Last week President Obama submitted his Fiscal Year 2012 budget request to Congress outlining his spending priorities. Reinforcing the administration’s desire to promote broadband connectivity and the initiatives outlined in the National Broadband Plan, the budget included a proposal for the FCC to receive $354 million in fiscal 2012, an increase of $18 million over its current operating budget.
One of the FCC’s main goals highlighted in the FCC budget request is to continue to implement the National Broadband Plan (NBP) initiatives. The FCC already released the Sixth Report & Order tied to the NBP to streamline the application process and according to NBP Agenda, the FCC plans on releasing more E-rate reforms in the coming year. Another item on the FCC’s agenda is to initiate a proceeding over the next few months to develop goals and performance measures for the E-rate program as well.
In 2008, Congress authorized the FCC to use $21.48 million from the Universal Service fund to supplement other resources from their budget to conduct a more rigorous oversight of the four Universal Service programs which includes the E-rate program. The FCC still has $13.7 million remaining, of which they anticipate spending $5.4 million in Fiscal Year 2011. This will leave $8.3 million the FCC could use in Fiscal Year 2012 or until the funds have been spent.