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Welch and Pallone Request Review of FCC Universal Service Fund Transfer

January 10, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Peter Welch and Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that GAO review the effects of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) plan to transfer the Universal Service Fund (USF) from the private bank where it is currently held to the U.S. Treasury.

Welch and Pallone voiced concerns that the transfer of the USF, which provides support for building out broadband on rural and tribal lands, helping struggling families connect to phone and internet service, supporting rural health care, and connecting schools and libraries, has not been part of an open and transparent process.

 “Advancing universal service is one of the core tenants of the FCC’s mission, and any transfer should only follow close review and rigorous oversight,” Welch and Pallone wrote to GAO. “We are concerned that the FCC seems poised to transfer the entire fund without having run a public process to assess the consequences of its action.”

Welch and Pallone ask that GAO review the following issues:

  • What controls does the FCC have in place, if any, to ensure the USF is securely deposited in the Treasury?
  • What controls does FCC have in place, if any, to ensure that depositing the USF in the Treasury will not disrupt programs supported by the USF?
  • What analysis has the FCC done, if any, regarding what new practical or legal obligations will be placed on the USF if it is transferred to the Treasury?
  • What controls, if any, has the FCC put in place to ensure any new practical or legal obligations placed on the USF will not impede its statutory responsibility to promote universal service?
  • What controls, if any, has the FCC put in place to make sure beneficiaries of the program are not harmed as a result of this transfer?

The letter to GAO is available HERE.