GAO On Broadband: Please Listen To Us. For Once. Please.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) this week released a new report
(pdf) suggesting that whatever broadband policy the government adopts -- it needs to have clear performance goals. While that may sound like an idiotically obvious comment, the GAO knows they've been dealing with government agencies who've been faking their way through broadband policy for a decade
-- with no real metric for success.
For instance, the GAO has repeatedly issued reports
showing how the FCC has absolutely no concrete goals established for the nation's E-Rate program
, which soaks up 40% of all USF fees, and has given out $22 billion for bringing telecom services to schools and un-served areas since its inception in 1998. But since the well-lobbied FCC never established concrete goals and never really tracked the money, the program has seen rampant abuse by both carriers and schools.
The GAO has also repeatedly issued reports
highlighting how the FCC's broadband mapping and data methodology was incomplete and flawed, something several FCC Commissioners have admitted. That flawed data repeatedly suggested broadband competition where none really existed, influencing government decisions. Bad FCC data is a primary reason why it's 2009 and the nation has no broadband policy.
Unfortunately for the GAO, they've been repeatedly ignored by agencies for decades. The E-Rate program remains dysfunctional, with no real guidelines imposed to track spending. The FCC's data collection methodology remains flawed, and is poised to be replaced by a privatized mapping organization that may not be much better