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As of January 31, 2023, there are 4839 open recommendations that still need to be addressed. 470 of these are priority recommendations, those that we believe warrant priority attention. Learn more about our priority designation on our Recommendations page.

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1 - 20 of 81 Recommendations, including 6 Priority Recommendations
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Unemployment Insurance: Data Indicate Substantial Levels of Fraud during the Pandemic; DOL Should Implement an Antifraud Strategy

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should design and implement an antifraud strategy for UI based on a fraud risk profile consistent with leading practices as provided in the Fraud Risk Framework. (Recommendation 1)
Open

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

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act: Additional Steps Needed to Help States Collect Complete Enrollment Information

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should work with the Secretary of Education to determine how to better assist WIOA core programs in collecting complete information on co-enrollment, for example, by providing additional information or technical assistance to help states better share information on participants across programs. (Recommendation 1)
Open

The Department of Labor (DOL) agreed with this recommendation. DOL stated that it will continue to partner with Education to emphasize the importance of collecting complete and accurate co-enrollment information and provide additional support to states. We will monitor the progress of these efforts.

Privacy: Dedicated Leadership Can Improve Programs and Address Challenges

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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should fully define and document a process for ensuring that the senior agency official for privacy, or other designated privacy official, reviews IT capital investment plans and budgetary requests. (Recommendation 27)
Open

The Department of Labor stated that it concurred with our recommendation and would take steps to address it. Once the department states that it has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should fully define and document a process for ensuring that the senior agency official for privacy or other designated privacy official is involved in assessing and addressing the hiring, training, and professional development needs of the agency with respect to privacy. (Recommendation 28)
Open

The Department of Labor stated that it concurred with our recommendation and would take steps to address it. Once the department states that it has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should fully define and document the role of the senior agency official for privacy or other designated privacy official in reviewing and approving system categorizations, overseeing privacy control assessments, and reviewing authorization packages. (Recommendation 29)
Open

The Department of Labor stated that it concurred with our recommendation and would take steps to address it. Once the department states that it has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

Unemployment Insurance: Pandemic Programs Posed Challenges, and DOL Could Better Address Customer Service and Emergency Planning

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should ensure the Office of Unemployment Insurance assesses lessons learned from the pandemic to inform its future disaster response efforts and support the Congress on ways to address future emergencies. (Recommendation 2)
Open

DOL agreed with this recommendation, stating that such efforts are underway and will continue. In a letter dated December 6, 2022, DOL described several relevant efforts, such as release of an issue brief on lessons learned from the Great Recession and the pandemic. One key effort that DOL described was study of a solution that would provide the UI system overall with a national emergency response, which DOL referred to as "in the discovery stage." Once this study is complete, we will close the recommendation.

Unemployment Insurance: Transformation Needed to Address Program Design, Infrastructure, and Integrity Risks

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should develop and execute a transformation plan that meets GAO's high risk criteria for transformation; the plan should outline coordinated and sustained actions to address issues related to providing effective service and mitigating financial risk, including ways to demonstrate improvements. Planned actions may include addressing audit recommendations, and determining whether legislative changes are needed, as appropriate. Planned actions may also include achieving quantifiable results in reducing improper payment rates, including those related to fraud; improving efficiency in claims processing and restoring pre-pandemic payment timeliness levels; better reaching current worker populations; and enhancing equity in benefit distribution. (Recommendation 1)
Open

DOL agreed with this recommendation. The agency highlighted initiatives it is taking to address it, such as efforts aimed at reducing improper payments and combating fraud; enhancing equity in program access and benefit distribution; and improving efficiency in claims processing, among others. We laud these valuable efforts and encourage DOL to continue to pursue efforts to transform the UI system to help meet, in part, the criteria for removal from the GAO high-risk list. These actions, if implemented effectively, would help address our recommendation.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: Federal Program Supported Contingent Workers Amid Historic Demand, but DOL Should Examine Racial Disparities in Benefit Receipt

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2 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should study and advise the Congress and other policymakers on the costs, benefits, and risks of various options to systematically support self-employed and contingent workers during periods of involuntary unemployment outside of declared disasters, including considering options' feasibility and approach to fraud prevention. (Recommendation 1)
Open

DOL agreed with this recommendation. In November 2022, DOL noted that the agency will continue to encourage legislative action and will provide technical assistance on this topic to Congress, upon request. DOL also said that it plans to study how to improve efforts to provide benefits to non-covered workers quickly and securely in the case of a future mass unemployment event when such workers might be authorized to receive benefits. These efforts are important steps. However, this recommendation will remain open until DOL provides information publicly about options to systematically support

Department of Labor
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Labor should ensure the Office of Unemployment Insurance examines and publicly reports on the extent of and potential causes of racial and ethnic inequities in the receipt of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, as part of the agency's efforts to modernize UI and improve equity in the system. The report should also address whether there is a need to examine racial, ethnic, or other inequities in regular UI benefit receipt, based on the PUA findings. (Recommendation 2)
Open

DOL partially agreed with this recommendation, noting that enhancing demographic data collection in the permanent UI programs to inform actions to improve equity is a higher priority than performing a complete retrospective review of the PUA program, which is no longer operating. We believe examining and reporting on the extent and potential causes of racial and ethnic inequities in the receipt of PUA benefits would provide valuable information for DOL and policymakers to effectively monitor state practices for meeting its goals of advancing racial, geographic, and gender equity in the UI

Freedom of Information Act: Selected Agencies Adapted to the COVID-19 Pandemic but Face Ongoing Challenges and Backlogs

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Chief FOIA Officer of the Department of Labor should address risks to sustained backlog reduction efforts by identifying training and other needs to resolve data quality issues as part of its regular oversight of component FOIA programs. (Recommendation 1)
Open

The Department of Labor agreed with this recommendation. Labor said it is taking several steps to address the recommendation, including establishing a formal FOIA backlog reduction plan and implementing additional quality controls on data input and reporting. As of September 2022, we continue to monitor Labor's progress.

COVID-19: Additional Actions Needed to Improve Accountability and Program Effectiveness of Federal Response

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6 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should designate a dedicated entity and document its responsibilities for managing the process of assessing fraud risks to the unemployment insurance program, consistent with leading practices as provided in our Fraud Risk Framework. This entity should have, among other things, clearly defined and documented responsibilities and authority for managing fraud risk assessments and for facilitating communication among stakeholders regarding fraud-related issues. See the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Risk Management enclosure. (Recommendation 4)
Open

The Department of Labor (DOL) neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. In late February 2022, DOL clarified that its Employment and Training Administration, in partnership with DOL's Office of Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for fraud risk management in the UI program. As of August 2022, DOL has begun work but not completed implementing this recommendation. We maintain that, consistent with our Fraud Risk Framework, it is important for DOL to clearly document this designation and these officials' antifraud responsibilities in policies and procedures.

Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should identify inherent fraud risks facing the unemployment insurance program. See the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Risk Management enclosure. (Recommendation 5)
Open

DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of August 2022, DOL has begun work but not completed implementing this recommendation. DOL officials told us that DOL's Office of Unemployment Insurance, in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, is currently working on developing its fraud risk management program. This program includes identifying inherent fraud risks. We will continue to monitor DOL's fraud risk assessment activities.

Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should assess the likelihood and impact of inherent fraud risks facing the unemployment insurance program. See the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Risk Management enclosure. (Recommendation 6)
Open

DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of August 2022, DOL has begun work but not completed implementing this recommendation. DOL officials told us that DOL's Office of Unemployment Insurance, in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, is currently working on developing its fraud risk management program. This program includes assessing the likelihood and impact of inherent fraud risks. We will continue to monitor DOL's fraud risk assessment activities.

Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should determine fraud risk tolerance for the unemployment insurance program. See the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Risk Management enclosure. (Recommendation 7)
Open

DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of August 2022, DOL has begun work but not completed implementing this recommendation. DOL officials told us that DOL's Office of Unemployment Insurance, in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, is currently working on developing its fraud risk management program. This program includes determining fraud risk tolerance. We will continue to monitor DOL's fraud risk assessment activities.

Department of Labor
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Labor should examine the suitability of existing fraud controls in the unemployment insurance program and prioritize residual fraud risks. See the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Risk Management enclosure. (Recommendation 8)
Open

DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of August 2022, DOL has begun work but not completed implementing this recommendation. DOL officials told us that DOL's Office of Unemployment Insurance, in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, is currently working on developing its fraud risk management program. We will continue to monitor DOL's fraud risk assessment activities.

Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should document the fraud risk profile for the unemployment insurance program. See the Unemployment Insurance Fraud Risk Management enclosure. (Recommendation 9)
Open

DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. As of August 2022, DOL has begun work but not completed implementing this recommendation. DOL officials told us that DOL's Office of Unemployment Insurance, in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, is currently working on developing its fraud risk management program. This program includes developing a fraud risk profile. We will continue to monitor DOL's fraud risk assessment activities.

COVID-19: Sustained Federal Action Is Crucial as Pandemic Enters Its Second Year

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should ensure the Office of Unemployment Insurance collects data from states on the amount of overpayments waived in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, similar to the regular unemployment insurance program. See Unemployment Insurance Programs enclosure. (Recommendation 15)
Open – Partially Addressed

DOL agreed with our recommendation and on September 3, 2021, issued PUA program guidance and updated instructions for states to report PUA overpayments waived. As of September 12, 2022, 30 states had reported some data on the amount of PUA overpayments waived in any month, and 24 states reported data in July 2022. Sustained reporting by more states is needed to help inform DOL, policymakers, and the public about the amount of PUA overpayments states and territories have waived. We will continue to monitor state reporting of PUA overpayments waived. In September 2022, DOL stated that it will

Defined Contribution Plans: Federal Guidance Could Help Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks in 401(k) and Other Retirement Plans

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2 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should formally state whether cybersecurity for private sector employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plans is a plan fiduciary responsibility under ERISA. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In February 2021, DOL neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. The agency stated that plan fiduciaries must act prudently and solely in the interest of plan participants and beneficiaries, and that these duties require plan fiduciaries to take appropriate precautions to mitigate risks of malfeasance to their plans, whether cyber or otherwise. DOL also cited existing regulations on electronic records and electronic disclosures that include provisions to ensure systems are safe and personal information is protected. While these regulations are important, we believe making a formal

Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor should develop and issue guidance that identifies minimum expectations for mitigating cybersecurity risks that outline the specific requirements that should be taken by all entities involved in administering private sector employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plans. (Recommendation 2)
Open

DOL agreed that increasing awareness of fiduciaries' duties under ERISA with respect to cybersecurity would be helpful. DOL stated it is drafting compliance assistance materials to help (1) increase awareness among plan fiduciaries of DOL's position on cybersecurity risk mitigation and (2) ensure that fiduciaries satisfy their ERISA obligations when selecting and monitoring service providers. We believe that, in addition, DOL should identify minimum expectations for mitigating cybersecurity risks for all entities involved in the administration of DC plans. GAO believes that fully implementing

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

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
Department of Labor
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Labor should ensure the Office of Unemployment Insurance pursues options to report the actual number of distinct individuals claiming benefits, such as by collecting these already available data from states, starting from January 2020 onward. (Recommendation 8)
Open – Partially Addressed

DOL partially agreed with our recommendation. Specifically, DOL agreed to pursue options to report the actual number of distinct individuals claiming UI benefits. However, DOL did not agree with the recommended retroactive effective date of the reporting. In a letter dated March 30, 2021, DOL stated that it had begun developing a new state report that would capture data related to distinct individuals claiming regular UI benefits; DOL estimated that this data collection might begin in early 2022.In September 2022, DOL stated that its work on the new state report that would capture data related

Note: the list of open recommendations for the last report may continue on the next page.

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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.