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Establish “GSA” for Government Spectrum

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Lenard, White File Comments with OSTP

Contact: Amy Smorodin
(202) 828-4405

March 20, 2014 – A Government Spectrum Ownership Corporation (GSOC) should be established to lease spectrum to government agencies, much in the same way as the General Services Administration (GSA) does with real estate, explain Thomas Lenard and Lawrence White in comments filed today with the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The goal would be to provide incentives for government agencies to economize on spectrum use and free up spectrum for the private sector.

In their comments, Lenard, TPI President and Senior Fellow, and White, Robert Kavesh Professor of Economics at the NYU Stern School of Business, also recommend that spectrum allocation decisions should be a more integral part of the annual Office of Management and Budget (OMB) budgeting process. OMB should require any government agency that has a spectrum allocation to provide an annual accounting of that agency’s use of that spectrum. OMB should have a heightened awareness of spectrum as a scarce resource and should routinely search for under-utilized spectrum that could be auctioned by the FCC. In essence, OMB should become a skeptical auditor of government-held spectrum, its use, and its opportunity costs.

There is a widespread consensus that spectrum in government hands is likely not being used efficiently and that some-perhaps a significant amount-could be reallocated to more efficient private uses. Lenard and White explain that efforts to determine the extent of this “surplus” and then to devise a method of freeing it from government hands confront a dilemma: the absence of a market mechanism, or even a budgetary mechanism, that could encourage this reallocation. Lenard and White’s proposal addresses both of these deficiencies.

The comments are available on the TPI website.

The Technology Policy Institute

The Technology Policy Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that focuses on the economics of innovation, technological change, and related regulation in the United States and around the world. More information is available at http://www.techpolicyinstitute.org/.