House Slates Hearing On Broadband Stimulus Spending


The House Energy & Commerce Committee's Communications Subcommittee has scheduled a Feb. 10 hearing on the billions of dollars in broadband stimulus money given out by the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture as
part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The chamber's new Republican leadership has expressed concerns over how that money was being spent and how the agencies were protecting those investments from waste, fraud and abuse. Oversight of the program was on an internal priority list circulated to committee members earlier this month.

According to a hearing notification e-mail, the Republicans plan to circulate the draft legislation in advance of the hearing. The bill would "increase accountability" for the stimulus spending and "return unused or reclaimed broadband stimulus funds to the U.S. Treasury."

Together, Commerce's National Telecommunications & Information Administration's Broadband Technology
Opportunities Program and Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service approved about $7 billion in grants and loans for broadband deployment and adoption. The last of the grants was made in late September.

NTIA's funding for oversight is scheduled to run out soon, a concern for Republicans who argue the program is
vulnerable to waste and fraud.

The hearing comes a week before the Feb. 17 deadline for NTIA to publish an online, interactive national
broadband map.