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Open Recommendations

Paperwork Reduction Act: Agencies Could Better Leverage Review Processes and Public Outreach to Improve Burden Estimates

GAO-18-381
Aug 10, 2018
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11 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should ensure the consistent application of the requirement for respondent time costs, including clarifying instructions for when and how to include fringe benefits. (Recommendation 1)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In April 2019, we requested information from OMB on the agency's implementation of our recommendation but as of May 2019 have not received any status updates. We will continue to monitor OMB's efforts to address our recommendation.
Office of Management and Budget The Director of OMB should review the policies, procedures, and related control activities to ensure that the agency's Paperwork Reduction Act review process is operating effectively. (Recommendation 2)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In April 2019, we requested information from OMB on the agency's implementation of our recommendation but as of May 2019 have not received any status updates. We will continue to monitor OMB's efforts to address our recommendation.
Department of Agriculture The Secretary of Agriculture should review the policies, procedures, and related control activities to ensure that the agency's Paperwork Reduction Act review process is operating effectively. (Recommendation 3)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In June 2019, USDA provided an update on efforts to review its Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) policies and procedures. To ensure that its PRA process is operating effectively, USDA reviewed and updated its internal guidance on preparing information collection request supporting statements, including sections regarding the calculation of respondent burden hour and cost estimates. This updated guidance encourages consultation with potential respondents to help develop these burden estimates. A new PRA consultation checklist directs agency officials to seek input from individuals outside of USDA regarding the agency's burden estimates for an information collection request, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used in the estimate calculations. The updated guidance specifies that fringe benefits, such as paid leave, insurance, and retirement contributions, should be included in the wage rates used for respondent burden cost estimates. It also clarifies when roundtrip travel time and costs should be included in burden estimates. According to USDA officials, the agency meets with PRA Coordinators to ensure compliance with the updated guidance. These are positive steps toward improving USDA's burden calculation process. However, USDA has not yet provided evidence of a review or revision of its information collection request review process. A review or revision of this process could help USDA better identify errors in burden estimate calculations prior to the final information collection request being sent to OMB and released to the public.
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services should review the policies, procedures, and related control activities to ensure that the agency's Paperwork Reduction Act review process is operating effectively. (Recommendation 5)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In October 2018, HHS provided a statement of actions it had taken to address this recommendation. HHS stated that it had added reporting tools to its Common Data Element Repository (CDER) Library that could help improve tracking of information related to HHS's Information Collection Requests. HHS also stated that it had launched daily emails to Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) staff to inform them of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Notices of Action related to Information Collection Requests. Additionally, HHS released an information collection burden calculator tool in the CDER Library to give PRA staff the ability to create burden tables for consistent use across multiple platforms for a single Information Collection Request. According to HHS officials, this tool incorporates both wages and employee benefits in the burden calculations. As of August 2019, HHS's burden calculator tool has been included as a resource on PRA.Digital.gov, a new OMB website that serves as a PRA knowledge base for federal staff. While these are important steps, we are awaiting additional details on how these changes have affected HHS's PRA review process. We will continue to monitor HHS's progress toward addressing our recommendation.
Department of Health and Human Services The Secretary of Health and Human Services should leverage existing consultation with stakeholders and the public to explicitly seek input on the estimated burden imposed by information collections. (Recommendation 6)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In October 2018, HHS stated that it continues to leverage consultation mechanisms for input on the burdens imposed by information collections. According to the agency, it plans to increase the use of the eRulemaking program's Federal Docket Management System for all information collections, including non-rule Information Collection Requests. HHS also stated it plans to contact stakeholders to discuss potential information collections and receive burden estimates. As of August 9, 2019, we have not received an update about HHS's actions or plans. We will continue to monitor HHS's efforts to address our recommendation.
Department of Transportation The Secretary of Transportation should review the policies, procedures, and related control activities to ensure that the agency's Paperwork Reduction Act review process is operating effectively. (Recommendation 7)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In its September 2018 recommendation implementation update, Department of Transportation (DOT) stated that the department began an internal review of the Paperwork Reduction Act program operations, policy, and guidance. Officials reported that they anticipate issuing an updated policy by September 30, 2019. We will continue to monitor DOT's efforts to address our recommendation.

Freedom of Information Act: Agencies Are Implementing Requirements but Additional Actions Are Needed

GAO-18-365
Jun 25, 2018
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16 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
American Battle Monuments Commission The Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission should designate a chief FOIA officer at the assistant secretary level or equivalent. (Recommendation 1)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

American Battle Monument Commission officials stated they are working to implement GAO's recommendations by the end of fiscal year 2020. GAO is currently awaiting the agency's response to GAO recommendations.
American Battle Monuments Commission The Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission should update and publish comprehensive FOIA regulations that include requirements established by law and Justice guidance. (Recommendation 2)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

American Battle Monument Commission officials stated they are working to implement GAO's recommendations by the end of fiscal year 2020. GAO is currently awaiting the agency's response to GAO recommendations.
Broadcasting Board of Governors The Chief Executive Officer and Director of the Broadcasting Board of Governors should update and publish comprehensive FOIA regulations that include requirements established by law and Justice guidance. (Recommendation 3)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In August 2018, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) performed a comprehensive review of its FOIA regulations and updated its regulations in accordance with GAO's recommendation. BBG noted it plans to finalize its FOIA regulations by the end of fiscal year 2020.
Department of Homeland Security The Secretary of DHS should take steps to develop and document a plan that fully addresses best practices with regards to reduction of backlogged FOIA requests. (Recommendation 4)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In April 2018, the Department of Homeland Security initiated a department-wide compliance assessment and stated that it plans to use the results of the assessment to help guide the department in identifying best practices and areas of improvement. The department does not have an estimate for when the plan will be complete.
Department of the Interior The Secretary of DOI should take steps to develop and document a plan that fully addresses best practices with regards to reduction of backlogged FOIA requests. (Recommendation 7)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

In August 2018, the Department of Interior informed GAO that the department has created a preliminary backlog reduction plan that includes expanding the use of automation tools, expanding the use of interim responses, and closing the Department's 10 oldest requests. Currently, GAO is awaiting a copy of the Department's backlog reduction plan.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission The Chair of EEOC should designate a chief FOIA officer at the assistant secretary level or equivalent. (Recommendation 8)
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

GAO is currently awaiting the agency's response to GAO recommendations..

Social Security Numbers: OMB Actions Needed to Strengthen Federal Efforts to Limit Identity Theft Risks by Reducing Collection, Use, and Display

GAO-17-553
Jul 27, 2017
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5 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Management and Budget To improve the consistency and effectiveness of governmentwide efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of SSNs and thereby mitigate the risk of identity theft, the Director of OMB should specify elements that agency plans for reducing the unnecessary collection, use, and display of SSNs should contain and require all agencies to develop and maintain complete plans.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

As of December 2018, we have not yet received information to validate the agency's actions on this recommendation. Subsequent to the agency stating that is has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.
Office of Management and Budget To improve the consistency and effectiveness of governmentwide efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of SSNs and thereby mitigate the risk of identity theft, the Director of OMB should require agencies to modify their inventories of systems containing personally identifiable information to indicate which systems contain SSNs and use the inventories to monitor their reduction of unnecessary collection and use of SSNs.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

As of December 2018, we have not yet received information to validate the agency's actions on this recommendation. Subsequent to the agency stating that is has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.
Office of Management and Budget To improve the consistency and effectiveness of governmentwide efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of SSNs and thereby mitigate the risk of identity theft, the Director of OMB should provide criteria to agencies on how to determine unnecessary use of SSNs to facilitate consistent application across the federal government.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

As of December 2018, we have not yet received information to validate the agency's actions on this recommendation. Subsequent to the agency stating that is has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.
Office of Management and Budget To improve the consistency and effectiveness of governmentwide efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of SSNs and thereby mitigate the risk of identity theft, the Director of OMB should take steps to ensure that agencies provide up-to-date status reports on their progress in eliminating unnecessary SSN collection, use, and display in their annual Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 reports.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

As of December 2018, we have not yet received information to validate the agency's actions on this recommendation. Subsequent to the agency stating that is has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.
Office of Management and Budget To improve the consistency and effectiveness of governmentwide efforts to reduce the unnecessary use of SSNs and thereby mitigate the risk of identity theft, the Director of OMB should establish performance measures to monitor agency progress in consistently and effectively implementing planned reduction efforts.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

As of December 2018, we have not yet received information to validate the agency's actions on this recommendation. Subsequent to the agency stating that is has taken action, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

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

GAO-17-127
Oct 07, 2016
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5 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Affected 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

Recommendation status is 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 To improve internal controls for data quality, the Director of OPM should update EHRI payroll database documentation to be consistent with current field definitions and requirements, including the Guide to Human Resources Reporting and the Guide to Data Standards, Part B.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

OPM concurred with our recommendation, but as of December 2018, has not updated the documentation for the EHRI payroll database.
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

Recommendation status is 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.
Office of Personnel Management To integrate the payroll data into the larger suite of EHRI databases, the Director of OPM should develop a schedule for executing these plans.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

OPM concurred with our recommendation, but has not yet developed a plan for integrating payroll into the larger suite of EHRI databases.
Office of Personnel Management To integrate the payroll data into the larger suite of EHRI databases, the Director of OPM should evaluate existing internal control activities and develop new control activities for EHRI payroll data, such as implementing transactional edit checks that leverage the information in the other EHRI datasets.
Open

Recommendation status is Open.

While OPM concurred with our recommendation, the agency has not evaluated or implemented, for Payroll data, the control activities and edit checks that are currently used to support the reliability of the other EHRI datasets.