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Senate to Drill Down on Lifeline Program

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a Sept. 6 hearing on waste, fraud and abuse in the FCC's Lifeline program.

Lifeline is the Universal Service Fund program that subsidizes low-income Americans' access to advanced telecommunications, which the FCC is migrating to broadband.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai suspended some Lifeline authorizations early in his tenure, saying it was to give the FCC time to figure out how to better protect the program against waste, fraud and abuse. The chairman has long said the program needs more oversight.

Related: Senate Leaders Want Lifeline Abuse Investigations

The hearing comes in the wake of a June GAO report that found "recurring failures of evaluation and oversight," according to the committee, which meant an ongoing risk of waste, fraud and abuse.

Scheduled to testify are: Mr. Seto Bagdoyan, director, audit services, Forensic Audits & Investigative Service, Government Accountability Office; Chris Nelson, commissioner, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission; Deborah Collier, director of technology and telecommunications policy, Citizens Against Government Waste; and Dr. Jeffrey Eisenach, visiting scholar, American Enterprise Institute and adjunct professor, George Mason University School of Law. Eisenach was part of the Trump Administration transition team for the FCC, including being a candidate to chair the agency.

John Eggerton
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.