contributions of tax expenditures toward the achievement of agency goals are identified and measured, the Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should work with agencies to identify which tax expenditures contribute to their agency goals, as appropriate--that is, they should identify which specific tax expenditures contribute to specific strategic objectives and agency priority goals.
Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of December 2019, OMB had not begun to work with agencies to identify which tax expenditures contribute to the agencies' specific strategic objectives and agency priority goals, as GAO recommended in 2016. OMB staff told GAO that, although they agreed with the recommendation, it was not an effort they were pursuing due to competing priorities, as well as capacity and resource constraints. Without additional OMB assistance, agencies may continue to have difficulty identifying whether or which of the dozens of tax expenditures-representing an estimated $1.32 trillion in forgone revenues in fiscal year 2019-contribute to their goals.
Recommendation: To improve the consistency, comprehensiveness, and transparency of information provided to Congress and policymakers on the federal investment in export promotion programs, the Secretary of Commerce, as chair of the TPCC, should report in its National Export Strategies on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with priorities.
Agency: Department of Commerce Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: The Export Enhancement Act [15 U.S.C. Section 4727(c)] states that the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee's (TPCC) strategies should establish a set of priorities for federal export promotion activities and propose a unified federal trade promotion budget that supports the plan. In written comments on GAO's report, the Director of the TPCC Secretariat generally concurred with the recommendation on behalf of the Secretary. Nevertheless, the Director noted the TPCC's limited authority over budget reporting and resource allocations and gave examples of some challenges they faced, including shifts in the political and budgetary landscape and how different Administrations and Congresses have emphasized different priorities over time. In the four years following GAO's 2013 report, the TPCC did not report in its National Export Strategies (NES) on how resources are allocated by agency and aligned with the strategy's priorities. The TPCC did not issue strategies in fiscal years 2014, 2015, or 2017, but did issue one in 2016, however it did not include any budget information. In October 2018, TPCC Secretariat officials told us they were developing a new draft National Export Strategy, which would include budget information, but that any plans for issuance were unknown and would depend on administration priorities. As of January 2020, no new National Export Strategy had been issued. The TPCC Secretariat said that they have collected budget information for trade promotion activities for fiscal years 2019 (actual) and 2020 (requested) from TPCC agencies but that information had not been transmitted to Congress as of January 2020.
Recommendation: To improve the reliability of the information presented in the CFS budget statements, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Fiscal Assistant Secretary, working in coordination with the Controller of OMB's Office of Federal Financial Management, to establish and implement effective procedures for reporting amounts in the CFS budget statements that are fully consistent with the underlying information in significant federal entities' audited financial statements and other financial data.
Agency: Department of the Treasury Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of the completion of our fiscal year 2019 audit of the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government (CFS), this recommendation remained open. Treasury continued to develop its budget deficit/surplus and cash reconciliation procedures. Specifically, Treasury performed a preliminary analysis on several federal entities' implementation of the new Statement of Federal Financial Accounting Standards No. 53, Budget and Accrual Reconciliation (BAR), and noted inconsistencies in the way each entity populated line items in the BAR. Treasury and OMB provided additional guidance for the BAR in OMB Circular No. A-136 and on the Treasury U.S. Standard General Ledger website, including a BAR crosswalk template. However, additional work is needed to reconcile line items to audited federal entity financial statements. We will follow-up on progress made by Treasury and OMB as part of our fiscal year 2020 CFS audit.
Recommendation: To improve the reliability of the information presented in the CFS budget statements, the Secretary of the Treasury should direct the Fiscal Assistant Secretary, working in coordination with the Controller of OMB's Office of Federal Financial Management, to establish and implement effective procedures for identifying and reporting all items needed to prepare the CFS budget statements.
Agency: Department of the Treasury Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of the completion of our fiscal year 2019 audit of the consolidated financial statements of the U.S. government (CFS), this recommendation remained open. Treasury continued to make improvements in fiscal year 2019 by implementing procedures, publishing guidance, and developing new transaction codes to improve the accounting for and reporting of General Fund transactions and balances that Treasury uses to compute the budget deficit reported in the consolidated financial statements. However, additional work is needed in determining the appropriate presentation for the reconciling items, which could affect the line items included. We will follow-up on progress made by Treasury and OMB as part of our fiscal year 2020 CFS audit.