Audit Reports

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Weaknesses in MARAD’s Management Controls for Risk Mitigation, Workforce Development, and Program Implementation Hinder the Agency’s Ability To Meet Its Mission

Project ID: 

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positions, and its policies in the areas of onboarding, training, and addressing misconduct are incomplete, out-of-date, or not fully implemented.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 Specifically, MARAD’s policies and procedures are largely outdated Agency-wide, and MARAD has not established comprehensive mechanisms for overseeing implementation of corrective actions.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.




Closed on 02.22.2016
No. 1 to MARAD

Update policies and procedures to require Program and Performance Office staff to review risk profiles to ensure program managers thoroughly document risks and mitigation strategies.

Closed on 01.08.2016
No. 2 to MARAD

Provide additional training to both program managers and Internal Control Officers on thoroughly documenting risks and mitigation strategies in risk profiles. .

Closed on 05.17.2017
No. 3 to MARAD

Create and implement a plan—including tasks, actions, timelines, and responsible personnel—to fully implement comprehensive competency models for mission-critical occupations.

Closed on 01.10.2017
No. 4 to MARAD

Align Headquarters' and field offices' onboarding policies and procedures to ensure consistent implementation and provision of critical information across the Agency.

Closed on 08.16.2016
No. 5 to MARAD

Update the training policies to reflect the current operating environment and to include a control mechanism to ensure all completed training is tracked in a comprehensive training repository.

Closed on 06.16.2017
No. 6 to MARAD

Contingent upon HHS' response, finalize the expansion of the number of testing-designated positions at fleet sites.

Closed on 08.01.2016
No. 7 to MARAD

Develop supplemental policies and procedures and train fleet supervisors on MARAD's procedures to handle suspected drug use.

No. 8 to MARAD

Update existing MAOs in accordance with established timelines.

Closed on 01.25.2017
No. 9 to MARAD

Update the MAO governing the internal directive system to assign responsibility for monitoring implementation.

Closed on 08.01.2016
No. 10 to MARAD

Develop or update policies and procedures to carry out MARAD's ship disposal responsibilities under Title 40 U.S.C. Section 548, including policies and procedures for:(a.) identifying the universe of Government-owned vessels that meet the statutory criteria for MARAD to serve as the disposal agent; (b.) notifying agencies that own these vessels of MARAD's disposal agent role; (c.) specifying into what accounts MARAD should deposit ship disposal proceeds; and (d.) specifying when and how the Maritime Administrator determines what portion of funds MARAD retains for its heritage property.

Closed on 01.08.2016
No. 11 to MARAD

Update policies and procedures for the Historic Preservation Program to include controls to prevent asset loss.

Closed on 09.08.2016
No. 12 to MARAD

Dispose of excess non-heritage assets identified in the heritage asset inventory.

Closed on 05.10.2016
No. 13 to MARAD

Update VTO policies and procedures to reflect the current range of program responsibilities and processes.

Closed on 02.04.2016
No. 14 to MARAD

Modify policies and procedures to strengthen controls for Gateway Directors' oversight of TIGER grants.

Closed on 08.30.2016
No. 15 to MARAD

Provide additional guidance to fleet sites to standardize NDRF Reserve Fleet Operations' KPI data inputs, and provide more uniform measures of fleet performance.

Closed on 02.22.2016
No. 16 to MARAD

Update the MARAD Internal Control Program directive to include mechanisms for communicating all management control deficiency information to the Program and Performance Office staff for entry into the tracking system.