PUBLIC LAW 107-204-^ULY 30, 2002 116 STAT. 797 TITLE VII—STUDIES AND REPORTS SEC. 701. GAO STUDY AND REPORT REGARDING CONSOLIDATION OF 15 USC 7201 PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRMS. note. (a) STUDY REQUIRED.— The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study— (1) to identify— (A) the factors that have led to the consolidation of public accounting firms since 1989 and the consequent reduction in the number of firms capable of providing audit services to large national and multi-national business organizations that are subject to the securities laws; (B) the present and future impact of the condition described in subparagraph (A) on capital formation and securities markets, both domestic and international; and (C) solutions to any problems identified under subparagraph (B), including ways to increase competition and the number of firms capable of providing audit services to large national and multinational business organizations that are subject to the securities laws; (2) of the problems, if any, faced by business organizations that have resulted from limited competition among public accounting firms, including— (A) higher costs; (B) lower quality of services; (C) impairment of auditor independence; or (D) lack of choice; and (3) whether and to what extent Federal or State regulations impede competition among public accounting firms. (b) CONSULTATION.— In planning and conducting the study under this section, the Comptroller General shall consult with— (1) the Commission; (2) the regulatory agencies that perform fimctions similar to the Commission within the other member countries of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations; (3) the Department of Justice; and (4) £my other public or private sector organization that the Comptroller General considers appropriate. (c) REPORT REQUIRED.— Not later than 1 year after the date Deadline. of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall submit a report on the results of the study required by this section to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Financial Services of the House of Representatives. SEC. 702. COMMISSION STUDY AND REPORT REGARDING CREDIT RATING AGENCIES. (a) STUDY REQUIRED. — (1) IN GENERAL. — The Commission shall conduct a study of the role and function of credit rating agencies in the operation of the securities market. (2) AREAS OF CONSIDERATION.—The study required by this subsection shall examine— (A) the role of credit rating agencies in the evaluation of issuers of securities; .