GAO Report Calls on FCC to Combat Fraud in the High-Cost Program
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommending that the FCC take additional action to prevent fraud and implement an anti-fraud strategy for the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) high-cost program, which provides $4.5 billion annually to support broadband service in high-cost areas. Pallone requested the report over two years ago after conducting his own investigation following several high-profile abuses of the program, specifically with regard to rate-of-return carriers.
The GAO report recommends that Chairman Pai:
- Ensure that FCC’s Office of Managing Director follows the leading practices in GAO’s fraud risk framework related to a dedicated entity’s management of its anti-fraud activities, such as serving as the repository of knowledge on fraud risks and coordinating anti-fraud initiatives.
- Plan regular fraud-risk assessments tailored to the high-cost program and assess these risks to determine the program’s fraud risk profile, as provided in GAO’s fraud risk framework.
- Design and implement an anti-fraud strategy for the high-cost program with specific control activities, based upon the results of fraud-risk assessments and a corresponding fraud risk profile, as provided in GAO’s fraud risk framework.
- Assess the model-based support mechanism to determine the extent to which it produces reliable cost estimates.
- Consider whether to make use of the model-based support mechanism mandatory depending on the results of the assessment.
The Regulatory Mix Today: GAO Report Calls on FCC to Combat Fraud in the High-Cost Program, House Schedules FCC Oversight Hearing, FCC National Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Hotline
House Schedules FCC Oversight Hearing
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) announced that the Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold an oversight hearing of the FCC on Thursday, December 5, 2019. “The FCC is considering a number of actions that could have serious consequences for the American people,” Pallone and Doyle said. “As the Committee with jurisdiction over the FCC, we must ensure the Commission is fulfilling its mission to protect consumers and act in the public interest. We look forward to welcoming the Commissioners at our hearing on December 5.”
FCC National Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Hotline
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing to begin a rulemaking to establish 988 as a new, nationwide, three-digit phone number for a suicide prevention and mental health hotline. The FCC will vote on this proposal at its December 12 public meeting.
“The suicide rate in the United States is at its highest level since World War II, and designating 988 as the suicide prevention and mental health hotline would be a major boost for our nation’s suicide prevention efforts,” said Chairman Pai at an event today with federal agency partners and national leaders in preventing suicide and helping at-risk communities. “When it comes to saving lives, time is of the essence, and we believe that 988 can be activated more quickly than other possible three-digit codes. In addition, 988 has an echo of the 911 number we all know as an emergency number. Awareness of this resource—including how memorable the number is—should make a real difference in saving lives.”
In addition to designating 988 as the national 3-digit code, the Chairman’s proposal would require that all phone companies transmit all calls to 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which today provides suicide prevention assistance at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) and through online chats.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.