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 2, 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.

Search Open Recommendations

1 - 14 of 14 Recommendations
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Information Technology: Agencies Need to Fully Implement Key Workforce Planning Activities

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of the Office of Personnel Management should ensure that the agency fully implements each of the eight key IT workforce planning activities it did not fully implement. (Recommendation 15)
Open

OPM agreed with this recommendation. In May 2020, OPM reported that the agency's Chief Information Officer and Human Resources office developed competency and staffing requirements for its IT staff based on findings from a workforce assessment. Further, in March 2021, OPM reported that it had hired a Human Capital Strategist to develop an IT strategic workforce plan. However, as of March 2021, the agency had not provided documentation of its competency requirements, and did not provide a timeframe for completion of the workforce plan. To fully implement this recommendation, OPM needs to

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

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OPM should establish a process for conducting an organization-wide cybersecurity risk assessment. (Recommendation 54)
Open

OPM concurred with this recommendation. In January 2021, the agency stated that its initial plans to implement the recommendation were delayed due to resource challenges and that it plans to revisit this effort in the second quarter of FY 2021. Once the agency has provided evidence of these actions, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

Federal Retirement: OPM Actions Needed to Improve Application Processing Times

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Associate Director of OPM's Retirement Services, working in coordination with the Chief Information Officer, should develop, document, and implement a Retirement Services IT modernization plan for initial project phases that is consistent with key aspects of IT project management, such as determining objectives, costs, and time frames for each initial phase. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OPM partially concurred with the recommendation. In March 2021, OPM stated that it was working to develop the plan, including conducting user research which will help inform the technology roadmap for the initial project phases. OPM also said that it is planning to incorporate the user research, which will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2021, and then take further steps to finalize the plan.

Federal Workforce: Opportunities Exist for OPM to Further Innovation in Performance Management

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OPM, in consultation with the CHCO Council, should develop and implement a mechanism for agencies to routinely and independently share promising practices and lessons learned, such as through allowing agencies to post such information on OPM's Performance Management portal. (Recommendation 2)
Open

OPM agreed with this recommendation. As of March 2021, OPM stated that it developed and implemented a mechanism for agencies to routinely share promising practices and lessons learned on OPM's Successful Workforce Practices repository on MAX.gov. According to OPM, this initiative is in its early phases of development. OPM stated that it anticipates that the repository will be focused on areas such as employee engagement, accountability, and performance management. OPM also stated that it plans to sort the repository into those categories to make it more user-friendly. OPM stated that it is

Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OPM, in consultation with the CHCO Council, should develop a strategic approach for identifying and sharing emerging research and innovations in performance management. (Recommendation 3)
Open

OPM agreed with this recommendation. As of March 2021, OPM stated that it established strategic partnerships that are producing emerging research and is drafting a formal strategy to share these materials with agencies. OPM stated that it is expecting this will result in leveraged partnerships for sharing research and ideas with agencies. To fully address this recommendation, OPM needs to finalize its strategy to share emerging research and innovations in performance management.

Federal Employee Misconduct: Actions Needed to Ensure Agencies Have Tools to Effectively Address Misconduct

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OPM, after consultation with the CHCO Council, should provide guidance to agencies to enhance the training received by managers/supervisors and human capital staff to ensure that they have the guidance and technical assistance they need to effectively address misconduct and maximize the productivity of their workforces. (Recommendation 3)
Open

In March 2021, OPM shared various actions it had taken to provide guidance on training supervisors and human resources staff on addressing misconduct. OPM stated that going forward, it had obtained the necessary resources and will take steps to update online training courses and classroom training materials for addressing misconduct and will make this material available to agencies. To fully implement the recommendation to provide guidance on training supervisors and human capital staff on addressing employee misconduct, OPM needs to update training courses and make this information available

Federal Pay: Opportunities Exist to Enhance Strategic Use of Special Payments

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Director of OPM, together with the CHCO Council, should track government-wide data to establish a baseline and analyze the extent to which the seven Title 5 special payment authorities are effective in improving employee recruitment and retention, and determine what potential changes may be needed to improve the seven authorities' effectiveness. (Recommendation 1)
Open

OPM partially concurred with the recommendation and said that by August 2018, OPM would (1) track Governmentwide data to establish a baseline of agency use of the seven Title 5 special payment authorities by occupation with a focus on mission-critical occupations; and (2) work with the CHCO Council to determine what changes may be needed to improve the seven authorities' effectiveness. OPM said agencies are in the best position to analyze the extent to which special pay authorities, when used in conjunction with other human resources flexibilities, improve their ability to recruit and retain

Information Security: OPM Has Improved Controls, but Further Efforts Are Needed

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To further improve security over personnel and other sensitive information at the agency, the Acting Director of OPM should develop and implement role-based training requirements for staff using Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation tools.
Open

OPM concurred with the recommendation. In March 2021, OPM stated that it has corrective actions planned as part of its forthcoming cyber training initiative. The agency plans to pilot the initiative and use the results to identify additional training opportunities, including role-based security training. The agency also stated that additional actions are needed such as coordinating across OPM programs to develop further system requirements and capabilities for providing and tracking specialized training for staff using Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation tools. OPM expects full

Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To further improve security over personnel and other sensitive information at the agency, the Acting Director of OPM should improve the timeliness of validating evidence associated with actions taken to address the US-CERT recommendations.
Open

OPM partially concurred with the recommendation. In March 2021, OPM stated it is tracking the remaining two open US-CERT recommendations in its remedial action management system. However, OPM does not expect that it would be able to complete, and validate evidence associated with, the required actions to fully implement those recommendations in the near-term. To fully implement the recommendation, OPM needs to promptly validate the effectiveness of the actions taken to implement the US-CERT recommendations. We will continue to follow up with OPM on the status of this recommendation.

Federal Human Resources Data: OPM Should Improve the Availability and Reliability of Payroll Data to Support Accountability and Workforce Analytics

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To support its strategic and open data goals, the Director of OPM should improve the availability of the EHRI payroll data--for example, by preparing the data for analytics, making them available through online tools such as FedScope, and including them among the EHRI data sources on the OPM website and Data.gov.
Open

OPM agreed with the recommendation. In December 2018, OPM told us it will establish a plan to make payroll data available through analytical tools such as FedScope no later than the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019. To fully implement the recommendation, OPM will need to improve the availability of payroll data-either from the existing EHRI system or the new employee digital record-by ensuring the data are prepared and made available for analytics research.

Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To improve internal controls for data quality, the Director of OPM should consistently monitor system-generated error and edit check reports and ensure that timely action is taken to address identified issues.
Open

OPM agreed with the recommendation. In December 2018, OPM reported that it plans to begin follow-up efforts with agencies and shared service providers on payroll data errors and anomalies and to notify data providers of problems. To fully implement the recommendation, OPM will need to follow up with shared services centers and agencies regarding issues identified with the payroll data they submit to EHRI. These steps will help ensure the quality of historical and current payroll data. They will also ensure that system detected errors are resolved and do not compound over time.

Federal Hiring: OPM Needs to Improve Management and Oversight of Hiring Authorities

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To help strengthen the government's ability to compete in the labor market for top talent, and to improve the federal hiring process, the Director of OPM, in conjunction with the CHCO Council, should use this information to determine whether opportunities exist to refine, consolidate, eliminate, or expand agency-specific authorities to other agencies and implement changes where OPM is authorized, including seeking presidential authorization (as necessary) in order to do so. In cases where legislation would be necessary to implement changes, OPM should work with the CHCO Council to develop legislative proposals.
Open

OPM agreed with GAO's August 2016 recommendation and has taken actions to address hiring authorities. For example, in May 2021, OPM reported that it is seeking to improve hiring by exploring changes to various flexibilities, such as improving opportunities for student and seasonal employment, and how the federal government re-employs former employees. To fully implement this recommendation, OPM needs to complete the process of streamlining the number of hiring authorities and, as appropriate, develop legislative proposals in consultation with the CHCO Council. Expanding access to hiring

Information Security: Agencies Need to Improve Controls over Selected High-Impact Systems

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To improve agency information security programs, Acting Director of the Office of Personnel Management should provide and track specialized training for all individuals, including contractors, who have significant security responsibilities.
Open

OPM partially agreed with this recommendation. In March 2021, OPM stated that corrective actions are planned as part of a forthcoming cyber training initiative. The agency plans to pilot the initiative and use the results to identify additional training opportunities for federal employees. OPM expects full implementation in a year or two. For contractors, the agency stated that the tracking of specialized training is best addressed through contractual requirements and oversight. To fully implement the recommendation, OPM needs to complete its efforts to provide and track training for federal

Human Capital: OPM Needs to Improve the Design, Management, and Oversight of the Federal Classification System

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To improve the classification system and to strengthen OPM's management and oversight, the Director of OPM, working through the Chief Human Capital Officer Council, and in conjunction with key stakeholders such as the Office of Management and Budget, unions, and others, should use prior studies and lessons learned from demonstration projects and alternative systems to examine ways to make the GS system's design and implementation more consistent with the attributes of a modern, effective classification system. To the extent warranted, develop a legislative proposal for congressional consideration.
Open

OPM partially agreed with this recommendation. In March 2021, OPM reported it continues to take steps to respond to governmentwide requests for classification technical assistance, such as completing 19 occupational studies using a new streamlined approach. OPM also reported that it continues to engage with agencies on classification policy needs and challenges, and it continues to monitor the status of classification governmentwide. OPM reported that in order to pursue the recommendation, it would need appropriations to establish a commission to review the General Schedule system. To fully

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