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.
Below you can search only priority recommendations, or search all recommendations.
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.
Browse or Search Open Recommendations
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 email@example.com.
Recommendation: The Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health should work with FSIS to assess the implementation of the MOU and make any needed changes to ensure improved collaboration; and set specific timeframes for periodic evaluations of the MOU. (Recommendation 4)
Agency: Department of Labor: Occupational Safety and Health Administration Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: In June 2019, OSHA informed us that OSHA and FSIS agreed to update the MOU as soon as possible. We will consider closing this recommendation when this effort is complete.
Recommendation: The FSIS Administrator should work with OSHA to assess the implementation of the MOU and make any needed changes to ensure improved collaboration; and set specific timeframes for periodic evaluations of the MOU. (Recommendation 5)
Agency: Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: FSIS stated that it already has directives in place to recognize and report hazards affecting FSIS employees, and acknowledged that the MOU was designed to additionally have FSIS employees report hazards affecting plant employees due to the regular presence of its inspectors in plants. FSIS noted that in collaborating with OSHA, FSIS will need to ensure its primary mission is not compromised by undertaking activities that take time and resources away from its food safety inspection responsibilities. In January 2019, OSHA reported that it met with FSIS several times to discuss chemical exposures, referrals, and issues of jurisdiction in state plan states. FSIS subsequently shared the results from a NIOSH health hazard evaluation that was conducted, as well as the efforts to track the source of the infected birds. To fully implement this recommendation, FSIS should strengthen the MOU and develop a mechanism to regularly evaluate it would help ensure that the goals of the MOU are met; leveraging FSIS's presence in plants provides the federal government with a cost-effective opportunity to protect worker safety and health.
Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should develop updated information on the effectiveness of treating and disposing of all the different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites, and based on this information, identify potential treatment and disposal pathways for different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW, considering the risks posed by the LAW. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.
Agency: Department of Energy Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: In 2017, DOE's Office of River Protection contracted with Savannah River National Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center, to evaluate viable treatment options for supplemental low-activity waste (LAW). According to DOE, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is conducting a peer review of that laboratory's evaluation. The laboratory and the National Academies plan to issue a final report in 2019 that includes information DOE may be able to use in making a decision about treating supplemental LAW. In addition, in response to GAO's May 2017 recommendation, DOE said it successfully completed the first phase of a project-called the Test Bed Initiative--in December 2017--to demonstrate the feasibility of grouting, transporting, and disposing of 3 gallons of Hanford's LAW at an alternate disposal site in Andrews, Texas. As of November 2018, DOE was beginning a second phase to demonstrate the feasibility of grouting, transporting, and disposing of 2,000 gallons of Hanford's LAW at the same site in Texas. DOE plans to complete this phase in late fiscal year 2019 and could provide an alternate option for treatment and disposal of Hanford's supplemental LAW. Moreover, DOE noted that the project has the potential to accelerate waste treatment and save significant costs. Until DOE develops information that reflects what is now known about the performance of alternate treatment and disposal methods, such as immobilizing tank waste in grout, congressional and agency decision makers will not have access to current scientific information as they decide how to best allocate limited financial resources among many competing needs. Moreover, having updated information on the effectiveness of alternate methods for treating supplemental LAW will help to inform DOE's discussions with the state of Washington.
Recommendation: To improve the CSA program, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to revise the SMS methodology to better account for limitations in drawing comparisons of safety performance information across carriers; in doing so, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to conduct a formal analysis that specifically identifies: (1) limitations in the data used to calculate SMS scores including variability in the carrier population and the quality and quantity of data available for carrier safety performance assessments, and (2) limitations in the resulting SMS scores including their precision, confidence, and reliability for the purposes for which they are used.
Agency: Department of Transportation Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: FMCSA did not agree with our recommendation, disputing the methodology and conclusions in our report. However, we continue to believe that addressing Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology limitations has merit and could help the agency better target FMCSA's resources to the carriers that pose the highest risk of crashing. For example, we found FMCSA requires a minimum level of information for a carrier to receive an SMS score; however, this requirement is not strong enough to produce sufficiently reliable scores. As a result, FMCSA identified many carriers as high risk that were not later involved in a crash, potentially causing FMCSA to miss opportunities to intervene with higher risk carriers. To fully implement this recommendation, FMCSA should revise SMS methodology to account for data limitations that limit comparisons so that the FMCSA is better positioned to identify and mitigate carriers that pose the greatest safety risks.
Recommendation: To ensure that EPA maximizes its limited resources and addresses the statutory, regulatory, and programmatic needs of EPA program offices and regions when IRIS toxicity assessments are not available, and once demand for the IRIS Program is determined, the EPA Administrator should direct the Deputy Administrator, in coordination with EPA's Science Advisor, to develop an agencywide strategy to address the unmet needs of EPA program offices and regions that includes, at a minimum: (1) coordination across EPA offices and with other federal research agencies to help identify and fill data gaps that preclude the agency from conducting IRIS toxicity assessments, and (2) guidance that describes alternative sources of toxicity information and when it would be appropriate to use them when IRIS values are not available, applicable, or current.
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of September 2018, EPA's Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) Program officials told GAO that they are working with EPA program and regional offices to build capacity for applying systematic review in toxicity and risk assessments. To date, EPA has not provided GAO with documentation of an agencywide strategy for identifying data gaps or coordinating systematic review procedures; rather, the efforts led by the IRIS Program are ad hoc. EPA has also not produced agencywide guidance on alternative sources of toxicity information when IRIS values are not available, applicable, or current. According to interviews with program and regional offices, some offices have developed their own hierarchies and criteria for alternative sources of toxicity information; while these hierarchies may be similar, they are not agencywide guidance. Until EPA produces documentation that shows (1) coordination across EPA offices and with other federal research agencies to help identify and fill data gaps that preclude the agency from conducting IRIS toxicity assessments, and (2) guidance on alternative sources of toxicity information and when it would be appropriate to use them when IRIS values are not available, applicable, or current, GAO will keep this recommendation open.