Classic case of how the Spending Other People's Money Society operates among government officials.
The federal subsidy known as the "Obamaphone" or "Obamanet" program could be losing nearly $500 million to fraud annually, according to a top Republican on the Federal Communications Commission.
Commissioner Ajit Pai made the accusation Wednesday in letter to the Universal Service Administrative Company, referring to the FCC's Universal Service Fund, which provides a monthly $9.95 subsidy for telecom service to low-income consumers.
The subsidy is limited to one per "independent economic household," or IEH, but telecom companies have the ability to override that restriction if applicants check a box stating they represent a separate household, even if they have the same address.
The Universal Service Administrative Company is a nonprofit organization designated by the FCC to administer the fund.
Pai wrote that data obtained by the FCC last month revealed carriers had enrolled nearly 4.3 million subscribers using the IEH override process between October 2014-April 2016, or 35.5 percent of total subscribers for the period. "It is alarming that over one-third of subscribers — costing taxpayers almost half a billion dollars a year — were registered through an IEH override.
[. . .]
The program was originally established to help low-income consumers in rural areas obtain access to 911 services. It was expanded to include cellular devices in more recent years, and expanded in March to include Internet service.
Commissioner says fraud from Obamaphone program approaching $500 million