FCC Targets $200M of Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Free Phone Program

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the comms regulator for the USA, has set itself a 2012 target of eliminating USD200M of waste, fraud and abuse suffered by its Lifeline program. Lifeline provides free phones and minutes to rural and needy customers, at a cost of over 2 billion dollars a year. The Lifeline program was initiated in the mid-80’s, but take-up and costs have risen sharply in recent years. In response, the FCC found a need to improve audits of recipient eligibility. In their report, the FCC estimated

…that up to 15 percent of current Lifeline subscribers may be ineligible for the program, potentially representing as much as 360 million dollars of support per year.

Measures to be implemented include a national database to ensure the same subscriber is not enrolled via more than one carrier, and independent audits of carriers receiving more than USD5M p.a. in support. The full FCC report is available from here.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.