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Open Recommendations

Puerto Rico Electricity Grid Recovery: Better Information and Enhanced Coordination Is Needed to Address Challenges

GAO-20-141
Oct 08, 2019
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4 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Federal Emergency Management Agency The Administrator of FEMA should develop and provide clear written information in the form of policy, guidance, or regulations, as appropriate, to COR3 and PREPA that clarifies how FEMA will implement new authorities for the electricity grid recovery in Puerto Rico, including guidance on industry standards and defining resilience. (Recommendation 1)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Housing and Urban Development The Secretary of HUD should establish time frames and a plan for publication of the grant process and requirements for CDBG-DR funding available for improvements to Puerto Rico's electricity grid. (Recommendation 2)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Federal Emergency Management Agency The Administrator of FEMA, in coordination with DOE, HUD, and other federal and local entities, should establish a mechanism, or take steps to improve existing mechanisms, for coordination among the multiple local and federal entities involved in grid recovery that facilitates decision-making and information sharing among local and federal agencies. (Recommendation 3)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Federal Emergency Management Agency The Administrator of FEMA, in coordination with DOE, should establish an interagency agreement to define roles and responsibilities to clarify how FEMA will consult with DOE in grid recovery planning, implementation, and decision-making. (Recommendation 4)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

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

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

GAO-19-479
Jun 28, 2019
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget 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

Recommendation status is Open.

OMB disagreed with our recommendation. 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 ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations. While agencies were responsible for submitting their internal control plans, federal law placed the responsibility of establishing the criteria for the internal control plans with OMB. We found that OMB provided neither timely nor sufficient guidance to agencies for developing their internal control plans. Specifically, OMB issued M-18-14 1 day before agencies were required to submit their internal control plans. Further, M-18-14 provided a general description of the process for developing the plans through Circular A-123 ERM requirements, but it did not provide clear guidance on the purpose of internal control plans or the type of information that was expected to be included in the written plans. Because OMB did not establish an effective strategy for timely communicating requirements for agency reporting in internal control plans, federal agencies lacked the information needed to meet the statutory deadline. In addition, absent clear reporting guidance, such as criteria specifying plan content or illustrative examples of completed plans, certain federal agencies had difficulties in developing their plans. OMB staff also stated that OMB believed its guidance, in particular Circular A-123, which OMB said implements GAO's Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government and GAO's A Framework for Managing Fraud Risks in Federal Programs, provides the guidance needed to prepare agencies' control plans. OMB staff stated that control plans in an effective system of internal control should be operational, iterative, living documents that should be updated in response to emerging risks. According to OMB staff, internal control plans are not developed for external communications and are not the sources of assurances over disaster relief funds, which are published in agencies' annual financial reports. While it is important that agencies implement Circular A-123, which directs agencies to develop effective ERM processes, we believe that ERM does not negate the need for assuring effective internal controls over disaster relief funds. As we noted in our report, with OMB's focus on ERM, it is possible for agencies to determine that disaster funding does not rise to the level of a significant risk; therefore, agencies' internal control plans would not specifically address risks associated with disaster funding. In addition, while it is important for agencies to update their internal control plans in response to emerging risks, Congress specifically required agencies to communicate internal control plans for the supplemental funds provided for activities related to the 2017 disasters. These plans, when provided timely and with sufficient information, could serve as a critical transparency tool to provide lawmakers some assurance that agencies will establish effective and efficient controls over the disaster funds. Therefore, we believe that our recommendation is warranted.

Army Corps of Engineers: Process for Selecting Section 219 Projects for Funding Could Be Strengthened

GAO-19-487
Jun 13, 2019
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of the Army The Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop written criteria for ranking Section 219 projects for funding, taking into account a clear set of priorities, such as those identified by recent congressional direction.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In November 2019, the Department of Defense indicated that the Army Corps of Engineers plans to develop and implement written criteria for ranking Section 219 projects by March 2020. We will evaluate actions taken by the Corps once they are complete.

Puerto Rico: Limited Federal Data Hinder Analysis of Economic Condition and DOL's 2016 Overtime Rule

GAO-18-483
Jun 29, 2018
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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Commerce The Secretary of Commerce should ensure that the Bureau of Economic Analysis includes Puerto Rico in its reporting on gross domestic product, as it does for four other U.S. territories. (Recommendation 1)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

The Department of Commerce agreed with this recommendation. As of August 2018, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) received initial funding for the remainder of FY18 and FY19 to begin producing economic statistics for Puerto Rico. BEA is currently in the process of meeting with the government and other stakeholders and building a work plan, with a kick-off expected in early FY19 and initial outputs anticipated in late FY19. In addition, BEA reported taking steps to develop a work plan to calculate GDP and review the economic and demographic data currently available from the federal government and Puerto Rico. Any short-term efforts to calculate GDP will rely heavily on data currently collected by the Puerto Rico government. Additional efforts beyond FY19 are contingent on resource availability.
Department of Commerce The Secretary of Commerce, in cooperation with DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics, should conduct a study on the feasibility of including Puerto Rico in its reporting of the Current Population Survey. (Recommendation 2)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

The Department of Commerce agreed with this recommendation. In June 2018, the Department noted that in Fall 2016, the Census Bureau and DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that an assessment of the feasibility of expanding the Current Population Survey (CPS) data products to include Puerto Rico would cost approximately $1.5 million over an 18-month period. Commerce understands that BLS, which funds the majority of the CPS, does not have the funds within its budget to conduct a feasibility study. Given these resources constraints, Census and BLS would also not be able to absorb the costs of collecting, analyzing and producing the data in the out years.
Department of Labor The Secretary of Labor, in cooperation with the Commerce's Census Bureau, should conduct a study on the feasibility of including Puerto Rico in its reporting of the Current Population Survey. (Recommendation 3)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

DOL noted that in 2016, Census and its Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that an assessment of the feasibility of expanding the Current Population Survey (CPS) data products to include Puerto Rico would cost approximately $1.5 million over an 18-month period (as of June 2018). BLS, which funds the majority of the CPS, does not have the funds within its budget to conduct a feasibility study. Given these resources constraints, BLS and Census would also not be able to absorb the costs of collecting, analyzing and producing the data in the out years.