FCC Establishes Integrity Measures for Emergency Benefit Enrollments Based on Community Eligibility Provision

The Federal Communications Commission's Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued an advisory raising concerns with respect to Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program enrollments based on the USDA National School Lunch Program’s Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Households with a student enrolled in a school or school district participating in the CEP can qualify for the EBB Program. The FCC recognized that because participation in the CEP allows the highest-poverty schools and school districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without needing to collect applications from students, households with a member that attends a CEP school would not have submitted an application to qualify for free or reduced price school breakfast or lunch. Accordingly, the FCC directed the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to allow households that participate in the CEP to qualify for the EBB Program by providing the name of the CEP school or school district. Following the OIG's advisory, the FCC's Office of Managing Director (OMD) announced measures to mitigate any harm to the EBB Program. The Wireline Competition Bureau also released information on their actions to implement these measures here. The measures include:

  • Directing USAC to modify the EBB Program application portal to require applicants seeking to qualify for the EBB Program based on attendance at a USDA National School Lunch Program’s CEP school to submit school enrollment documentation in addition to providing the name of the CEP school;
  • Conducting program integrity reviews of households enrolled through this mechanism to ensure continued eligibility;
  • Issuing a Public Notice notifying providers and consumers of this change and specifying additional steps needed to demonstrate eligibility for the EBB Program;
  • Referring bad actors to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to investigate and safeguard consumers;
  • Reviewing programmatic audit procedures to ensure proper checks are in place to identify similar concerns in the future; and
  • Recouping improperly disbursed funds as a result of any EBB Program payments to unqualified CEP enrollees.

Office Of Managing Director Announces Mitigation Measures for Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Enrollments Based on the Commu Wireline Competition Bureau Announces Additional Program Integrity Measures for Emergency Benefit Program Enrollments Based on t