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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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 February 9, 2020, there are 4958 open recommendations, of which 422 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.
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Recommendation: The Administrator of the General Services Administration should update existing procedures to require GSA officials to estimate the full operations and maintenance costs of design choices in the planning and design process for new Design Excellence buildings. (Recommendation 1)
Agency: General Services Administration Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: GSA agreed with the recommendation. GSA officials are in the process of developing a tool to estimate the full operations and maintenance costs of design choices during the planning and design, including how those choices will impact areas discussed in our report, e.g., cleaning, energy, and landscaping costs. This tool is scheduled for completion in 2020. Based on a demonstration from GSA, we believe that upon implementation this tool will address our recommendation by allowing officials to better understand the impact of design choices as they are being made. We will follow up with GSA in later in the year to validate that the tool is operational.
Recommendation: The Director of the MSPV-NG program office should, with input from the Strategic Acquisition Center (SAC), develop, document, and communicate to stakeholders an overarching strategy for the program, including how the program office will prioritize categories of supplies for future phases of requirement development and contracting. (Recommendation 1)
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: VA concurred with this recommendation. In February 2019, VA developed and documented a new, overarching acquisition strategy for its Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (MSPV) program, and has begun the process of communicating it to key stakeholders, including clinical and logistics staff. In August 2019, senior VA acquisition officials reported they plan to complete a separate strategy to involve clinicians in developing requirements by late October 2019 and plan to report on the results of a pilot of the strategy by the end of September 2019.
Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should take additional steps to collect and disseminate information on promising practices that could help improve data matching processes among state SNAP agencies, including broad and timely dissemination of information on results of recent relevant pilots or demonstrations.
Agency: Department of Agriculture Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agreed with this recommendation. In August 2019, FNS reported that it is conducting an ongoing study to catalog and describe how states are currently using or planning to use data matching strategies to reduce recipient fraud, payment errors, and administrative burden for both applicants and eligibility workers. FNS expects this study to be completed in early 2020. According to FNS, the study results will assist FNS better understand how state SNAP agencies choose to focus their data matching efforts and determine where to gather more information about promising practices that can be shared more broadly and what additional technical assistance resources may be useful for state agencies. As of August 2019, FNS is also pursuing regulatory actions to implement new requirements to establish an interstate data system by expanding on lessons learned and best practices of the National Accuracy Clearinghouse pilot, among other steps. We will close this recommendation when this study has been completed and its results are disseminated and/or when FNS more broadly disseminates information to states on the National Accuracy Clearinghouse that includes related lessons learned and best practices.
Recommendation: To help maintain a more thorough and insightful 2020 Census development schedule in order to better manage risks to a successful 2020 Census, the Secretary of Commerce and Undersecretary of Economic Affairs should direct the U.S. Census Bureau to improve the credibility of schedules, including conducting a quantitative risk assessment.
Agency: Department of Commerce Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: The Bureau agreed with this recommendation and stated that it has already begun maturing project schedules to ensure that the logical relationships between discrete schedules are put into place. Schedule integration sessions across projects and programs were held in late January 2014 and into February 2014 and periodically since then, where work is deconstructed into detailed schedules. As the Bureau has matured its schedule and scheduling process for the 2020 Census and related tests, its officials have said they have been ensuring that logical linkages are in place within the schedule and have been adding additional activities on a rolling basis. Bureau officials believe this ongoing work with the 2020 schedule will ensure they have a robust tool to help manage the 2020 program and make key decisions. The Bureau released its operational plan and other documentation in November 2015 and announced in June 2016 that it would finalize and release its 2020 Census schedule in July 2016. In 2015, the Bureau provided us with a preliminary output from its risk analysis software as a demonstration of the type of analysis it is committed to, but more recently its officials said that they may not be able to take all the steps needed to satisfy this recommendation prior to the 2020 Census. To fully implement this recommendation, the Bureau needs to conduct quantitative schedule risk analyses with its master schedule. We completed an audit of the Bureau's scheduling practices in July 2018 and as of March 2019 are waiting on evidence from the Bureau that they have taken actions to address this recommendation.
Recommendation: In order to strengthen investment decisions, place the chosen investments on a sound acquisition footing, provide a better means of tracking investment progress, and improve the management and transparency of the U.S. missile defense approach in Europe, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's new Director to include in its resource baseline cost estimates all life cycle costs, specifically the operations and support costs, from the military services in order to provide decision makers with the full costs of ballistic missile defense systems.
Agency: Department of Defense Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: DOD partially concurred with our 2013 recommendation that decisionmakers should have insight into the full lifecycle costs of MDA's programs. However, as of August 2019, MDA is still not including the military services' operations and sustainment (O&S) costs--which are a part of the full lifecycle costs--in the resource baselines it reports in the Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report. MDA is trying to determine how best to report the full lifecycle costs to decisionmakers, but has indicated that the Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report is not the appropriate forum for reporting the military services' operation and sustainment costs. However, MDA cited its collaboration with the Services to establish O&S joint cost estimates (JCE) as a potential means of providing decisionmakers with insight into the full lifecycle costs of its programs, ahead of key program decisions. To date, MDA has completed several JCEs with both the Army and Navy for various programs. However, these JCEs were completed late in the acquisition process after most of key decisions had been made for these programs. In addition, every MDA program does not currently have a JCE. Therefore, we believe that MDA has not yet demonstrated that is providing decisionmakers with information to enable determinations that are based on a comprehensive understanding of the depth and breadth of each program's full lifecycle costs.
Recommendation: In order to strengthen investment decisions, place the chosen investments on a sound acquisition footing, provide a better means of tracking investment progress, and improve the management and transparency of the U.S. missile defense approach in Europe, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's new Director to stabilize the acquisition baselines, so that meaningful comparisons can be made over time that support oversight of those acquisitions.
Agency: Department of Defense Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: DOD concurred with our 2013 recommendation regarding the need for MDA to stabilize its acquisition baselines, but also noted MDA's need to adjust its baselines to remain responsive to evolving requirements and threats; both of which are beyond MDA's control. Further, DOD highlighted the MDA Director's authority to make adjustments to the agency's programmatic baselines, within departmental guidelines. Our recommendation, however, is not designed to limit the Director's authority to adjust baselines or to prevent adjusting the baselines, as appropriate. Rather, our recommendation is designed to address traceability issues we have found with MDA's baselines, which are within its control. Specifically, for MDA to be able to effectively report longer-term progress of its acquisitions and provide the necessary transparency to Congress, it is critical that the agency stabilize its baselines so that once set, any revisions can be tracked over time. As of August 2019, we have not seen any indication that MDA is working to implement this recommendation. For example, in 2017 and 2018, MDA's Director acknowledged the lack of a stable baseline for the Targets and Countermeasures program and began excluding cost variances due to test changes, which limits transparency into the full costs associated with this program. We will continue to monitor MDA's baselines to determine any progress in this area or implementation of this recommendation.