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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ETEWS report on the GAO, part 1

I just spent my lunch hour reading the GAO (Governement Accounting Office) report on the E-Rate, which got me to page 20 or so. My E-Rate Threat Early Warning System spotted some more Good Intentions Paving Stones.

First, the report was apparently requested by Joe "Bleed the E-Rate Dry" Barton, so there is no question that the report was not intended to help the E-Rate. Just seeing his name on the report gave me the chills.

Check out one of the two recommendations the GAO made: "report annually in its performance plan on undisbursed funding." Remember when I first laid out my concerns, when I said they would take the carryover funding and move it to another USF program? Step one is complete.

And how would one justify taking money from the E-Rate to fund broadband for homes? Well, the GAO recycles the idea floated in a 2005 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) report that given the increase in schools' and libraries' level of Internet connectivity, "it is no longer clear that the program currently serves an existing need." Step Two complete.

(Rant within a rant: So the OMB and the GAO are saying that since so many schools and libraries are using the E-Rate to stay connected, we no longer need the E-Rate?! That's like saying that since so many Americans graduate high school, we don't need publicly funded education any more. Poppycock.)

I'm only a third of the way into the report, and already the GAO is saying that it wants to look at undisbursed funds, and that they don't have evidence that the E-Rate is necessary.

Now we just need to push the contribution percentage to a eye-popping level by, say, making cell-phone Web access part of the Low Income Program, and suddenly the E-Rate's carryover funds are gone.

1 comment:

  1. In the GAO response to the FCC response to the report, the GAO says, "We are not suggesting that the E-rate [sic] program may no longer serve an existing need." That's nice to hear, but on p. 18, the GAO said, "As the ... OMB noted ... its is no longer clear that the program serves an existing need."

    If they had left of the word "as," then they could say that they weren't taking a position (though repeating an idea, whether you say you support it or not, gives the idea more credence). But with that "as"....

    Try this on: I say, "As that person said earlier, you are ugly." Did I just call you ugly? Not according to the GAO.