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Washington NGOs
There are many different types of NGOs. Some focus on grassroots advocacy while others specialize in scientific research, providing social services, supporting the arts and other important work.

Although there are diverse NGOs around the country and the world, Washington is home to a special type of NGO. These NGOs appear to represent a broad-based grassroots membership while emphasizing highly specialized, sometimes single issue, policy advocacy. Placing prominent newspaper advertisements as well as ads on television and radio, particularly in the DC area, are a hallmark of this type of organization.

It seems as if almost every high stakes health care or telecom issue spontaneously generates a variety of NGOs, each of which is concerned only with enhancing public welfare.

A recent half-page ad in The Washington Post by The Seniors Coalition discusses an issue that many seniors may not even have been aware of, the Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF is a program administered by the Federal Communications Commission to provide affordable, universal access to phone service throughout the country. The program subsidizes telephony services to rural and low-income areas as well as to schools, libraries and certain other institutions. The USF is funded by a charge on the phone bills of virtually all consumers.

The Seniors Coalition is concerned that the USF "is a taxpayer's nightmare" that wastes billions of dollars. To evaluate the purported problems associated with the USF, the Coalition commissioned a distinguished professor to write a report on the Fund.

The Seniors Coalition may be right that the USF is wasting money. Winston has not studied and, thus, has no view on this issue. However, Winston does wonder how many seniors really suffer from "nightmares" caused by the USF.

  • See Seniors Coalition Website
  • See FCC Universal Service homepage

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