FCC Launches National Lifeline Accountability Database
Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D. C. 20554
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:
April 3, 2014
Mark Wigfield, 202-418-0253
NATIONAL LIFELINE ACCOUNTABILITY DATABASE UP AND RUNNING
Database Key to FCC Efforts to Eliminate Waste, Fraud and Abuse from Lifeline
Bureau Also Releases New Audit Requirements for Large Lifeline Providers
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission has launched a database designed to
eliminate waste from duplicative subscriptions in the Lifeline phone service subsidy program nationwide.
The National Lifeline Accountability Database, a cornerstone of the FCC’s comprehensive efforts to
combat waste fraud and abuse in the Lifeline program, already has identified $169 million in annualized
savings by flagging existing duplicates for elimination while preventing enrollment of new duplicates.
“The National Lifeline Accountability Database makes smart use of technology to help prevent waste,
fraud and abuse,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “The database is preventing new duplicates and has
rooted out remaining ones. I commend the industry for working with us to implement this effective
solution to eliminating wasteful duplicates.”
Launched in 1985, Lifeline provides subsidies to make basic phone service – and the access it provides to
jobs, family and emergency services – more affordable for low-income consumers. To preserve and
improve Lifeline, the FCC in 2012 reformed and modernized the program to increase fiscal responsibility
and toughen oversight of fast-growing subscriptions to mobile service.
Key to these reforms was eliminating duplicate subscriptions through use of an automated database. Now
that the database is on-line, no Lifeline provider can enroll a new subscriber without first confirming that
the subscriber’s household doesn’t already receive Lifeline service. Implementation of the database has
been a joint effort by the FCC, the fund’s administrator—USAC—and the industry. Subscriber
information has been loaded into the database by USAC in stages over recent months.
Separately, the FCC yesterday released guidelines governing a new regimen of independent audits that
Lifeline providers receiving $5 million or more a year from the program must conduct every two years.
These comprehensive audits are in addition to the regular audits conducted by the program administrator.
A list of providers covered by this new audit requirement is in Attachment 2 of the guidelines, which is
available at http://www.fcc.gov/document/release-final-lifeline-biennial-audit-plan-announced.
The FCC began tackling the duplicates problem in mid-2011 by first clarifying that Lifeline subscriptions
are limited to one per household, and directing USAC to manually scrub subscriber roles, state-by-state.
That process has resulted in $269 million in annualized savings during development of the database.
Overall, the comprehensive reform package from 2012 is on track to save $2 billion through elimination
of duplicates, tightened eligibility review, increased oversight of providers, elimination of unnecessary
subsidies for initial phone connections, and more.
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