In a new report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) lacks a formal process to plan for the transfer of some Federally-used spectrum to the private sector to help build mobile networks, including 5G.

The Federal government – which uses radio-frequency spectrum for essential functions like defense and air traffic control – is working to have NTIA facilitate the transfers as broadband and other services drive up private sector demand for spectrum.

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While NTIA works with other Federal agencies to execute spectrum reallocations, GAO found that it lacks “a formalized planning process for these reallocations, even though they can be complex, often lengthy undertakings involving many stakeholders and steps.”

GAO notes that NTIA follows some usual steps for reallocations, but the agency lacks plans with objectives and targets, integrated master schedules, and risk assessments. NTIA could more effectively implement reallocations by considering necessary steps, risks, and timeframes, GAO said.

GAO made three recommendations for NTIA, which were concurred with by the Department of Commerce – the agency that houses NTIA. Among those recommendations include:

  1. Align spectrum reallocation efforts with leading practices for program management by developing a plan, analyzing risks, and creating and updating a schedule for ongoing and future efforts;
  2. Document and disseminate to Federal agencies policies and procedures that describe how NTIA collects and considers agencies’ views on spectrum-related matters to present the views of the executive brand to the FCC; and
  3. Ass agency-wide competency gaps in key occupations that manage Federal spectrum and develop and implement a plan to address gaps.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.