GAO released an analysis of a generalizable sample of conflict minerals disclosures filed with SEC in 2015. The analysis found that an estimated 49 percent of companies in 2015 reported having determined whether the conflict minerals in their products came from covered countries, compared with 30 percent in 2014—an increase of 19 percentage points. As a result of due diligence, a majority of companies reported in 2015 that they were unable to determine the country of origin of the conflict minerals in their products and whether such minerals benefited or financed armed groups in the covered countries. However, companies reported a range of actions they had taken, or planned to take, to build on or improve their due diligence efforts, such as shifting operations or encouraging those in their supply chain to shift from current suppliers to suppliers who are certified as conflict free.
GAO analyzed a random sample of 100 reports from a population of 1,281 to create estimates generalizable to the population of all companies that filed specialized disclosure reports and conflict minerals reports with SEC. GAO spoke with company representatives to obtain additional perspectives. GAO representatives also traveled to China, Malaysia, and Singapore for field work and visited conflict minerals processing facilities to observe conflict minerals processing and due diligence processes.
The report also notes that as of July 2016, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) had not submitted to Congress a report that includes an assessment of the accuracy of Independent Private Sector Audits (IPSA) and other due diligence efforts as well as recommendations for IPSA processes, as the Dodd-Frank Act requires, and had not developed a plan for doing so. Commerce officials told GAO in July 2016 that they had not yet assessed the accuracy of the four IPSAs filed in 2014 or the six IPSAs filed in 2015. Commerce officials said they established a team to manage Commerce’s responsibilities related to IPSAs in March 2016, but the officials noted that they did not have the internal knowledge or skills to review IPSAs or establish best practices.