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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Commerce

GAO-23-106384 Published: May 12, 2023. Publicly Released: May 22, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help the federal government save money, address issues on our High Risk List, and significantly improve government operations.

This letter to the Department of Commerce outlines 17 open recommendations that it should prioritize. Implementing these recommendations could yield improvements in the areas of cybersecurity, water quality, international trade, the decennial census and more.

The Department of Commerce implemented 2 recommendations we identified as a priority last year.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

Graphic that says, "GAO's Priority Open Recommendations" and includes the Commerce seal.

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What GAO Found

In July 2022, GAO identified 16 priority recommendations for the Department of Commerce (Commerce). Since then, Commerce has implemented two of those recommendations by:

  • updating a joint memorandum of understanding with the Federal Communications Commission related to promoting the efficient use of radio spectrum in the public interest, and
  • completed the last in a series of workforce planning activities intended to improve its ability respond to changing staffing needs and to control human capital risks.

In May 2023, GAO identified three additional priority recommendations for Commerce, bringing the total number to 17. These recommendations involve the following 8 areas:

  • Decennial Census,
  • Ensuring the cybersecurity of the nation,
  • Improving the nation's water quality,
  • Privacy,
  • International trade,
  • Managing climate change risks,
  • Managing the radio frequency spectrum, and
  • Conflict minerals rule.

Full implementation of these open recommendations could significantly improve Commerce's operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Michelle Sager at (202) 512-6806 or

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CensusClimate changeCybersecurityHigh-risk issuesPrivacyRadio frequency spectrumTrade promotionWater qualityWater quality standardsSpectrum management