CCAGW Joins Coalition Urging Greater Transparency of Broadband Funding | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Joins Coalition Urging Greater Transparency of Broadband Funding

Letters to Officials

March 27, 2023

The Honorable John Thune
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
United States Senate
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20515

Dear Senator Thune,

We, the undersigned groups representing millions of taxpayers and consumers across the country, applaud your efforts to implement meticulous oversight for the tens of billions of taxpayer dollars that will be used to connect America with high-speed broadband over the next several years. In order to bolster transparency and promote effective oversight, we recommend that Congress creates a method to accurately track all of the money.

As you know, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is currently in the process of distributing $42.5 billion in funding from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, which is part of the $65 billion authorized for broadband infrastructure under the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (P.L. 117-58). The broadband related IIJA investments followed $350 billion previously authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) (P.L. 117-2), which could be used for a variety of projects, including broadband growth.

The NTIA plans to give potential government owned networks (GONs) favorable treatment over private providers. The notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) from NTIA waives matching funding requirements from GONs while maintaining stringent thresholds for privately owned networks. The NOFO also requires justification for grantors to explain why they awarded the funds to private providers over potential municipal networks, creating a clear preference for GONs.

A 2020 report from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) found that these systems rarely get the number of customers they anticipate. This results in taxpayers or ratepayers making up the financial shortfall. BEAD money should not preference certain networks over others, especially given the historic shortcomings of GONs.

It is clear that NTIA will not waiver from its stance without congressional involvement. Taxpayers nationwide are reliant on your strong engagement with stakeholders, coupled with your steadfast desire to hold agencies accountable and using broadband funding as intended by Congress. Better methods of tracking how that money is spent will help further that cause.

There is bipartisan support for this transparency. Brookings Institution senior fellow Nicol Turner-Lee said at a recent Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event that her organization is considering developing its own tracking mechanism.

Given the unprecedented amount of taxpayer-funded broadband investments authorized under the IIJA and ARPA, it is important that NTIA, as well as state and local governments, are subject to efficient and effective oversight. Congress should consider implementing an online portal and more stringent reporting requirements to promote accessibility and transparency for taxpayers.


David Williams
President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance 

Tom Schatz 
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste 

Jeffrey Mazzella 
President, Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) 

Andrew Langer 
President, Institute for Liberty 

Jessica Melugin 
Director of the Center for Technology & Innovation, Competitive Enterprise Institute 

Pete Sepp 
President, National Taxpayers Union 

Nathan Leamer 
Executive Director, Digital First Project 

Jonathan Cannon 
Technology and Innovation Policy Counsel, R Street Institute 

James Erwin
Executive Director, Digital Liberty 

Karen Kerrigan 
President & CEO, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council 

Click Here for a PDF Copy

Letter Type: 
Coalition Letters