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 December 31, 1969, there are open recommendations, of which are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.
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Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should evaluate the costs and benefits of expanding RRP to analyze individual returns not claiming refunds to support other enforcement activities. (Recommendation 4)
Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation and told us expanding the use of RRP is an agency goal. In December 2019, IRS officials reported that internal IRS offices are collaborating on identifying priorities for expanding use of RRP to support other enforcement activities, such as pre-refund audits and investigations, and improve detection and treatment of fraud and noncompliance.
Recommendation: To help mitigate confusion about the use of reverse auctions in federal acquisitions, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget should take steps to amend the FAR to address agencies' use of reverse auctions.
Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: In providing comments on this report, OMB generally concurred with this recommendation. In the spring of 2019, FAR Council members issued an updated timetable for the proposed regulatory changes to address the use of reverse auctions in response to GAO's recommendation, noting that a notice of proposed rulemaking was planned for August 2019. In September 2019, OFPP officials stated that the proposed rule had been submitted to OFPP for review and that they expected to publish it for public comment fairly quickly, but they did not provide a specific date.
Recommendation: To more effectively implement SBA's expansion of OIT field staff as required by the SBJA, the Administrator of the SBA should update SBA's plan for additional OIT staff to include funding sources and time frames, as well as possible efficiencies from clearly defining roles and responsibilities and leveraging other entities' export assistance resources.
Agency: Small Business Administration Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: SBA concurred with our recommendations. In response to the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (SBJA) requirement that a total of 30 export finance specialists be hired nationwide by September 2012, SBA noted resource constraints and filled only 19 positions at that time. In 2016, SBA reported progress toward the SBJA requirement despite agency staffing limitations and staffed a total of 21 or 70% of the 30 required export finance specialist (EFS) positions. SBA officials also reported that they had hired staff to replace retirements or other staff departures, but determined that because of finite funding resources it would not be feasible to hire additional OIT staff. They instead took steps to mitigate the shortfall by engaging other field office staff to more proactively market its international trade programs to small businesses. In particular, in 2017, as part a result of the new Administrations' Agency Reform plan, SBA undertook a Field Alignment Project. Specific to OIT, this project was intended to better leverage certain District office field staff such that they would increase outreach efforts to promote exports as required by the SBJA and in response to GAO's recommendations. This was done by assigning district staff new specific output goals intended to increase export promotion activities. In January 2020, OIT reported hiring four additional export finance specialists, bringing the total hired to 25. OIT also reported establishing a strategy for future hires to be assigned to existing Export Assistance Centers, and requesting fiscal year 2021 funding to hire individuals to fill the remaining five positions. While these steps partially mitigate the shortfall and are in the spirit of the SBJA requirement and GAO's recommendations, as of January 2020 SBA has not yet achieved the 30 export finance specialists required by the SBJA.
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.