General Accountability Office says no one is leading the DTV transition

The GAO said there is a lack of coordination between the two federal agencies that Congress put in charge of the transition.

Last week the General Accountability Office (GAO) told Congress that no one is making a serious effort to lead the nation’s transition to digital television broadcasting.

“It is pretty clear to us that there is no one in charge,” Mark Goldstein, the GAO’s director of Physical Infrastructure Issues, told the Special Committee on Aging of the U.S. Senate.

There is a lack of coordination between the two federal agencies that Congress put in charge of the transition — the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC, Goldstein said the GAO had determined.

Goldstein told senators that the FCC probably should be leading the DTV transition effort, but said “there seems to be confusion even on the part of the FCC, between the chairman and some other commissioners, regarding what its responsibilities are for the transition in various public documents in recent months.”

Goldstein got support from FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, a critic of Martin, who testified that the FCC’s outreach and education efforts have been “lackluster at best” and noted that there was no coordinated DTV transition plan in place at the agency.

“Specifically,” Adelstein said, “there is a lack of an established command and control structure that is responsible to coordinate the national DTV transition effort and to vet, prioritize and implement meritorious ideas from the public and private sectors into a comprehensive, coherent and coordinated plan.“

Then, Adelstein warned: ”If we don’t do a better job, we’re going to have one of the biggest outrages this Congress has ever seen.“

In a prepared statement Martin said, “There is no confusion at the [FCC]. We are committed to putting polices in place to ensure a smooth transition.”