GAO: Avoid fragmented broadband policies

GAO urges coordination among agencies

The Federal Communications Commission should coordinate federal agencies to ensure a unified approach and set performance measures when it develops a national broadband plan, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Under the economic stimulus law, the federal government will spend more than $7.2 billion through the Commerce and Agriculture departments and the FCC to increase broadband access in rural and underserved areas. The FCC is developing a national strategy to guide those programs.

To increase the chance of success, the FCC needs to work with the Commerce and Agriculture departments to ensure their plans are integrated and avoid duplication, states the GAO report issued June 10.

“This funding will greatly increase the potential for achieving universal access, but overlap in responsibilities for these new broadband initiatives makes coordination among the agencies important to avoid fragmentation and duplication,” the report states.

GAO also examined why the U.S. ranks 15th among 30 democratic nations that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of their broadband Internet subscribership.

Countries that are more successful in broadband subscriber rates have written broadband policies, action plans, goals and performance measures, GAO states. In addition, some of those countries offer financial incentives, financial support or other types of broadband support.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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