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Open Recommendations

Sexual Assault and Harassment: NOAA Has Made Substantial Progress in Prevention and Response but Could Further Improve Its Processes

GAO-21-560
Sep 27, 2021
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6 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure that future updates to the agency's sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention and response policy are consistent with all relevant legal requirements in the 2017 NDAA. (Recommendation 1)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should implement a mechanism requiring oversight by senior agency leaders of all disciplinary actions involving misconduct related to sexual assault and sexual harassment before such actions are finalized. (Recommendation 2)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure that the agency provides specific and readily accessible information on its website, through frequently asked questions (FAQ) and in staff training. The information should describe and explain the differences among complaint systems and what to expect from each when reporting allegations of sexual harassment or assault. (Recommendation 3)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should require that training for supervisors and managers include critical NOAA-specific information, such as how to report allegations up the chain of command, how to identify and minimize potential risk factors, explanations of NOAA's confidentiality rules, and the consequences for failing to fulfill this staff's supervisory responsibilities. (Recommendation 4)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure the agency provides more information to specific individuals and the larger NOAA workforce about how the agency is responding to allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment, as appropriate, such as by regularly updating individuals on the status of their cases and by annually developing summary-level information for the workforce about the number, type, and resolution of cases. (Recommendation 5)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The administrator of NOAA should ensure that the central tracking system being developed will collect consistent data and appropriately document the number and type of incidents of sexual assault and harassment across complaint systems. (Recommendation 6)
Open
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Voters with Disabilities: State and Local Actions and Federal Resources to Address Accessibility of Early Voting

GAO-21-352
Jul 21, 2021
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Election Assistance Commission The Executive Director of the EAC should develop and implement a mechanism or mechanisms for collecting and incorporating feedback from state and local election officials on the usefulness of the voting accessibility resources the agency provides and other resources that would be helpful to them. (Recommendation 1)
Open
The EAC stated that expanding its resources for accessibility and improving the feedback process is a priority for the agency and identified ongoing and planned steps to do so. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in implementing our recommendation.

Sexual Harassment: NNSA Could Improve Prevention and Response Efforts in Its Nuclear Security Forces

GAO-21-307
Apr 19, 2021
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5 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should conduct anonymous surveys on sexual harassment issues that adhere to leading practices for survey research to understand the extent to which sexual harassment may occur in OST and the nature of any such harassment. (Recommendation 1)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation and said that it will conduct anonymous surveys of federal employees within the agency, including OST. NNSA also stated that its surveys will adhere to leading practices for survey research and estimated that the agency will roll out the surveys by October 31, 2021.
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should evaluate its contracting practices and determine whether protective force contractors should conduct anonymous surveys on sexual harassment issues that adhere to leading practices for survey research to understand the extent to which sexual harassment may occur in their organizations and the nature of any such harassment. (Recommendation 2)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation. NNSA stated that its Office of Acquisition and Project Management will work with its Office of Civil Rights to evaluate contracting practices and determine whether to require contractors to conduct anonymous surveys of contractor employees, including protective force contractors, on sexual harassment issues. NNSA stated that the estimated completion date for this action is October 31, 2021.
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should develop a process to consider which EEOC Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment to implement based on the needs of its federal nuclear security workforce in OST, informed by sexual harassment survey results. (Recommendation 3)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation. NNSA stated that it will develop a process to consider which EEOC Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment to implement, based on the needs of its federal workforce, including OST, informed by sexual harassment survey results. NNSA stated that the estimated completion date for this action is January 31, 2022.
National Nuclear Security Administration The Administrator of NNSA should evaluate its contracting practices and determine whether protective force contractors should further implement Promising Practices for Preventing Harassment relevant to the needs of its contracted protective forces, informed by sexual harassment survey results. (Recommendation 4)
Open
In its written comments, NNSA concurred with this recommendation. NNSA stated that its Office of Acquisition and Project Management will work with its Office of Civil Rights to evaluate contracting practices and determine whether to require contractors to implement additional EEOC Promising Practices For Preventing Harassment. In doing so, NNSA stated that it will consider the needs of NNSA's contractor workforce, including protective force contractors, as informed by sexual harassment survey results. NNSA stated that the estimated completion date for this action is January 31, 2022.
Department of Energy
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Energy should fully implement plans to address the department's EEO program deficiencies relevant to sexual harassment and work with NNSA to fully implement plans to address the agency's EEO program deficiencies relevant to sexual harassment. (Recommendation 5)
Open
DOE concurred with this recommendation. DOE stated that it has completed actions to address some of the issues identified by EEOC and has demonstrated progress to address remaining issues. DOE also stated that it will continue to work with NNSA to address issues and further strengthen practices. DOE estimated that it would demonstrate successful completion by September 30, 2022.

Sexual Harassment and Assault: Guidance Needed to Ensure Consistent Tracking, Response, and Training for DOD Civilians

GAO-21-113
Feb 09, 2021
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19 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the Director of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, takes steps to assure that as the department finalizes the development of the central repository for Equal Employment Opportunity data, the planned repository includes data for all DOD components and is updated frequently, such as on a quarterly basis. (Recommendation 1)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation. In June 2021, DOD stated that the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) obtained a central repository for data storage. According to DOD, as of June 2021, ODEI will work with the 26 DOD Components to identify data needed and how to gather and update such data, and expects to have written agreements with each component by the end of fiscal year 2021. ODEI intends to revise DOD Instruction 1020.04 to ensure data is updated frequently, and expects to complete this step by the end of calendar year 2021. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to implement this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the Director of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, expands guidance that specifies and defines uniform data elements that all DOD components should use when collecting and reporting on allegations of harassment made by DOD federal civilian employees outside of the Equal Employment Opportunity process, such as information about the parties involved, the type of harassment, and actions taken to respond to the allegation. (Recommendation 2)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation. In June 2021, DOD stated that the department will reconvene its Civilian Working Group to identify what uniform data elements need to be collected and reported and will take steps to update DOD Instruction 1020.04 accordingly. As of June 2021, DOD estimated completion of this effort by the end of calendar year 2021. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to implement this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the Director of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, clarifies guidance regarding the requirement for the Secretaries of the military departments to maintain data on informal complaints of harassment, including the definition of an informal complaint for tracking purposes; how such data should be maintained, including by a headquarters-level organization; and which informal complaints should be reported to the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on an annual basis. (Recommendation 3)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation. In June 2021, DOD stated that the department will work with the military services to identify a shared definition of what constitutes an informal complaint and update DOD Instruction 1020.03 and DOD Instruction 1350.2 accordingly. As of June 2021, DOD estimated completion of this effort by September 30, 2022. DOD did not specify efforts to clarify guidance on how data on informal complaints of harassment should be maintained, including by a headquarters-level organization; and which informal complaints should be reported to ODEI on an annual basis, although these elements are also necessary to implement this recommendation. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to implement this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy and the Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, issues guidance for the military departments to comprehensively track information about reported work-related sexual assaults involving DOD federal civilian employee victims in the continental United States, regardless of eligibility for DOD-provided sexual assault support services, including the status and affiliation of the victim and alleged offender and actions taken by DOD in response, such as any referrals or support services provided. (Recommendation 4)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation. In June 2021, DOD stated that the department plans to update DOD Instruction 1438.06 to require that DOD components, to include the military departments, track information about work-related sexual assaults involving DOD federal civilian employee victims in the continental United States, regardless of eligibility for DOD-provided support services, to include the status of the victim, alleged offender, and actions taken by DOD in response. DOD estimated completion of this effort by June 30, 2022. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to implement this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy and the Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, issues guidance that requires all DOD components, including agencies and field activities, to track reported work-related sexual assaults involving their federal civilian employees as victims or alleged offenders, including the specific data elements to be collected, such as status and affiliation of the victim and alleged offender and actions taken by DOD in response, and common definitions for those data elements. (Recommendation 5)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation. In June 2021, DOD stated that the department plans to update DOD Instruction 1438.06 to require that DOD components, to include agencies and field activities, track information about work-related sexual assaults involving DOD federal civilian employee victims in the continental United States, regardless of eligibility for DOD-provided support services, to include the status of the victim, alleged offender, and actions taken by DOD in response. DOD estimated completion of this effort by June 30, 2022. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to implement this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in collaboration with the Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, issues guidance that directs Sexual Assault Response Coordinators to ensure that all DOD civilian employee victims of sexual assault are categorized in the Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database as both federal civilian employees and military dependents, if applicable, for work-related incidents of sexual assault. (Recommendation 6)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation. In June 2021, DOD stated that, pending issuance of guidance, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) issued Defense Sexual Assault Incident Database (DSAID) User Bulletin in April 2021 reminding all Sexual Assault Response Coordinators (SARCs) to ensure that official reports for eligible DOD civilian employee victims of sexual assault are categorized in DSAID as both federal civilian employees and military dependents, if applicable, for work-related incidents of sexual assault. DOD expected to issue related guidance by June 30, 2022. We will continue to monitor DOD's efforts to implement this recommendation.
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