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 November 30, 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 - 8 of 8 Recommendations
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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 Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Transportation should fully develop a cybersecurity risk management strategy that includes the key elements identified in this report. (Recommendation 26)
Open

The Department of Transportation concurred with this recommendation. As of March 2021, the department stated that it is working toward implementation of this recommendation and plans to provide an update to GAO by January 2022. 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 Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Transportation, in cooperation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, should take steps to consult with respective sector partner(s), such as the SCC, DHS and NIST, as appropriate, to develop methods for determining the level and type of framework adoption by entities across their respective sector. (Recommendation 8)
Open

The department has begun taking steps to develop methods to determine the level and type of framework adoption in the respective sectors. Specifically, officials in the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told us that they planned to develop and distribute a survey to the Transportation Systems sector to determine the level and type of framework adoption. DOT officials stated that the draft survey was undergoing DHS legal review and that the completion of the review and

Automated Vehicles: Comprehensive Plan Could Help DOT Address Challenges

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Transportation should develop and implement a comprehensive plan to better manage departmental initiatives related to automated vehicles. This plan should include leading principles such as goals, priorities, steps to achieve results, milestones, and performance measures to track progress. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In January 2021, DOT released the Automated Vehicles: Comprehensive Plan for public comment. This plan includes information on the department's vision to promote collaboration, modernize regulations, and other efforts to prepare the transportation system for the future. DOT officials indicated that they will evaluate public comments on this plan in the spring of 2021 and then assess next steps. Without a comprehensive plan that includes elements such as goals and performance measures, it continues to be unclear whether DOT is adequately evaluating automated vehicle challenges. GAO will

Air Ambulance: Data Collection and Transparency Needed to Enhance DOT Oversight

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To increase transparency and obtain information to better inform decisions on whether to investigate potentially unfair or deceptive practices in the air ambulance industry, the Secretary of Transportation should assess available federal and industry data and determine what further information could assist in the evaluation of future complaints or concerns regarding unfair or deceptive practices.
Open

DOT did not concur with this recommendation, noting in September 2017 that its analysis of whether a complaint alleges conduct that could constitute an unfair or deceptive practice is fundamentally based on the unique facts of each additional case, rather than aggregate data. However, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (the Act), signed into law on October 5, 2018, directed the establishment of an Air Ambulance and Patient Billing (AAPB) Advisory Committee and required the committee to make recommendations on a variety of topics, including what additional data from air ambulance providers and

DOT Discretionary Grants: Problems with Hurricane Sandy Transit Grant Selection Process Highlight the Need for Additional Accountability

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
Given DOT's new discretionary grant programs and similar challenges we have found with previous DOT programs, the Secretary of Transportation should issue a directive that governs department-wide and modal administration discretionary grant programs. Such a directive should include requirements to: (1) develop a plan for evaluating project proposals in advance of issuing a notice of funding availability that defines the stages of the process, including how the process will be overseen to ensure a consistent review of applications; (2) document key decisions, including the reason for any rating changes and the officials responsible for those changes, and how high-level concerns raised during the process were addressed; and (3) align stated program purpose and policy priorities with the evaluation and selection process.
Open

DOT concurred with this recommendation and issued a memo directing secretarial offices and operating administrations involved in awarding discretionary grants to implement our recommendations and to include them in their policies and procedures. However, this memo was essentially limited to a repetition of our recommendation and DOT did not take steps to ensure that the various affected offices consistently interpret and implement the recommendation. For example, rather than defining how key decisions will be documented as we recommended, the policies and procedures developed by the affected

IT Workforce: Key Practices Help Ensure Strong Integrated Program Teams; Selected Departments Need to Assess Skill Gaps

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To facilitate the analysis of gaps between current skills and future needs, the development of strategies for filling the gaps, and succession planning, the Secretary of Transportation should require the Chief Information Officer, Chief Human Capital Officer, and other senior managers as appropriate to address the shortfalls in IT workforce planning noted in this report, including the following actions: (1) establish a time frame for when the department is to finalize its draft workforce planning process and maintain that process; (2) develop staffing requirements for all positions; (3) assess competency and staffing needs regularly for all positions; (4) assess gaps in staffing for all components of the workforce; (5) develop strategies and plans to address gaps in competencies and staffing; (6) implement activities that address gaps, including an IT acquisition cadre, cross-functional training of acquisition and program personnel, a career path for program managers, and use of special hiring authorities, if justified and cost-effective;e (7) monitor the department's progress in addressing competency and staffing gaps; and (8) report to department leadership on progress in addressing competency and staffing gaps.
Open

The department agreed with the recommendation and stated that it plans to fully implement it. In October 2019 (in GAO-20-129), we reported the results of our evaluation of the department's progress in implementing the eight IT workforce planning activities. Specifically, we reported that the department had fully implemented the activity to develop competency and staffing requirements, but had not yet fully implemented the remaining seven activities, including developing a workforce planning process. In January 2020, the department stated that its Office of the Chief Information Officer and

Air Travel and Communicable Diseases: Comprehensive Federal Plan Needed for U.S. Aviation System's Preparedness

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To help improve the U.S. aviation sector's preparedness for future communicable disease threats from abroad, the Secretary of Transportation should work with relevant stakeholders, such as the Department of Health and Human Services, to develop a national aviation-preparedness plan for communicable disease outbreaks. Such a plan could establish a mechanism for coordination between the aviation and public health sectors and provides clear and transparent planning assumptions for a variety of types and levels of communicable disease threats.
Open

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has not developed a national aviation-preparedness plan to respond to communicable disease threats from abroad. In June 2020, we urged Congress to take legislative action to require the Secretary of Transportation to work with relevant agencies and stakeholders to develop a national aviation-preparedness plan to limit the spread of communicable disease threats, and minimize travel and trade impacts (see GAO-20-625). GAO's periodic updates on the CARES Act of 2020 provide information about actions taken by Congress to address this matter. DOT partially

Federal Motor Carrier Safety: Modifying the Compliance, Safety, Accountability Program Would Improve the Ability to Identify High Risk Carriers

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Transportation
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To improve the CSA program, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to revise the SMS methodology to better account for limitations in drawing comparisons of safety performance information across carriers; in doing so, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FMCSA Administrator to conduct a formal analysis that specifically identifies: (1) limitations in the data used to calculate SMS scores including variability in the carrier population and the quality and quantity of data available for carrier safety performance assessments, and (2) limitations in the resulting SMS scores including their precision, confidence, and reliability for the purposes for which they are used.
Open

FMCSA did not concur with our recommendation, disputing the methodology and conclusions in our report. However, we continue to believe that addressing Safety Measurement System (SMS) methodology limitations has merit and could help the agency better target FMCSA's resources to the carriers that pose the highest risk of crashing. For example, we found FMCSA requires a minimum level of information for a carrier to receive an SMS score; however, this requirement is not strong enough to produce sufficiently reliable scores. As a result, FMCSA identified many carriers as high risk that were not

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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.