Audit claims FCC botched schools' Internet

March 16, 2005 at 2:15 PM

WASHINGTON, March 16 (UPI) -- A U.S. federal audit has condemned the way the Federal Communications Commission is managing funds for providing schools Internet access.

In a report obtained by the Chicago Tribune, the Government Accountability Office questioned why the program has awarded $14.6 billion to schools and libraries, but only $9.2 billion of that has been spent. The program is funded through a surcharge on telephone users, who typically pay about $1 a month to fund the program known as E-rate.

"This is troubling because ... the demand for funding is high, and there is typically not enough money each year to meet all funding requests for internal connections," the report said.

The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., was to listen to testimony Wednesday from government investigators and others about flaws in the program and about ways to tighten oversight to prevent abuses.

"It's astonishing that we have spent $9 billion and yet the FCC has no way of specifically measuring the impact of the program," Whitfield said. "That's hard to believe."

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