Monday, July 1, 2013

A Call for Penny Pritzker, US Dept of Commerce Secretary, to initiate an independent investigation and audit of NTIA BTOP stimulus funds

Corruption Busters calls upon the newly appointed Secretary, Penny Pritzker, to immediately convene an independent investigation and audit of waste and abuse of taxpayer funds under the Sustainable Broadband Adoption grants approved from 2010 to 2012 (with some programs still drawing funds into 2013 because they failed to complete their intended programs).

Of particular interest is a line item audit of how the funds were spent. We observed abuse of funds for "management fees" and travel and the failure to actually get people online with sustainable Internet. We were advised by NTIA personnel that the BTOP program's main goal was to create jobs. Our initial findings have determined that applicants grossly overstated job creation; actual jobs created were way below the projections.

There was a failure to provide oversight on an ongoing basis and reports filed quarterly by recipients of the grants were not reviewed for accuracy. One grantee reported that they had informed 1 Million people about the benefits of being on the Internet because they placed a newspaper article and relied upon circulation figures to make that claim to the US Government!

There have already been a number of complaints filed with the Inspector General of Commerce to investigate allegations of gross mismanagement and fraud. 

We also welcome investigations by law enforcement in the event that these abuses are criminal in nature.

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