Pallone on GAO Report on Lifeline Program
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement today in response to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Lifeline Program, a program that has provided discounted and no-charge phone service for low-income Americans for over three decades:
“The Lifeline program provides millions of low-income Americans access to basic communications services. Today cell phones are a necessity, and low-income Americans rely on them more heavily than the overall population. Lifeline has been a critical springboard for struggling families across the country for decades, and it would be a mistake to use this report as an excuse to rip away this essential service from struggling families and hardworking people.
“As an Energy & Commerce Democratic Staff Report found last year, the FCC has already reined in a billion dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse that was allowed under Bush-era changes to the program. In fact, much of GAO’s investigation took place before the FCC adopted its latest reforms. GAO’s report confirms the need for the FCC to act on our recommendations as quickly as possible.
Last year, Pallone released a Committee Democratic staff report that found a lack of adequate safeguards in the 2008 Lifeline expansion created an environment that led to increased waste, fraud and abuse, but that since 2010 the FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company have reined in a billion dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. Nevertheless, the report concluded that more could be done, and it outlined several recommendations.