The President’s Budget includes $304 million for the FCC in fiscal year 2006. That’s an increase from $281 million appropriated for this year. Number from past years (using FCC Change Analysis data):
2004 – $274 million
2003 – $268 million
2002 – $245 million
So if this budget amount goes through, we will have a 24% increase in the FCC budget from five years ago. The FCC’s press release lists some run-of-the-mill reasons why an increase is needed for FY2006 – salaries, benefits, office space, enhancing electronic filing systems. But it also mentions one reason that should ruffle the feathers of policy folks – “to fund additional staff to assist with program oversight associated with USF audit activities.” Of course this oversight funding is needed to counteract the fraud within the universal service program, especially E-Rate fraud, and to pay for the salary of Mark Stephens, who last week was named Special Advisor for Universal Service Fund Oversight in the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division (TAPD). As Universal Service grows out of control, so does the budget needed to administer it….