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 October 22, 2021, there are 4655 open recommendations, of which 489 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

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1 - 20 of 53 Recommendations
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Southwest Border Security: Actions Are Needed to Address the Cost and Readiness Implications of Continued DOD Support to U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense, together with the Secretary of Homeland Security, should define a common outcome for DOD's support to DHS, consistent with best practices for interagency collaboration, and articulate how that support will enable DHS to achieve its southwest border security mission in fiscal year 2021 and beyond. (Recommendation 7)
Open

DOD did not concur with this recommendation. DOD disagreed that it would be appropriate to develop a common outcome with DHS for DOD support beyond fiscal year 2021 and stated that agreeing to this recommendation would represent a more permanent and enduring commitment of its resources and may create an impression that DOD has a border security mission. We agree that DOD is not responsible for the border security mission and stated this point throughout our report. However, DOD and DHS's disagreement on the outcome for support in fiscal year 2021 and beyond is not consistent with the

Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations: DOD Needs to Address Governance and Oversight Issues to Help Ensure Superiority

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Senior Designated Official of the CFT proposes EMS governance, management, organizational, and operational reforms to the Secretary. (Recommendation 2)
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation. In March 2021, DOD informed us that the draft 2020 DoD EMS Superiority Strategy Implementation Plan contains EMS governance, management, organizational, and operational reforms. We will continue to monitor DOD's progress on issuing the Implementation Plan and determining whether it proposes EMS governance, management, organizational, and operational reforms to the Secretary.

Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should assign clear responsibility to a senior official with authority and resources necessary to compel action for the long-term implementation of the 2020 strategy in time to oversee the execution of the 2020 strategy implementation plan. (Recommendation 3)
Open

DOD partially concurred with this recommendation. In March 2021, DOD informed us that the draft 2020 EMS Superiority Strategy Implementation Plan includes a task to designate the appropriate senior official with the requisite resources to ensure proper oversight and execution of the 2020 EMS Superiority Strategy Implementation Plan. According to DOD, the transition to the enduring oversight authority is ongoing, and is estimated to be complete by the end of September 2022, which aligns with the estimated sunset of the EMSO Cross-Functional Team. We will continue to monitor DOD's progress on

Defense Reform: DOD Has Made Progress, but Needs to Further Refine and Formalize Its Reform Efforts

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the CMO, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), and Director of CAPE develop and institutionalize formal policies or agreements as they relate to DOD reform and efficiency collaboration efforts, in order for these efforts to be sustained beyond any leadership and organizational changes. (Recommendation 3)
Open

DOD concurred with our recommendation. In January 2021, the position of CMO was disestablished, with its responsibilities for reform efforts primarily assumed by the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Director of CAPE. In May 2021, DOD officials provided an update on their response to our recommendation, including plans to (1) determine the Office of the CMO responsibilities and statutory functions that will be absorbed into the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and CAPE and (2) issue formal agreements between Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller

DOD Financial Management: Continued Efforts Needed to Correct Material Weaknesses Identified in Financial Statement Audits

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
ODCFO should incorporate appropriate steps to improve its CAP review process, including ensuring that (1) data elements not included in CAPs are appropriately identified and communicated to components and resolved, (2) NFRs are appropriately linked to the correct CAPs to address them, and (3) components document their rationale for accepting the risk associated with certain deficiencies and appropriately identify such instances in the NFR Database. (Recommendation 3)
Open

DOD partially concurred with this recommendation and stated that it ensures that a Notice of Findings and Recommendations (NFR) is appropriately linked to the right Corrective Action Plan (CAP) and that data elements missing from CAPs are identified and communicated to components through its CAP quality and monthly data control review processes. However, based on our testing of CAPs associated with NFRs included in a generalizable sample, we found that NFRs were not always linked to the correct CAP in the NFR Database. For example, one NFR we reviewed was linked to three CAPs-one that was not

Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
ODCFO should update DOD guidance to instruct DOD and components to document root-cause analysis when needed to address deficiencies auditors identified. (Recommendation 4)
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it will update the appropriate DOD guidance to specifically instruct that a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) include documented evidence that a root-cause analysis was conducted and an explanation as to how it was conducted. To fully implement the second recommendation, DOD needs to update the Department of Defense Internal Control Over Financial Reporting Guide, which was last issued in May 2018, to instruct DOD and its components to document root-cause analysis when needed. We will continue to monitor DOD's progress. We will continue to

Financial Management: DOD Needs to Implement Comprehensive Plans to Improve Its Systems Environment

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief Management Officer and other entities, as appropriate, to ensure that the department limits investments in financial management systems to only what is essential to maintain functioning systems and help ensure system security until it implements the other recommendations in this report. (Recommendation 6)
Open

The department concurred with this recommendation and, in January and April 2021, described actions it planned to take to address it. The department stated that a team within the Defense Business Operations and Enterprise Business Operations Directorate within the Office of the DOD Chief Management Officer (CMO) was planning to evaluate the current defense business systems review and certification process in order to include additional criteria to ensure that investments align with the financial management systems strategy and enterprise roadmap. However, the department has not demonstrated

Defense Real Property: DOD-Wide Strategy Needed to Address Control Issues and Improve Reliability of Records

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) should, in collaboration with the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment), develop department-wide instructions for performing the E&C verifications. (Recommendation 2).
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it was committed to placing increased leadership emphasis on real property asset policies and instructions to ensure consistent and repeatable existence and completeness verifications. DOD has identified four key corrective actions to be taken by the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) (OUSD(C)). For the first key corrective action, OUSD(C) will analyze the different real property existence and completeness (E&C) methodologies that the military services have implemented to determine which method helped to produce the

Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) should, in collaboration with the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition and Sustainment), develop and implement a DOD-wide strategy to remediate real property asset control issues. (Recommendation 1).
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it was committed to placing increased leadership emphasis on real property asset controls to ensure mission readiness, audit readiness, testing for existence and completeness, and maintaining internal controls. DOD identified five key corrective actions needed to address this recommendation. The first of the five key corrective actions is to realign the financial reporting responsibilities for real property assets to the military services and the Washington Headquarters Services. The second key corrective action is to review and update

Female Active-Duty Personnel: Guidance and Plans Needed for Recruitment and Retention Efforts

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness provides guidance to the services, for example, in its forthcoming diversity and inclusion strategic plan, to develop plans, with clearly defined goals, performance measures, and timeframes, to guide and monitor recruitment and retention efforts of female active-duty servicemembers in the military. (Recommendation 1)
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation. As of April 20, 2021, DOD has not provided documentation sufficient to close this recommendation as implemented. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to address this recommendation and will update the status as more information becomes available.

Navy Shipbuilding: Increasing Focus on Sustainment Early in the Acquisition Process Could Save Billions

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should change its definition for setting operational availability for ships in its Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System policy by adding information that defines the operational availability requirement by mission area in addition to the ship level and includes all equipment failures that affect the ability of a ship to perform primary missions. (Recommendation 1)
Open

The Department of Defense (DOD) agreed with GAO's March 2020 recommendation, and as of February 2021, DOD officials said they planned to include the operational availability key performance parameter as a part of the next update to the Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System policy. However, officials did not say if DOD will implement changes to its operational availability metric for shipbuilding; nor did they say if DOD determined the schedule for the next update. To fully implement this recommendation, DOD should develop ship reliability requirements that ensure that the Navy

Military Justice: DOD and the Coast Guard Need to Improve Their Capabilities to Assess Racial and Gender Disparities

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretaries of the military services and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should conduct an evaluation to identify the causes of any disparities in the military justice system, and take steps to address the causes of these disparities as appropriate. (Recommendation 11)
Open

DOD partially concurred with this recommendation, agreeing with the content, but requesting that we modify the recommendation to direct it to more appropriate entities. We made that change before the report was issued. As of June 2021, DOD's Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) had developed a research proposal for a study to be conducted by a federally funded research and development center, which ODEI officials said would provide a more independent assessment than a study conducted using internal DOD capabilities. According to ODEI officials, the ODEI research proposal had been

F-35 Aircraft Sustainment: DOD Needs to Address Substantial Supply Chain Challenges

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, together with the F-35 Program Executive Officer, the Secretaries of the Air Force and Navy, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, clearly defines the strategy by which DOD will manage the F-35 supply chain in the future and update key strategy documents accordingly, to include any additional actions and investments necessary to support that strategy. (Recommendation 8)
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation. As of February 2021, documentation provided by DOD stated that has begun a Business Case Analysis (BCA) of its Product Support Strategy-that is, its strategy to support and sustain the F-35 aircraft. According to DOD, this BCA will examine the full Product Support Strategy and provide evaluation and recommendations for each alternative, to include quantitative assessment, qualitative assessment, and risk analysis. Following the BCA, DOD said that the F-35 Product Support Manager will re-assess the existing Product Support Strategy in 24 months based on

Defense Strategy: Revised Analytic Approach Needed to Support Force Structure Decision-Making

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3 Open Recommendations
3 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (OUSD (Policy)), the Joint Staff, and the Office of the Director, Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation—in consultation with the services—determine the analytic products needed and the level of detail that is sufficient to serve as a common starting point but flexible to allow for variation of analysis to support senior leader decisions, and update these products to reflect current strategy and intelligence estimates, as well as the anticipated operational approaches needed to address future threats. (Recommendation 1)
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation and has taken some steps to address it. Specifically, in April 2019, the Secretary of Defense issued the FY 2021-2025 Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), which identified analytic products that would serve as the department's starting point for analysis in fiscal years 2021-2025. DOD has also begun developing some of these analytic products, including several defense planning scenarios that it developed in December 2018 to reflect some of the threats outlined in the National Defense Strategy. To fully implement this recommendation, DOD will need to develop

Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should ensure that OUSD (Policy) provide specific guidance requiring the services to explore a range of innovative force structure approaches relevant to the key threats identified in the National Defense Strategy, including identifying key assumptions on which the services must conduct sensitivity analyses. (Recommendation 2)
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation and has taken some steps to address it. Specifically, in April 2019, DOD issued the FY 2021-2025 Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), which directed some actions relevant to our recommendation regarding the need to explore a range of innovative force structure approaches. However, it did not directly address the need to require the services to conduct sensitivity analysis on key assumptions. The defense planning scenarios that DOD developed in December 2018 identify critical parameters for analytical exploration and encourage DOD components to conduct

Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Defense should establish an approach for comparing competing analyses and conducting joint analyses for force structure to support senior leaders as they seek to implement the National Defense Strategy. This could include establishing a separate body with these capabilities and/or specifying the organizational responsibilities and processes for conducting these comparisons and analyses. (Recommendation 3)
Open

DOD concurred with this recommendation and has taken some steps to address it. Specifically, in May 2019, DOD issued the FY 2021-2025 Defense Planning Guidance (DPG), which could lay the groundwork for DOD to compare competing analyses and conduct joint force structure analyses. To fully implement this recommendation, DOD needs to establish an approach for doing so, which could include establishing a body or process for conducting comparisons or joint analyses. In March 2021, DOD officials noted that, due to the recent political transition, some of the forums established by the prior

Cybersecurity Workforce: Agencies Need to Accurately Categorize Positions to Effectively Identify Critical Staffing Needs

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To complete the appropriate assignment of codes to their positions performing IT, cybersecurity, or cyber-related functions, in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act of 2015, the Secretary of Defense should take steps to review the assignment of the "000" code to any positions in the department in the 2210 IT management occupational series, assign the appropriate NICE framework work role codes, and assess the accuracy of position descriptions. (Recommendation 4)
Open

The Department of Defense concurred with the recommendation. In September 2020, DOD stated that it had taken steps to decrease the number of positions that were assigned inappropriate codes and were continuing to monitor and track coding with the aim of addressing the recommendation by September 2022. As of March 2021, it had not yet provided sufficient evidence that it had implemented the recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, DOD will need to provide evidence that it has assigned appropriate National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education framework work role codes to its

DOD Training: U.S. Cyber Command and Services Should Take Actions to Maintain a Trained Cyber Mission Force

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3 Open Recommendations
3 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of the Air Force should ensure that Air Forces Cyber coordinate with CYBERCOM to develop a plan that comprehensively assesses and identifies specific CMF training requirements for phases two (foundational), three (collective), and four (sustainment), in order to maintain the appropriate sizing and deployment of personnel across the Air Force's CMF teams. (Recommendation 5)
Open

DOD agreed with our recommendation. According to a DOD status report on implementing the recommendations for GAO-19-362 that was provided to us in February 2021, the Air Force's timeline to develop a training plan is contingent upon the completion of U.S. Cyber Command releasing a Master Task List. The Air Force anticipates that it will take until 2022 to develop training plans for its phase 2, 3, and 4 training requirements.

Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps should ensure that Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace coordinate with CYBERCOM to develop a plan that comprehensively assesses and identifies specific CMF training requirements for phases two (foundational), three (collective), and four (sustainment), in order to maintain the appropriate sizing and deployment of personnel across the Marine Corps' CMF teams. (Recommendation 6)
Open

DOD agreed with our recommendation. According to a DOD status report on implementing the recommendations for GAO-19-362 that was provided to us in February 2021, the Marine Corps's phase 2 foundational training is reliant upon National Security Agency. The Marine Corps is unable to deliver this training outside of National Security Agency accesses and processes, they believe a Marine Corps solution will be in place in 2021. Additionally, the Marine Corps plans to accomplish phase 3 (collective) and phase 4 (sustainment) training via the Persistent Cyber Training Environment beginning in 2021.

Department of Defense
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of the Army should ensure that Army Cyber Command coordinate with CYBERCOM to develop a plan that comprehensively assesses and identifies specific CMF training requirements for phases two (foundational), three (collective), and four (sustainment), in order to maintain the appropriate sizing and deployment of personnel across the Army's CMF teams. (Recommendation 3)
Open

DOD agreed with the recommendation. According to a DOD status report on implementing the recommendations for GAO-19-362 that was provided to us in February 2021, the Army's implementation of this recommendation is dependent upon U.S. Cyber Command establishing master training task lists which drive the training. In December 2020, Army Cyber command indicated that it would likely take until October 2021 to complete these tasks.

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