On May 10, Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and USAC CEO Chris Henderson requesting information on fees charged by Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-rate consultants. Of particular concern to the Senators are alleged “application mills,” a handful of individuals and consulting firms that contract with hundreds of health care providers to file their applications in exchange for a possibly excessive percentage of the resulting USF funding. Specifically, the Committee wants information regarding:
- what, if any, measures are in place to track how much RHC support is paid to consultants;
- what rules, if any, exist to limit fees paid to USF consultants;
- whether planned RHC and E-rate audits investigate the amount of money paid to consultants; and
- The status of RHC and E-rate audits that have not been approved by the USAC Board of Directors.
USAC and the FCC have until May 24to respond to the data request.