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VA Health Care: Actions Needed to Prevent Sexual Assaults and Other Safety Incidents

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Changes in patient demographics present unique challenges for VA in providing safe environments for all veterans treated in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. GAO was asked to examine whether or not sexual assault incidents are fully reported and what factors may contribute to any observed underreporting, how facility staff determine sexual assault-related risks veterans may pose in residential and inpatient mental health settings, and precautions facilities take to prevent sexual assaults and other safety incidents. GAO reviewed relevant laws, VA policies, and sexual assault incident documentation from January 2007 through July 2010 provided by VA officials and the VA Office of the Inspector General (OIG). In addition, GAO visited and reviewed portions of selected veterans' medical records at five judgmentally selected VA medical facilities chosen to ensure the residential and inpatient mental health units at the facilities varied in size and complexity. Finally, GAO spoke with the four Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) that oversee these VA medical facilities."
Date: June 7, 2011
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Single-Family Housing: HUD's Risk-Based Oversight of Appraisers Could Be Enhanced

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Incomplete or inaccurate appraisals resulting in property overvaluations may expose the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Single-Family Mortgage Insurance programs--which insured about 3.7million single-family mortgage loans with a total value of about $425 billion in fiscal years 2001 through 2003--to greater financial risks. In 1999, GAO reported on the need for improvements in HUD's oversight of appraisers, which has historically been a challenge for the department. Also, in the past, GAO reported that, due in part to poor oversight of appraisers, HUD's Single-Family Mortgage Insurance programs remained a high-risk area. GAO conducted this review as a follow up to the 1999 report. This report examines (1) how HUD ensures that appraisers it approves are qualified to perform FHA appraisals, (2) the extent to which HUD employs a risk-based monitoring approach, and (3) HUD's efforts to take enforcement action against noncompliant appraisers."
Date: November 5, 2004
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Environmental Health: High-level Strategy and Leadership Needed to Continue Progress toward Protecting Children from Environmental Threats

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Exposure to toxic chemicals or environmental pollutants may harm the health of the nation's 74 million children and contribute to increases in asthma and developmental impairments. In 2007, 66 percent of children lived in counties exceeding allowable levels for at least one of the six principal air pollutants that cause or aggravate asthma, contributing to medical costs of $3.2 billion per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1997, Executive Order 13045 mandated that agencies place a high priority on children's risks and required that policies, programs, activities, and standards address those risks. In response, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created the Office of Children's Health Protection and convened the Children's Health Protection Advisory Committee. This report assesses the extent to which EPA has institutionalized consideration of children's health through (1) strategies and priorities, (2) key offices and other child-focused resources, and (3) participation in interagency efforts. GAO reviewed numerous documents and met with EPA and other officials for this report."
Date: January 28, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Medicare: Advisory Opinions as a Means of Clarifying Program Requirements

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Health care providers are concerned about the quality of Medicare guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Specifically, they have reported that (1) they receive unclear guidance on program requirements and (2) because policies and procedures change frequently, they may rely on obsolete guidance, resulting in billing errors. Some government agencies issue advisory opinions in response to specific questions from requesters. These opinions permit agencies to apply law and regulation to a particular set of facts and provide requesters with specific guidance. The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 directed GAO to determine the appropriateness and feasibility of establishing in the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to issue legally binding advisory opinions to interpret Medicare regulations. GAO (1) identified factors relevant in establishing an advisory opinion process and (2) assessed the role such a process could play in clarifying program requirements. GAO examined four federal agencies' advisory opinion processes and interviewed officials from organizations representing Medicare stakeholders to learn how such a process might address their concerns."
Date: December 8, 2004
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Financial Management: Department of Homeland Security Faces Significant Financial Management Challenges

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "When the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began operations in March 2003, it faced the daunting task of bringing together 22 diverse agencies. This transformation poses significant management and leadership challenges, including integrating a myriad of redundant financial management systems and addressing the existing weaknesses in the inherited components, as well as newly identified weaknesses. This review was performed to (1) identify the financial management systems' weaknesses DHS inherited from the 22 component agencies, (2) assess DHS's progress in addressing those weaknesses, (3) identify plans DHS has to integrate its financial management systems, and (4) review whether the planned systems DHS is developing will meet the requirements of relevant financial management improvement laws."
Date: July 19, 2004
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Smithsonian Institution: Funding Challenges Affect Facilities' Conditions and Security, Endangering Collections

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Smithsonian Institution (Smithsonian) is the world's largest museum complex and research organization. Its annual operating and capital program revenues come from its own private trust fund assets and federal appropriations, with the majority of funds for facilities coming from federal appropriations. In 2005, GAO reported that the Smithsonian's current funding would not be sufficient to cover its estimated $2.3 billion in facilities projects through 2013 and recommended that the Smithsonian Board of Regents, its governing body, develop and implement a funding plan. As requested, GAO described changes in the condition of the Smithsonian's facilities and estimate for project costs since 2005, analyzed the Smithsonian's steps taken and challenges regarding protecting and managing its real property portfolio, and assessed the Smithsonian's efforts to develop and implement strategies to fund its facilities' projects. GAO reviewed relevant documents and interviewed officials from the Smithsonian and other organizations."
Date: September 28, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Risk Retention Groups: Common Regulatory Standards and Greater Member Protections Are Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Congress authorized the creation of risk retention groups (RRG) to increase the availability and affordability of commercial liability insurance. An RRG is a group of similar businesses that creates its own insurance company to self-insure its risks. Through the Liability Risk Retention Act (LRRA), Congress partly preempted state insurance law to create a single-state regulatory framework for RRGs, although RRGs are multistate insurers. Recent shortages of affordable liability insurance have increased RRG formations, but recent failures of several large RRGs also raised questions about the adequacy of RRG regulation. This report (1) examines the effect of RRGs on insurance availability and affordability; (2) assesses whether LRRA's preemption has resulted in significant regulatory problems; and (3) evaluates the sufficiency of LRRA's ownership, control, and governance provisions in protecting the best interests of the RRG insureds."
Date: August 15, 2005
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Transportation Security: Action Needed to Strengthen TSA's Security Threat Assessment Process

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) Adjudication Center performance data show mixed results, and the center's performance measurement practices have limitations. The Adjudication Center relies on contractors to adjudicate security threat assessments and uses three primary measures to evaluate their performance--timeliness for completing adjudication, adjudication accuracy, and caseload status. GAO found that the Adjudication Center contractor met its timeliness and accuracy measures, but faced challenges in meeting its caseload measure. The Adjudication Center's timeliness and accuracy measures did not capture key data. According to TSA officials, the Adjudication Center's accuracy rate is based on a review of all cases where adjudicators had disqualified an applicant. However, this calculation generally does not include the accuracy rate for those applicants adjudicators had approved--which account for roughly 90 percent of the Adjudication Center's caseload. In this way, the accuracy rate provides a limited assessment of adjudicator performance. By developing an accuracy rate that includes data on both incorrectly disqualified and incorrectly approved applicants, TSA can better identify and addresses performance issues among its workforce."
Date: July 19, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Trade Adjustment Assistance: States Have Fewer Training Funds Available than Labor Estimates When Both Expenditures and Obligations Are Considered

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Manufacturing workers face an uncertain future as manufacturing employment declines--more than 3 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in this country since 2000 because of international trade as well as other factors. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, administered by the Department of Labor (Labor), is the nation's primary program providing income support, job training, and other benefits for manufacturing workers who lose their jobs as a result of international trade. During the 3-year period from fiscal years 2004 through 2006, Labor certified nearly 4,700 petitions for TAA covering an estimated 400,000 workers. For fiscal year 2006, Congress appropriated about $966 million for TAA, of which about $220 million was for training trade-affected workers. Each year, Labor initially allocates 75 percent of the training funds, or $165 million, to states according to a formula developed by Labor. Labor holds the remaining 25 percent in reserve to distribute to states throughout the year as the need arises because of unexpected layoffs. To minimize year-to-year fluctuations in state funding, Labor uses a "hold harmless" policy that ensures that each state's initial allocation is at least 85 percent of the initial allocation received in the previous year. States have 3 years to spend TAA funds--fiscal year 2006 funds must be used by the end of fiscal year 2008. In addition, to cover administrative costs, Labor allocates to each state an additional 15 percent of its training allocation. Labor can also provide states with supplemental funding to assist TAA participants through National Emergency Grants (NEG)--discretionary awards intended to temporarily expand service capacity in response to major layoffs. During hearings held in June 2007, Labor asserted that, based on reported expenditures, all states had sufficient funds to provide training benefits to ...
Date: November 2, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Securing Wastewater Facilities: Utilities Have Made Important Upgrades but Further Improvements to Key System Components May Be Limited by Costs and Other Constraints

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Wastewater facilities provide essential services to residential, commercial, and industrial users, yet they may possess certain characteristics that terrorists could exploit to impair the wastewater treatment process or to damage surrounding infrastructure. For example, large underground collector sewers could be accessed by terrorists for purposes of placing destructive devices beneath buildings or city streets. GAO was asked to determine (1) what federal statutory authorities and directives govern the protection of wastewater treatment facilities from terrorist attack, (2) what steps critical wastewater facilities have taken since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, (9/11) to ensure that potential vulnerabilities are addressed, and (3) what steps the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have taken to help these facilities in their efforts to address such vulnerabilities."
Date: March 31, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Foreign Assistance: USAID Needs to Improve Its Strategic Planning to Address Current and Future Workforce Needs

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) oversees U.S. foreign assistance programs in more than 100 countries. In 2003, GAO recommended that USAID develop a comprehensive workforce planning system to better identify its staffing needs and requirements. Key principles for effective strategic workforce planning are important to an agency's ability to carry out its mission. GAO examined (1) changes in USAID's workforce and program funding since 2004, (2) the extent to which it has developed a strategic workforce plan, (3) the efforts it has taken to implement two key human capital initiatives, and (4) the challenges and constraints that affect its workforce planning and management. To conduct the work, GAO analyzed staffing and program funding data; reviewed documentation related to the agency's workforce planning; and interviewed officials in Washington, D.C., and at six overseas missions selected to obtain an appropriate mix of geographic coverage, programs, and workforce size and composition."
Date: June 30, 2010
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Trade Adjustment Assistance: Changes to the Workers Program Benefited Participants but Little Is Known about Outcomes

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Labor (Labor) was challenged to process the substantial increase in petitions filed for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Workers program after related legislation was enacted in 2009. Labor initially had insufficient capacity to handle this increased workload, leading to processing delays and data recording errors. For example, in the quarter after the 2009 legislation took effect, Labor took an average of 153 days to process a petition—nearly four times the statutory limit. Labor responded with corrective action, including hiring new staff and adding additional quality control steps for processing petitions. Partly as a result of these efforts, processing times fell substantially. Moreover, GAO found that Labor's petition investigation process, as of June 2012, generally conformed to best practices for internal controls."
Date: September 28, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Business Systems Modernization: DOD Needs to Fully Define Policies and Procedures for Institutionally Managing Investments

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In 1995, GAO first designated the Department of Defense's (DOD) business systems modernization program as "high-risk," and continues to do so today. In 2004, Congress passed legislation reflecting prior GAO recommendations for DOD to adopt a corporate approach to information technology (IT) business system investment management. To support GAO's legislative mandate to review DOD's efforts, GAO assessed whether the department's corporate investment management approach comports with relevant federal guidance. In doing so, GAO applied its IT Investment Management framework and associated methodology, focusing on the framework's stages related to the investment management provisions of the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996."
Date: May 11, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Stability Operations Approach and Enhance Interagency Planning

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has frequently been involved in stability and/or reconstruction operations that typically last 5 to 8 years and surpass combat operations in the cost of human lives and dollars. A 2005 presidential directive requires DOD and State to integrate stability activities with military contingency plans. GAO was asked to address (1) DOD's approach to enhance stability operations capabilities, and challenges that have emerged in implementing its approach; (2) DOD planning for stability operations and the extent of interagency involvement; and (3) the extent to which DOD is applying lessons learned in future plans. To address these issues, GAO assessed DOD policy and planning documents, reviewed planning efforts at three combatant commands, and evaluated DOD's use of lessons learned. GAO is also conducting a related study of the Department of State's efforts to lead and coordinate stability operations."
Date: May 31, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Trade Adjustment Assistance: Labor Should Take Action to Ensure Performance Data Are Complete, Accurate and Accessible

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In the current tight budgetary environment, program performance is likely to be an increasingly significant factor used to help policymakers assess programs and determine funding levels. Given concerns over the quality of performance data for the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and the importance of having meaningful information to assess program performance, we examined (1) whether the TAA performance data provide a credible picture of the program's performance, (2) what TAA performance data the Department of Labor (Labor) makes available to the public and states and the usefulness of the data for managing the program, and (3) what Labor is doing to address issues with the quality of TAA data submitted by states."
Date: April 25, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

VA Long-Term Care: Data Gaps Impede Strategic Planning for and Oversight of State Veterans' Nursing Homes

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides or pays for veterans' nursing home care in three settings: VA-operated nursing homes, privately owned nursing homes in the community from which VA purchases services, and state veterans' nursing homes. VA supports state veterans' nursing homes in a number of ways, including reimbursement for a portion of the cost of providing nursing home services to veterans, issuance of policy guidance, and oversight of their nursing home operations. GAO was asked to determine the extent to which VA collects information on veterans in state veterans' nursing homes and the type of care they receive, to assess whether VA's reimbursement policy has been applied consistently, and to identify revenue sources such homes use."
Date: March 31, 2006
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Arctic Capabilities: DOD Addressed Many Specified Reporting Elements in Its 2011 Arctic Report but Should Take Steps to Meet Near- and Long-term Needs

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "DOD’s Arctic Report, submitted May 31, 2011, addressed three and partially addressed two of the elements specified in the House Report."
Date: January 13, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Government Contracting: Federal Efforts to Assist Small Minority Owned Businesses

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "While their views varied to some degree, federal agency officials and advocacy groups GAO contacted identified a number of challenges that small, minority-owned businesses may face in pursuing federal government contracts. For example, officials and advocacy groups pointed to a lack of performance history and knowledge of the federal contracting process as significant barriers. Officials from advocacy groups cited additional challenges, such as difficulty gaining access to contracting officials and decreased contracting opportunities resulting from contract bundling—the consolidation of two or more contracts previously performed under smaller contracts, into a single contract. Officials from agencies that accounted for 70 percent of federal contracting with small, minority-owned businesses—(the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, and the General Services Administration) told GAO that they conducted outreach to help small, minority-owned businesses with these challenges. Their outreach efforts include one-on-one interviews between contracting office staff and businesses seeking federal contracts. Linguistic and cultural barriers were identified as a challenge on a limited basis."
Date: September 28, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Unemployment Insurance: Economic Circumstances of Individuals Who Exhausted Benefits

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "Among the 15 million workers who lost jobs from 2007 to 2009, half received Unemployment Insurance (UI), and about one-fourth of the recipients exhausted UI benefits by January 2010. This represents 2 million displaced workers who exhausted UI as of early 2010, the most recent survey data available. Labor estimated that about an additional 3-1/2 million individuals exhausted benefits in 2010 and 2011."
Date: February 17, 2012
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Troubled Asset Relief Program: One Year Later, Actions Are Needed to Address Remaining Transparency and Accountability Challenges

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "GAO's eighth report assesses the Troubled Asset Relief Program's (TARP) impact over the last year. Specifically, it addresses (1) the evolution of TARP's strategy and the status of TARP programs as of September 25, 2009; (2) the Department of the Treasury's (Treasury) progress in creating an effective management structure, including hiring for the Office of Financial Stability (OFS), overseeing contractors, and establishing a comprehensive system of internal control; and (3) indicators of TARP's performance that could help Treasury decide whether to extend the program. GAO reviewed relevant documentation and met with officials from OFS, contractors, and financial regulators."
Date: October 8, 2009
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Peacekeeping: Thousands Trained but United States Is Unlikely to Complete All Activities by 2010 and Some Improvements Are Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In 2004, in response to the Group of Eight (G8) Sea Island Summit, the United States established the Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), a 5-year program to build peacekeeping capabilities worldwide, with a focus on Africa. Since 2005, the Department of State (State) has allocated $374 million and selected 52 countries to participate in the program. Congress mandated that GAO assess and report on the initiative. This report assesses (1) progress made in meeting GPOI goals, (2) whether State is consistently assessing the quality and effectiveness of the training, and (3) the extent to which countries meet program criteria and whether trainees are adequately screened for human rights abuses. GAO assessed State and Department of Defense (DOD) data and program documents, interviewed U.S. and host country officials, and conducted field work in eight countries."
Date: June 26, 2008
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Corporate Shareholder Meetings: Issues Relating to Firms That Advise Institutional Investors on Proxy Voting

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "At annual meetings, shareholders of public corporations can vote on various issues (e.g., mergers and acquisitions) through a process called proxy voting. Institutional investors (e.g., mutual funds and pension funds) cast the majority of proxy votes due to their large stock holdings. In recent years, concerns have been raised about a group of about five firms that provide research and recommendations on proxy votes to their institutional investor clients. GAO was asked to report on (1) potential conflicts of interest that may exist with proxy advisory firms and the steps that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken to oversee these firms; (2) the factors that may impede or promote competition within the proxy advisory industry; and (3) institutional investors' use of the firms' services and the firms' potential influence on proxy vote outcomes. GAO reviewed SEC examinations of proxy advisory firms, spoke with industry professionals, and conducted structured interviews with 31 randomly selected institutional investors. GAO is not making any recommendations."
Date: June 29, 2007
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Program Evaluation: Strategies to Facilitate Agencies' Use of Evaluation in Program Management and Policy Making

Description: A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "In a governmentwide survey, GAO found that most federal managers lack recentevaluations of their programs. Thirty-seven percent reported that an evaluation had been completed within the past 5 years of any program, operation, or project they were involved in. Another 40 percent of managers reported that they did not know if an evaluation had been completed. However, 80 percent of managers who did have evaluations reported that those evaluations contributed to a moderate or greater extent to improving program management or performance and to assessing program effectiveness or value. Fewer reported that evaluations contributed moderately or more to allocating resources within a program (67 percent) or streamlining programs (61 percent)."
Date: June 26, 2013
Creator: United States. Government Accountability Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department