The Department of Defense (DOD) continues efforts to establish a business enterprise architecture (a modernization blueprint) and transition plan and modernize its business systems and processes, in compliance with key provisions of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 and amendments. Nonetheless, long-standing challenges remain. The following table reflects the status of DODs actions to fulfill selected requirements of the act.In addition, the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer has yet to determine and follow a strategic approach to managing its human capital needs, thus limiting its ability to, among other things, effectively address the acts requirements. Collectively, these limitations put the billions of dollars spent annually on approximately 2,100 business system investments that support DOD functions at risk. GAOs previous recommendations to the department have been aimed at accomplishing these and other activities related to the business systems modernization. However, to date, the department has not implemented 29 of the 63 recommendations that GAO has made in these areas.According to DOD officials, recent turnover, changes to the acts requirements significantly expanding the number of systems subject to certification, and the short time frame for implementing the new investment review process contributed to the aforementioned weaknesses. Until DOD implements GAO recommendations and addresses the weaknesses described in this report, it will be challenged in its ability to manage the billions of dollars invested annually in modernizing its business system investments. GAO designated DODs multibillion dollar business systems modernization program as high risk in 1995, and, since then, has provided a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening DODs institutional approach to modernization and reducing the risk associated with key investments. The act requires the department to report on actions taken relative to its business systems modernization efforts and GAO to assess DODs actions to comply with the act. In evaluating DODs compliance, GAO analyzed, for example, the latest version of the business enterprise architecture and enterprise transition plan, investment management policies and procedures, and certification actions for its business system investments. GAO is making recommendations to help ensure that the departments modernization program is fully compliant with provisions of the act and to improve the departments architecture, transition plan, and business system investment management and human capital management within the Office of the Deputy Chief Management Officer. DOD concurred with two recommendations, partially concurred with three, and did not concur with three. GAO continues to believe its recommendations are warranted given the departments need to more effectively manage its billions of dollars of business system investments and minimize or eliminate system overlap and duplication as appropriate.For more information, contact Valerie C. Melvin at (202) 512-6304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interior's oversight of offshore resources. In July 2012, GAO reported on changes to the Department of the Interior's oversight of offshore oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon incident. Specifically, GAO reported that Interior had established two new bureaus, separating resource management oversight activities from safety and environmental oversight activities. GAO also reported that new requirements and policy changes designed to mitigate risk of a well blowout or spill had initially required additional resources and increased permit approval times, but that approval times decreased as Interior staff and oil and gas companies became more familiar with the new requirements. GAO also found that Interior's inspections of offshore Gulf of Mexico drilling rigs and production platforms routinely identified violations, but that Interior's database was missing data on when violations were identified and corrected. GAO made 11 recommendations aimed at improving Interior's oversight activities. Interior generally agreed with the recommendations and plans to implement them.Interior's collection of oil and gas revenues. In September 2008, GAO reported that Interior collected lower levels of revenues for oil and gas production in the deep water of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico than all but 11 of 104 oil and gas resource owners in other countries and some states. In July 2009, GAO reported on problems with Interior's efforts to collect data on oil and gas produced on federal lands, including missing and erroneous data. In March 2010, GAO reported that Interior was not taking needed steps to ensure that oil and gas produced from federal lands was accurately measured and was not consistently meeting its goals for oil and gas production verification inspections. GAO made numerous recommendations aimed at improving Interior's revenue collection policies, including oversight of production verification activities and controls on the accuracy and reliability of royalty data. Interior generally agreed with these recommendations and has implemented many of them.Interior's oil and gas management on GAO's high risk list. In February 2011, GAO added Interior's management of federal oil and gas resources to its list of federal programs and operations at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement or needing broad-based transformation. GAO added this high risk area because Interior (1) did not have reasonable assurance that it was collecting its share of revenues; (2) continued to experience problems hiring, training, and retaining sufficient staff to provide oversight and management of oil and gas operations; and (3) was engaged in a broad agency reorganization that could adversely impact its ability to effectively manage oil and gas during the crisis following the Deepwater Horizon incident. In February 2013, after Interior completed its reorganization, GAO narrowed the oil and gas high-risk area to focus on revenue collection and human capital challenges and is currently examining these issues. While Interior has begun to implement many of GAO's recommendations, it has yet to fully implement a number of others, including recommendations intended to (1) provide reasonable assurance that oil and gas is accurately measured, and that the public is getting an appropriate share of revenues, and (2) address its long-standing human capital issues.Why GAO Did This Study Interior issues permits for the development of new oil and gas wells on federal lands and waters; inspects wells to ensure compliance with environmental, safety, and other regulations; and collects royalties from companies that sell the oil and gas produced from those wells. In recent years, onshore and offshore federal leases produced a substantial portion of the oil and gas produced in the United States. In fiscal year 2012, Interior collected almost $12 billion in mineral revenues including those from oil and gas development, making it one of the largest nontax sources of federal government funds. Previous GAO work has raised concerns about Interior's management and oversight of federal oil and gas resources.This testimony focuses on (1) Interior's oversight of offshore oil and gas resources, (2) Interior's collection of oil and gas revenues, and (3) Interior's progress to address concerns that resulted in its inclusion on GAO's High Risk List in 2011. This statement is based on prior GAO reports issued from September 2008 through February 2013.GAO is making no new recommendations. Interior continues to act on the recommendations that GAO has made to improve the management of oil and gas resources. GAO continues to monitor Interior's implementation of these recommendations.For more information, contact Frank Rusco at (202) 512-3841 or email@example.com.
Over time, Congress has modified how Medicare reimburses certain hospitals under the inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS), which pays hospitals a flat fee per stay, set in advance, with different amounts for each type of condition. GAO identified numerous statutory provisions that individually increased Medicare payments to a subset of hospitals.Seven provisions enabled hospitals to be paid under a different geographic wage index, which is used to address variation in labor costs.Five provisions modified the classification criteria allowing IPPS hospitals to qualify for supplemental payments through the Medicare disproportionate share hospital (DSH) program or other types of special treatment.Three provisions created and modified criteria for classifying small rural providers as Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), which are exempt from IPPS and instead are paid under an alternative methodology.In general, while such provisions were designed to affect only a subset of hospitals, nearly all of the 4,783 hospitals in GAO's review qualified for an adjustment or exemption from the IPPS in 2012. About 91 percent were subject to an IPPS payment adjustment or were excluded from the IPPS entirely. Most hospitals, over 63 percent, qualified for at least one of four categories of increased payment, with DSH payments being the most common. Under the CAH program, 28 percent of hospitals were exempt from the IPPS. The remaining hospitals, 9 percent, received IPPS payments that were unadjusted for the modifications included in GAO's review. Moreover, many IPPS hospitals qualified for multiple categories of payment adjustments. These findings suggest that the way Medicare currently pays hospitals may no longer ensure that the goals of the IPPS--cost control, efficiency, and access--are being met. To help control the growth of hospital spending, give hospitals an incentive to provide care efficiently, and ensure beneficiary access, Congress created the IPPS in 1983. Yet, Congress can enhance Medicare payments to certain hospitals by changing the qualifying criteria for IPPS payment categories, creating and extending exceptions to IPPS rules, or by exempting certain types of hospitals from the IPPS. The Institute of Medicine and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission have stated that such practices undermine the integrity of the IPPS.GAO was asked to review legislation that altered payments to certain hospitals. In this report, GAO (1) identified provisions of law that enhanced Medicare payments for only a subset of hospitals and (2) examined the extent to which hospitals qualified for adjustments to the IPPS or exemptions from the IPPS in 2012.To conduct this work, GAO reviewed provisions enacted from 1997 to 2012 to identify those that adjusted payments to a subset of IPPS hospitals or exempted hospitals from the IPPS. GAO analyzed data to learn the number, location, and size of hospitals affected by these provisions and budgetary estimates for the first year of implementation, where available. GAO also analyzed 2012 data on 4,783 general hospitals to determine the number and types of adjustments they received, the extent to which they qualified for multiple adjustments, and the number exempted from the IPPS.The Department of Health and Human Services reviewed a draft of this report, and provided technical comments, which we incorporated as appropriate.For more information, contact James Cosgrove at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to our nationwide survey of state testing directors, all states reported that their policies and procedures included 50 percent or more of the leading practices to prevent test irregularities in the following five areassecurity plans, security training, security breaches, test administration and protecting secure materials. Additionally, of the 28 states that administered computer-based assessments, the majority reported including half or more of the leading practices in computer-based testing. However, states varied in the extent to which they incorporated elements of certain categories of leading practices. For example, 22 states reported having all of the leading practices for security training, but four states reported having none of the practices in this category. Although state officials reported having a variety of security policies and procedures in place, many reported feeling vulnerable to cheating at some point during the testing process.States reported using various tools, such as statistical analyses of student data, monitoring, and audits of testing procedures, to oversee districts implementation of test security policies and procedures, and most states have used this oversight to identify cheating in recent years. For example, officials in 40 states reported allegations of cheating in the past two school years, and officials in 33 states confirmed at least one instance of cheating. Further, 32 states reported that they canceled, invalidated, or nullified test scores as a result of cheating.States reported receiving assistance with test security from several sources, with testing contractors being the most frequent source of support. States also identified areas where additional assistance with test security would be useful. In particular, officials from the majority of states reported that it would be very or extremely useful if Education gathered and disseminated information on best practices in test security. After our survey was administered, Education released a reportconsisting largely of the opinions of experts and practitionersthat discussed best practices and policies related to testing integrity. Because state assessmentswhich the U.S. Department of Education (Education) has supported with over $2 billion since 2002serve as the basis for school accountability and allocation of resources for targeted interventions, we prepared this report under the authority of the Comptroller General to conduct work on GAO's initiative. GAO is not making recommendations.For more information, contact Linda M. Calbom at (206) 287-4809 or email@example.com.
GAO's 2013 annual report identifies 31 new areas where agencies may be able to achieve greater efficiency or effectiveness. Seventeen areas involve fragmentation, overlap, or duplication. For example, GAO reported that the Department of Defense could realize up to $82 million in cost savings and ensure equivalent levels of performance and protection by taking action to address its fragmented approach to developing and acquiring combat uniforms. Additionally, GAO reported that a total of 31 federal departments and agencies collect, maintain, and use geospatial information. Better planning and implementation could help reduce duplicative investments and save of millions of dollars.The report also identifies 14 additional areas where opportunities exist to achieve cost savings or enhance revenue collections. For example, GAO suggested that Department of Health and Human Services cancel the Medicare Advantage Quality Bonus Payment Demonstration. GAO found most of the bonuses will be paid to plans with average performance and that the demonstration's design precludes a credible evaluation of its effectiveness. Canceling the demonstration for 2014 would save about $2 billion. GAO also noted opportunities to save billions more in areas such as expanding strategic sourcing, providing greater oversight for Medicaid supplemental payments, and reducing subsidies for crop insurance. Additionally, GAO pointed out opportunities for enhancing revenues by reducing the net tax gap of $385 billion, reviewing prices of radioactive isotopes sold by the government, and providing more equity in tobacco taxes for similar types of products.The executive branch and Congress have made some progress in addressing the areas that GAO identified in its 2011 and 2012 annual reports. Specifically, GAO identified approximately 300 actions among 131 overall areas that the executive branch and Congress could take to reduce or eliminate fragmentation, overlap, or duplication or achieve other potential financial benefits. As of March 6, 2013, the date GAO completed its progress update audit work, about 12 percent of the areas were addressed, 66 percent were partially addressed, and 21 percent were not addressed. More recently, both the administration and Congress have taken additional steps, including proposals in the President's April Fiscal Year 2014 Budget submission.Addressing fragmentation, overlap, and duplication will require continued attention by the executive branch agencies and targeted oversight by Congress. In many cases, executive branch agencies have the authority to address the actions that GAO identified. In other cases, such as those involving the elimination or consolidation of programs, Congress will need to take legislative action. Moreover, sustained congressional oversight will be needed in concert with the administration's efforts to address the identified actions by improving planning, measuring performance, and increasing collaboration. Effective implementation of the GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 also could help the executive branch and Congress as they work to address these issues over time. As the fiscal pressures facing the nation continue, so too does the need for executive branch agencies and Congress to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government programs and activities. Opportunities to take such action exist in areas where federal programs or activities are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative.To highlight these challenges and to inform government decision makers on actions that could be taken to address them, GAO is statutorily required to identify and report annually to Congress on federal programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives, both within departments and governmentwide, that have duplicative goals or activities. GAO has also identified additional opportunities to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness by means of cost savings or enhanced revenue collection.This statement discusses the (1) new areas identified in GAO's 2013 annual report; (2) status of actions taken by the administration and Congress to address the 131 areas identified in GAO's 2011 and 2012 annual reports; (3) President's April Fiscal Year 2014 Budget submission and recently introduced legislation; and (4) strategies that can help address the issues we identified. GAO's 3-year systematic examination included a review of the budget functions of the federal government representing nearly all of the overall federal funds obligated in fiscal year 2010.For more information, contact Orice Williams Brown or A.Nicole Clowers at (202) 512-8678.
Older adults are being financially exploited by strangers who inundate them with mail, telephone, or Internet scams; unscrupulous financial services professionals; and untrustworthy in-home caregivers. Local law enforcement authorities in the four states GAO visited indicated that investigating and prosecuting the growing number of cases involving interstate and international mass marketing fraud--such as "grandparent scams," which persuade victims to wire money to bail "grandchildren" out of jail or pay their expenses--is particularly difficult. In addition, older adults, like other consumers, may lack the information needed to make sound decisions when choosing a financial services provider. As a result, they can unknowingly risk financial exploitation by those who use questionable tactics to market unsuitable or illegal financial products. Local officials also noted that it is difficult to prevent exploitation by in-home caregivers, such as home health or personal care aides, individuals older adults must rely on.GAO identified several ways the federal government is, or could be, supporting state and local efforts to combat elder financial exploitation.With regard to mass marketing scams, GAO has recommended that the Department of Justice reach out to law enforcement authorities in states to clarify how they can obtain the federal assistance needed to handle interstate or international mass marketing fraud.To help prevent exploitation by financial services professionals, the Securities and Exchange Commission links to a public website where the qualifications of individual financial services providers can be found, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued guidance on how best to convey this information to older adults.To prevent exploitation by in-home caregivers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides grants that fund background checks for employees of agencies that provide these services.Other federal efforts are broader in scope and help combat all types of elder financial exploitation. For example, each of the seven federal agencies GAO reviewed has independently undertaken activities to increase public awareness of this exploitation; however, GAO has recommended that the federal government develop a more strategic approach to these efforts. Further, recognizing the importance of collaboration among those interacting with older adults, GAO has recommended measures to educate bank staff on how to identify potential exploitation and improve collaboration among social service and law enforcement agencies, among others, as they respond to reports of exploitation. GAO has also noted the need for more data on the extent and nature of elder financial exploitation, some of which can be collected from consumer complaints filed with federal agencies. Finally, preventing and responding to elder financial exploitation calls for a more cohesive and deliberate national strategy. To this end, GAO has recommended that the Elder Justice Coordinating Council--a group of federal agency heads charged with setting priorities and coordinating federal efforts to combat elder abuse nationwide--develop a written national strategy for combating elder financial exploitation. Elder financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older adult's funds or property. It has been described as an epidemic with society-wide repercussions. While combating elder financial exploitation is largely the responsibility of state and local social service, criminal justice, and consumer protection agencies, the federal government has a role to play in this area. GAO was asked to testify on the different forms elder financial exploitation can take and the ways federal agencies can help combat it. This testimony is based on information in a report issued in November 2012 (see GAO-13-110). To obtain this information, GAO interviewed public officials in California, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania--states that had large elderly populations and initiatives to combat financial exploitation; officials from seven federal agencies; and experts in this field. GAO also reviewed federal strategic plans and other relevant documents, research, laws, and regulations. In its November 2012 report, GAO made multiple recommendations to federal agencies, and the agencies generally agreed with the recommendations.For more information, contact Kay Brown at (202) 512-7215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Management-level representation of minorities and women in the financial services industry and among federal financial agencies and Federal Reserve Banks (Reserve Banks) has not changed substantially from 2007 through 2011. Industry representation of minorities in 2011 was higher in lower-level management positions--about 20 percent--compared to about 11 percent of senior-level manager positions. Industry representation of women at the overall management level remained at about 45 percent. Agency representation of minorities at the senior management level in 2011 ranged from 6 percent to 17 percent and from 0 percent to 44 percent at the Reserve Banks. Women's representation ranged from 31 to 47 percent at the agencies and from 15 to 58 percent at the Reserve Banks. Officials said the main challenge to improving diversity was identifying candidates, noting that minorities and women are often underrepresented in both internal and external candidate pools.In response to the requirements in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), in 2011 federal financial agencies and Reserve Banks began to report annually on the recruitment and retention of minorities and women and other diversity practices. They all have established Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) as required. Many agencies and Reserve Banks indicated they had recruited from minority-serving institutions and partnered with organizations focused on developing opportunities for minorities and women, and most described plans to expand these activities. Some used employee surveys or recruiting metrics to measure the progress of their initiatives, as suggested by leading diversity practices, but OMWIs are not required to include this type of information in the annual reports to Congress. Better reporting of measurement efforts will provide Congress, agency officials, and other stakeholders additional insights on the effectiveness of diversity practices and demonstrate how agencies and Reserve Banks are following a leading diversity practice. Most federal financial agencies and Reserve Banks are in the early stages of implementing the contracting requirements required under the act. For example, most now include a provision in contracts for services requiring contractors to make efforts to ensure the fair inclusion of women and minorities in their workforce and subcontracted workforce and have established ways to evaluate compliance. The proportion of an agency's dollars awarded or a Reserve Bank's dollars paid to minority- or woman-owned businesses reported in 2011 OMWI reports ranged between 3 percent and 38 percent. As the U.S. workforce has become increasingly diverse, many private- and public-sector entities recognize the importance of recruiting and retaining minorities and women for management-level positions to improve their business. The 2007-2009 financial crisis has renewed questions about commitment within the financial services industry (e.g., banking and securities) to workforce diversity. The Dodd-Frank Act required that eight federal financial agencies and the Federal Reserve Banks implement provisions to support workforce and contractor diversity. GAO was asked to review trends and practices since the beginning of the financial crisis. This report examines (1) workforce diversity in the financial services industry, the federal financial agencies, and Reserve Banks, from 2007 through 2011 and (2) efforts of the agencies and Reserve Banks to implement workforce diversity practices under the Dodd-Frank Act, including contracting. GAO analyzed federal datasets and documents and interviewed industry representatives and officials from the federal financial agencies and Reserve Banks. Each agency and Reserve Bank should include in its annual OMWI report to Congress efforts to measure the progress of its diversity practices. The agencies and Reserve Banks agreed to include this information in the annual OMWI reports. Additionally, some agencies and the Reserve Banks described steps they have taken or plan to take to address the recommendation.For more information, contact Daniel Garcia-Diaz at (202) 512-8678 or GarciaDiazD@gao.gov.
The military departments' Corrosion Control and Prevention Executives (Corrosion Executives) coordinated with the Department of Defense's (DOD) Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office (Corrosion Office) on reviews of their respective strategic plans. GAO's prior work has found that linking the goals of component organizations to departmental strategic goals is a practice that, if consistently applied, should improve the usefulness of plans to decision makers. However, the military departments varied in the extent that their strategic plans show clear linkage to the 10 goals and objectives included in the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan. The Army's strategic plan showed clear linkage to all 10 of the goals and objectives. The Air Force's plan clearly linked to half of the goals and objectives and the Navy's plan clearly linked to 3 of the goals and objectives. GAO's review of the military departments' strategic plans found no inconsistencies with DOD Instruction 5000.67, which establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides guidance for managing programs to prevent or mitigate corrosion. Without consistency or a clear linkage between the strategic plans of the military departments and the overarching goals and objectives in DOD's strategic plan, the military departments' strategies may not ensure that DOD achieves its overarching goals and objectives.The military departments' strategic plans included or partially included the 6 key characteristics that aid in the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan, but the military departments' plans do not fully include some associated elements for comprehensive strategic plans--such as performance measures. In prior work, GAO identified 6 characteristics and 31 associated elements that comprehensive strategic plans should include. The Army plan fully included 2 of the 6 characteristics related to problem definition and risk assessment--problems and threats the strategy is directed towards--and also integration of the strategy (i.e., how a strategy relates to other strategies). The Navy plan fully included 1 of the 6 characteristics related to the problem definition and risk assessment. The Air Force partially included all 6 of the characteristics. For example, the Air Force plan described some, but not all, aspects of the characteristic on organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination--who will be implementing the strategy, what their roles will be compared to others, and mechanisms for them to coordinate their efforts. However, none of the military departments' plans included the elements on outcome-related performance measures used to gauge results or the limitations on performance measures. Of the 31 associated elements, the Army fully included 24 elements in its strategic plan; the Air Force, 8; and the Navy, 9. By relying on strategic plans that do not fully include the elements--such as performance measures--the military departments may not identify and communicate important information to corrosion stakeholders and decision makers to monitor and assess the departments' progress in preventing and mitigating corrosion. Corrosion costs DOD billions of dollars annually by taking critical systems out of action and creating safety hazards. Recognizing the need for coordinated corrosion prevention and control efforts and planning, House Report 112-78 directed the military departments to develop corrosion prevention strategies that support the DOD Corrosion Prevention and Mitigation Strategic Plan. The House Report directed GAO to evaluate the long-term strategies developed by the Corrosion Executive of each military department and to report the findings to both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee. GAO assessed the extent to which the military departments (1) coordinated with the Corrosion Office to ensure consistency of their strategic plans with DOD's overarching goals and objectives and conformity with DOD Instruction 5000.67; and (2) included characteristics of a comprehensive strategic plan in their respective plans. GAO reviewed relevant legislation, the corrosion prevention strategic plans of DOD and the military departments, and interviewed DOD corrosion officials. GAO is making two recommendations to improve future updates of the military departments strategic plans for corrosion prevention and control. DOD did not concur with the recommendations. DOD stated that the military departments plans linked to overarching goals and objectives and disagreed with the criteria GAO used to assess the plans. GAO continues to believe that these recommendations are valid as discussed in the report.For more information, contact Zina Merritt at (202) 512-5257 or email@example.com.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families' (TANF) role in providing cash assistance has evolved; fewer eligible families receive cash assistance and the composition of the caseload has changed. GAO noted in 2010 that 87 percent of the dramatic decline from 1995 through 2005 in the number of families receiving cash assistance was due a decline in eligible families participating in TANF, rather than increased incomes. Changes to state TANF programs, such as mandatory work requirements and lower benefits, account in part for this decline. Relatively modest caseload increases in recent years nationwide, as well as decreases in some states, have raised questions about TANF's responsiveness to changing economic conditions. GAO also reported in 2011 that the composition of the TANF caseload has changed, with about 40 percent of cases now comprised of children only, with the adult not receiving benefits, and little known nationwide about state policies for aiding these children. Potential options to better understand TANF's role as a cash assistance program may include: improving information on the extent to which states provide cash assistance to eligible low-income families, and requiring states to include more information--for example in TANF state plans submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)--on features such as benefit amounts and services provided.The current approach used to measure the extent to which states engage TANF recipients in work activities as defined by federal law has limitations. GAO reported in 2010 and 2011 that most states relied on several factors allowed in law, including credits for caseload reductions, to reduce the percentage of families they needed to engage in work to meet their work participation rate requirements. GAO also reported that current policies may be discouraging states from serving some families who are not "work-ready" through TANF, such as those with significant barriers to employment or complex needs. Potential options to address these issues may include: eliminating, limiting, or modifying some of the credits states may use to reduce their work participation rate requirements; adjusting requirements to better ensure states engage those not work-ready; and developing an additional or alternate set of measures that focus on employment outcomes. However, more information may be needed to assess the potential impacts of any changes to work participation requirements.Limitations exist in the information available to assess states' use of federal TANF funds and state expenditures related to minimum state spending requirements under TANF, known as maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements. GAO reported in 2012 that the TANF block grant has evolved into a flexible funding stream that states use to support a broad range of non-cash services, but information requirements for assessing TANF performance have not kept pace with this evolution. For example, there are no reporting requirements mandating performance information specifically on families receiving non-cash services or their outcomes. GAO also reported in 2012 that states have reported increased levels of MOE spending for a variety of reasons, including helping them reduce their work participation rate requirements as allowed by law. Potential options to better understand federal and state TANF spending may include: improving reporting and performance information to encompass the full breadth of states' use of TANF funds, and requiring a review of MOE expenditures used to meet TANF requirements. In 1996, Congress made sweeping changes to federal welfare policy by replacing the previous cash assistance program with the TANF block grant. Since then through fiscal year 2011, the federal government and states have spent a total of nearly $434 billion for TANF. The block grant was reauthorized under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, and is currently authorized through September 30, 2013. To inform a potential reauthorization of TANF, GAO was asked to discuss its key findings on TANF performance and oversight from its previous work and identify potential options that would address these findings. This report discusses issues and options in three selected areas: (1) TANF's role in providing cash assistance to low-income families, (2) measurement of TANF work participation, and (3) information on states' use of TANF funds. In addition to summarizing its previous work on these issues, GAO reviewed relevant federal laws, regulations, and agency documents as well as transcripts from relevant congressional hearings from 2009 through 2012 to identify potential options. GAO also spoke with HHS officials and selected three TANF experts with a range of views to share their perspectives on these issues. GAO is not making recommendations, but rather identifying some potential options that might improve TANF performance, depending on Congress' goals for the program. These options are not intended to be exhaustive, and there may be a number of other options that warrant further analysis. HHS provided technical comments on a draft of this report.For more information, contact Kay E. Brown at (202) 512-7215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials from leading companies GAO spoke with reported saving 4-15 percent over prior year spending through strategically sourcing the full range of services they buy--a process that moves away from numerous individual purchases to an aggregate approach. The federal government and leading companies buy many of the same services, such as facilities management, engineering, and information technology. Companies' keen analysis of spending, coupled with central management and knowledge sharing about the services they buy, is key to their savings. Their analysis of spending patterns can be described as comprising two essential variables: the complexity of the service and the number of suppliers for that service. Knowing these variables for any given service, companies tailor their tactics to fit the situation; they do not treat all services the same. Company tactics fall into four basic categories: (1) Standardize requirements, (2) Understand cost drivers, (3) Leverage scale, and (4) Prequalify suppliers.To illustrate how buying tactics are tailored, Walmart leverages its scale to compete basic or commodity services that have many suppliers, such as maintenance. When buying sophisticated services with few suppliers, such as consulting, Dell negotiates cost drivers such as labor rates. The framework is dynamic: over the long term, companies seek to reduce complexity and bring in additional suppliers to take advantage of market forces like competition.Federal agencies have sizable opportunities to leverage leading commercial practices to lower costs and maximize the value of the services they buy. In September 2012, GAO reported that large procurement agencies such as the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs leveraged only a fraction of their buying power through strategic sourcing and faced challenges analyzing reliable data on spending, securing leadership support, and applying this approach to acquiring services. GAO recommended that these agencies and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issue guidance, develop metrics, and take other actions. The agencies and OMB concurred. OMB directed agencies to take actions to overcome these challenges. Potential savings are significant considering a savings rate of 4 percent applied to the $307 billion spent by federal agencies on services in fiscal year 2012 would equate to $12 billion. GAO has made recommendations in previous reports to help agencies strengthen strategic sourcing practices, which agencies concurred with and have planned actions under way. In fiscal year 2012, the federal government spent $307 billion to acquire services. The private sector is also reliant on services. Over the last 5-7 years, leading companies have been examining ways to manage their services in order to maximize returns and minimize inefficiencies. Given the amount of federal spending on services, GAO was asked to identify leading practices used by large commercial organizations for purchasing services. GAO identified (1) leading company practices for purchasing services, and (2) potential opportunities for federal agencies to incorporate these practices based on prior work.To determine leading companies' practices in this area, GAO selected a nongeneralizable sample of companies based upon a literature search and recommendations from Defense and industry organizations that have studied services acquisition. GAO identified and interviewed officials from seven companies, an industry group, and a consulting organization. To identify opportunities for agencies to adopt leading practices, GAO compared the types of services purchased by agencies in fiscal year 2012 with those purchased by companies. GAO also relied on prior, relevant work related to federal procurement of services and OMB initiatives for expanding agencies' use of strategic sourcing. GAO has made recommendations in previous reports to help agencies strengthen strategic sourcing practices, which agencies concurred with and have planned actions under way.For more information, contact Cristina Chaplain at (202) 512-4841 or email@example.com.
In GAOs audits of the Congressional Award Foundations (Foundation) financial statements for fiscal years 2012 and 2011, it found that the Foundations financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, in conformity with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. GAO also identified no material weaknesses in internal control over financial reporting, and no reportable noncompliance with laws and regulations it tested. In accordance with section 107 of the Congressional Award Act, as amended (2 U.S.C. § 807), GAO is responsible for conducting audits of the Foundations financial statements.For more information, contact J. Lawrence Malenich at (202) 512-3406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GAO's analysis of resources devoted to the Department of Defense's (DOD) geographic combatant commands shows that authorized military and civilian positions and mission and headquarters-support costs have grown considerably over the last decade due to the addition of two new commands and increases in authorized positions at theater special operations commands. Data provided by the commands shows that authorized military and civilian positions increased by about 50 percent from fiscal years 2001 through 2012, to about 10,100 authorized positions. In addition, mission and headquarters support-costs at the combatant commands more than doubled from fiscal years 2007 through 2012, to about $1.1 billion. Both authorized military and civilian positions and mission and headquarters-support costs at the service component commands supporting the combatant commands also increased. Data on the number of personnel performing contract services across the combatant commands and service component commands varied or was unavailable, and thus trends could not be identified.DOD has taken some steps to manage combatant commands' resources, but its processes to review size and oversee the commands have four primary weaknesses that challenge the department's ability to make informed decisions.DOD considers the combatant commands' requests for additional positions, but it does not periodically evaluate the commands' authorized positions to ensure they are still needed to meet the commands' assigned missions.DOD tracks some assigned personnel; however, all personnel supporting the commands are not included in DOD's personnel management system and reviews of assigned personnel vary by command.The service component commands support both service and combatant command missions. However, the Joint Staff and combatant commands lack visibility and oversight over the authorized manpower and personnel at the service component commands to determine whether functions at the combatant commands can be fulfilled by service component command personnel.Each military department submits annual budget documents for operation and maintenance to inform Congress of total authorized positions, full-time equivalents, and mission and headquarters-support funding for all combatant commands that they support. However, these documents do not provide transparency into the resources directed to each combatant command.GAO's work on strategic human capital management found that high-performing organizations periodically reevaluate their human capital practices and use complete and reliable data to help achieve their missions and ensure resources are properly matched to the needs of today's environment. Until DOD effectively manages the resources of the combatant commands, it may be difficult to ensure that the commands are properly sized to meet their assigned missions, or to identify opportunities to carry out those missions efficiently. To perform its missions around the world, DOD operates geographic combatant commands each with thousands of personnel. In response to direction from the congressional committees to review the resources of the combatant commands, GAO (1) identified the trends in the resources devoted to DOD's geographic combatant commands and their service component commands, and (2) assessed the extent that DOD has processes in place to manage and oversee the resources of the combatant commands. For this review, GAO obtained and analyzed data on resources, to include authorized positions and mission and headquarters-support costs, for five regional combatant commands' and their service component commands, excluding U.S. Central Command. GAO also interviewed officials regarding commands' manpower and personnel policies and procedures for reporting resources. GAO recommends DOD: require a periodic evaluation of the combatant commands' size and structure; use existing systems to manage and track all assigned personnel; develop a process to gather information on authorized manpower and assigned personnel at the service component commands; and require information in the budget on authorized positions, full-time equivalents, and funding for each combatant command. DOD nonconcurred with GAO's first recommendation, but GAO believes it is still needed to add rigor to the manpower requirements process. DOD concurred with GAO's three other recommendations.For more information, contact John H. Pendleton at (202) 512-3489 or email@example.com.
The 21 communities surrounding the 23 Department of Defense (DOD) installations closed in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round have used strategies such as forming a local redevelopment authority and seeking federal grants to deal with the closures. Some economic data for these communities are comparable to national averages, with some variation. For instance, GAO found that 52 percent (11 of 21) of communities had unemployment rates lower than the national average of 8.9 percent, although the rates ranged from a low of 6.1 percent to a high of 16.8 percent. Sixty-two percent (13 of 21) of the closure communities had real per capita income growth rates higher than the national average of 0.14 percent for the period from 2006 through 2011. Since 2005, 23 other installations have experienced population increases that have resulted in net growth of about 191,000 military and civilian personnel (a 36 percent increase), and their corresponding communities have used several strategies to accommodate this growth, including forming a regional working group composed of representatives from affected jurisdictions.Community representatives stated that DOD's Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) provides good support to communities facing base closure, but some representatives from communities surrounding closed Army installations stated that facilities were not maintained at a high enough level for reuse. An Army official told GAO that the Army makes an effort to maintain closed facilities in accordance with their planned usage and that local redevelopment authorities have unrealistic expectations of maintenance levels. DOD guidance states that the services have developed specific maintenance levels for facilities during the transition process. The Air Force and the Navy have published this specific guidance, but the Army has not and instead relies upon DOD's guidance, which does not describe specific levels of maintenance. Without clear guidance on the expected levels of maintenance for closed facilities, the communities may not have a clear understanding of what maintenance the Army will provide.Community representatives indicated that OEA provides good support to communities facing base growth, but that additional data and a civilian point of contact at the installation could improve their ability to respond to future growth. DOD has issued guidance that states communities should be provided maximum advance information to plan, and service guidance states that services will give communities information including military and personnel changes. However, community representatives told GAO that they would like additional aggregate information on where servicemembers live while stationed at the installation to facilitate planning for the impact of installation growth. Installations currently do not provide communities with this information because they do not have a system to track it, but officials noted that existing systems could potentially be modified to provide it. Installation officials and community representatives also stated that establishing a long-term civilian point of contact at the installation would help the community effectively plan for growth. Accurate and timely information on personnel residence areas and a civilian point of contact at the installation could better facilitate communities' efforts to accommodate installation growth. Through BRAC and other growth initiatives, DOD has made significant changes to its force structure, affecting communities around DOD installations. To help transition toward a smaller, more agile force, DOD has requested new BRAC authority. House Report 112-479, accompanying the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, directed GAO to study the practices and strategies that communities have used to cope with installation closure or growth. This report (1) describes the practices and strategies communities have used in dealing with base closures and growth since 2005 and economic and population data in those communities and (2) presents information on communities' needs in adjusting to installation closure and growth. GAO interviewed DOD, service, and installation officials; interviewed and surveyed community representatives; reviewed relevant guidance; and visited select installations. DOD concurred with GAO's recommendation that the Army issue guidance on maintenance levels to be provided during the base closure process. DOD partially concurred that it should establish procedures for sharing additional information with growth communities and designate a civilian point of contact at growth installations. GAO believes action by DOD prior to future installation growth will help forestall future challenges.For more information, contact James R. McTigue, Jr. at (202) 512-7968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 24 agencies participating in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) made progress towards the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) goal to close 40 percent, or 1,253 of the 3,133 total federal data centers, by the end of 2015, but OMB has not measured agencies' progress against its other goal of $3 billion in cost savings by the end of 2015. Agencies closed 420 data centers by the end of December 2012, and have plans to close an additional 548 to reach 968 by December 2015--285 closures short of OMB's goal. OMB has not determined agencies' progress against its cost savings goal because, according to OMB staff, the agency has not determined a consistent and repeatable method for tracking cost savings. This lack of information makes it uncertain whether the $3 billion in savings is achievable by the end of 2015. Until OMB begins tracking and reporting on performance measures such as cost savings, it will be limited in its ability to oversee agencies' progress against key initiative goals. Additionally, extending the horizon for realizing planned cost savings could provide OMB and data center consolidation stakeholders with input and information on the benefits of consolidation beyond OMB's initial goal.Pursuant to OMB direction, three organizations--the Data Center Consolidation Task Force, the General Services Administration (GSA) Program Management Office, and OMB--are responsible for federal data center consolidation oversight activities; while most activities are being performed, several weaknesses exist. Specifically,While the Data Center Consolidation Task Force has established several initiatives to assist agencies in their consolidation efforts, such as holding monthly meetings to facilitate communication among agencies, it has not adequately overseen its peer review process for improving the quality of agencies' consolidation plans. For example, the Task Force did not provide agencies with guidance for conducting peer reviews and did not provide oversight to ensure that all agencies exchanged plans.The GSA Program Management Office has collected agencies' quarterly data center closure updates and made the information publically available on an electronic dashboard for tracking consolidation progress, but it has not fully performed other oversight activities, such as conducting analyses of agencies' inventories and plans.OMB has implemented several initiatives to track agencies' consolidation progress, such as establishing requirements for agencies to update their plans and inventories yearly and to report quarterly on their consolidation progress. However, the agency has not approved the plans on the basis of their completeness or reported on progress against its goal of $3 billion in cost savings.The weaknesses in oversight of the data center consolidation initiative are due, in part, to OMB not ensuring that assigned responsibilities are being executed. Improved oversight could better position OMB to assess progress against its cost savings goal and minimize agencies risk of not realizing anticipated cost savings. In 2010, as focal point for information technology management across the government, OMBs Federal Chief Information Officer launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiativean effort to consolidate the growing number of federal data centers. In July 2011 and July 2012, GAO evaluated 24 agencies progress and reported that nearly all of the agencies had not completed a data center inventory or consolidation plan and recommended that they do so.As requested, GAO reviewed federal agencies continuing efforts to consolidate their data centers. This report (1) evaluates agencies' reported progress against OMBs planned consolidation and cost savings goals and (2) assesses the extent to which the oversight organizations put in place by OMB for the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative are adequately performing oversight of agencies' efforts to meet these goals. GAO assessed agencies progress against OMBs goals, analyzed the execution of oversight roles and responsibilities, and interviewed OMB, GSA, and Data Center Consolidation Task Force officials about their efforts to oversee agencies consolidation efforts. GAO is recommending that OMBs Federal Chief Information Officer track and report on key performance measures, extend the time frame for achieving planned cost savings, and improve the execution of important oversight responsibilities. OMB agreed with two of GAOs recommendations and plans to evaluate the remaining recommendation related to extending the time frame. For more information, contact David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or email@example.com.
The 24 agencies participating in the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative made progress towards the Office of Management and Budgets (OMB) goal to close 40 percent, or 1,253 of the 3,133 total federal data centers, by the end of 2015, but OMB has not measured agencies progress against its other goal of $3 billion in cost savings by the end of 2015. Agencies closed 420 data centers by the end of December 2012, and have plans to close an additional 548 to reach 968 by December 2015285 closures short of OMBs goal. OMB has not determined agencies progress against its cost savings goal because, according to OMB staff, the agency has not determined a consistent and repeatable method for tracking cost savings. This lack of information makes it uncertain whether the $3 billion in savings is achievable by the end of 2015. Until OMB tracks and reports on performance measures such as cost savings, it will be limited in its ability to oversee agencies progress against key goals.Pursuant to OMB direction, three organizationsthe Data Center Consolidation Task Force, the General Services Administration (GSA) Program Management Office, and OMBare responsible for federal data center consolidation oversight activities; while most activities are being performed, there are still several weaknesses in oversight. Specifically,While the Data Center Consolidation Task Force has established several initiatives to assist agencies in their consolidation efforts, such as holding monthly meetings to facilitate communication among agencies, it has not adequately overseen its peer review process for improving the quality of agencies' consolidation plans.The GSA Program Management Office has collected agencies quarterly data center closure updates and made the information publically available on an electronic dashboard for tracking consolidation progress, but it has not fully performed other oversight activities, such as conducting analyses of agencies inventories and plans.OMB has implemented several initiatives to track agencies consolidation progress, such as establishing requirements for agencies to update their plans and inventories yearly and to report quarterly on their consolidation progress. However, the agency has not approved the plans on the basis of their completeness or reported on progress against its goal of $3 billion in cost savings.The weaknesses in oversight of the data center consolidation initiative are due, in part, to OMB not ensuring that assigned responsibilities are being executed. Improved oversight could better position OMB to assess progress against its cost savings goal and minimize agencies risk of not realizing expected cost savings.In March 2013, OMB issued a memorandum that integrated the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative with the PortfolioStat initiative, which requires agencies to conduct annual reviews of its information technology investments and make decisions on eliminating duplication, among other things. The memorandum also made significant changes to the federal data center consolidation effort, including the initiatives reporting requirements and goals. Specifically, agencies are no longer required to submit the previously required consolidation plans and the memorandum does not identify a cost savings goal. In 2010, as focal point for information technology management across the government, OMBs Federal Chief Information Officer launched the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiativean effort to consolidate the growing number of federal data centers. In July 2011 and July 2012, GAO evaluated 24 agencies progress and reported that nearly all of the agencies had not completed a data center inventory or consolidation plan and recommended that they do so.GAO was asked to testify on its report, being released today, that evaluated agencies' reported progress against OMBs planned consolidation and cost savings goals, and assessed the extent to which the oversight organizations put in place by OMB for the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative are adequately performing oversight of agencies' efforts to meet these goals. In this report, GAO assessed agencies progress against OMBs goals, analyzed the execution of oversight roles and responsibilities, and interviewed OMB, GSA, and Data Center Consolidation Task Force officials about their efforts to oversee agencies consolidation efforts. In its report, GAO recommended that OMBs Federal Chief Information Officer track and report on key performance measures, extend the time frame for achieving planned cost savings, and improve the execution of important oversight responsibilities. OMB agreed with two of GAOs recommendations and plans to evaluate the remaining recommendation related to extending the time frame.For more information, contact David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the National Research Council (NRC) and others, infrastructure such as roads and bridges, wastewater systems, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) centers are vulnerable to changes in the climate. Changes in precipitation and sea levels, as well as increased intensity and frequency of extreme events, are projected by NRC and others to impact infrastructure in a variety of ways. When the climate changes, infrastructure-- typically designed to operate within past climate conditions--may not operate as well or for as long as planned, leading to economic, environmental, and social impacts. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that, within 15 years, segments of Louisiana State Highway 1-- providing the only road access to a port servicing 18 percent of the nation's oil supply--will be inundated by tides an average of 30 times annually due to relative sea level rise. Flooding of this road effectively closes the port.Decision makers have not systematically considered climate change in infrastructure planning for various reasons, according to representatives of professional associations and agency officials who work with these decision makers. For example, more immediate priorities--such as managing aging infrastructure--consume time and resources, limiting decision makers' ability to consider and implement climate adaptation measures. Difficulties in obtaining and using information needed to understand vulnerabilities and inform adaptation decisions pose additional challenges.Key factors enabled some local decision makers to integrate climate change into infrastructure planning. As illustrated by GAO's site visits and relevant studies, these factors included (1) having local circumstances such as weather-related crises that spurred action, (2) learning how to use available information, (3) having access to local expertise, and (4) considering climate impacts within existing planning processes. As one example, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District managed risks associated with more frequent extreme rainfall events by enhancing its natural systems' ability to absorb runoff by, for instance, preserving wetlands. This effort simultaneously expanded the sewer system's capacity while providing other community and environmental benefits. District leaders enabled these changes by prioritizing adaptation, using available locallevel climate projections, and utilizing local experts for assistance.GAO's report identifies several emerging federal efforts under way to facilitate more informed adaptation decisions, but these efforts could better support the needs of local infrastructure decision makers in the future, according to studies, local decision makers at the sites GAO visited, and other stakeholders. For example, among its key efforts, the federal government plays a critical role in producing the information needed to facilitate more informed local infrastructure adaptation decisions. However, as noted by NRC studies, this information exists in an uncoordinated confederation of networks and institutions, and the end result of it not being easily accessible is that people may make decisions--or choose not to act--without it. Accordingly, a range of studies and local decision makers GAO interviewed cited the need for the federal government to improve local decision makers' access to the best available information to use in infrastructure planning. The federal government invests billions of dollars annually in infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, facing increasing risks from climate change. Adaptation--defined as adjustments to natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climate change-- can help manage these risks by making infrastructure more resilient.GAO was asked to examine issues related to infrastructure decision making and climate change. This report examines (1) the impacts of climate change on roads and bridges, wastewater systems, and NASA centers; (2) the extent to which climate change is incorporated into infrastructure planning; (3) factors that enabled some decision makers to implement adaptive measures; and (4) federal efforts to address local adaptation needs, as well as potential opportunities for improvement.GAO reviewed climate change assessments; analyzed relevant reports; interviewed stakeholders from professional associations and federal agencies; and visited infrastructure projects and interviewed local decision makers at seven sites where adaptive measures have been implemented. GAO recommends, among other things, that a federal entity designated by the Executive Office of the President (EOP) work with agencies to identify for local infrastructure decision makers the best available climaterelated information for planning, and also to update this information over time. Relevant EOP entities did not provide official comments, but instead provided technical comments, which GAO incorporated, as appropriate.For more information, contact David C. Trimble at (202) 512-3841 or email@example.com.
The Department of State's (State) Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) has reported on President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) treatment program results primarily in terms of (1) numbers of people on treatment directly supported by PEPFAR, (2) percentages of eligible people receiving treatment, and (3) percentages of people alive and on treatment 12 months after starting treatment. However, these indicators do not reflect some key PEPFAR results. First, although the number of people on treatment directly supported by PEPFAR grew from about 1.7 million to 5.1 million in fiscal years 2008 through 2012, this indicator alone does not provide complete information needed for assessing PEPFAR's contributions to partner countries' treatment programs. Second, although 10 PEPFAR country teams reported that percentages of people alive and on treatment after 12 months exceeded 80 percent, data for this indicator are not always complete and have other limitations. To improve these data, according to OGAC officials, OGAC clarified its guidance and conducted data quality assessments. However, OGAC has not yet established a common set of indicators to monitor the results of PEPFAR's efforts to improve the quality of treatment programs.As PEPFAR partner countries assume greater responsibility for managing their treatment programs, fully functioning monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems are critical for tracking results and ensuring treatment program effectiveness. PEPFAR country teams assist partner countries in carrying out their M&E responsibilities by providing staff, training, technical assistance, and other support. With this assistance, partner countries have made some progress in expanding and upgrading these M&E systems. Nevertheless, partner countries' M&E systems often are unable to produce complete and timely data, thus limiting the usefulness of these data for patient, clinic, or program management. OGAC has not yet established minimum standards for partner countries' M&E systems, particularly relating to data completeness and timeliness, in order for PEPFAR country teams to assess those systems' readiness for use in treatment program management and results reporting. PEPFAR, first authorized in 2003, has supported significant advances in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care in more than 30 countries. In reauthorizing the program in 2008, Congress directed OGAC to continue to expand the number of people receiving care and treatment through PEPFAR while also making it a major policy goal to help partner countries develop independent, sustainable HIV programs. As a result, PEPFAR began shifting efforts from directly providing treatment services toward support for treatment programs managed by partner countries. GAO was asked to review PEPFAR treatment programs. GAO examined (1) PEPFAR treatment program results and how OGAC measures them and (2) PEPFAR assistance to improve partner countries' M&E systems. GAO reviewed PEPFAR plans, performance reports, and guidance and interviewed officials from OGAC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). GAO also synthesized findings of treatment program studies and conducted fieldwork in three countries. The Secretary of State should direct OGAC to (1) develop a method that better accounts for PEPFAR's contributions to partner-country treatment programs, (2) establish a common set of indicators to measure the results of treatment program quality improvement efforts, and (3) establish a set of minimum standards for data generated by partner countries' M&E systems. Commenting jointly with CDC and USAID, State generally agreed with the report's recommendations.For more information, contact David Gootnick at (202) 512-3149 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marcia Crosse at (202) 512-7114 or email@example.com.
During its audit of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) fiscal year 2012 financial statements, GAO identified one new internal control deficiency that contributed to IRS's continuing material weakness in internal control over unpaid tax assessments as of September 30, 2012. Specifically, IRS's controls over its process for estimating the balances of federal taxes receivable and other unpaid tax assessments were not effectively implemented to ensure the proper accounting classification and dollar amounts.In addition, GAO identified the following six less significant, new internal control deficiencies as of September 30, 2012:Refunds disbursed to deceased taxpayers. IRS's internal controls were not effectively designed to ensure that deceased taxpayers were timely identified in its taxpayer records and that refunds issued to deceased taxpayers were valid.Authorization of manual refunds. IRS's procedures were not effectively designed to ensure that those individuals allowed to approve the issuance of manual refunds were properly appointed to do so.Computer system access rights of employees handling taxpayer receipts. IRS's policies and procedures were not effectively designed to appropriately limit remittance perfection technicians' system access to change taxpayer account information.Cost allocation and user fee classification for the statement of net cost. IRS's controls were not effectively designed and implemented to ensure that IRS fully allocated costs or correctly classified all user fee exchange revenue within its Integrated Financial System, which IRS uses to prepare its Statement of Net Cost.Recording of Obligation of funds. IRS's policies and procedures were not effectively designed to ensure that IRS staff recorded an obligation for goods and services prior to taking delivery of them from a contractor or a performing federal agency.Excise tax receipt certification process. IRS's controls were not effectively implemented to ensure that staff properly calculated the quarterly excise tax revenues to be distributed to the Airport and Airway Trust Fund and the Highway Trust Fund. In addition, IRS's existing procedures were not operating effectively to ensure that changes it made to its methodology for calculating the amount of revenues to be distributed were concurred with by all affected parties within the Department of the Treasury prior to implementing the changes.Further, GAO's work showed that as of September 30, 2012, IRS had completed corrective action on 23 of the 69 recommendations from GAO's prior financial audits and other financial management-related work that remained open at the beginning of the fiscal year 2012 financial audit. As a result, IRS currently has 60 recommendations that need to be addressed, which consist of the previous 46 open recommendations as well as 14 new recommendations GAO is making in this report. The purpose of this report is to present internal control deficiencies identified during GAO's audit of IRS's fiscal year 2012 financial statements and GAO's excise tax agreed-upon procedures work for which GAO did not already have outstanding recommendations. Although most of these deficiencies were not discussed in the GAO report on the results of its fiscal year 2012 financial statement audit because they were not considered material or significant, and were not reported in GAO's excise tax agreed-upon procedures report, they nonetheless warrant IRS management's attention. This report provides 14 recommendations to address the internal control issues GAO identified as part of its fiscal year 2012 IRS financial statement audit and agreed-upon procedures work. This report also presents the status, as of September 30, 2012, of IRS's corrective actions taken to address GAO's 69 previous recommendations from its prior IRS financial audits and related financial management reports that remained open at the end of the fiscal year 2011 audit. This report provides 2 new recommendations pertaining to IRS's continuing material weakness in internal control over unpaid tax assessments and 12 new recommendations related to the six other identified control deficiencies, for a total of 14 new recommendations. These recommendations are intended to improve IRS's internal controls over its financial management and accountability of resources as well as to bring IRS into conformance with its own policies, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, or both. IRS agreed with all 14 of GAO's recommendations and described the actions it had taken, had under way, or planned to take to address the control deficiencies described in this report. At the end of the discussion of each issue in this report, GAO summarizes and evaluates IRS's related comments.For more information contact Cheryl E. Clark at (202) 512-9377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the conference report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Congress directed DOD to provide an updated report on strategic seaport facilities used for military purposes, specifying that DOD must include (1) an assessment of the structural integrity and deficiencies of the port facilities and determination of the infrastructure improvements needed to directly or indirectly meet national security and readiness requirements; (2) an assessment of the impact on operational readiness if the improvements are not undertaken; (3) an identification of potential funding sources for the needed improvements from existing authorities; and (4) an opinion as to whether DOD has the necessary authority to support section 50302 of Title 46 of the United States Code. DOD issued that report in January 2013. In summary, we found that DOD addressed all four of the elements directed by Congress, as follows:First, DOD provided a detailed assessment of the structural integrity and deficiencies of the port facilities and the infrastructure improvements needed to meet national security requirements, providing both an explanation of its assessment and supporting data in its response. The report rated 15 of the 22 strategic seaports as having minor deficiencies, with negligible impact; 4 as having some deficiencies, with limited impact; 1 as having significant deficiencies that impair the capability to support required missions; and 2 as having major deficiencies presenting significant obstacles to mission accomplishment. We found some areas where the report could have been more explicit, such as citing the sources of cost estimates for port improvement projects and defining "national security and readiness requirements." We also note that the report relied on self-reported information from the ports. DOD officials told us that they believe the information is reliable because it is in the ports' interests to correct any deficiencies in order to support their commercial activities, and because DOD conducts periodic visits that serve as a visual check of port infrastructure conditions.Second, DOD included an assessment of the impact on operational readiness if the improvements were not undertaken. The report noted that available alternatives to strategic ports include alternate seaports.Third, DOD included an identification of potential funding sources for the needed improvements from existing authorities. The report identified and discussed six primary sources of capital for U.S. commercial ports, and noted that military ports rely on military construction appropriations for large projects.Finally, the report included an opinion as to whether DOD has the necessary authority to support section 50302 of Title 46 of the United States Code. The report stated that DOD has the necessary authority, but also recommended that Congress consider amending the law to allow U.S. Transportation Command to coordinate directly with the Secretary of Transportation on port development issues. Over the past several years Congress has directed that a number of studies be conducted to ensure the readiness of the strategic seaports. Both the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 and the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 required GAO to conduct a sufficiency review of DOD's most recent report, and to report our findings to Congress within 90 days of receiving DOD's strategic seaports report. DOD's report was provided to Congress on January 7, 2013, and GAO received the report on January 9, 2013.For more information contact Zina D. Merritt at (202) 512-5257 or email@example.com.
The Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) generally focus on many of the same broad topics and rely on agency safeguards, as well as on the scientific community's professional norms, to prevent inadvertent duplication of research projects within and between the agencies. Shortcomings with certain agency safeguards, however, may increase the potential risk of project duplication within or between the two agencies. ARS and NIFA built in their own safeguards to help prevent project duplication, such as (1) panels of independent external scientists who review proposed projects and (2) agency requirements for staff to ensure that proposed work is relevant, including checking the Current Research Information System (CRIS)--USDA's primary system containing project-level information on its ongoing and completed research projects--for potentially duplicative research projects in both agencies. The agencies also rely on professional norms to safeguard against duplication, such as the peer review process used by scientific journals to limit the publication of unnecessarily duplicative research. Indeed, agency officials and stakeholders could not provide recent examples of duplication within or between the two agencies, and GAO's review of 20 randomly selected research projects did not identify duplicative projects. Nevertheless, GAO identified a few shortcomings that somewhat limit the utility of certain agency safeguards. First, information in CRIS about ARS projects was typically at least 6 months out-of-date when uploaded, which undermines CRIS's utility as a safeguard. ARS officials said that the agency now expects staff to provide ARS project information on a quarterly basis, but ARS has not issued guidance about this expectation. Second, NIFA directs staff to conduct a CRIS duplication check for projects that accounted for about two-thirds of the funding it awarded for competitive grants; as a result, about one-third of its competitive grants are not subject to this safeguard against duplication. NIFA recently convened a task force to study, among other issues, whether the directive to check CRIS should be extended to all competitive grants.USDA's Chief Scientist facilitated high-level collaborative planning, particularly between ARS and NIFA, in recent years, but 20 USDA officials and stakeholders said that agency-level collaborative planning between ARS's and NIFA's national program leaders working in common topic areas could be more systematic to make the best use of limited agricultural research resources. Specifically, the Chief Scientist and her staff led several high-level planning efforts that brought together staff from the two agencies and generated key products, such as a plan that identified USDA's seven goals for implementing its science priorities and the agencies responsible for implementing these goals. Nevertheless, national program leaders at the two agencies generally do not, and are not required to, systematically hold joint meetings for seeking stakeholder input and for setting research priorities. Some systematic collaborative planning, however, has been jointly initiated by ARS and NIFA national program leaders, such as in the animal sciences area. By enhancing collaborative planning across national program areas, as the animal sciences area has, ARS and NIFA can take fuller advantage of their collective knowledge and expertise to help set their research priorities. The USDA's principal research agencies, ARS and NIFA, play a key role in supporting agricultural science, and questions have been raised about the extent to which the two agencies may be performing duplicative research and whether the agencies collaborate in planning research. Research duplication is the inadvertent repetition of research that does not confirm or verify conclusions from prior studies. Collaborative planning involves bringing together research agencies and stakeholders to discuss priorities and roles and responsibilities. In this context, GAO was asked to assess how these agencies ensure the efficient use of their resources for research. This report examines (1) the topics ARS and NIFA focus on and the safeguards the agencies use to prevent duplication of research projects, along with any shortcomings in those safeguards, and (2) collaborative planning ARS and NIFA engaged in and how, if at all, such planning could be enhanced. GAO reviewed USDA safeguards against duplication within and between ARS and NIFA; reviewed 20 randomly selected projects; analyzed information on collaborative planning; and interviewed officials from USDA, universities, and industry. GAO recommends, among other things, that ARS issue guidance that project information be provided to CRIS on a quarterly basis and that ARS and NIFA enhance collaborative planning. USDA generally agreed with GAO's findings, and cited benefits for three of the four recommendations.For more information, contact Daniel Garcia-Diaz at (202) 512-3841or firstname.lastname@example.org.