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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Health and Human Services

GAO-23-106467 Published: May 10, 2023. Publicly Released: May 17, 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 Health and Human Services outlines 45 open recommendations that it should prioritize. For example, HHS should identify how it will increase U.S. production of medical supplies to help ease future global supply chain disruptions during pandemics and national emergencies.

HHS implemented 12 recommendations we identified as a priority last year.

We regularly update priority recommendations here.

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What GAO Found

In May 2022, GAO identified 56 priority recommendations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since then, HHS has implemented 12 of those recommendations. For example, it has taken steps to promote timely referral to law enforcement when a crime against a nursing home resident is suspected and to focus additional resources on improving oversight in Medicaid managed care. In addition to the 12 priority recommendations HHS implemented, GAO removed two priority recommendations related to Medicaid and one priority recommendation related to supply chain constraints during the pandemic because they no longer warranted priority attention.

In April 2023, GAO identified four additional priority recommendations, bringing the total number of open priority recommendations to 45.

These recommendations involve the following seven areas:

  • COVID-19 response and other public health emergency preparedness;
  • Public health and human services program oversight;
  • Food and Drug Administration oversight;
  • Medicaid program;
  • Medicare program;
  • Improper payments in Medicaid and Medicare; and
  • Health information technology and cybersecurity.

Implementing these priority recommendations could help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of key federal health care programs and funding.

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 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 Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or

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CybersecurityHealth information technologyHigh-risk issuesImproper paymentsMedicaidMedicarepandemicsPublic healthHealth careCompliance oversight