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Open Matters for Congressional Consideration: Action Can Produce Billions of Dollars in Financial and Other Benefits for the Nation

GAO-23-106837 Published: Jul 25, 2023. Publicly Released: Jul 25, 2023.
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Fast Facts

Since 2000, we've recommended that Congress consider more than 1,100 ways to address problems that we identified. Of those, 218 remain open as of June 2023.

To help Congress, we've catalogued the open matters in this report. Addressing them can lead to significant benefits.

For example, in 2015, we found that when hospitals acquired physician practices, physician services were used more in hospital settings. Because Medicare pays more for services in hospitals, we recommended that Congress consider directing Health and Human Services to equalize payment rates between hospital and office settings, saving an estimated $141 billion over 10 years.

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What GAO Found

Matters for congressional consideration are recommendations that GAO makes to Congress to address findings from GAO's work. Since 2000, GAO has recommended that Congress consider more than 1,100 matters and Congress has acted on about 80 percent of them. As of June 2023, 218 matters remain open.

To assist Congress, GAO cataloged the open matters which span a wide range of topics and involve many parts of the federal government. Topic areas include energy, information technology, tax policy and administration, science and the environment, health, defense, and economic development, among others. The newest open matter was reported in May 2023 and relates to the Department of Defense's most expensive weapon system—the F-35 aircraft. The program is now more than a decade behind schedule and $183 billion over original cost estimates. The oldest open matter is more than 20 years old and remains highly relevant to addressing one of the issues on GAO's High-Risk List—Improving Oversight of Food Safety.

Congressional action in response to the matters has been critical to addressing significant challenges facing the nation. Among these challenges are those on GAO's High-Risk List and in GAO's annual Duplication and Cost Savings Report.

Action by Congress to address open matters can produce billions of dollars in financial savings, improve the effectiveness of federal agencies and programs, and help position the nation to address future challenges. For example, in December 2015, we recommended that Congress consider directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to equalize payment rates between settings for evaluation and management office visits and other services that the Secretary deems appropriate and return the associated savings to the Medicare program. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this could result in $141 billion in financial benefits from fiscal years 2021 through 2030.

Why GAO Did This Study

This report provides information about open matters for congressional consideration, along with a consolidated list of open matters by topic area. The James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act of 2023 includes a provision for GAO to report this information to congressional leadership and the oversight committees of the House and Senate. In producing this report, we used information from GAO's internal system for tracking recommendations and matters for congressional consideration. We conducted this work from May 2023 to July 2023 in accordance with all sections of GAO's Quality Assurance Framework that are relevant to our objectives.

For more information, contact Jessica Lucas Judy at (202) 512-6806 or

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