GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.
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As of April 1, 2020, there are 4994 open recommendations, of which 380 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.
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Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should establish timeframes and monitoring procedures for timely transfer of taxpayer appeals requests by examination compliance units to the Office of Appeals. (Recommendation 3)
Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: IRS agreed with this recommendation. In February 2019, IRS stated it plans to implement corrective actions to establish and document time frames and new monitoring processes by August 2019. IRS will need to assess whether the planned actions result in timely transfer of examination appeals considering the diversity of examination cases and appeal types. We will continue to monitor IRS's implementation of this recommendation.
Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct the referral programs to establish a mechanism to coordinate on a plan and timeline for developing a consolidated, online referral submission in order to better position IRS to leverage specialized expertise while exploring options to further consolidate the initial screening operations.
Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of March 2019, IRS had taken some action to establish a mechanism to coordinate on a plan and timeline for developing a consolidated, online referral submission, as GAO recommended in its February 2016 report. IRS established a cross-functional team in February 2016 to comprehensively review IRS's referral programs. Among other things, the team has explored options to consolidate the initial screening operations and determine the scope and complexity for moving the referral process to an online format. According to IRS, an electronic submission process is expected to provide better access to the program and reduce the burden associated with making a written report or referral. In November 2016, the cross-functional team requested information technology resources for fiscal year 2019 to develop an online system which could potentially replace four separate referral forms, filter out incomplete referrals, and electronically route referrals for further IRS action. As of March 2019, IRS was considering funding for fiscal year 2020 for the portal development. IRS assessed options for consolidating all forms for the various referral programs and determined that consolidating them to a single form was not feasible because of the technical nature and complexity of the various referral types. As of March 2019, the cross-functional team had worked with IRS On Line Services to develop an online application prototype and was considering the cost-effectiveness of a commercial off-the-shelf product. According to IRS, the online application will make it easier for the public to report possible tax violations. Also, the online system will improve efficiency in coordination and provide reports that will be incorporated into the quarterly coordination meetings to achieve a broader collaborative mechanism across the multiple referral programs. As of March 2019, IRS was still working on the charter for the new coordination working group. IRS said it will consider further consolidating the referral programs once the online application is in place. GAO will continue to assess these efforts as they are further developed.
Recommendation: As EPA and USDA continue to consider ways to track and promote water utilities' implementation of asset management, the Administrator of EPA should direct the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water and Office of Wastewater Management to continue to include questions on water utilities' use of asset management in the clean water needs assessment and consider including questions about water utilities' use of asset management in future drinking water infrastructure needs assessment surveys.
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: As of January 2020, EPA is planning the next Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment that will begin in 2020. EPA officials said that they would work with industry and states to consider questions related to water utilities' use of asset management in the survey. EPA did not provide an update on the Clean Water Needs Survey. GAO will continue to review this recommendation.
Recommendation: To improve VA's efforts to effectively complete the development and implementation of VBMS, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Benefits and the Chief Information Officer to develop an updated plan for VBMS that includes (1) a schedule for when VBA intends to complete development and implementation of the system, including capabilities that fully support disability claims, pension claims, and appeals processing and (2) the estimated cost to complete development and implementation of the system.
Agency: Department of Veterans Affairs Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) concurred with our recommendation and as of January 2020, is continuing to develop requirements for VBMS in order to develop functionality to replace legacy information systems. In addition, the department subsequently provided us with expected completion dates for implementation of claims and appeals processing, but has not provided a schedule for the implementation of pension claims processing. To fully implement this recommendation, the department needs to provide the expected completion date for pension claims processing and an estimate of the cost to complete remaining development and implementation of VBMS.
Recommendation: To help improve DOD's milestone decision process, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics in collaboration with the military service acquisition executives, program executive officers, and program managers to, as a longer-term effort, select several current or new major defense acquisition programs to pilot, on a broader scale, different approaches for streamlining the entire milestone decision process, with the results evaluated and reported for potential wider use. The pilot programs should consider the following: (1) Defining the appropriate information needed to support milestone decisions while still ensuring program accountability and oversight. The information should be based on the business case principles needed for well-informed milestone decisions including well defined requirements, reasonable life-cycle cost estimates, and a knowledge-based acquisition plan. (2) Developing an efficient process for providing this information to the milestone decision authority by (a) minimizing any reviews between the program office and the different functional staff offices within each chain of command level and (b) establishing frequent, regular interaction between the program office and milestone decision makers, in lieu of documentation reviews, to help expedite the process.
Agency: Department of Defense Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation, but as of October 2019 has identified only one major defense acquisition program, the Navy's Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band, to pilot more streamlined approaches for providing only the most essential information to decision makers. To fully implement the recommendation, the Air Force and Army should also designate programs to pilot more streamlined approaches.
Recommendation: To identify effective and cost-efficient methods for meeting TWIC program objectives, and assist in determining whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the TWIC program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs, the Secretary of Homeland Security should conduct an effectiveness assessment that includes addressing internal control weaknesses and, at a minimum, evaluates whether use of TWIC in its present form and planned use with readers would enhance the posture of security beyond efforts already in place given costs and program risks.
Agency: Department of Homeland Security Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: We reported that DHS had not assessed the program's effectiveness at enhancing security. We recommended that DHS conduct an effectiveness assessment that includes addressing internal control weaknesses and, at a minimum, evaluates whether use of TWIC in its present form and planned use with readers would enhance the posture of security beyond efforts already in place given costs and program risks. DHS, through TSA, has taken steps to address this recommendation by having an internal controls assessment conducted of the TWIC program's enrollment, background checking, credential issuance, and continued eligibility review. In February 2018, TSA, with assistance from DHS's Science and Technology Directorate, initiated a study with a Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center to conduct an assessment of the TWIC program's security effectiveness in the maritime environment. The study was received by DHS in August 2019 and as of January 2020 is undergoing review by the Office of Management and Budget. The study plan sets forth methods for assessing the TWIC program's planned use with card readers. However, the study will not assess information systems controls and related risks for reasonably assuring that use of TWIC with readers and associated systems used for access control decisions are reliable and not surreptitiously altered by cyber intrusions or attack. This is notable as one of the TWIC program's four defined mission needs-reason for the program-is to ensure that unauthorized individuals are not able to defeat or otherwise compromise the access system in order to be granted permissions that have been assigned to an authorized individual. In September 2019 DHS noted that the assessment would not review cyber vulnerabilities of access control systems because the issue was not specifically cited in our report. However, the basis for our recommended effectiveness assessment, which is to include addressing internal control weaknesses, is that an internal controls assessment of the TWIC program identifying related weaknesses and risks be conducted. Consideration of systems and related control activities used to achieve objectives and respond to risks is a principal of internal control assessments. Moreover, it is directly relevant for an access control program, such as the TWIC program, that is proposed to rely on the interplay of systems to achieve its central security objective. In addition, based on our review of documentation provided, the assessment does not include an assessment of the federally managed single credential approach in contrast to federally regulated decentralized options, such as the SIDA airport credentialing model, the Hazardous Materials endorsement for truck drivers (wherein an endorsement is added to a driver's license), the federal government's own agency-specific credentialing model which relies on organizational sponsorship and credentials with agency-specific security features, or any combination thereof. Absent an assessment of controls for ensuring the reliable use of TWIC with readers and the above-noted types of credentialing approaches, the study will fall short in meeting our recommendation and the deficiencies identified in our report. With consideration of the above noted shortfalls, DHS should proceed to conduct an assessment of the TWIC program's effectiveness to determine whether the benefits of continuing to implement and operate the program in its present form and planned use with readers surpass the costs. As of January 2020, DHS reports that the planned December 2019 delivery of the study to GAO is delayed pending a review by the Office of Management and Budget. DHS's revised estimated completion date for addressing GAO's recommendation(s) is now March 31, 2020. We will assess the information provided in consideration of recommendation closure once received.
Recommendation: To improve the Bureau's use of its master schedule to manage the 2020 decennial census, the Secretary of Commerce should require the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau to include estimates of the resources, such as labor, materials, and overhead costs, in the 2020 integrated schedule for each activity as the schedule is built, and prepare to carry out other steps as necessary to conduct systematic schedule risk analyses on the 2020 schedule.
Agency: Department of Commerce Status: Open Priority recommendation
Comments: Commerce neither agreed nor disagreed with this recommendation. Regarding GAO's 2013 assessment of the Bureau's schedule (GAO-14-59), Bureau officials stated that they hoped to begin identifying the resources needed for each activity in their schedules by early 2014. Bureau officials announced they had completed the 2020 Census schedule in July 2016, and have since periodically described their intent to link resources to activities within their schedules. However, as of May 2018, the Bureau had not taken these steps. Senior Bureau officials have now stated that it would require additional staffing in order to plan for and implement this recommendation. In July 2018 (GAO-18-589) we reported again on the status of the Bureau's scheduling, stating that when the Bureau has resource loaded its schedule, it will be able to use the schedule more effectively as a management tool. As of March 2019, we are in contact with the Bureau to collect evidence that these actions have been taken. To fully implement this recommendation, the Bureau needs to conduct quantitative schedule risk analyses with the resulting schedule.