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Witness list for hearing on telecommunications in Indian Country

A building in Beaver, Alaska, receives Internet service via a satellite. Source: Government Accountability Office

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is holding a hearing on Wednesday to focus on telecommunications issues in Indian Country.

The committee will look into a Government Accountability Office report that outlined numerous challenges faced by tribes in securing high-speed Internet service. The audit identified a lack of coordination between the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Agriculture and a lack of performance measures at the FCC.

Tribal representatives interviewed by the GAO said high-speed Internet was crucial for improving education, economic development and other opportunities in their communities. But many said technical and bureaucratic hurdles hindered their ability to secure federal funds and participate in other federal telecommunications programs.

"Tribal officials said that tribal members do not always have the bureaucratic expertise required to apply for federal funds, which can lead to mistakes or the need to hire consultants," the report stated.

The hearing takes place immediately following a business meeting at 2:15pm in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senatet Office Building. The witness list follows:
Mr. Brandon McBride
Administrator for the Rural Utility Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Gigi B. Sohn
Counselor to the Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Mark Goldstein
Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Julie Kitka
President, Alaska Federation of Natives, Anchorage, AK

Mr. Godfrey Enjady
President, National Tribal Telecommunications Association, Mescalero, NM

Committee Notices:
Business Meeting (April 27, 2016)
Oversight Hearing on "The GAO Report on, "Telecommunications: Additional Coordination and Performance Measurement Needed for High-Speed Internet Access Programs on Tribal Lands." (April 27, 2016)

Government Accountability Office Report:
Additional Coordination and Performance Measurement Needed for High-Speed Internet Access Programs on Tribal Lands (January 29, 2016)

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Senate Committee on Indian Affairs reschedules telecom hearing (03/14)