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: Given DOT's new discretionary grant programs and similar challenges we have found with previous DOT programs, the Secretary of Transportation should issue a directive that governs department-wide and modal administration discretionary grant programs. Such a directive should include requirements to: (1) develop a plan for evaluating project proposals in advance of issuing a notice of funding availability that defines the stages of the process, including how the process will be overseen to ensure a consistent review of applications; (2) document key decisions, including the reason for any rating changes and the officials responsible for those changes, and how high-level concerns raised during the process were addressed; and (3) align stated program purpose and policy priorities with the evaluation and selection process.
Agency: Department of Transportation Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: DOT concurred with this recommendation and told us it planned to implement it in 2019 by updating its Financial Assistance Guidance Manual. In response, we noted that in order to address our recommendation, DOT needed to issue a department-wide directive that incorporates all of the elements identified in the recommendation. In March 2019, DOT issued a memo directing secretarial offices and operating administrations involved in awarding discretionary grants to implement our recommendations and to include them in their policies and procedures by June 2019. We are reviewing the Department's action and assessing the extent to which it addresses our recommendation.
Recommendation: The Secretary of the Treasury should issue guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the NMTC including the extent to which other government funds can be used to leverage the NMTC by being included in the qualified equity investment.
Agency: Department of the Treasury Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) has not issued guidance on how funding or assistance from other government programs can be combined with the NMTC, as GAO recommended in July 2014. However, Treasury has taken steps toward addressing this action. The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund), which administers the NMTC program, completed new empirical research assessing the extent to which other government programs are being combined with the NMTC. The findings of this research (issued in August 2017) indicate that some NMTC projects, especially those using other government funds to leverage the NMTC, potentially received more government funds than needed to close a financing gap. In February 2019, CDFI Fund officials informed GAO of additional actions they are planning to address GAO's recommendation. The CDFI Fund first intends to solicit public comments on additional data to be collected from the Community Development Entities. The CDFI Fund then intends to use these data to identify NMTC-financed projects that may have excessive public funding. Once fully implemented, these additional actions could help ensure that low-income community projects do not receive more government assistance than required to finance a project.
Recommendation: To proactively prepare for oversight of future disaster relief funding, the Director of OMB should develop standard guidance for federal agencies to use in designing internal control plans for disaster relief funding. Such guidance could leverage existing internal control review processes and should include, at a minimum, the following elements: (1) robust criteria for identifying and documenting incremental risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and (2) requirements for documenting the linkage between the incremental risks related to disaster funding and efforts to address known internal control risks.
Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: To address the recommendation, OMB should issue guidance on internal control for disaster relief funding, including criteria for identifying additional risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and a requirement to link these incremental risks to ongoing efforts to address known internal control risks. On July 15, 2016, OMB issued the revised Circular No. A-123, Management's Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control. The Circular requires agencies to implement enterprise risk management, which includes the development of a risk profile that analyzes the risks faced in achieving strategic objectives and identifies options for addressing them. In April 2017, OMB staff stated that they believe that the implementation of enterprise risk management through Circular No. A-123 satisfies the intent our recommendation. Because the responsibility for implementing enterprise risk management lies with agency management, Circular No. A-123 does not include specific guidance for identifying risks related to disaster funding. Further discussion and documentation to support OMB's position that the revised Circular addresses our recommendation will be necessary. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, Sec. 21208(c) requires OMB to issue standard guidance for Federal agencies to use in designing internal control plans for disaster relief funding in order to proactively prepare for oversight of future disaster relief funds. The Act states this guidance shall leverage existing internal control review processes and shall include, at a minimum, (1) robust criteria for identifying and documenting incremental risks and mitigating controls related to the funding, and (2) guidance for documenting the linkage between the incremental risks related to disaster funding and efforts to address known internal control risks. GAO is currently reviewing OMB's actions to implement the law.
Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should consistently collect information that would enable them to track the specific type of assistance programs provide and the entrepreneurs they serve and use this information to help administer their programs.
Agency: Department of Commerce Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: In November 2018, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it continues to implement its pilot evaluation framework and associated new performance measures for eight pilot grantees representing EDA's non-infrastructure programs. EDA also noted that it expects to begin collecting the new performance information for all non-infrastructure grantees at the start of fiscal year 2020.
Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should conduct more program evaluations to better understand why programs have not met performance goals and their overall effectiveness.
Agency: Department of Commerce Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: In November 2018, Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) noted that it continues to implement its pilot evaluation framework and associated new performance measures for eight pilot grantees representing EDA's non-infrastructure programs. EDA also noted that it expects to begin collecting the new performance information for all non-infrastructure grantees at the start of fiscal year 2020. In addition, Commerce, USDA, and SBA participated in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) chaired Evaluating Business Technical Assistance Program interagency working group, which publically released its guide titled Building Smarter Data for Evaluating Business Assistance Programs: A Guide for Practitioners in May 2017. The guide identifies critical data and best practices that support the use and improvement of administrative data and other existing data sources for rigorous impact evaluations. As of March 2019, the working group appears to no longer be active.