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GAO finds transparency, accountability issues in FCC’s Hurricane Maria response

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report criticized the Trump FCC’s response to the communications outages in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria. The GAO found that unclear federal guidance on FCC's role in disaster response might have caused confusion and delays. The GAO also found that FCC has not provided a complete and accurate account of its disaster response to aid with preparation for future disasters.

GAO recommended that the Department of Homeland Security clearly define FCC's disaster response role, and that FCC increase transparency by publicly reporting on its Hurricane Recovery Task Force. 

“We call on the Biden FCC to assume a more prominent role in disaster response and we echo the previous calls of Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel on the need for a new disaster-response playbook,” said Free Press Senior Policy Counsel Carmen Scurato. “The Commission must take long-overdue action to repair past wrongs and clear up a lot of the confusion about what happened after Hurricane Maria. And in this era of devastating climate change, it’s imperative that the agency adopt new disaster-response policies and procedures to save lives.”


GAO: FCC Assisted in Hurricane Maria Network Restoration, but a Clarified Disaster Response Role and Enhanced Communication Are Needed (GAO, June 1, 2021)

GAO Investigation Reveals Trump FCC Lacked Transparency and Failed to Fully Engage the Public in Its Hurricane Maria Response (Free Press, June 7, 2021)