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 3, 2021, there are 4653 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 - 7 of 7 Recommendations
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State Department: Additional Steps Are Needed to Identify Potential Barriers to Diversity

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of State
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of State should take additional steps to identify diversity issues that could indicate potential barriers to equal opportunity in its workforce. For example, State could conduct additional analyses of workforce data and of employee groups' feedback. (Recommendation 1)
Open

Since our report was published in February 2021, State has taken steps toward implementing GAO's recommendation. For example, in April 2021, the Secretary of State announced the appointment of the agency's first chief diversity and inclusion officer, who will work to develop a framework for fostering diversity and inclusion in its workforce and align efforts across the agency. In addition, the agency established four Barrier Analysis Working Groups to identify potential barriers to diversity. Finally, State is conducting analysis of Foreign and Civil Service promotions. We will continue to

Foreign Assistance: State Department Should Take Steps to Improve Timeliness of Required Budgetary Reporting

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of State
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of State should ensure that the Director of State's Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources conducts a review of the Section 653(a) process to identify process steps that can be streamlined or eliminated and determine the time frame needed to prepare the annual Section 653(a) report. If State determines that the time frame exceeds 30 days, the office should coordinate with other appropriate officials to submit a legislative proposal to Congress to extend the mandated time frame for submitting Section 653(a) reports. (Recommendation 1)
Open

According to State officials, they will submit a legislative proposal to Congress to extend the mandated time frame for submitting section 653(a) reports after they complete planned improvements to their Foreign Assistance Coordination and Tracking System. These system improvements will give State a better understanding of time needed to complete the process before submitting a legislative proposal to Congress, according to State officials. As of March 2021, GAO is awaiting documentation showing that State reviewed the Section 653(a) process and determined that the time frame needed to prepare

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 State
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of State should establish and document a process for coordination between cybersecurity risk management and enterprise risk management functions. (Recommendation 25)
Open

The Department of State concurred with this recommendation. As of February 2021, the department stated that it is actively working to update the applicable policies and procedures, and they are undergoing internal review. The department did not provide an estimated completion date for the review. Once the department has provided evidence of these actions, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

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 State
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 State 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 15)
Open

The Department of State concurred with the recommendation. In January 2020, we confirmed that State had assigned National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework work role codes to its positions in the 2210 IT management occupational series. However, as of March 2021, the department had not yet provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that it has completed its efforts to assess the accuracy of position descriptions. To fully implement this recommendation, State will need to provide evidence that it has assessed the accuracy of position descriptions.

Embassy Construction: Pace Is Slower Than Projected, and State Could Make Program Improvements

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of State
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of State should determine the estimated effects of cost inflation on planned CSCP embassy construction capacity and time frames and update this information for stakeholders on a regular basis, such as through the annual budgeting process. (Recommendation 1)
Open

State concurred with this recommendation. As of March 2020, State/OBO had developed a worldwide construction inflation rate and had integrated this rate into its bureau budget request for fiscal year 2021. According to OBO officials, OBO is working to update its budget guidance to ensure the inflation rate is updated and integrated into future bureau budget requests on a regular basis. As of October 2021, State had not included any language regarding construction inflation in its fiscal year 2022 Congressional Budget Justification. We will continue to monitor State's implementation of this

Overseas Allowances: State Should Assess the Cost-Effectiveness of Its Hardship Pay Policies

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of State
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Department's Comptroller should analyze available diplomatic cable data from overseas posts to identify posts at risk of improper payments for hardship pay, identify any improper payments, and take steps to recover and prevent them. (Recommendation 3)
Open

State concurred with this recommendation. According to State, it continues to identify and seek repayment of improper payments and communicate the importance of timely actions to the regional bureaus and posts to ensure improper payments do not occur. In addition, the Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services (CGFS) supports the roll out of the Overseas Personnel System, which will centralize the collection of arrival and departure data for the calculation of improper payment notification and risk analysis. To fully implement the recommendation, the Bureau of Human Resources (HR)

Foreign Assistance: Actions Needed to Improve Transparency and Quality of Data on ForeignAssistance.gov

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of State
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To improve the quality of the data published on ForeignAssistance.gov and help ensure consistency in published information, the Secretary of State should, in consultation with the Director of OMB and the USAID Administrator, develop additional guidance that takes into consideration current challenges to updating ForeignAssistance.gov with verified data.
Open

As of February 2021, State had taken some steps to coordinate with OMB and USAID to improve the quality of data reported for ForeignAssistance.gov. Notably, in May 2020, State and USAID submitted a joint report to Congress outlining a plan to consolidate the two federal websites reporting foreign assistance spending--ForeignAssistance.gov (managed by State) and explorer.usaid.gov (managed by USAID). According to State officials, OMB has been briefed on the website consolidation plan. As part of the consolidation plan, State and USAID plan to establish a joint data governance policy to reduce

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.