Government Accountability Office

Breaking Down Barriers to Broadband Access

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the effects of the digital divide. Those with broadband access could work, attend school, shop, and be seen by their doctors without leaving home, and those without sufficient access could not. Federal efforts to provide broadband access to all span multiple presidential administrations. Here, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) explores its work about some of the ongoing challenges to achieving the goal of closing the digital divide. The GAO recommends synchronizing federal efforts through a national broadband strategy.

GAO Finds National Strategy and Coordination Framework is Needed to Increase Tribal Broadband Access

Broadband is critical to modern life. Despite federal efforts, broadband access on Tribal lands has traditionally lagged behind the rest of the country. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review federal efforts for improving broadband on Tribal lands.

National Strategy Needed to Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Digital Divide

Broadband internet is increasingly critical for work, school, shopping, and other parts of daily life. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the "digital divide" and the disadvantages for people who don't have access. In its efforts to expand broadband access, the federal government has subsidized investment in rural areas that haven't attracted private investment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified over 100 federal programs—administered by 15 agencies—that could be used to expand access.

Teachers Reported Many Obstacles for High-Poverty Students and English Learners As Well As Some Mitigating Strategies

While the pandemic presented obstacles for many students during the 2020-21 school year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s nationwide survey of public K-12 teachers showed that teachers with certain vulnerable student populations were more likely to have students who faced significant obstacles to learning and an increased risk of falling behind academically. Teachers reported that students encountered obstacles to learning including difficulty in getting support, a lack of appropriate workspaces, and a lack of tools for learning.

Public-Safety Broadband Network: Congressional Action is Required to Ensure Network Continuity

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is responsible for establishing a nationwide public-safety broadband network. In this report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified four key statutory requirements and contract responsibilities currently performed by FirstNet that Congress should address before FirstNet would sunset in 2027. For example, FirstNet oversees the network contract awarded to AT&T in 2017. The current statute does not identify another federal entity to assume oversight when FirstNet sunsets.