Senators Call for Further Investigation, Possible Enforcement Actions on Lifeline Fraud

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Tom Carper of Delaware are requesting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) refer to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its Office of the Inspector General (OIG) details on the specific instances of possible fraud it has identified in the Lifeline program, which provides low-income households with discounts on telephone and broadband service. A GAO report found extensive problems with the Lifeline program including that phone companies approved Lifeline applicants with fictitious eligibility information 63 percent of the time and received up to $1.2 million per year in federal subsidies for enrolling fictitious or deceased individuals.

The Senators’ letter to GAO requests that it share information from its investigation with the FCC and FCC OIG so the agency and its inspector general can further investigate and pursue enforcement actions as warranted. The Senators also noted that the FCC should implement GAO’s recommendations on how to conduct better oversight over the Lifeline program.

“GAO found numerous examples of [Lifeline] program funds being used to subsidize ineligible or fraudulent subscribers,” wrote the Senators. “Addressing systemic weaknesses in Lifeline management and oversight, along with the referral of each instance of potential fraud identified by GAO, will ensure that the waste, fraud, and abuse that [GAO] identified is eliminated.”

GAO’s recent report on the Lifeline program can be found HERE.

Read the Senators’ letter to the FCC HERE.