CAGW Expresses Concerns About Trump Rural Infrastructure Plan

Citizens Against Government Waste has a bone to pick with the President's infrastructure plan, which leaves the distribution of $50 billion in rural infrastructure seed money to the states and localities.

In a letter to Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney, CAGW, joined by Americans for Tax Reform and others, said that while they generally support states spending money over the feds, they are worried about the potential for waste, fraud and abuse and duplication of spending given the focus on rural broadband.

Related: Senate Kicks Off Series of Infrastructure Hearings

They point to the problems with the 2009 stimulus bill's $7.2 billion in broadband funding, which included understaffing, inadequate evaluation of grants and lack of oversight, which were identified by the Government Accountability Office and the Commerce Department's Inspector General. The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is within Commerce, oversaw the distribution of some of the funds.

They do not want a repeat of what it said was the government spending too much over a short time without tracking how the money was spent.

Related: White House Defends Lack of Direct Rural Broadband Investment (Or Any Direct Broadband Investment for That Matter)

Among the questions they want Mulvaney to answer are whether there will be a specific agency overseeing rural infrastructure funds, how it will measure whether the plan's goals are being met, how the feds will make sure that the states aren't using the funds to overbuild existing private-sector efforts (that had been one of ISPs' major beefs with the stimulus bill subsidies), what percentage of the funds can be spent on overhead rather than plant, whether the FCC's new broadband availability map will be updated before the money is allocated, how the subsidies will be coordinated with the FCC's plans on promoting rural deployments, and how much of the money will be used for repairing and maintaining existing plant and how much for deploying new plant.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.