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Troubled Asset Relief Program: Status of GAO Recommendations to Treasury

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Nearly 3 years ago, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) authorized the creation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to address the most severe crisis that the financial system had faced in decades. EESA provided GAO with broad oversight authorities for actions taken under TARP and required that we report at least every 60 days on TARP activities and performance. Our oversight and reporting has resulted in 69 performance audit recommendations and matters for congressional consideration to improve TARP's accountability and transparency. Sixty of the performance audit recommendations have been directed to the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury), the primary agency responsible for TARP programs. While Treasury has taken a number of steps to address many of our recommendations, some recommendations remain outstanding. This 60-day report describes the status of our TARP performance audit recommendations to Treasury as of September 2011. In particular, this report discusses Treasury's implementation of our recommendations, focusing particularly on two cross-cutting issues--communications and staffing--and two major TARP programs, the Capital Purchase Program (CPP), which supports certain U.S. financial institutions, and Making Home Affordable (MHA), which is a collection of housing programs designed to help certain homeowners avoid foreclosure."
Date: September 16, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Management Report: Opportunities for Improvements in the Congressional Award Foundation's Internal Controls and Accounting Procedures

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In May 2011, we issued our opinion on the fiscal years 2010 and 2009 financial statements of the Congressional Award Foundation (the Foundation). We also reported on our evaluation of the Foundation's compliance with provisions of selected laws and regulations for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2010, and our consideration of the Foundation's internal control over financial reporting. [...] The purpose of this report is to present additional information on the internal control and accounting procedures issues we identified during our audit of the Foundation's fiscal years 2010 and 2009 financial statements and to provide our recommended actions to address those issues."
Date: September 9, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Justice and Law Enforcement: Observations on the Costs and Benefits of an Increased Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In order to satisfy the requirement in the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 to report on the security of the southwest land border of the United States, we briefed Congress on July 12, 2011, with our preliminary observations. This is our final report to Congress on the Department of Defense (DOD) issues we addressed in response to the mandate. As directed by the mandate, we assessed: (1) what is known about the costs and benefits of an increased DOD role to help achieve operational control over the southwest land border, including the deployment of additional units, the National Guard, or other DOD personnel; increased use of ground-based mobile surveillance systems by military personnel; and use of additional mobile patrols by military personnel, particularly in rural, high-trafficked areas; and (2) what is known about the costs and benefits of an increased deployment of additional unmanned aerial systems and manned aircraft to provide surveillance; as well as the impact of any increased deployment of unmanned aerial systems or manned aircraft on national airspace use and availability.."
Date: September 12, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Management Report: Opportunities for Improvements in FDIC's Internal Controls and Accounting Procedures

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In March 2011, we issued our report on the results of our audit of the financial statements of the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) and the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation Resolution Fund (FRF) as of, and for the years ending December 31, 2010, and 2009, and on the effectiveness of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) internal control over financial reporting as of December 31, 2010. We also reported our conclusions on FDIC's compliance with selected provisions of laws and regulations. The purpose of this report is to present information on certain internal control and accounting procedure issues we identified during our 2010 audit and to provide our recommended actions to address these issues."
Date: August 5, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Joint Strike Fighter: Implications of Program Restructuring and Other Recent Developments on Key Aspects of DOD's Prior Alternate Engine Analyses

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "After supporting a Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) acquisition strategy that called for a competitive engine development of the F135 and F136 engines, the Department of Defense (DOD) stopped requesting funding for the F136 alternate engine in its fiscal year 2007 budget request, but the Congress continued to fund it through the 2010 budget. In February 2010, DOD projected that it would cost an additional $2.9 billion through 2016 to support an alternate engine program. DOD decided that an engine competition would not likely generate enough long-term savings to justify this up-front investment and subsequently terminated the alternate engine program. In 2010, at congressional request, we reviewed the basis for DOD's $2.9 billion funding projection and reported that the projection did not include the same level of fidelity and precision normally associated with a detailed, comprehensive cost estimate and that the amount of up-front investment needed could be lower if two key assumptions in DOD's analysis were changed. Moreover, since DOD's projection and our last review, several fundamental changes in the JSF aircraft and engine programs have taken place. We examined the potential implications of these changes to the $2.9 billion funding projection. We also examined the potential implications for DOD's broader cost-benefit analysis that captures the long-term costs and benefits of the competitive engine program."
Date: September 14, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Federal Protective Service: Actions Needed to Resolve Delays and Inadequate Oversight Issues with FPS's Risk Assessment and Management Program

Description: Correspondence issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Federal Protective Service (FPS), which is within the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), is responsible for protecting the more than 1 million federal employees and members of the public who work in and visit the over 9,000 federal facilities owned or leased by the General Services Administration (GSA) from a potential terrorist attack or other acts of violence. To accomplish its facility protection mission, FPS has about 1,200 full-time employees and approximately 13,200 contract security guards. FPS has an annual budget of about $1 billion and receives its funding from the revenues and collections of security fees charged to tenant agencies for protective services such as facility security assessments (FSA) and providing contract security guard services. Since 2008, we have issued numerous reports that address major challenges FPS faces in protecting federal facilities. For example, in 2009 and 2010 we reported that FPS had problems completing high-quality FSAs in a timely manner and did not provide adequate oversight of its contract guard program. In September 2007, FPS decided to address the challenges with its legacy security assessment and guard management systems with a new system. On August 1, 2008, DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) competitively awarded and FPS funded a $21 million, 7-year contract to develop and maintain the Risk Assessment and Management Program (RAMP) system. RAMP is a web-enabled risk assessment and guard management system, and its initial implementation was scheduled for July 31, 2009. Among other things, RAMP is intended to: (2) provide FPS with the capability to assess risks at federal facilities based on threat, vulnerability, and consequence, and track countermeasures to mitigate those risks; and (2) improve the agency's ability to monitor and verify that its ...
Date: July 15, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.

Overseas Presence: Observations on a Rightsizing Framework

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Rightsizing is the aligning of the number and location of staff assigned to U.S. embassies with foreign policy priorities, security, and other constraints. GAO is developing a framework to enable the executive branch to assess the number and mix of embassy staff. The framework will link staffing levels to the following three critical elements of overseas operations: (1) physical security and real estate, (2) mission priorities and requirements, and (3) operational costs. GAO reviewed policies and practices at the U.S. Embassy in Paris because of its large size and history of rightsizing decisions. GAO found that about 700 employees from 11 agencies work in main buildings at the Paris Embassy. Serious security concerns in at least one embassy building in Paris suggest the need to consider staff reductions unless building security can be improved. Staffing levels are hard to determine because agencies use different criteria and priorities to place staff. The lack of comprehensive cost data on all agencies' operations, which is estimated at more than $100 million annually in France, and the lack of an embassywide budget eliminate the possibility of cost-based decisionmaking on staffing. The number of staff could be reduced, particularly those in support positions, which constitute about one-third of the total. Options include relocating functions to the United States or to regional centers and outsourcing commercial activities."
Date: May 1, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Airport Finance: Past Funding Levels May Not Be Sufficient to Cover Airports' Planned Capital Development

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Since Congress enacted the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21 Century (AIR-21) 3 years ago, much has changed. At that time, the focus was on reducing congestion and flight delays. Today, flights are being canceled for lack of business, two major air carriers are in bankruptcy, and attention has shifted from increasing the capacity of the national airspace system to enhancing aviation security. Furthermore, as the federal budget deficit has increased, competition for federal resources has intensified, and the costs of airport capital development are growing, especially with the new requirements for security. Nonetheless, analysts expect the demand for air traffic services to rebound. Until that time, the unexpected slump in air traffic creates a window of opportunity to improve the safety and efficiency of the national airport system."
Date: February 25, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Military Attrition: DOD Needs to Follow Through on Actions Initiated to Reduce Early Separations

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed recruiting and attrition in the military services, focusing on: (1) recruiter selection and incentive systems and their effects on recruiter performance; (2) the screening of incoming recruits for criminal history information to ensure that only qualified persons are allowed to enlist; (3) reasons for attrition during the first 6 months of an enlistee's term; and (4) reasons for premature attrition after first-term enlistees have completed 6 months of service."
Date: February 24, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Human Capital: Building on DOD's Reform Effort to Foster Governmentwide Improvements

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "People are at the heart of an organization's ability to perform its mission. Yet a key challenge for the Department of Defense (DOD), as for many federal agencies, is to strategically manage its human capital. DOD's proposed National Security Personnel System would provide for wide-ranging changes in DOD's civilian personnel pay and performance management and other human capital areas. Given the massive size of DOD, the proposal has important precedent-setting implications for federal human capital management. This testimony provides GAO's observations on DOD human capital reform proposals and the need for governmentwide reform."
Date: June 4, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Medicare: Beneficiaries' Prescription Drug Coverage

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed Medicare beneficiaries' access to prescription drug coverage, focusing on: (1) how growth in presciption drug spending for both the general population and Medicare beneficiaries has made coverage such an important policy issue; (2) the sources and extent of Medicare beneficiary drug coverage; and (3) benefit design and implementation issues to be considered in deliberations about adding a new prescription drug benefit."
Date: September 28, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Unemployment Insurance: Survey of State Administrators and Contacts with Companies Promoting Tax Avoidance Practices

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO appeared before Subcommittees on Oversight and Human Resources, House Committee on Ways and Means to discuss the results of our investigation of the extent to which states have found that companies manipulate state unemployment tax rates through a variety of methods in order to lower their unemployment taxes, a practice known as "SUTA dumping," and of the extent to which some consulting firms promote SUTA dumping methods. We conducted our investigation from March 2003 through June 2003 in accordance with quality standards for investigations as set forth by the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. To obtain an overview of the extent of the problem, we conducted a survey of unemployment insurance administrators, in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Additionally, one of our agents, posing as a business owner who was looking for ways to reduce state unemployment insurance taxes, placed telephone calls to four consulting firms we identified through the Internet to determine whether they promote SUTA dumping techniques. We also interviewed officials of the Office of Workforce Security, Department of Labor to determine how the federal-state unemployment program operates."
Date: June 19, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Private Health Insurance: Impact of Premium Increases on Number of Covered Individuals Is Uncertain

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the impact of private health insurance premium increases on the number of covered individuals, focusing on: (1) the trends in employers' decisions to offer insurance and employees' decisions to purchase it; (2) an assessment of recent studies that have estimated the relationship between premium increases and insurance coverage; and (3) conditions or factors that could affect the impact of premium increases on insurance coverage."
Date: June 11, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Homeland Security: Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security in Balancing its Border Security and Trade Facilitation Missions

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Balancing our nation's security and commercial needs is a longstanding issue that is especially important in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that changed the nation's security environment. Addressing this challenge now falls principally to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Border and Transportation Security directorate. Within this directorate, responsibility has been assigned primarily to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP). BCBP consists of the inspections component of the former U.S. Customs Service; the Border Patrol and Inspections component of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, and a former component of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Achieving the balance between security and commercial needs is greatly affected by BCBP's commercial and border and immigration control workload. Regarding commercial workload, in fiscal year 2002, the former U.S. Customs Services processed 24.9 million trade import entries valued at over $1.1 trillion and collected $23.8 billion in duties and fees; it also processed about 6 million cargo containers arriving at U.S. sea ports. While the cargo workload has stabilized somewhat as a result of the recent global economic slowdown, it is likely to begin growing again, when an economic recovery is underway at some point in the future, thus exacerbating the challenges BCBP faces. Regarding border and immigration control workload, in fiscal year 2002, inspectors at over 300 ports of entry inspected nearly 450 million travelers while the Border Patrol apprehended nearly 960,000 aliens trying to enter the U.S. illegally between the ports of entry."
Date: June 16, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Unemployment Insurance: States' Use of the 2002 Reed Act Distribution

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discusses how states are using the March 2002 Reed Act distribution, which was part of the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002. This broad stimulus package included an additional 13 weeks of federally-funded extended unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for all states and a distribution to states of $8 billion of the unemployment tax revenue it holds in reserve, referred to as a Reed Act distribution. Under the act, these funds may be used to pay UI benefits, and/or to enhance UI benefits, such as increasing weekly benefit payments, extending the period of time benefits are paid, or otherwise expanding eligibility to groups that currently do not qualify for benefits. States may also appropriate these funds for the administrative costs of UI, including activities related to program integrity, and employment services (ES) programs, including one-stop service centers. This testimony focuses on: (1) the proportion of Reed Act dollars that states have spent; (2) the proportion of total Reed Act dollars that remains in state UI trust funds and the effect this has had on employer UI taxes; and (3) the proportion of Reed Act dollars that have been appropriated by states for administering the UI, ES, or one-stop systems."
Date: March 20, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Alternative Minimum Tax: Overview of Its Rationale and Impact on Individual Taxpayers

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony focuses on the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), its interaction with the regular tax system, and its projected growth in coverage. GAO found that (1) AMT was designed to ensure that high-income individuals do not avoid significant income tax liabilities--for tax year 1997, about 14,000 taxpayers would not have paid any income taxes absent AMT, (2) AMT operates as a separate tax system that parallels the regular individual income tax system but with different rules for determining taxable income, different tax rates for computing tax liability, and different rules for allowing the use of tax credits, (3) AMT affected about one percent of taxpayers in 2000 and accounted for about $5.8 billion in additional tax revenue; by 2010, it is expected to increase the tax liabilities of about one out of six taxpayers and account for about $189 billion in tax revenues over the period, (4) the projected increase in AMT coverage is, for the most part, attributable to inflation and to the scheduled expiration of legislation temporarily excluding some tax credits from AMT rules, and (5) AMT's impacts include increased taxpayer compliance burden; increased Internal Revenue Service administrative cost; redistribution of the tax burden among taxpayers; changed economic incentives; and the potential to neutralize, for some taxpayers, changes to the tax system. This testimony summarized an August report (GGD-00-180)"
Date: March 8, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Military and Veterans' Benefits: Observations on the Concurrent Receipt of Military Retirement and VA Disability Compensation

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Because pending legislation would modify current law, which requires that military retirement pay be reduced by the amount of VA disability compensation benefit received, the Subcommittee on Personnel, Senate Committee on Armed Services asked GAO to discuss the treatment of concurrent benefit receipt in other programs. GAO was also asked to discuss its broader work on federal disability programs."
Date: March 27, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

DOD Financial Management: Integrated Approach, Accountability, and Incentives Are Keys to Effective Reform

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The results of the Defense Department (DOD) financial audit for fiscal year 2000 highlight long-standing financial management weaknesses that continue to plague the military. These weaknesses not only hamper the department's ability to produce timely and accurate financial management information but also unnecessarily increase the cost of carrying out its missions. Although DOD has made incremental improvement, it has a long way to go to overcome its long-standing, serious financial management weaknesses as part of a comprehensive, integrated reform of the department's business support operations. Such an overhaul must include not only DOD's financial management and other management challenges but also its high-risk areas of information technology and human capital management. Personnel throughout the department must share the common goal of reforming the department's business support structure. Without reengineering, DOD will have little chance of radically improving its cumbersome and bureaucratic processes."
Date: May 8, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Intellectual Property: Industry and Agency Concerns Over Intellectual Property Rights

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Improperly defined intellectual property rights in a government contract can result in the loss of an entity's critical assets or limit the development of applications critical to public health or safety. Conversely, successful contracts can spur economic development, innovation, and growth, and dramatically improve the quality of delivered goods and services. Contracting for intellectual property rights is difficult. The stakes are high, and negotiating positions are frequently ill-defined. Moreover, the concerns raised must be tempered with the understanding that government contracting can be challenging even without the complexities of intellectual property rights. Further, contractors often have reasons for not wanting to contract with the government, including concerns over profitability, capacity, accounting and administrative requirements, and opportunity costs. Within the commercial sector, companies identified a number of specific intellectual property concerns that affected their willingness to contract with the government. These included perceived poor definitions of what technical data is needed by the government, issues with the government's ability to protect proprietary data adequately, and unwillingness on the part of government officials to exercise the flexibilities available concerning intellectual property rights. Some of these concerns were on perception rather than experience, but, according to company officials, they nevertheless influence decisions not to seek contracts or collaborate with federal government entities. Agency officials shared many of these concerns. Poor upfront planning and limited experience/expertise among the federal contracting workforce were cited as impediments. Although agency officials indicated that intellectual property rights problems may have limited access to particular companies, they did not cite specific instances where the agency was unable to acquire needed technology. Agency officials said that improved training and awareness of the flexibility already in place as well as a better definition of data needs on individual contracts ...
Date: May 10, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Nuclear Waste Cleanup: Progress Made but DOE Management Attention Needed to Increase Use of Innovative Technologies

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to implement GAO's recommendations to improve the deployment of innovative cleanup technologies, focusing on whether DOE: (1) established coordination between technology developers and users; (2) modified completed technologies to meet site-specific needs; (3) provided technical assistance to sites; and (4) improved the quality of deployment data."
Date: May 26, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Computer Security: Improvements Needed to Reduce Risk to Critical Federal Operations and Assets

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Federal agencies rely extensively on computer systems and electronic data to support their missions. The security of these systems is essential to avoiding disruptions in critical operations and to prevent data tampering, fraud, and inappropriate disclosure of sensitive information. GAO analyzed information security audits and evaluations at 24 major federal departments and agencies since July 2000. This testimony summarizes (1) the pervasive weaknesses that led GAO to begin reporting information security as a government-wide high-risk issue in 1997, (2) the serious risks that these weaknesses pose at selected agencies and common weaknesses that agencies need to address to improve their information security programs, and (3) the importance of establishing strong agency-wide security management programs and developing a comprehensive government-wide strategy for improvement."
Date: November 9, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

Contract Management: Purchase of Army Black Berets

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Army's decision to issue black berets to all of its forces in just eight months placed enormous demands on the military's procurement system. To meet this challenge, the Department of Defense (DOD) increased the domestic supplier's production, awarded contracts to known foreign sources, and procured berets from additional sources. This testimony discusses DOD's contracting strategy, including (1) the contracting procedures DOD used to buy the berets and (2) the circumstances surrounding waivers to the Berry Amendment, a statutory requirement to buy clothing from domestic suppliers. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) took several steps to expedite award of the contracts. However, DLA failed to (1) provide for full and open competition as required by the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 or (2) obtain a review of these contract actions from the Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Office for possible small business participation. GAO also found that authority to waive the Berry Amendment was delegated to DLA's Director and Senior Procurement Executive by the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics), but later canceled to ensure that any request for a waiver to the Berry Amendment received attention at an appropriate level within DOD. GAO concluded that the eight-month deadline placed DOD in a high-risk contracting situation. In their eagerness to serve the customer, DOD procurement officials chose to shortcut normal contracting procedures. The deadline allowed very little time to plan for the purchase of the berets and little room to respond to production problems."
Date: May 2, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.