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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: To provide federal policymakers information on the relative effectiveness of Title IV programs and higher education tax expenditures, the Secretary of Education should take advantage of opportunities presented by recent and anticipated substantive program changes to sponsor and conduct evaluative research into the effectiveness of Title IV programs and higher education tax expenditures at improving student outcomes.
Agency: Department of Education Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: The Department of Education (Education) has made some progress toward sponsoring and conducting evaluative research into the effectiveness of Title IV programs and higher education tax expenditures at improving student outcomes. For example, Education took several steps to make data on higher education programs more accessible for research purposes. In addition, Education officials recently began exploring the technical, legal, and administrative factors associated with sharing information with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of the Treasury, which could help facilitate evaluative research. Education officials also proposed convening up to two stakeholder working groups including both governmental and nongovernmental researchers to identify and prioritize key policy questions related to Title IV and higher education tax expenditures. Afterward, Education is planning to partner with governmental or external researchers (via contracts or grants) to investigate the issues identified as priorities. GAO believes that Education's leadership of such efforts would represent a meaningful commitment to make progress on addressing this recommendation. Given that Education has identified a critical research gap in the area of linking higher education financing to student outcomes, GAO continues to emphasize that Education should ensure that its efforts result in actively sponsoring or conducting evaluative research specific to federal programs and assistance that can be used in future policymaking. Making these data-sharing and research efforts a priority will help policymakers make fact-based decisions on the merits and value of various federal assistance efforts.