House Commerce Committee Leaders Troubled with Stimulus Dollars Sent Overseas, Producing No American Jobs

Author: press release
Coverage Type: press release
House Commerce Committee, 45 Independence Ave SW 2123 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC, 20515, United States

Leaders of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology expressed concern to the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration about a “stimulus” program that awarded $1 million to the U.K. company SamKnows to conduct a broadband speed test, an initiative that produced no American jobs.

House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Vice Chairman Lee Terry (R-NE), and Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) wrote, “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Act) was supposed to go to shovel ready projects and create jobs. And the $4.7 billion in funding from that Act earmarked for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program was supposed to expand broadband access. Yet, oversight hearings in the Communications and Technology Subcommittee have indicated that much of the money has been misdirected or remains unspent…
“…The $1 million spent on speed tests is perhaps emblematic. That stimulus funding, meant to help here at home, was sent abroad to U.K. company SamKnows and - according to the Recovery.Gov website - created no jobs. What was the rationale for sending Americans’ hard earned money overseas for a project that didn’t put any Americans to work, especially in the current fiscal climate?
“…Now the FCC apparently intends to expand its speed testing to wireless services. What reason do we have to believe this endeavor will be any more valuable? If anything, it will likely be even less meaningful in light of technical challenges.”
The members concluded, “While we lament that the Commission and NTIA have already spent $1 million of ARRA funds abroad in an effort that created no jobs and little else, we urge you not to compound this mistake by expanding the scope of the program.”


Here's how the FCC responded:

"We're mystified by this attack on transparency and consumer empowerment,' Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, said in response to the lawmakers' accusation that stimulus money was misused. 'The Measuring Broadband America initiative is a powerful example of the pro-market, pro-competition benefits of information disclosure. Low performers in the first year's report responded by investing in significant network upgrades that drove major improvements in performance and faster speeds for millions of Americans, which creates jobs both directly and indirectly."

Rep Walden, who signed the letter and chairs the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, said last year that the FCC's process leading to its report on broadband speeds was "exemplary."

"The Commission selected a commercial vendor through open, competitive bids; used a transparent process to partner with stakeholders; and leveraged its technical expertise. As a result, the Commission and its partners designed and completed a path-breaking study helpful to all broadband consumers. Just as important, the Commission recognized the limits of its work and declined to make conclusions where its data were too limited," he said at the time.

Benton Foundation on October 10, 2012 - 12:00pm.



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