Weaknesses in MARAD’s Management Controls for Risk Mitigation, Workforce Development, and Program Implementation Hinder the Agency’s Ability To Meet Its Mission
The mission of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) is to improve the U.S. marine transportation system to meet the Nation’s economic, environmental, and security needs. In recent years, MARAD has restructured its organization to better coordinate programs that have a direct impact on the Agency’s Federal and commercial sealift missions. MARAD has also taken on oversight for a significant number of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant funds for port development projects. These significant changes point to the need for enhanced attention to MARAD’s management controls intended to help managers achieve desired results through effective stewardship of public resources. Accordingly, we assessed MARAD’s management controls for (1) planning, performance measurement, and risk management; (2) organizational structure and workforce development; and (3) program implementation, monitoring, and oversight.
We found that MARAD’s strategic plan and performance measures are aligned with Federal standards but did not thoroughly document its risk mitigation strategies, so the Agency cannot be assured it is prepared to address risks to meet its mission. MARAD also assessed its organizational structure but has not fully implemented workforce plans and development policies. For example, MARAD has not fully implemented competency models for its mission-critical positions, and its policies in the areas of onboarding, training, and addressing misconduct are incomplete, out-of-date, or not fully implemented. Finally, MARAD’s controls for program implementation, monitoring, and oversight are deficient. Specifically, MARAD’s policies and procedures are largely outdated Agency-wide, and MARAD has not established comprehensive mechanisms for overseeing implementation of corrective actions. MARAD concurred with all 16 of our recommendations to improve the Agency’s management controls.