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Wheeler Creates USF 'Strike Force"

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has created a Universal Service Fund "strike force" dedicated to weeding out waste, fraud and abuse.

That is one of the goals of the FCC's reforms of the USF fund, which distributes billions of dollars in subsidies to pay for telecom service in rural and urban areas where there is no business case for extending service.

The new unit will be housed in the Enforcement Bureau and headed by Loyaan Egal, who joins the FCC from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, where Egal was senior assistant U.S. attorney general in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section.

"The Commission is committed to aggressively rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse," said Wheeler in announcing the hire.  "The USF Strike Force expands the Commission's activities, including those of the FCC Office of Inspector General, to protect the integrity of the Universal Service Fund and ensure that the American people's money is wisely spent."

Egal was also a federal prosecutor in New York handling narcotics and money laundering cases.

It is Wheeler's second hire of a prosecutor from D.C. in as many weeks. Last week, he tapped Katherine Winfree as chief of staff of the Enforcement Bureau. Winfree is also formerly from the U.S. Attorney's office for D.C., where she prosecuted money laundering cases as well.

“Identifying and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse to protect taxpayer dollars has been a top priority for House Republicans, and we welcome Chairman Wheeler’s additional focus within the Universal Service Fund," said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee. "As the USF has continued to grow, it has become an increasing cost on consumers’ monthly phone bill. The FCC has a responsibility to ensure any dollars being spent are being spent wisely and efficiently. We look forward to working with Chairman Wheeler and the entire commission in this collective effort in good government.”