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.

Search Open Recommendations

1 - 20 of 36 Recommendations
Download CSV Download XLS

COVID-19: Urgent Actions Needed to Better Ensure an Effective Federal Response

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should develop and issue guidance directing agencies to include COVID-19 relief funding with associated key risks, such as provisions contained in the CARES Act and other relief legislation that potentially increase the risk of improper payments or changes to existing program eligibility rules, as part of their improper payment estimation methodologies. This should especially be required for already existing federal programs that received COVID-19 relief funding. (Recommendation 9)
Open

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. In November 2020, we reported that although OMB issued a memorandum providing agencies the option to incorporate new COVID-19 relief funding into their normal sampling processes, it did not specifically direct agencies to do so. In addition, the guidance did not direct agencies to consider associated risks, such as changes to eligibility rules and different payment processes, as part of their improper payment estimation methodologies. Further, OMB staff stated that OMB was actively coordinating and

Federal Buying Power: OMB Can Further Advance Category Management Initiative by Focusing on Requirements, Data, and Training

Show
5 Open Recommendations
5 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should emphasize in its overarching category management guidance the importance of effectively defining requirements for common products and services when implementing the category management initiative. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OMB agreed with the substance of our recommendation, and reported in April 2021 actions it plans to take in the coming year. To address this recommendation, OMB should expand its existing plans by pursuing updates to overarching category management guidance.

Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should ensure that designated Senior Accountable Officials have the authority necessary to hold personnel accountable for defining requirements for common products and services as well as contracting activities. (Recommendation 4)
Open

OMB agreed with the substance of our recommendation, and reported in April 2021 actions it plans to take in the coming year. To address this recommendation, OMB should fully implement those actions.

Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should report cost savings from the category management initiative by agency. (Recommendation 5)
Open

OMB agreed with the substance of our recommendation, and reported in April 2021 actions it plans to take in the coming year. To address this recommendation, OMB should fully implement those actions.

Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should work with the Category Management Leadership Council and the Performance Improvement Council to establish additional performance metrics for the category management initiative that are related to agency requirements. (Recommendation 6)
Open

OMB agreed with the substance of our recommendation, and reported in April 2021 actions it plans to take in the coming year. To address this recommendation, OMB should fully implement those actions.

Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget should, in coordination with the Category Management Leadership Council and the Chief Data Officer Council, establish a strategic plan to coordinate agencies' responses to government-wide data challenges hindering implementation of the category management initiative, including challenges involving prices-paid and spending data. (Recommendation 7)
Open

OMB agreed with the substance of our recommendation, and reported in April 2021 actions it plans to take in the coming year. To address this recommendation, OMB should expand its existing plans by pursuing a strategic plan for addressing data challenges.

Open Data: Agencies Need Guidance to Establish Comprehensive Data Inventories; Information on Their Progress is Limited

Show
2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should comply with its statutory requirement to issue implementation guidance to agencies to develop and maintain comprehensive data inventories. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OMB did not comment on this recommendation. OMB needs to comply with its statutory requirements in the OPEN Government DATA Act by issuing guidance to agencies regarding comprehensive data inventories . As of April 2021, OMB had not taken action on this recommendation.

Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should comply with the statutory requirement to electronically publish a report on agencies' performance and compliance with the OPEN Government Data Act. (Recommendation 2)
Open

OMB did not comment on this recommendation. OMB needs to comply with its statutory requirements in the OPEN Government DATA Act by electronically publishing a report on agency performance and compliance with the act. As of April 2021, OMB had not taken action on this recommendation.

Foreign Assistance: Federal Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines Incorporate Most but Not All Leading Practices

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Management of Budget should update the Guidelines to include GAO's leading practices of developing monitoring plans that are based on risks, ensuring that monitoring staff have appropriate qualifications, establishing procedures to close-out programs, developing staff skills regarding evaluations, and establishing mechanisms for following up on evaluation recommendations. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OMB disagreed with the recommendation and suggested it would be more effective to remind agencies that, in addition to the guidelines, they should follow all other relevant OMB guidance affecting monitoring and evaluation. OMB asserted that this guidance contains provisions relevant to our leading practices not included in the Foreign Assistance Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines. However, we continue to believe that it is important for OMB to incorporate this other guidance into the Foreign Assistance Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines, if only by reference, to emphasize the importance of

Federal Information Security: Agencies and OMB Need to Strengthen Policies and Practices

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should expand its coordination of CyberStat review meetings for those agencies with a demonstrated need for assistance in implementing information security. (Recommendation 2)
Open

In March 2021, OMB officials stated that they have held numerous meetings with various agencies on CyberStat-related topics and are continuing to work with DHS to update a concept of operations document. To fully implement this recommendation, OMB needs to finalize and release the CyberStat concept of operations document and increase agency participation in CyberStat meetings. As of May 2021, OMB has not provided sufficient evidence to close this recommendation.

2017 Disaster Relief Oversight: Strategy Needed to Ensure Agencies’ Internal Control Plans Provide Sufficient Information

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB, after consulting with key stakeholders (e.g., the Chief Financial Officers Council), should develop a strategy for ensuring that agencies communicate sufficient and timely internal control plans for effective oversight of disaster relief funds. (Recommendation 1)
Open

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) disagreed with our recommendation. In the agency's comment section of the GAO report, OMB staff stated that OMB did not believe the sufficiency or timeliness of control plans present material issues that warranted OMB action. While OMB acknowledged that almost all agency control plans were submitted after the statutory deadline, OMB staff stated that this delay in itself neither indicated the absence of controls nor the effectiveness of those controls. Further, OMB staff stated that it is agency management and not OMB that has responsibility for

Data Act: OMB Needs to Formalize Data Governance for Reporting Federal Spending

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should clarify and document OMB's procedure for changing official data definition standards for DATA Act reporting, for example, by explicitly describing how change procedures developed for other government-wide initiatives apply to DATA Act definition standards in a public source of guidance or information. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In July 2020, OMB provided GAO with clarification regarding the specific roles and responsibilities of the entities responsible for the data standards used in DATA Act reporting. Specifically, OMB staff clarified that the Chief Financial Officers Council's DATA Act Working Group had operational management for data standards while the Business Standards Council provided overall interagency governance. This helped to address the lack of clarity that we found regarding how data definitions are managed and changes are made. However, to fully implement this recommendation OMB needs to take the next

Federal Real Property Asset Management: Agencies Could Benefit from Additional Information on Leading Practices

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should take steps to improve existing information on federal asset management to reflect leading practices such as those described in ISO 55000 and the key characteristics we identified and make it readily available to federal agencies. These steps could include updating asset management guidance and developing a clearinghouse of information on asset management practices and successful agency experiences. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In April 2021, OMB staff told us that its November 2019 memo on capital planning requirements (M-20-03) as well as its March 2020 memo that provides a strategic vision for managing the government's real property portfolio (M-20-10) provide federal agencies a framework for managing their portfolio of assets. We reviewed these memos and found they do not fully address key characteristics for effective asset management we identified in our report, such as using quality data on assets to inform decision-making. The memos also do not provide agencies with information on leading asset management

Improper Payments: Actions and Guidance Could Help Address Issues and Inconsistencies in Estimation Processes

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should develop guidance on how agencies test to identify improper payments, such as using a risk-based approach to help ensure that key risks of improper payments, such as eligibility, are addressed through testing processes. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OMB partially concurred with this recommendation. In March 2021, OMB issued new guidance on improper payments that implements the requirements from the Payment Integrity Information Act of 2019. This guidance defines a "reliable improper payment (IP) and unknown payment (UP) estimate" as being produced from accurate sampling populations, testing procedures, and estimation calculations. The OMB guidance discusses a two-phased approach pertaining to assessing programs for susceptibility to significant improper payments and then, if determined susceptible, for measuring and reporting improper

Information Technology: OMB Needs to Report On and Improve Its Oversight of the Highest Priority Programs

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should ensure that the Federal CIO is directly involved in the oversight of high priority programs. (Recommendation 2)
Open

OMB neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. In May 2020, OMB told GAO that its process for identifying high priority programs had evolved and been superseded by a process for identifying and securing high value assets, and that the Federal CIO and Federal Chief Information Security Officer were engaged in overseeing these assets through their involvement on the Federal CIO and Federal Chief Information Security Officer Councils. While we recognize the importance of ensuring the security of high value assets, they do not represent the full range of "high priority programs under

Child Well-Being: Key Considerations for Policymakers, Including the Need for a Federal Cross-Agency Priority Goal

Show
1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
GAO recommends that the Director of OMB consider developing a goal that addresses a coordinated federal approach to child well-being among its next set of cross-agency priority (CAP) goals, including working with relevant agencies to ensure their strategic plans include goals and objectives related to the CAP goal. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OMB neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. In November 2017, OMB staff noted that the agency was developing its next set of CAP goals, which are usually reserved for a limited set of priorities, and expects to announce these goals concurrent with the FY19 budget. As part of the process, agency staff said they consult relevant Congressional committees and other stakeholders. As of March 2021, OMB had not provided an update on its efforts.

DATA Act: OMB, Treasury, and Agencies Need to Improve Completeness and Accuracy of Spending Data and Disclose Limitations

Show
2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should continue to provide ongoing technical assistance that significantly contributes to agencies making their own determinations about their DATA Act reporting requirements and monitor agency submissions. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OMB staff stated the assistance it has previously provided to help agencies make their own reporting determinations fulfills the recommendation's intent. However, because we have identified instances where agencies have not submitted these data and Treasury forwards a list of non-compliant agencies to OMB on a quarterly basis as part of its ongoing DATA Act monitoring efforts, we continue to believe that OMB needs to follow up with agencies that are not submitting data to determine why they are not reporting. It also needs to update its list of agencies required to report. As of April 2021

Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should clarify and align existing guidance regarding the appropriate definitions agencies should use to collect and report on Primary Place of Performance and establish monitoring mechanisms to foster consistent application and compliance. (Recommendation 2)
Open

OMB has taken some steps to provide guidance for agencies regarding the Primary Place of Performance data element. However, we believe that providing specific examples of how agencies should approach challenging situations when reporting on this data element for financial assistance awards would provide further clarity and improve data quality. Toward this end, OMB stated in December 2020 that it was having discussions with agencies on how to improve the transparency and display of Primary Place of Performance for financial assistance. As of April 2021, OMB had not taken any additional actions

Managing for Results: Further Progress Made in Implementing the GPRA Modernization Act, but Additional Actions Needed to Address Pressing Governance Challenges

Show
2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should revise and publicly issue OMB guidance--through an update to its Circular No. A-11, a memorandum, or other means--to provide time frames and associated milestones for implementing the federal program inventory. (Recommendation 2)
Open

As of July 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had taken limited action in response to this recommendation. Although OMB published an initial inventory covering the programs of 24 federal agencies in May 2013, OMB decided to postpone further development of the inventory in order to coordinate with the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In December 2020, OMB announced a federal program inventory exploratory pilot that was intended to provide insights into expanding the effort into a comprehensive inventory. According to a December 3

Office of Management and Budget
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OMB should consider--as OMB determines its strategy for resumed implementation of the federal program inventory--using a systematic approach, such as the information architecture framework, to help ensure that GPRAMA requirements and our past recommendations for the inventory are addressed. (Recommendation 3)
Open

As of July 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had taken limited action in response to this recommendation. Although OMB published an initial inventory covering the programs of 24 federal agencies in May 2013, OMB decided to postpone further development of the inventory in order to coordinate with the implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act). In December 2020, OMB announced a federal program inventory exploratory pilot that was intended to provide insights into expanding the effort into a comprehensive inventory, while also limiting the

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.