CAGW’s Deborah Collier Testifies Before Senate Commerce Committee on FCC’s Lifeline Program

For Immediate Release
Contact: Curtis Kalin 202-467-5318

September 6, 2017

(Washington, D.C.) – Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) Director of Technology and Telecommunications Policy, Deborah Collier, testified this morning before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s hearing on the, “Risk of Waste, Fraud and Abuse in the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline Program.”

The testimony reads, in part:

“Many Americans have heard of the ‘Obamaphones,’ made infamous by the viral 2012 video of a Cleveland woman touting the ‘free’ Lifeline program.  However, few Americans realize is that Lifeline is part of the Low-Income support program, which was created in 1985 to provide subsidies for low-income households to obtain a telephone enabling them to communicate in emergencies.

“Over the years, the Lifeline program has evolved from initially providing one landline telephone per household in need, to offering low-income, qualified subscribers a choice between a landline telephone, a wireless phone, or broadband internet service at a reduced cost (with a limit of one per household).”

“GAO also revealed multiple instances of fraud and abuse within the program.  For example, some recipients were using Craigslist to advertise the sale of Lifeline-subsidized phones and service.  In other instances, Lifeline beneficiaries violated the one phone line restriction of the program by signing up for service from multiple carriers.”

“Continued fraud and abuse within the Lifeline program has continued despite efforts to reform the verification process in 2012 and again in 2015.  If Congress intends to continue the Lifeline program and make it sustainable in the future, CAGW strongly recommends that the USAC be required to implement a front end verification process, and the FCC engage in more stringent enforcement actions against companies that actively register ineligible or duplicate recipients into the program, and skirt the verification process.”

Citizens Against Government Waste is the nation's largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.  

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