Budget and Spending

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Open Recommendations

Credit Reform: Transparency Needed for Evaluation of Potential Federal Involvement in Projects Seeking Loans

GAO-22-105280
Jul 28, 2022
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should publish government-wide criteria outlining factors that agencies should consider when evaluating federal involvement in a potential project to help determine whether the project is eligible for the special budgetary treatment under FCRA. (Recommendation 1)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Federal Spending Transparency: Opportunities Exist for Treasury to Further Improve USAspending.gov's Use and Usefulness

GAO-22-104127
Dec 16, 2021
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3 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of the Treasury should develop and implement website promotion efforts that are clearly targeted toward the USAspending.gov user personas that it has previously identified. (Recommendation 1)
Open
Treasury officials stated that they have tied their USAspending.gov promotion efforts to specific features and initiatives that they have launched for the website. For example, Treasury has conducted outreach with collaborative partners to help inform its recent "Data Dives" feature as well as its YouTube tutorial videos and its promotional strategy is tied to the success of such initiatives. We have reached out to Treasury for additional details and documentation so that we can better understand and evaluate these efforts.
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of the Treasury should develop and implement training that targets the specific needs of USAspending.gov user personas, and make training (including existing resources such as its Analyst's Guide to Federal Spending Data) prominent on the USAspending.gov website. (Recommendation 2)
Open – Partially Addressed
In response to this recommendation, Treasury has made more training resources available on USAspending.gov. This includes the migration of its Analyst's Guide to Federal Spending Data to the website and the release of YouTube video tutorials intended to help users answer common questions about federal award spending. In addition, Treasury told us that they have provided customized training for specific users who have requested training through the website. We have reached out to Treasury for additional details and documentation of these efforts.
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of the Treasury should add a broad website search function to USAspending.gov to help users find content on the website. (Recommendation 3)
Open
Treasury officials told us that they are in the process of laying the foundation for a broad ("global") search function across all USAspending.gov content. However, they expect the design work for a global search function will not begin until FY2024 at the earliest.
Department of the Treasury
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of the Treasury should develop and implement approaches to make known data limitation disclosures more prominent and easily accessible to USAspending.gov users. (Recommendation 4)
Open
Treasury officials told us that they have designed a solution for an accessible and persistent data limitation disclosure module, which they plan to implement in the coming months. We have requested additional information on this effort.

Federal Spending Transparency: Opportunities Exist to Further Improve the Information Available on USAspending.gov

GAO-22-104702
Nov 08, 2021
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6 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of the Treasury should design and implement a process to periodically inform agencies about unlinked data to help agencies reconcile and resolve data linkage differences between transaction and submission data on USAspending.gov. (Recommendation 2)
Open
As of July 2022, Treasury is working on a process to address this recommendation, including sending a quarterly report to agencies on the status of their unlinked awards and updating the functionality of the USASpending.gov Agency Submission Statistics Page (ASSP) so that it will allow agencies to quickly download a list of all unlinked awards. Fully implementing these new procedures will be responsive to our recommendation. We will continue to monitor Treasury's progress toward implementing this recommendation.
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of the Treasury should ensure that identifiers and database keys (e.g., unique award key) used for financial assistance awards result in display outputs on USAspending.gov that are accurate and complete. (Recommendation 3)
Open
Treasury agreed with this recommendation. In June 2022, Treasury notified agencies that, given the design of the unique award key, changing the Awarding Sub Tier Agency Code during the life of a financial assistance award would result in transactions for the same award displayed as separate awards on USAspending.gov. Treasury specified that, in order for these financial assistance award transactions to be displayed together, agencies would need to ensure that all transactions under the award have the same Awarding Sub Tier Agency Code. However, to implement this recommendation, Treasury needs to ensure that when agencies accurately report information -- such as transactions for one award with different Awarding Sub Tier Agencies -- the unique award key design properly displays information on USAspending.gov. We will continue to monitor Treasury's efforts to implement this recommendation
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should ensure that their policies, guidance, and procedures related to DATA Act and USAspending.gov (e.g., maximum number of characters for award descriptions) are consistent with each other. (Recommendation 5)
Open
OMB concurs with this recommendation. In July 2022 OMB told us that work with Treasury is ongoing to ensure the display and technical standards for reporting information on USAspending.gov is consistent with FFATA and DATA Act statutory, regulatory, and policy guidance. We will continue to monitor OMB's progress toward implementing this recommendation.
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Director of OMB, should disclose on USAspending.gov that it does not validate the data it collects from external government-wide reporting systems (e.g., FPDS) and displays on USAspending.gov and, therefore, the imported data may not always align with the data standards, definitions, and requirements established in the OMB and Treasury guidance. (Recommendation 6)
Open
In July 2022, Treasury officials told us that they plan to implement this recommendation in the coming months, as part of a new data limitation disclosure module. We will continue to monitor Treasury efforts to implement this recommendation.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB, in collaboration with the Secretary of the Treasury, should develop and implement a process to help ensure that disallowed program activities are not included in its list of program activity and accounts combinations used for validating DATA Act submissions to USAspending.gov. (Recommendation 7)
Open
OMB concurred with this recommendation. In July 2022, OMB told us that they will continue to review the quality of program activity submissions as part of their larger effort to develop a federal program inventory. We will continue to monitor OMB's progress towards implementing this recommendation.
Department of the Treasury The Secretary of the Treasury should disclose on USAspending.gov that changes in the data submission and reporting guidance and requirements over time may affect the completeness, consistency, and quality of specific data elements. (Recommendation 8)
Open
As of July 2022, Treasury officials told us that they plan to implement this recommendation in the coming months, as part of a new data limitation disclosure module. We will continue to monitor Treasury's efforts to implement this recommendation.

Areas with High Poverty: Changing How the 10-20-30 Funding Formula Is Applied Could Increase Impact in Persistent-Poverty Counties

GAO-21-470
May 27, 2021
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2 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Congress If Congress elects to include the 10-20-30 formula in future appropriations acts, Congress should consider focusing its application on those programs or accounts where it would meaningfully increase the proportion of funding awarded to persistent-poverty counties. (Matter for Consideration 1)
Open
In May 2022, the House of Representatives passed H.R.6531, which would require the Office of Management and Budget to, in consultation with other agencies, implement guidance to increase the share of federal investments targeted to persistent-poverty areas and other areas of high poverty. It would also require the Office of Management and Budget to issue guidance to agencies on the scope and types of programs subject to the requirements, the share of federal investments to be targeted to these areas, the manner in which federal investments are to be targeted to these areas, and measures to track the federal investments targeted to these areas. We will continue to monitor the status of this bill.
Congress If Congress elects to include the 10-20-30 formula in future appropriations acts, Congress should consider requiring the relevant agencies to use a uniform list of persistent-poverty counties. Such a list could be created and updated annually by an agency well-suited to compile it, such as the Economic Research Service. (Matter for Consideration 2)
Open
In May 2022, the House of Representatives passed H.R.6531, which requires the Bureau of the Census to publish a list of all areas of persistent poverty and annually update the list. We will continue to monitor the status of this bill.
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