Recommendations Database

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 May 12, 2021, there are 4830 open recommendations, of which 371 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

Search Open Recommendations

1 - 8 of 8 Recommendations
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Cybersecurity: Agencies Need to Fully Establish Risk Management Programs and Address Challenges

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Agriculture should develop a cybersecurity risk management strategy that includes the key elements identified in this report. (Recommendation 2)
Open

As of February 2021, USDA had reported that the department has begun developing Cybersecurity Strategy that will align with USDA's governance of its enterprise risk management. The department estimated completing this effort by June 30, 2021.

Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Agriculture should establish and document a process for coordination between cybersecurity risk management and enterprise risk management functions. (Recommendation 4)
Open

The Department of Agriculture did not state whether or not it concurred with this recommendation. The department stated that it plans to establish a governance framework for USDA Enterprise Risk Management (ERM), which will provide a platform to increase coordination between stakeholders within the cybersecurity and enterprise risk management functions. As of March 2021, the department had not provided documentation of its process for cybersecurity and ERM coordination. Once the department has provided evidence of these actions, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

Critical Infrastructure Protection: Additional Actions Are Essential for Assessing Cybersecurity Framework Adoption

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, should take steps to consult with respective sector partner(s), such as the sector coordinating council (SCC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and NIST, as appropriate, to develop methods for determining the level and type of framework adoption by entities across their respective sector. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In written comments, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) neither agreed nor disagreed with the recommendation in our report, but stated that it would attempt to develop a measurement mechanism as part of its annual data calls to the Food and Agriculture Sector. Specifically, officials stated that the diversity of the sector makes it difficult to develop a method for determining the level and type of framework adoption across the sector that would apply to all members. USDA officials added, however, that the sector coordinating council frequently invites the Department of Homeland

Single Audits: Improvements Needed in Selected Agencies' Oversight of Federal Awards

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4 Open Recommendations
4 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services to revise policies and procedures to reasonably assure that management decisions contain the required elements and are issued timely in accordance with OMB guidance.
Open

U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of February 3, 2020, FNS stated that it has made revisions to the agency audit manual to meet the intent of the recommendation. In a section of the manual devoted to Cognizant and Awarding Agency Responsibilities (2 CFR 200.513), FNS stated that it is expanding upon an existing bullet that states that the Federal awarding agency must "issue a management decision on audit findings within six months after receipt of the audit report....". FNS indicated this section of

Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Under Secretary for Rural Development to design policies and procedures to reasonably assure that all award recipients required to submit single audit reports do so in accordance with OMB guidance.
Open

U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) concurred with our recommendation. To address the GAO recommendation, in February 2020, RD stated that it has developed a disbursement report that will capture disbursements equal to or greater than $750,000 and is currently documenting that process and creating instructions for the program areas. In March 2021, RD provided us an update on its progress to address the recommendation. RD stated that it has developed new guidance that documents its new business process on identifying, tracking, and monitoring single audits. In

Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Under Secretary for Rural Development to revise policies and procedures to reasonably assure that management decisions contain the required elements and are issued timely in accordance with OMB guidance.
Open

U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) concurred with our recommendation. To address the GAO recommendation, in February 2020, RD stated it has developed a Management Decision Manual template that the program areas will use and is currently creating instructions for the program areas. In March 2021, RD provided us an update on its progress to address the recommendation. RD stated that it has developed new guidance that documents its new business process on identifying, tracking, and monitoring single audits. In addition, RD plans to meet with each program area to

Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services to design policies and procedures to reasonably assure that all award recipients required to submit single audit reports do so in accordance with OMB guidance.
Open

U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of February 3, 2020, FNS stated that it has made revisions to the agency audit manual to meet the intent of the recommendation. In a section of the manual devoted to Cognizant and Awarding Agency Responsibilities (2 CFR 200.513), FNS is adding a bullet that states that the Federal awarding agency must "ensure that audits are completed and reports are received in a timely manner and in accordance with the requirements of 2 CFR 200.512(a)." FNS plans on releasing the

Farm Programs: Additional Steps Needed to Help Prevent Payments to Participants Whose Incomes Exceed Limits

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To further improve agency controls that help prevent payments to participants whose incomes exceed eligibility limits, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of FSA to implement a process to verify that accountants' and attorneys' statements accurately reflect participants' incomes as reported on income tax returns and supporting documentation or other equivalent documents.
Open

The U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed with this recommendation at the time of our report but, as of April 2021, has not acted to implement it because of the sensitive nature of questioning accountants' and attorneys' professional judgment. However, we believe doing so would reduce the potential for improper payments supported by taxpayers and would be an appropriate action for the agency to take.

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 apqa@gao.gov.