In light of a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report and related investigative findings, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has sent a letter to Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) CEO Vickie Robinson calling on USAC to take immediate steps to reduce the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse in the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) Lifeline program. Chairman Pai’s letter orders USAC to implement a laundry list of safeguards, including:
- auditing the ten eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) with the highest number of potentially ineligible subscribers;
- requiring ETCs with GAO-identified potentially ineligible subscribers to verify subscriber eligibility and de-enroll ineligible subscribers;
- reviewing oversubscribed addresses and requiring relevant ETCs to de-enroll subscribers that cannot verify their residence;
- ramping up efforts to detect and de-enroll phantom, deceased, and duplicate subscribers, and referring ETCs with substantial enrollment of these fictitious customers for possible civil or criminal action; and
- requiring Lifeline sales agents to register with USAC and locking them out of the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) for a set period of time after too many invalid subscriber entry attempts.
Chairman Pai has asked USAC to report to him on the implementation of these safeguards by August 8, 2017.