On June 28, a group of ETCs calling themselves the "Lifeline Reform 2.0 Coalition" filed a petition with the FCC asking the agency to launch a new rulemaking to consider further reforms to the Lifeline program. Yesterday, the FCC issued a public notice that it will consider the petition, and announcing that interested persons may file comments on the petition on August 14 and reply comments on August 29. The three main proposals set forth in the petition are that ETCs be required to:
- review a government-issued photo ID at the time of enrollment
- retain copies of the ID and proof of eligibility (such as the applicant's food stamp card) and
- have employees (rather than contractors or agents) review and approve all new applications
Retention of the proof of eligibility was the subject of a 2012 petition for rulemaking that received widespread industry support. Other proposals in the petition seek to codify requirements that have been imposed on many ETCs through the compliance plan process, such as identifying other ETCs by name during the enrollment process in order to ensure that the applicant is not already receiving a Lifeline service from another ETC. The petition does make some new proposals, however, such as a proposed requirement that all ETCs undergo biennial audits. Under the current FCC rules, biennial audits are only required for new ETCs and those receiving $5 million or more in Lifeline funding annually.