NEWS: Bloomberg: "Millions Said to Be Wasted on U.S. Broadband Expansion"

February 26, 2013

The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), tomorrow will continue its review of broadband programs that were included as part of the Obama administration’s 2009 “stimulus” package. As new reports of waste and misuse continue to surface, members are concerned with potential mismanagement of the $7 billion taxpayer investment. Bloomberg today previewed Subcommittee Chairman Walden’s concerns.

With a $16.6 trillion debt and the urgent need to reduce spending, House Republicans continue working to identify savings and push for common-sense cuts to the federal budget to eliminate programs that are ineffective and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Tomorrow’s hearing will continue the subcommittee’s examination of whether taxpayers are getting a good return on their investment and will examine recent allegations of waste. While the $7 billion at issue in this program has already been awarded, not all of it has yet been spent. There may be lessons to be learned to avoid pitfalls in the spending of the remaining money or in any other programs in the future.

Millions Said to Be Wasted on U.S. Broadband Expansion
Bloomberg
February 26, 2013

Programs dedicating $7 billion from the 2009 U.S. stimulus plan to spread high-speed Internet service have wasted millions of dollars and unfairly competed with private companies, a lawmaker with oversight of the program said.

“The government has spent millions on equipment it did not need and on stringing fiber to areas that already had fiber,” Representative Greg Walden, of Oregon, said in an e-mail yesterday.

Walden is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce panel’s communications subcommittee, which is to hold a hearing tomorrow on the spending. The hearing is scheduled as Republicans and Democrats argue over across-the-board spending cuts set to take effect March 1 unless there’s an agreement.

“At a time when government is considering cutting meat inspectors and FAA traffic controllers to address the federal spending problem, we need to be careful how we use taxpayer dollars,” Walden said.

“There are undoubtedly some success stories but, overall, was the program well-conceived and well-implemented?” Walden said. “I won’t tolerate any waste or abuse, and it appears we’ve uncovered millions that fit that category.”

Many projects funded under the programs haven’t been completed and some have been criticized as overbuilding, or installing lines where private companies already offer broadband service, according to a memo prepared by the subcommittee’s Republican staff. …

Read the entire article online here.

###