ERIC Number: ED496039
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Reference Count: N/A
Problems with the E-Rate Program: GAO Review of FCC Management and Oversight. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, One Hundred and Ninth Congress, First Session (March 16, 2005). Serial Number 109-7
US House of Representatives
The purpose of this hearing was to examine the Federal Communications Commission's management and oversight of the E-Rate program. This subcommittee has done much to expose for Congress a range of problems in the E-Rate program management--problems that raise questions about the program's effectiveness and whether the Nation's taxpayers can be assured their tax dollar has been used efficiently. During the past session of Congress, this subcommittee conducted an extensive investigation of the E-Rate program. Through this work, which was highlighted in three informative hearings last summer and fall, the Subcommittee identified a number of expensive failures in the program. The Subcommittee spotlight exposed tens of millions of dollars in wasted E-Rate spending. Ceiling-high pallets of useless wireless equipment, sitting shrink-wrapped in a warehouse was seen, and it was learned that the beneficiaries of that equipment, Puerto Rican schoolchildren, had been deprived of any real benefit of E-Rate, despite the program sending more than $100 million to Puerto Rico's schools. Wasted opportunities were discovered in Texas where, for instance, the El Paso Independent School District was convinced by an E-Rate vendor--IBM in that situation--that it could use $60 million in E-Rate funds for a single school year for about 50 schools. Twenty- four million dollars of this was spent on an operation meant just to maintain the network. That district soon found itself over its head in technology as it watched millions of dollars of planning and preparation, including the entire maintenance operation, simply disappear when funds dried up after authorities discovered it had participated in an anti-competitive process. The district struggles to this day to get its E-Rate program back in order. In December 2003, as part of its E-Rate investigation, the committee requested the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, to look at FCC management and oversight of the program. GAO's findings and recommendations formed the centerpiece of this hearing. This hearing heard from one panel of witnesses: Mark Goldstein, Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues for GAO; Jeffrey Carlisle, who is Chief of the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau, which oversees the E-Rate program. Tom Bennett, FCC's Assistant Inspector General for Universal Service Fund Oversight, spoke to the IG's perspective on program weaknesses and also to efforts to identity waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. Additional material was also presented for the record.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Investigations, Telecommunications, Public Agencies, Program Implementation, Federal Programs, Program Effectiveness, Federal Aid, Cost Effectiveness, Deception, Federal Legislation, Accountability, Money Management, Financial Audits, Hearings, Access to Computers, Educational Technology
US House of Representatives. Washington, DC 20515. Available from: U.S. Government Printing Office, 732 N. Capitol Street, Washington, DC 20401. Tel: 866-512-1800; Fax: 202-512-2104; Web site: http://gpoaccess.gov
Publication Type: Legal/Legislative/Regulatory Materials; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: Congress of the U.S., Washington, DC. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Identifiers - Location: Puerto Rico; Texas