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 April 7, 2020, there are 4984 open recommendations, of which 369 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recommendation: To improve VA's efforts to effectively complete the development and implementation of VBMS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits and the Chief Information Officer to develop an updated plan for VBMS that includes (1) a schedule for when VBA intends to complete development and implementation of the system, including capabilities that fully support disability claims, pension claims, and appeals processing and (2) the estimated cost to complete development and implementation of the system.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concurred with our recommendation and as of January 2020, is continuing to develop requirements for VBMS in order to develop functionality to replace legacy information systems. In addition, the department subsequently provided us with expected completion dates for implementation of claims and appeals processing, but has not provided a schedule for the implementation of pension claims processing. To fully implement this recommendation, the department needs to provide the expected completion date for pension claims processing and an estimate of the cost to complete remaining development and implementation of VBMS.
Recommendation: To ensure effective management and modernization of HUD's IT environment, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct the department's Chief Information Officer to define the scope, implementation strategy, and schedule of its overall modernization approach, with related goals and measures for effectively overseeing the effort.
Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of April 2017, the department reported that it was in phase 2 of a 4-phase application assessment initiative expected to address this recommendation. In July 2018, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) reported that the goal of the Chief Technology Officer's ongoing technical assessment of HUD's IT environment was to identify gaps and develop an implementation strategy and approach to establish a modernization roadmap by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2018. Specifically, OCIO noted that the plan was intended to inform HUD's development of high-level department-wide plans for modernizing HUD systems. As of March 2019, OCIO reported that it had drafted the modernization roadmap and that the Chief Technology Officer was reviewing and verifying roadmap information with the program offices. However, as of May 2019, HUD had not yet provided plans outlining the scope, implementation strategy, and schedule for modernizing IT.
Recommendation: In order to strengthen investment decisions, place the chosen investments on a sound acquisition footing, provide a better means of tracking investment progress, and improve the management and transparency of the U.S. missile defense approach in Europe, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's new Director to include in its resource baseline cost estimates all life cycle costs, specifically the operations and support costs, from the military services in order to provide decision makers with the full costs of ballistic missile defense systems.
Agency: Department of Defense Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: DOD partially concurred with our 2013 recommendation that decisionmakers should have insight into the full lifecycle costs of MDA's programs. However, as of August 2019, MDA is still not including the military services' operations and sustainment (O&S) costs--which are a part of the full lifecycle costs--in the resource baselines it reports in the Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report. MDA is trying to determine how best to report the full lifecycle costs to decisionmakers, but has indicated that the Ballistic Missile Defense System Accountability Report is not the appropriate forum for reporting the military services' operation and sustainment costs. However, MDA cited its collaboration with the Services to establish O&S joint cost estimates (JCE) as a potential means of providing decisionmakers with insight into the full lifecycle costs of its programs, ahead of key program decisions. To date, MDA has completed several JCEs with both the Army and Navy for various programs. However, these JCEs were completed late in the acquisition process after most of key decisions had been made for these programs. In addition, every MDA program does not currently have a JCE. Therefore, we believe that MDA has not yet demonstrated that is providing decisionmakers with information to enable determinations that are based on a comprehensive understanding of the depth and breadth of each program's full lifecycle costs.
Recommendation: In order to strengthen investment decisions, place the chosen investments on a sound acquisition footing, provide a better means of tracking investment progress, and improve the management and transparency of the U.S. missile defense approach in Europe, the Secretary of Defense should direct MDA's new Director to stabilize the acquisition baselines, so that meaningful comparisons can be made over time that support oversight of those acquisitions.
Agency: Department of Defense Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: DOD concurred with our 2013 recommendation regarding the need for MDA to stabilize its acquisition baselines, but also noted MDA's need to adjust its baselines to remain responsive to evolving requirements and threats; both of which are beyond MDA's control. Further, DOD highlighted the MDA Director's authority to make adjustments to the agency's programmatic baselines, within departmental guidelines. Our recommendation, however, is not designed to limit the Director's authority to adjust baselines or to prevent adjusting the baselines, as appropriate. Rather, our recommendation is designed to address traceability issues we have found with MDA's baselines, which are within its control. Specifically, for MDA to be able to effectively report longer-term progress of its acquisitions and provide the necessary transparency to Congress, it is critical that the agency stabilize its baselines so that once set, any revisions can be tracked over time. As of August 2019, we have not seen any indication that MDA is working to implement this recommendation. For example, in 2017 and 2018, MDA's Director acknowledged the lack of a stable baseline for the Targets and Countermeasures program and began excluding cost variances due to test changes, which limits transparency into the full costs associated with this program. We will continue to monitor MDA's baselines to determine any progress in this area or implementation of this recommendation.
Recommendation: To better ensure the credibility of IRIS assessments by enhancing their timeliness and certainty, the EPA Administrator should require the Office of Research and Development, should different time frames be necessary, to establish a written policy that clearly describes the applicability of the time frames for each type of IRIS assessment and ensures that the time frames are realistic and provide greater predictability to stakeholders.
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of March 2020, we have not seen a formal written memo from the IRIS program laying out this information - in detail - publicly, or how timelines for assessments are influenced by various criteria. While IRIS program staff have discussed this issue, no written guidance has been created. Such communication from the IRIS Program, as well as more frequent updates of the timelines for chemicals currently in assessment and projected starting dates for every chemical listed as "under assessment" is needed.
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.