A new government audit finds more than a third of enrollees of the “Obamaphone” program may not be qualified — among other fraudulent findings — prompting a Senate Democrat to roundly criticize the program’s “complete lack of oversight.”
A report released Thursday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) claims the program, which gives cell phones to poor people, stashed $9 billion in private bank accounts, the Washington Times reported.
The 90-page report was requested by Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who serves as ranking Democrat on the Senate’s chief oversight committee and who is a former state auditor in Missouri.
“A complete lack of oversight is causing this program to fail the American taxpayer — everything that could go wrong is going wrong,” McCaskill said in a statement, according to the newspaper.
“We’re currently letting phone companies cash a government check every month with little more than the honor system to hold them accountable, and that simply can’t continue,” she said.
The program — officially known as the Lifeline Program and run by the Federal Communications Commission — predates President Obama but received attention during his time in office when recipients began to associate the free phone with other benefits given to the poor, the paper reported.
The GAO report found that about 10.6 million people have an Obamaphone, but 36 percent of them may not qualify, according to the Washington Times. The audit also concluded that more than 5,500 people were found to be enrolled for two phones, while the program was paying for about 6,400 phones for persons the government has listed as dead, the paper reported.