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 December 1, 2021, there are 4659 open recommendations, of which 482 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

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1 - 14 of 14 Recommendations
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Capitol Attack: Special Event Designations Could Have Been Requested for January 6, 2021, but Not All DHS Guidance is Clear [Reissued with revisions on Aug. 09, 2021.]

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Homeland Security should consider whether additional factors, such as the context of the events and surrounding circumstances in light of the current environment of emerging threats, are needed for designating NSSE events. (Recommendation 1)
Open

When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Homeland Security should update the Department of Homeland Security's policy to clarify and communicate the process for requesting an NSSE designation for an event held on federal property in Washington, D.C. to all relevant stakeholders, including relevant federal, state, and local entities (Recommendation 2).
Open

When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

DHS Employee Morale: Some Improvements Made, but Additional Actions Needed to Strengthen Employee Engagement

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
DHS OCHCO should monitor components' implementation of the OPM action planning cycle to ensure the components review and assess the results of their actions to adjust, reprioritize, and identify new actions needed to improve employee engagement. (Recommendation 3)
Open

In January 2021, we found that OCHCO did not ensure that components review and assess the results of their actions and then use this information to adjust, reprioritize, and identify new actions needed to improve employee engagement. We also found that with the information collected through the employee engagement steering committee, working group, and annual reviews of component action plans, OCHCO is in a unique position to monitor the implementation and results of the component action planning process and provide feedback to components on any areas where components have not achieved

Agile Software Development: DHS Has Made Significant Progress in Implementing Leading Practices, but Needs to Take Additional Actions

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary should ensure that the ITPM COE, in coordination with the CIO, begins measuring results associated with the transition to Agile and the success of the transition based on its impact on the department. (Recommendation 4)
Open

DHS concurred with our recommendation. In July 2021, DHS's Acting Chief Technology Officer approved an updated Agile Software Delivery Core Metrics Guidebook. The guidebook explains that programs must report monthly on six Agile core metrics (e.g., availability, cycle time, and unit test coverage) in DHS's Investment Evaluation Submission and Tracking system. In addition, in August 2021, DHS noted that these metrics are included as part of its Program Health Assessments for major and standard IT programs across the department. DHS also stated that the Office of the Chief Information Officer

Southwest Border: Actions Needed to Address Fragmentation in DHS's Processes for Apprehended Family Members

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Homeland Security should evaluate options for developing a unique identifier shared across DHS components' data systems to link family members apprehended together. (Recommendation 4)
Open

In commenting on a draft of our report, DHS reported that its Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) plans to work with relevant components to develop a unique shared identifier linking family members apprehended together. According to DHS, DHS OIS launched the Family Status Community of Interest (COI) in June 2020, and the COI has since established a bi-weekly meeting schedule. The COI's initial focus is on standard codes describing the reasons for family separations. Upon completing the family separation reason standard, DHS reported that the COI will prioritize developing common codes to

Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Homeland Security should identify the information about family members apprehended together that its components collectively need to process those family members and communicate that information to its components. (Recommendation 1)
Open

According to DHS, in June 2020, DHS's Office of Immigration Statistics launched a Family Status Data Standards Community of Interest (COI) under the purview of the DHS Immigration Data Integration Initiative. In August 2020, DHS reported that the Family Status COI includes subject matter experts and data system managers from DHS components, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The COI's mandate includes drafting common DHS-wide and interagency data standards (common codes, common definitions, common formats) for all topics related to

Southwest Border: Actions Needed to Improve DHS Processing of Families and Coordination between DHS and HHS

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, jointly with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, should collaborate to address information sharing gaps identified in this report to ensure that ORR receives information needed to make decisions for UAC, including those apprehended with an adult. (Recommendation 8)
Open

In November 2020, DHS officials told us that, in coordination with HHS and other agencies, DHS is developing a Unified Immigration Portal (UIP) to enable a more complete understanding of an individual's journey through the immigration system. Specifically, the UIP is intended to be a technological platform where authorized U.S. government users can access relevant immigration-related data from multiple agencies through a single interface. DHS officials told us in February 2021 that the portal is to provide real time data to track unaccompanied children from the time of apprehension to their

Cybersecurity: Agencies Need to Fully Establish Risk Management Programs and Address Challenges

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Homeland Security should establish and document a process for coordination between cybersecurity risk management and enterprise risk management functions. (Recommendation 15)
Open

The Department of Homeland Security concurred with this recommendation. The department stated that, once developed, its Cybersecurity Risk Management Strategy will incorporate clarifications of the cybersecurity risk executive's role and will be coordinated with the DHS Office of the Chief Financial Officer, other offices within the DHS Management Directorate, and Department Components, as appropriate. As of March 2021, the department had not provided documentation specifying the details of this coordination process or an estimated completion date. Once the department has provided evidence of

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 Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, in cooperation with the co-SSAs as necessary, should take steps to consult with respective sector partner(s), such as the SCC, and NIST, as appropriate, to develop methods for determining the level and type of framework adoption by entities across their respective sectors. (Recommendation 7)
Open

In written comments, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred with the recommendation in our report and stated that its National Protection and Programs Directorate, as the sector-specific agency for 9 of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors, will continue to work closely with its private sector partners to ensure framework adoption is a priority. Additionally, the department stated that the directorate will work closely with its private sector partners to better understand the extent of framework adoption and barriers to adoption by entities across their respective sectors. The

Unaccompanied Alien Children: Actions Needed to Ensure Children Receive Required Care in DHS Custody

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To increase the efficiency and improve the accuracy of the interagency UAC referral and placement process, the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services should jointly develop and implement a documented interagency process with clearly defined roles and responsibilities, as well as procedures to disseminate placement decisions, for all agencies involved in the referral and placement of UAC in HHS shelters.
Open

In November 2020, DHS officials told us that, in coordination with HHS and other agencies, DHS is developing a Unified Immigration Portal (UIP) to enable a more complete understanding of an individual's journey throughout the immigration system. Specifically, the UIP is intended to be a technological platform where authorized U.S. government users can access relevant immigration-related data from multiple agencies through a single interface. DHS officials told us in February 2021 that the portal is to provide real time data to track unaccompanied children from the time of apprehension to their

Climate Change: Better Management of Exposure to Potential Future Losses Is Needed for Federal Flood and Crop Insurance

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To promote forward-looking construction and rebuilding efforts while FEMA phases out most subsidies, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to consider amending NFIP minimum standards for floodplain management to incorporate, as appropriate, forward-looking standards, similar to the minimum standard adopted by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.
Open

In August 2019, a FEMA official stated that FEMA intends to implement the recommendation in full eventually, but it is unlikely that it will happen as a cohesive effort in 2020, given other ongoing flood insurance reforms. As of April 2021, FEMA reiterated its plans to update its floodplain minimum standards regulations, and that the agency's efforts may meet the intent of GAO's recommendation. However, FEMA did not have an estimated timeframe for completion of its update.

Federal Real Property: DHS and GSA Need to Strengthen the Management of DHS Headquarters Consolidation

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
In order to improve transparency and allow for more informed decision making by congressional leaders and DHS and GSA decision-makers, before requesting additional funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work jointly to conduct the following assessments and use the results to inform updated DHS headquarters consolidation plans: (1) a comprehensive needs assessment and gap analysis of current and needed capabilities that take into consideration changing conditions, and (2) an alternatives analysis that identifies the costs and benefits of leasing and construction alternatives for the remainder of the project and prioritizes options to account for funding instability.
Open

The Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015 (Pub. L. No. 114-150) was enacted on April 29, 2016. Among other things, the act requires DHS, in coordination with GSA, to submit information to Congress about DHS headquarters consolidation efforts not later than 120 days of enactment. As of April 2020, DHS and GSA had not submitted the information to Congress required by Pub. L. No. 114-150. Required information includes a comprehensive assessment of property and facilities utilized by DHS in the National Capital Region, and an analysis that identifies

Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
In order to improve transparency and allow for more informed decision making by congressional leaders and DHS and GSA decision-makers, before requesting additional funding for the DHS headquarters consolidation project, after revising the DHS headquarters consolidation plans, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work jointly to develop revised cost and schedule estimates for the remaining portions of the consolidation project that conform to GSA guidance and leading practices for cost and schedule estimation, including an independent evaluation of the estimates.
Open

The Department of Homeland Security Headquarters Consolidation Accountability Act of 2015 (Pub. L. No. 114-150) was enacted on April 29, 2016. Among other things, the act requires DHS, in coordination with GSA, to submit information to Congress about DHS headquarters consolidation efforts not later than 120 days of enactment. As of April 2020, DHS and GSA had not submitted the information to Congress required by Pub. L. No. 114-150. Required information includes updated cost and schedule estimates for the consolidation project that are consistent with GAO's recommendations in GAO-14-648

Flood Insurance: Opportunities Exist to Improve Oversight of the WYO Program

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to annually analyze the amounts of actual expenses and profit in relation to the estimated amounts used in setting payment rates.
Open

According to FEMA officials, FEMA planned to respond to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. However, GAO has reported that an annual analysis of the WYO insurers' actual expenses and profit could be regularly performed in relation to FEMA's existing payment methodology. FEMA issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on July 8, 2019 seeking comments by September 6, 2019 regarding possible approaches to incorporating actual flood insurance expense data into the WYO payment methodology. As

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