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 Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to revise the Navy's ship delivery policy to clarify what types of deficiencies need to be corrected and what mission capability (including the levels of quality and capability) must be achieved at (1) delivery and (2) when the ship is provided to the fleet (at the obligation work limiting date (OWLD)). In doing so, the Navy should clearly define what constitutes a complete ship and when that should be achieved.
Agency: Department of Defense Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: DOD disagreed with our recommendation to clarify the Navy's ship delivery policy, and stated that other existing policies help ensure the completion and capability of ships at delivery. However, Navy acquisition officials confirmed that the ship delivery policy, OPNAVINST 4700.8K, is the primary policy governing the delivery and post-delivery process for ships. Additionally, we had reviewed the other policies identified by DOD during the course of our audit and found that they were not focused on construction and the post-delivery period and did not provide guidance on the level of quality and completeness expected when ships are provided to the fleet. In line with our finding that the Navy's ship delivery policy has not ensured complete and mission-capable ships are being delivered to the fleet, Congress included a provision in the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act which stipulated that the Navy could no longer count ships towards its battle force at commissioning, which occurs shortly after delivery. Instead, Congress directed that ships could only be counted in the battle force once they were both commissioned and capable of contributing to the Navy's missions. As such, we maintain that the Navy's ship delivery policy is a key instruction for ensuring that complete, mission-capable ships are provided to the fleet and should be revised in line with our recommendation. Nonetheless, as of July 2019, DOD officials confirmed that the Navy does not intend to revise its ship delivery policy. In continuing to not acknowledge the importance of its ship delivery policy and taking steps to clarify it, the Navy is missing important opportunities to improve the completeness and capability of its ships and remains at risk of providing ships to the fleet with significant quality problems. To fully implement this recommendation, the Navy should revise its ship delivery policy to clearly define what constitutes a complete and defect-free ship and by when that should be achieved.
Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish a separate cost and schedule baseline for work required to support the SLS Block I Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) and report this information to the Congress through NASA's annual budget submission. If NASA decides to fly the SLS Block I beyond EM-2, establish separate life cycle cost and schedule baseline estimates for those efforts, to include funding for operations and sustainment, and report this information annually to Congress via the agency's budget submission.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it defined and documented life-cycle costs for SLS to a first demonstrated capability, consistent with cost estimating best practices and NASA project and program management policy and that it would report costs associated with the second exploration mission via its annual budget submission. Best practices for cost estimating recognize that NASA's evolutionary development approach for SLS helps reduce risk and provide capabilities more quickly, but reporting costs via the budget alone will not provide information about potential costs over the long term and progress cannot be assessed without a baseline that serves as a means to compare current costs against expected costs. To address this recommendation, NASA needs to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for work required to support SLS for EM-2.
Recommendation: To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, because NASA intends to use the increased capabilities of the SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations efforts well into the future and has chosen to estimate costs associated with achieving the capabilities, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for each additional capability that encompass all life cycle costs, to include operations and sustainment. When NASA cannot fully specify costs due to lack of well-defined missions or flight manifests, forecast a cost estimate range -- including life cycle costs -- having minimum and maximum boundaries. These baselines or ranges should be reported to Congress annually via the agency's budget submission.
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it had established separate programs for SLS, Orion, and the ground systems and adopted a block upgrade approach for SLS. While NASA's prior establishment of SLS, Orion, and the ground systems as separate programs provides some insight into expected costs and schedule at the broader program level, it does not meet the intent of the recommendation because cost and schedule identified at that level is unlikely to provide the detail necessary to monitor the progress of each block against a baseline. To address this recommendation, NASA needs to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for each additional SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations capability blocks that encompass all life-cycle costs, to include operations and sustainment.
Recommendation: To improve the Bureau's use of its master schedule to manage the 2020 decennial census, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to include estimates of the resources, such as labor, materials, and overhead costs, in the 2020 integrated schedule for each activity as the schedule is built, and prepare to carry out other steps as necessary to conduct systematic schedule risk analyses on the 2020 schedule.
Agency: Department of Commerce Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: Commerce neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. Regarding GAO's 2013 assessment of the Bureau's schedule (GAO-14-59), Bureau officials stated that they hoped to begin identifying the resources needed for each activity in their schedules by early 2014. Bureau officials announced they had completed the 2020 Census schedule in July 2016, and have since periodically described their intent to link resources to activities within their schedules. However, as of May 2018, the Bureau had not taken these steps. Senior Bureau officials have now stated that it would require additional staffing in order to plan for and implement this recommendation. In July 2018 (GAO-18-589) we reported again on the status of the Bureau's scheduling, stating that when the Bureau has resource loaded its schedule, it will be able to use the schedule more effectively as a management tool. As of March 2019, we are in contact with the Bureau to collect evidence that these actions have been taken. To fully implement this recommendation, the Bureau needs to conduct quantitative schedule risk analyses with the resulting schedule.