Commissioner O'Rielly Remarks Before the Hudson Institute on USF Budget

Why pursue an overall Universal Service Fund (USF) budget and what benefit would it bring? First and foremost, a budget is necessary to protect the investments of ratepayers who pay for our programs. Second, a topline budget would force the Federal Communications Commission to consider the whole USF when increasing program spending. Third, an FCC running up against a cap would have greater incentive to eliminate inefficiencies that detract from achieving the program’s mission and value. Fourth and finally, a budget would help protect universal service. 

Returning to the topic of USF waste, one specific benefit of having an overall cap is that it would encourage the FCC to eliminate inefficient and duplicative spending among the programs to a much greater extent. To stretch public funds as far as possible and minimize waste, it is equally crucial that federal agencies avoid duplicating each other’s broadband subsidies. While the FCC has made improvements to its broadband subsidies over the years, truly eliminating inefficiency and waste will take a lot more work, both inside and outside the agency. Establishing an overall USF budget is a crucial part of this effort and I am proud to serve as the lead advocate for the rulemaking. 

Commissioner O'Rielly Remarks Before the Hudson Institute