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Humane Methods of Slaughter Act: USDA Has Addressed Some Problems but Still Faces Enforcement Challenges

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 1978, the Congress passed the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to ensure that cattle, sheep, hogs, and other animals destined for human consumption are handled and slaughtered humanely. Within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for enforcing the act. Recently, the Congress took additional actions to improve FSIS enforcement. GAO reviewed (1) the frequency and scope of humane handling and slaughter violations, (2) actions to enforce compliance, and (3) the adequacy of existing resources to enforce the act."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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New Markets Tax Credit Program: Progress Made in Implementation, but Further Actions Needed to Monitor Compliance

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000 authorized up to $15 billion under the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program to stimulate capital investment in low-income and economically distressed communities. The act mandated that GAO report to Congress on the NMTC program by January 31, 2004, 2007, and 2010. Based on consultation with staff at appropriate congressional committees, this report (1) describes the status of the NMTC program, (2) profiles community development entities (CDE) that were selected to receive NMTC allocations in 2003, and (3) determines whether systems are in place or planned to ensure compliance and evaluate the success of the NMTC program."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Architect of the Capitol: Status Report on Implementation of Management Review Recommendations

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Office of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) plays an important role in supporting the effective functioning of Congress and its neighboring institutions. In January 2003, GAO conducted a comprehensive management review of AOC's operations and made 35 recommendations to help AOC establish a strategic management and accountability framework, improve its management infrastructure and internal control, and address longstanding concerns. In February 2003, the Conference Report mandated GAO to monitor progress being made on the implementation of the 35 management review recommendations."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Information Technology Management: Governmentwide Strategic Planning, Performance Measurement, and Investment Management Can Be Further Improved

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Over the years, the Congress has promulgated laws and the Office of Management and Budget and GAO have issued policies and guidance, respectively, on (1) information technology (IT) strategic planning/performance measurement (which defines what an organization seeks to accomplish, identifies the strategies it will use to achieve desired results, and then determines how well it is succeeding in reaching resultsoriented goals and achieving objectives) and (2) investment management (which involves selecting, controlling, and evaluating investments). To obtain an understanding of the government's implementation of these key IT management policies, congressional requesters asked GAO to determine the extent to which 26 major agencies have in place practices associated with key legislative and other requirements for (1) IT strategic planning/ performance measurement and (2) IT investment management."
Date: January 12, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Single-Family Housing: Cost, Benefit, and Compliance Issues Raise Questions about HUD's Discount Sales Program

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 2001, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Inspector General reported on serious problems in HUD's Discount Sales Program, under which nonprofit organizations purchase HUD-owned properties at a discount, rehabilitate them, and resell them to low- and moderate-income homebuyers. The objectives of the program are to expand affordable housing opportunities, help revitalize neighborhoods, and reduce HUD's property inventory in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Although the Inspector General recommended that the agency suspend the program and evaluate its viability, HUD did neither. GAO was asked to assess (1) the costs of the program to HUD, (2) the benefits of the program to homebuyers, and (3) HUD's efforts to monitor participating nonprofits and enforce program requirements."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Consumer Protection: Federal and State Agencies Face Challenges in Combating Predatory Lending

Description: A chapter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "While there is no universally accepted definition, the term "predatory lending" is used to characterize a range of practices, including deception, fraud, or manipulation, that a mortgage broker or lender may use to make a loan with terms that are disadvantageous to the borrower. No comprehensive data are available on the extent of these practices, but they appear most likely to occur among subprime mortgages--those made to borrowers with impaired credit or limited incomes. GAO was asked to examine actions taken by federal agencies and states to combat predatory lending; the roles played by the secondary market and by consumer education, mortgage counseling, and loan disclosure requirements; and the impact of predatory lending on the elderly."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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International Trade: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Faces Challenges in Addressing Illegal Textile Transshipment

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "U.S. policymakers and industry groups are concerned that some foreign textile and apparel imports are entering the United States fraudulently and displacing U.S. textile and apparel industry workers. Congress mandated GAO to assess U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) system for monitoring and enforcing textile transshipment and make recommendations for improvements, as needed. Therefore, GAO reviewed (1) how CBP identifies potential illegal textile transshipment, (2) how well CBP's textile review process works to prevent illegal textile transshipment, and (3) how effectively CBP uses its in-bond system to monitor foreign textiles transiting the United States."
Date: January 23, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Performance Budgeting: Observations on the Use of OMB's Program Assessment Rating Tool for the Fiscal Year 2004 Budget

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) is meant to provide a consistent approach to evaluating federal programs during budget formulation. To better understand its potential, congressional requesters asked GAO to examine (1) how PART changed OMB's fiscal year 2004 budget decisionmaking process, (2) PART's relationship to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA), and (3) PART's strengths and weaknesses as an evaluation tool."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Social Security Administration: Strategic Workforce Planning Needed to Address Human Capital Challenges Facing the Disability Determination Services

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "SSA oversees and fully funds primarily state-operated DDSs that determine whether applicants are eligible for disability benefits. The disability examiners employed by the DDSs play a key role in determining benefit eligibility. This report examines (1) the challenges the DDSs face today in retaining and recruiting examiners and enhancing their expertise; (2) the extent to which the DDSs engage in workforce planning and encounter obstacles in doing so; and (3) the extent to which SSA is addressing present and future human capital challenges in the DDSs."
Date: January 27, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Food Safety: FDA's Imported Seafood Safety Program Shows Some Progress, but Further Improvements Are Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "More than 80 percent of the seafood that Americans consume is imported. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring that imported seafood is safe and produced under sanitation and safety systems comparable to those of the United States. Since GAO reported in 2001 that FDA's seafood inspection program did not sufficiently protect consumers, additional concerns have arisen about imported seafood containing banned substances, such as certain antibiotics. In this review, GAO was asked to evaluate (1) FDA's progress in implementing the recommendations in the 2001 report and (2) other options to enhance FDA's oversight."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Information Security: Further Efforts Needed to Address Serious Weaknesses to USDA

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) performs critical missions that enhance the quality of life for the American people, relying on automated systems and networks to deliver billions of dollars in programs to its customers; process and communicate sensitive payroll, financial, and market data; and maintain personal customer information. Interruptions in USDA's ability to fulfill its missions could have a significant adverse impact on the nation's food and agricultural production. In addition, securing sensitive information is critical to USDA's efforts to maintain public confidence in the department. GAO was asked to evaluate the effectiveness of USDA's information security controls."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Social Security Numbers: Private Sector Entities Routinely Obtain and Use SSNs, and Laws Limit the Disclosure of This Information

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In 1936, the Social Security Administration (SSA) established the Social Security number (SSN) to track workers' earnings for Social Security benefit purposes. However, the SSN is also used for a myriad of non-Social Security purposes. Today, public and private sector entities view the SSN as a key piece of information that enables them to conduct their business and deliver services. However, given the apparent rise in identity crimes as well as the rapidly increasing availability of information over the Internet, Congress has raised concern over how certain private sector entities obtain, use, and safeguard SSN data. In previous reports, we discussed the benefits of government and commercial entities using SSNs. We also examined how certain private sector entities and the government obtain, use, and safeguard SSNs. This report provides additional information on private sector uses of SSNs. The Chairman, Subcommittee on Social Security, House Committee on Ways and Means, asked that GAO examine the private sector use of SSNs by businesses most likely to obtain and use them including information resellers, consumer reporting agencies (CRAs), and health care organizations. Specifically, our objectives were to (1) describe how information resellers, CRAs, and some health care organizations obtain and use SSNs and (2) discuss the laws and practices relevant to safeguarding SSNs and consumers' privacy. GAO makes no recommendations."
Date: January 22, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Tax Administration: Information on Expenses Claimed by Small Business Sole Proprietorships

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Meeting the requirements of tax rules can be especially burdensome to small business sole proprietorships that independently own their businesses. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data show that, compared to other taxpayer groups, sole proprietorships have more problems complying with their tax obligations. Simplifying how sole proprietorships account for and report expenses may ease their burden and increase compliance. Because of the requesters' interest in alleviating any unnecessary burden that federal tax requirements impose on small businesses, we were asked to provide information on the expenses that sole proprietorships report on IRS's Form 1040 Schedule C--Profit or Loss from Business and on Form 1040 Schedule F--Profit or Loss from Farming. By having information on the expenses reported by sole proprietorships, policymakers may be in a better position to develop alternatives for simplifying how these taxpayers account for and report their expenses."
Date: January 23, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Human Capital: Selected Agencies' Experiences and Lessons Learned in Designing Training and Development Programs

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Effective training and development programs are an integral part of a learning environment, helping improve federal workforce performance in achieving agency results. Therefore, in this report GAO was asked to identify examples of selected federal agencies' experiences and some of the key lessons they have learned in designing their training and development programs. This work focused on ways that these agencies (1) assessed agency skills gaps and identified training needs, (2) developed strategies and solutions for these training and development needs, and (3) determined methods to evaluate the effectiveness of training and development programs. GAO worked with five agencies to identify their experiences and lessons learned: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Department of Defense; Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Department of the Interior (Interior); Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of the Treasury; the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); and Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Agency officials provided information during interviews and furnished supporting documentation for analysis and review."
Date: January 30, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Nonproliferation: Improvements Needed to Better Control Technology Exports for Cruise Missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) pose a growing threat to U.S. national security interests as accurate, inexpensive delivery systems for conventional, chemical, and biological weapons. GAO assessed (1) the tools the U.S. and foreign governments use to address proliferation risks posed by the sale of these items and (2) efforts to verify the end use of exported cruise missiles, UAVs, and related technology."
Date: January 23, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Law Enforcement: Information on Timeliness of Criminal Fingerprint Submissions to the FBI

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "By positively confirming identifications and linking relevant records of arrests and prosecutions, fingerprint analysis provides a basis for making fundamental criminal justice decisions regarding detention, charging, bail, and sentencing. In 1999, the FBI implemented the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS)--a computerized system for storing, comparing, and exchanging fingerprint data in a digital format. The FBI's goal under IAFIS is to ultimately achieve paperless processing and to provide a response within 2 hours to users who submit criminal fingerprints electronically. Maximizing the benefits of rapid responses under IAFIS depends largely on how quickly criminal fingerprints are submitted by local and state law enforcement agencies. Concerns have been raised that, after arrests are made by some local or state law enforcement agencies, periods of up to 6 months may elapse before the criminal fingerprints are submitted for entry into IAFIS. GAO examined (1) the importance of IAFIS processing to local and state law enforcement agencies, (2) the progress these agencies have made toward the goal of paperless fingerprint processing, and (3) efforts being made to improve the timeliness of criminal fingerprint submissions."
Date: January 27, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Supports For Low-Income Families: States Serve a Broad Range of Families through a Complex and Changing System

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Over the last decade, the Congress has made significant changes in numerous federal programs that support low-income families, including changes that have shifted program emphases from providing cash assistance to providing services that promote employment and economic independence. As a result of some of the federal policy changes, the support system is more decentralized than before. This heightens the importance of understanding policy choices and practices at the state and local levels as well as those at the federal level. To provide the Congress with information on this system, GAO agreed to address the following questions: (1) To what extent do states provide supports for lowincome families? (2) How have states structured programs to support low-income families? (3) What changes have states made to supports for low-income families in recent years? Our review focused primarily on supports for which states make many of the key decisions about eligibility, benefit amounts, and service provision. To obtain this information, GAO conducted a mail survey of the social service directors in the 50 states and the District of Columbia; conducted site visits in New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Washington, and Wisconsin; and reviewed federal reports and other relevant literature."
Date: January 26, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Budget Issues: Agency Implementation of Capital Planning Principles Is Mixed

Description: A chapter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In fiscal year 2002, the federal government spent nearly $100 billion on capital investments intended to yield long-term benefits for its own operations. Interested in ensuring that good investment decisions are made, the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Government Efficiency and Financial Management, House Committee on Government Reform, asked GAO to evaluate agency experiences with the capital planning principles embodied in the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Capital Programming Guide and GAO's Executive Guide on leading state, local, and private sector capital investment practices. This report examines selected agencies' implementation of this guidance and OMB's use of long-term capital planning data."
Date: January 16, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Commuter Rail: Information and Guidance Could Help Facilitate Commuter and Freight Rail Access Negotiations

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Commuter and freight rail services have the potential to play increasingly important roles in the nation's economy and transportation system as demand for these services increases. Because the cost of building new infrastructure can be costprohibitive, commuter rail agencies typically seek to use existing infrastructure--which is primarily owned by private freight railroads. Consequently, commuter rail agencies must negotiate to purchase, lease, or pay to access the existing infrastructure from freight railroads. GAO was asked to examine (1) the challenges commuter rail agencies and freight railroads face when negotiating and sharing rights-of-way, (2) the actions that help facilitate mutually beneficial arrangements between commuter rail agencies and freight railroads, and (3) the role the federal government plays in negotiations between commuter rail agencies and freight railroads."
Date: January 9, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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2010 Census: Cost and Design Issues Need to Be Addressed Soon

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The key to a successful census is meticulous planning as it helps ensure greater cost-effectiveness. However, the 2000 and previous censuses have been marked by poor planning, which unnecessarily raised the costs and risks of those efforts. GAO was asked to (1) review the U.S. Census Bureau's (Bureau) current plans for 2010 and whether they might address shortcomings of the 2000 Census, (2) analyze the Bureau's cost estimates, and (3) review the rigor of the Bureau's 2010 planning process."
Date: January 15, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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D.C. Family Court: Progress Has Been Made in Implementing Its Transition

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The D.C. Family Court Act (P.L. 107-114) mandated that GAO examine the performance of the D.C. Family Court. GAO addressed the following objectives: (1) What procedures were used to make judicial appointments to the Family Court and what effect did qualification requirements have on appointment timeframes? (2) How timely was the Family Court in meeting established timeframes for transferring and resolving abuse and neglect cases, and what impact did magistrate judges have on the workload of judges and other personnel? (3) What progress has the D.C. Courts made in procuring permanent space? And (4) What progress have the Superior Court and District agencies made in sharing data from their computer systems? To address these objectives, GAO analyzed court data on its timeliness in resolving cases, reviewed the Family Court Act, applicable District laws, and reports required by the act; reviewed documents regarding the Family Court's progress in acquiring permanent space and those related to sharing data from the computer systems of the Superior Court and the District; and interviewed relevant District, Superior Court, and Family Court officials. In commenting on this report, the Superior Court agreed with our conclusions and cited additional progress. The Deputy Mayor for Children, Youth, Families, and Elders clarified the roles and responsibilities of various District offices."
Date: January 6, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Human Capital: Implementing Pay for Performance at Selected Personnel Demonstration Projects

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "There is a growing understanding that the federal government needs to fundamentally rethink its current approach to pay and to better link pay to individual and organizational performance. Federal agencies have been experimenting with pay for performance through the Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) personnel demonstration projects. GAO identified the approaches that selected personnel demonstration projects have taken to implement their pay for performance systems. These projects include: the Navy Demonstration Project at China Lake (China Lake), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), the Naval Sea Systems Command Warfare Centers (NAVSEA) at Dahlgren and Newport, and the Civilian Acquisition Workforce Personnel Demonstration Project (AcqDemo). We selected these demonstration projects based on factors such as status of the project and makeup of employee groups covered. We provided drafts of this report to officials in the Department of Defense (DOD) and DOC for their review and comment. DOD provided written comments concurring with our report. DOC provided minor technical clarifications and updated information. We provided a draft of the report to the Director of OPM for her information."
Date: January 23, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Depot Maintenance: Army Needs Plan to Implement Depot Maintenance Report's Recommendations

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Each year, the U.S. Army spends about $3 billion on depot-level maintenance and repair work for weapons systems and other equipment. However, because its data gathering and reporting processes have been limited, the Army historically has been unable to fully identify how much depotlevel maintenance takes place outside its five public depots. As a result, it has not been able to determine with precision how well it was meeting statutory requirements to limit contracted depot-level maintenance work to 50 percent of the program budget. In the House report on the Fiscal Year 2001 Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Army to report on the proliferation of depot-level maintenance work at nondepot facilities and asked GAO to review that report. GAO examined the extent to which (1) the Army's report identifies the amount of depot-level maintenance work done outside public depots; (2) the Army can account for its depot-level maintenance workload, as required by statute; and (3) the corrective actions in the report are likely to address the proliferation issue and enhance the Army's reporting."
Date: January 8, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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Export Controls: Post-Shipment Verification Provides Limited Assurance That Dual-Use Items Are Being Properly Used

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The United States controls certain dual-use technologies that could be used to enhance the military capabilities of countries of concern. The Department of Commerce (Commerce) conducts post-shipment verification (PSV) checks to ensure that these technologies arrive at their intended destination and are used for the purposes stated in the export license. GAO was asked to (1) assess the number of dual-use export licenses approved and subject to postshipment verification and (2) evaluate how the PSV process ensures that sensitive exports are used as intended."
Date: January 12, 2004
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
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