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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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 April 1, 2020, there are 4994 open recommendations, of which 380 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.
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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 February 2020, OSHA reported that OSHA and FSIS drafted an updated MOU, which both parties are reviewing. The two agencies met in Summer 2019 to discuss workplace safety, collaboration between the two agencies, and the implementation of the MOU. During a series of working meetings, they discussed each aspect of the MOU, including training and coordination activities. FSIS and OSHA will continue to meet routinely and review the MOU to determine whether adjustments are needed, as appropriate. 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 better inform users of the annual monitoring report about the frequency and scope of pesticide tolerance violations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Commissioner of FDA to disclose in the agency's annual pesticide monitoring program report which pesticides with EPA-established tolerances the agency did not test for in its pesticide monitoring program and the potential effect of not testing for those pesticides.
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: In February 2020, FDA said that the recommendation should be closed as not implemented. FDA has previously said that it remained concerned that the disclosure of pesticides for which FDA does not test would enable users to more easily circumvent the pesticide monitoring program, which could jeopardize public health and, at a minimum, would undermine FDA's law enforcement efforts. In addition, FDA said that it discloses in its annual reports all pesticides tested for within the reports' annual scope as required by the Pesticide Monitoring Improvements Act of 1988. FDA's annual reports also clarify that not all pesticides for which EPA has established tolerances were analyzed. FDA said that the Pesticide Monitoring Improvements Act of 1988 does not specifically direct the agency to report information on untested pesticides with EPA-established tolerances. We continue to believe that disclosing the pesticides that are not included in FDA's testing program would be consistent with OMB best practices for reporting limitations relevant to analyzing and interpreting results from a data collection effort. In particular, we continue to believe that FDA should be more transparent about the potential effect of not testing for all pesticides for which EPA has established tolerances. We also note that the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service implemented a similar recommendation to disclose information about its pesticide monitoring program. As a result, we are keeping this recommendation open.