Congressman Russell Introduces Bill to Save $137 Million Annually
Washington, DC – On July 28, Congressman Steve Russell (OK-5) introduced H.R. 3621, the REAPPLY Act of 2017, which would require all recipients of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Lifeline program to formally re-apply every year.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report finding that 36 percent of Lifeline’s subscribers could not produce documents required to determine eligibility. The GAO also concluded that the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the nonprofit corporation within the FCC which is charged with managing the distribution of Lifeline funds, audited less than one-half of one percent of the telecommunications providers participating in Lifeline during the period reviewed by the GAO. Even with this meager audit, USAC found that the providers often collected and contributed incorrect fee amounts. The GAO has estimated that the waste, fraud, and abuse of Lifeline providers could be more than $137 million annually.
Once Lifeline applicants apply and meet eligibility requirements, they only have to re-certify their eligibility in following years. If recipients were required to formally re-apply every year, the USAC would be forced to review each individual multiple times and confirm that they continue to meet eligibility requirements. While this change would not eliminate all waste, fraud, and abuse within the Lifeline program, it’s a step in the right direction that would save the taxpayer millions of dollars each year.
Since coming to Congress, cutting government waste has been a core objective for Congressman Russell. His legislation has saved $4 billion thus far. Russell has introduced 11 cost cutting bills this Congress, which if enacted would save the taxpayer $28.5 billion. He has published seven editions of his Waste Watch report highlighting a total of more than $300 billion in wasteful government spending.