This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-06-338 
entitled 'Telecommunications: States' Collection and Use of Funds for 
Wireless Enhanced 911 Services' which was released on March 10, 2006. 

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part 
of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every 
attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of 
the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text 
descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the 
end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided 
but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed 
version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic 
replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail 
your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this 
document to Webmaster@gao.gov. 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

Report to Congressional Committees: 

March 2006: 

Telecommunications: 

States' Collection and Use of Funds for Wireless Enhanced 911 Services: 

GAO-06-338: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-06-338, a report to congressional committees: 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

“Enhanced 911” (E911) service refers to the capability of public safety 
answering points to automatically receive an emergency caller’s 
location information. An industry association estimates that nearly 82 
million 911 calls are placed each year by callers using mobile phones. 
Wireless E911 technology provides emergency responders with the 
location and callback number of a person calling 911 from a mobile 
phone. The ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004 called for GAO to study state and 
local use of funds collected for the purpose of wireless E911 
implementation. We are reporting on (1) the progress made in 
implementing wireless E911 services throughout the country, (2) the 
states and localities that have established taxes, fees, or charges for 
wireless E911 implementation, and (3) the states or localities that 
have used funds collected for the purposes of wireless E911 for 
unrelated purposes. To address these issues, we surveyed state-level 
E911 contacts on the collection and use of E911 funds. Of the 51 state 
E911 contacts (including the District of Columbia) who were asked to 
participate in our survey, we received 44 responses. 

We provided the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with a draft of 
this report and FCC provided technical comments that we incorporated. 

What GAO Found: 

Significant progress has been made towards implementing wireless E911 
throughout the country since our November 2003 report. Deployment of 
wireless E911 usually proceeds through two phases: Phase I provides 
general location information by identifying the cell tower or cell site 
that is receiving the wireless call. Phase II provides more precise 
caller-location information, within 50 to 300 meters in most cases. We 
reported in November 2003, that nearly 65 percent of the more than 
6,000 public safety answering points nationwide were capable of 
receiving Phase I information with wireless 911 calls and 18 percent 
had implemented Phase II wireless E911 with at least one wireless 
carrier. Currently, according to the National Emergency Number 
Association (NENA), nearly 80 percent of public safety answering points 
are capable of receiving Phase I location information and 57 percent 
have implemented Phase II for at least one wireless carrier. However, 
based on our survey results, full implementation is still several years 
away in many states. In response to our survey, three state E911 
contacts reported that it will take more than 5 years to have wireless 
E911 completely implemented in their states, and five others said that 
the technology might never be fully implemented in their states. 

Based on our survey results and NENA data, we found that nearly all 
states—48 states and the District of Columbia—require the wireless 
carriers to collect surcharges from their subscribers to cover the 
costs associated with implementing wireless E911. Responses to our 
survey showed the per-subscriber surcharges ranged from $0.20 to $3.00 
per month. The two states that do not impose surcharges fund E911 
through general revenue or the state’s Universal Service Fund, which 
was established to support various telecommunications programs. States 
have the discretion to determine how they will manage and distribute 
the funds and we found the management of the funds and methods of 
disbursement varied. According to our survey results, many of the 
states that responded have written criteria on the allowable uses of 
E911 funds. Allowable uses of the E911 funds include purchasing 
equipment upgrades and software packages. 

Four state E911 contacts responded to our survey that their states did 
not use all of the funds collected for E911 on E911 implementation 
purposes during 2005. Six states, and the District of Columbia, did not 
respond to our survey so we do not know whether those states used E911 
funds or made them available for other purposes. Four other states 
reported that they were unsure if all E911 funds were used solely for 
E911 purposes because the funds are collected and managed at the local 
level. The four states that reported that E911 funds were made 
available or used for purposes not related to E911 indicated that the 
E911 funds were transferred to their state’s general fund. For example, 
one state told us that E911 funds were transferred to the general fund 
to help balance the state budget. Another state reported that some E911 
funds were transferred to the state police since they answer emergency 
calls in some areas of the state. 

What GAO Recommends: 

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-338. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. To view selected results of the survey, go to 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-400sp. For more information, 
contact Mark Goldstein at (202) 512-2834 or goldsteinm@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

Significant Progress Has Been Made toward Nationwide Wireless E911 
Implementation but Full Deployment is Years Away: 

Most States Collect Funds for Wireless E911 Implementation, Although 
Collection and Disbursement Practices Vary: 

A Few States Reported Using Wireless E911 Funds for Unrelated Purposes 

Agency Comments: 

Appendix: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Simplified Wireless E911 Call to PSAP with Phase II 
Capability: 

Figure 2: Percentage of State Population That Has Phase I and Phase II 
Wireless E911 Coverage with at Least One Wireless Carrier as of January 
2006: 

Figure 3: State E911 Contacts' Estimates of When Their State Would Have 
Phase II Wireless E911 Implemented for all PSAPs with at Least One 
Wireless Carrier: 

Figure 4: Range of Monthly Wireless E911 Surcharges by State as of 
2005: 

Figure 5: State Wireless E911 Implementation by County, as of January 
2006, and the Use of E911 Funds during 2005: 

Abbreviations: 

DOT: Department of Transportation: 

E911: enhanced 911: 

FCC: Federal Communications Commission: 

GPS: Global Positioning System: 

LEC: local exchange carrier: 

NENA: National Emergency Number Association: 

PSAP: public safety answering point: 

Letter March 10, 2006: 

The Honorable Ted Stevens: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye: 
Co-Chairman: 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Joe Barton: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable John D. Dingell: 
Ranking Minority Member: 
Committee on Energy and Commerce: 
House of Representatives: 

According to an industry association, 200 million 911 emergency calls 
are placed annually. Another industry association estimates that nearly 
82 million 911 calls are placed each year by callers using mobile 
(wireless) phones. A capability known as "enhanced 911" (E911) provides 
emergency responders with the location of, and a callback number for, a 
person calling 911. This information facilitates the quick and accurate 
dispatch of emergency responders, especially in cases where the caller 
does not know or cannot clearly state his or her location (e.g., the 
caller is suffering from a heart attack). 

Most areas across the country now have E911 capabilities for 
traditional wireline phones, where the caller's street address 
automatically appears on-screen for the 911 call taker. As the use of 
mobile phones has increased, Congress and others in the federal 
government and public safety communities have grown more concerned that 
E911 location information was not often available for those dialing 911 
from a mobile phone. Implementing E911 for mobile phones is inherently 
more challenging. Unlike wireline phones, where the phone number is 
linked to a specific street address, providing E911 call takers with 
location information for a mobile phone involves technologies that must 
calculate the geographic coordinates of the caller's location at the 
time of the call and display these coordinates as a location the 911 
call taker can understand. Moreover, a wireless 911 call must be routed 
along the networks of both a wireless telephone company and a wireline 
telephone company before terminating at a facility where 911 calls are 
answered, known as a public safety answering point (PSAP); there are 
more than 6,000 PSAPs nationwide, often at a county or city level. All 
three entities--wireless carriers, wireline carriers, and PSAPs--must 
be properly interconnected and have certain equipment in place in order 
for location information to be captured, sent, and displayed to 911 
call takers. Deployment usually proceeds through two phases: Phase I 
provides general location information by identifying the cell tower or 
cell site that is receiving the wireless call and also provides the 
phone number of the caller, while Phase II provides more precise caller-
location information--within 50 to 300 meters in most cases. 

The Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 called on the 
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to encourage and support 
efforts by the states to deploy wireless E911 services by working with 
state and local officials, the telecommunications industry, consumer 
groups, and those involved in public safety services.[Footnote 1] At 
the federal level, FCC and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) 
have taken steps to promote the deployment of E911 location 
technologies for mobile phones. According to FCC, the Commission 
monitors the deployment of wireless E911 service by larger carriers, 
enforces its wireless E911 requirements, and grants appropriate waivers 
of its wireless E911 requirements when consistent with the public 
interest. FCC further stated that it works with public safety 
organizations, wireless carriers, and manufacturers to foster wireless 
E911 deployment. Also, DOT has recognized the relationship between 
wireless E911 services and highway safety and is working with a key 
nongovernmental organization, the National Emergency Number Association 
(NENA), to develop a PSAP database that tracks E911 
implementation.[Footnote 2] The only federally mandated timeframes for 
installation of wireless E911 technologies are those placed on wireless 
carriers by FCC. FCC has no authority to place timeframes on PSAPs, 
which are under state and local jurisdiction. States and local 
jurisdictions establish timetables for implementation by their PSAPs, 
which must have the necessary equipment to receive and display location 
information that the 911 call taker can relay to police, fire, and 
rescue services. States must also fund the equipment upgrades needed by 
their PSAPs for E911 service. 

The pace of wireless E911 deployment has been a key concern for the 
Congress. In our November 2003 report on wireless E911, we noted that 
the implementation of wireless E911 was several years away in many 
states, raising the prospect of piecemeal availability of this service 
across the country for an indefinite number of years to come.[Footnote 
3] We found that the funding of equipment upgrades at PSAPs was a major 
issue for many states and localities and was the largest factor 
affecting the progress of E911 implementation. Most states had put in 
place a surcharge on wireless customers to pay for E911 upgrades to 
their PSAPs. We found, though, that some states had redirected these 
funds to uses that were unrelated to E911. 

Recently, the ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004 authorized a federal grant 
program to provide assistance to states, local governments, or tribal 
organizations in implementing E911.[Footnote 4] Recognizing that some 
states had used the funds raised for E911 for other purposes, the act 
(among other things) stipulated that a state or local government would 
not be eligible for a federal E911 grant if it had used its E911 taxes, 
fees, or charges for unrelated purposes during the period beginning 180 
days immediately preceding the date of the application and continuing 
until the funds are available to the applicant. Furthermore, if the 
grantee used state or local E911 funds for unrelated purposes during 
the term of the grant, the grant would have to be repaid. The act also 
called for us to study state and local use of funds collected for the 
purpose of wireless E911 implementation. Accordingly, we are reporting 
on (1) the progress made in implementing wireless E911 services 
throughout the country, (2) the states and localities that have 
established taxes, fees, or charges for wireless E911 implementation, 
and (3) the states or localities that have used funds collected for the 
purposes of wireless E911 for unrelated purposes during 2005. 

To address these issues, we collected information from state-level E911 
contacts[Footnote 5] from October 2005 to January 2006 using a Web- 
based survey. We designed the survey to cover the collection, 
management, and use of wireless E911 funds at the state and local 
level. Of the 51 state-level E911 contacts (including the District of 
Columbia) who were asked to participate in our survey, we received 44 
completed questionnaires. We did not receive completed questionnaires 
from Alaska, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Nevada, New York, 
Oklahoma, and South Dakota. To view selected results of this survey, go 
to http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-400sp. 

We used data from NENA, current as of January 2006, to provide 
information on the progress made in deploying wireless E911. To assess 
the reliability of NENA's data regarding the number of PSAPs receiving 
Phase II data, we interviewed knowledgeable officials from NENA about 
their data collection methods. We determined that the data were 
sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. We conducted our 
review between February 2005 and January 2006 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards. See appendix I for a 
more detailed discussion of our scope and methodology. 

Results in Brief: 

Since our last report in November 2003, significant progress has been 
made in implementing wireless E911 throughout the country. At that 
time, we reported that nearly 65 percent of the more than 6,000 PSAPs 
nationwide were capable of receiving Phase I location information with 
wireless 911 calls and 18 percent of PSAPs had implemented Phase II 
wireless E911 with at least one wireless carrier. According to data 
from NENA, as of January 2006, nearly 80 percent of PSAPs are capable 
of receiving Phase I location information and 57 percent have 
implemented Phase II with at least one wireless carrier. Of the 44 
state E911 contacts who completed our survey about E911 implementation 
in their states, 10 responded that Phase II wireless services have 
already been implemented in their state and 21 others reported that 
their state will have Phase II wireless E911 implemented in the next 5 
years with at least one wireless carrier. However, three state contacts 
stated it will take more than 5 years to have Phase II wireless E911 
capabilities throughout their states, five stated that this service 
might never be implemented statewide, and five others had no basis to 
judge when the service would be available. 

Based on our survey results and NENA data, almost all states (48 states 
and the District of Columbia) require wireless carriers to collect 
monthly surcharges from their subscribers to cover the costs associated 
with deploying wireless E911 service. Responses to our survey showed 
that the surcharges ranged from $0.20 to $3.00 per month. For the two 
states that do not impose surcharges, one funds E911 with general 
revenues and the other with the state's Universal Service Fund, which 
supports various telecommunications programs. States have the 
discretion to determine how they will manage and distribute funds 
collected for wireless E911. Some states allocate funds to localities 
using a formula based approach, while others distribute the funds 
directly to the localities based on certain criteria. We found that 
many states that responded to our survey had established written 
criteria on the allowable uses of E911 funds, such as for equipment 
upgrades, software packages, and training of personnel. 

Based on the responses to our survey, we found that four states did not 
use all E911 funds for E911 implementation purposes during 2005. These 
states reported that some E911 funds were transferred to their state's 
general fund. For example, one state told us that E911 funds were 
transferred to the general fund to help balance the state budget. 
Another state reported that some E911 funds were transferred to the 
state police since the police answer emergency calls in some areas of 
the state. For the six states and the District of Columbia that did not 
respond to our survey, we do not know whether they used E911 funds or 
made them available for purposes unrelated to E911 implementation. We 
heard from four other state E911 contacts that they were unsure if all 
E911 funds had been used for E911 purposes because funds are collected 
and maintained at the local level. 

Background: 

Nationwide implementation of E911 by local wireline telephone companies 
began in the 1970s; today, 99 percent of the population is covered by 
wireline 911 service. With wireline E911 service, emergency calls are 
automatically routed to the appropriate PSAP[Footnote 6] and the call 
taker receives the telephone number and street address of the caller. 
In 1996, FCC responded to the rising number of mobile telephone 
subscribers and the resulting increase in wireless 911 calls by 
adopting rules for wireless E911 that established a two-phase 
implementation approach for the wireless carriers and set deadlines for 
wireless carriers regarding their part in E911 deployment.[Footnote 7] 
FCC required that (1) by April 1998, or within 6 months of a request 
from a PSAP, wireless carriers be prepared to provide the PSAP with the 
wireless phone number of the caller and the location of the cell site 
receiving the 911 call (Phase I information); and (2) by October 2001, 
or within 6 months of receiving a request from a PSAP, wireless 
carriers be prepared to provide the PSAP with the geographic 
coordinates of the caller's location with greater precision, generally 
within 50 to 300 meters (Phase II information).[Footnote 8] 

As shown in figure 1, the wireless carriers, local exchange carriers 
(LECs), and PSAPs must have appropriate equipment and interconnections 
for wireless E911 calls to be sent to and received by PSAPs with the 
caller's location information. For example, wireless carriers must 
finance the implementation of a caller location solution and test their 
equipment to verify its accuracy.[Footnote 9] Local exchange carriers 
are generally responsible for ensuring that all the necessary 
connections between wireless carriers, PSAPs, and databases have been 
installed and are operating correctly. The original E911 system was 
designed to carry only the caller's telephone number with the call, and 
the associated fixed address was obtained from an established database. 
Wireless E911, however, requires more data items, and the mobile 
caller's location must be obtained during the call and delivered to the 
PSAP separately using additional data delivery capabilities. In order 
to translate the latitude and longitude location information into a 
street address, PSAPs usually must acquire and install mapping 
software. PSAPs may also need to acquire new computers to receive and 
display this information. Getting PSAPs the technology needed to 
receive wireless E911 location information is primarily a state and 
local responsibility because PSAPs serve an emergency response function 
that has traditionally fallen under state or local jurisdiction. FCC 
has no authority to set deadlines for the PSAPs' readiness. 

Figure 1: Simplified Wireless E911 Call to PSAP with Phase II 
Capability: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

The ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004 was enacted to coordinate 911 and E911 
services at the federal, state, and local level; and to ensure that the 
taxes, fees, or charges imposed for enhancing 911 services are used 
only for the purposes for which the funds are collected. The act called 
for the creation of an E911 Implementation Coordination Office to 
improve E911 coordination and communication. This office will be 
operated jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 
(NHTSA) and the National Telecommunications and Information 
Administration (NTIA), and will be housed at NHTSA. Although the office 
had not received an appropriation as of January 2006, a DOT official 
told us that NHTSA and NTIA are working together to delineate their 
respective responsibilities. The act also authorized matching federal 
grants for eligible state, local, and tribal entities for the 
deployment and operation of Phase II E911 services. The act requires 
applicants for a matching federal grant to certify that no portion of 
any designated state and local E911 funds are being obligated or 
expended for any purpose other than the purposes for which the funds 
are designated.[Footnote 10] The act authorized $250 million per year 
for matching grants for fiscal years 2005 through 2009. However, no 
funds were appropriated for these grants in 2005.[Footnote 11] 

Significant Progress Has Been Made toward Nationwide Wireless E911 
Implementation but Full Deployment is Years Away: 

Significant progress has been made in implementing wireless E911 
services since our last report on this topic in November 2003.[Footnote 
12] At that time, using data from NENA, we reported that nearly 65 
percent of PSAPs nationwide had implemented Phase I wireless E911 
services and 18 percent of PSAPs had implemented Phase II wireless E911 
with at least one wireless carrier. Since that time, there has been a 
marked increase in both of these percentages. As of January 2006, NENA 
reports that nearly 80 percent of PSAPs nationwide had implemented 
Phase I wireless E911 services and 57 percent had implemented Phase II 
with at least one wireless carrier. At the county level, NENA reports 
that approximately 70 percent of counties nationwide have implemented 
Phase I wireless E911 services and 44 percent of the counties have 
implemented Phase II with at least one wireless carrier. According to 
NENA, many of the PSAPs that have implemented Phase I and Phase II are 
in areas that cover higher concentrations of people, and as a result, 
approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population is now covered by Phase 
I and nearly 69 percent by Phase II with at least one wireless carrier. 
See figure 2 for nationwide deployment of Phase I and II based on 
population coverage by state.[Footnote 13] 

Figure 2: Percentage of State Population That Has Phase I and Phase II 
Wireless E911 Coverage with at Least One Wireless Carrier as of January 
2006: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

While progress is being made in wireless E911 implementation, the 
estimates from state contacts indicate that no clear picture is 
emerging on when Phase II will be fully deployed nationwide. As noted 
earlier, FCC has no authority to set deadlines for PSAPs to implement 
wireless E911 services. As a result, there is no federal requirement 
for full wireless E911 implementation and states may or may not have 
set their own deadlines for implementation. In our survey of state E911 
contacts, we asked respondents to provide us with an estimate of when 
they believed their state would have wireless Phase II service fully in 
place with at least one wireless carrier per PSAP. We found that state 
E911 contacts offered a wide range of estimated Phase II completion 
dates. As shown in figure 3, 10 of 44 state contacts who responded to 
our survey indicated that Phase II was already in place throughout 
their state. Eight state contacts noted that they would have Phase II 
in place for all of their PSAPs with at least one wireless carrier 
within a year. Thirteen state contacts provided a range of 1 to 5 years 
for Phase II to be implemented, with three state contacts responding 
that it would take more than 5 years. Furthermore, five state contacts 
noted that their state might never be 100 percent complete for Phase II 
service. For example, one state contact noted that four rural counties 
opted not to apply for state funding to implement wireless E911 and two 
of these counties have only decided to implement wireline E911. 
Contacts in five states had no basis to judge when Phase II would be in 
place in their states. 

Figure 3: State E911 Contacts' Estimates of When Their State Would Have 
Phase II Wireless E911 Implemented for all PSAPs with at Least One 
Wireless Carrier: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Most States Collect Funds for Wireless E911 Implementation, Although 
Collection and Disbursement Practices Vary: 

Based on our survey results and NENA data, we found most states obtain 
E911 funds through state-mandated surcharges collected by wireless 
carriers from the carriers' wireless subscribers. States have the 
discretion to determine how these funds will be managed and 
distributed. Some states allocate funds using a formula based approach, 
while others distribute the funds based on PSAP requests. According to 
our survey results, 35 states had established written criteria on the 
allowable uses of E911 funds. Examples of allowable uses for the funds 
included the purchase of equipment upgrades, software packages, and 
training of personnel. 

Most States Collect Surcharges for Wireless E911 Implementation: 

At present, state and local governments determine how to pay for PSAP 
wireless E911 upgrades. We found, based on our survey results and NENA 
data, that 48 states and the District of Columbia collect surcharges to 
cover the costs of implementing wireless E911 (see fig. 4). For these 
states, funds are collected by wireless carriers from their 
subscribers. The other two states do not impose surcharges on wireless 
subscribers, but still have a wireless E911 funding mechanism in place. 
Specifically, the state E911 contact for Missouri told us that the 
state uses funds from the local general revenue, local 911 taxes, and 
wireline funds for E911 implementation; and the Vermont state E911 
contact said the state uses funds from the state's Universal Service 
Fund, which supports various telecommunications programs. For states 
that impose surcharges, the surcharge amount is usually established in 
state law.[Footnote 14] Responses to our survey indicated that the per- 
subscriber surcharges varied from state to state and ranged from $0.20 
to $3.00 per month. We also found the surcharge amount could vary 
within a state. For example, one state has a maximum monthly surcharge 
amount of $1.50, and although most of the counties collect the maximum 
amount, several counties collect less than the maximum. 

Figure 4: Range of Monthly Wireless E911 Surcharges by State as of 
2005: 

[See PDF for image] 

[A] California collects 0.65 percent of intrastate calls. 

[B] According to the state E911 contact, Missouri uses funds from the 
local general revenue, local 911 taxes, and wireline funds for E911 
implementation. 

[C] According to the state E911 contact, Vermont uses funds from the 
state's Universal Service Fund for E911 implementation. 

[End of figure] 

Based on the responses to our survey, several states indicated that 
insufficient funding collected for wireless E911 was impeding the 
state's ability to implement this service. We heard from one state that 
relies on funds collected from both the wireline and wireless 
surcharges to fund E911 that due to Hurricane Katrina, the state 
expected to see a drop in wireline funding over the next 2 to 3 years. 
A county official from that state said that because many residents and 
businesses impacted by the storm have not reestablished telephone 
service, the state is not receiving telephone fees from those 
residents. Another state reported that one of the biggest issues in 
implementing wireless E911 is the inability to collect funds from 
seasonal populations in many of the state's resort areas. Small towns 
in the state experience a large influx of tourists during various times 
of the year. However, because the state collects funds based on the 
billing address of the subscriber, counties in the state are limited in 
their ability to cover the costs of E911 services that out-of-state 
tourists expect while visiting local resort areas. 

States Employ Different Methods for Managing and Disbursing Funds: 

States and local governments have the authority to determine how they 
will manage and disburse their E911 funds. Of the 31 states that 
answered our question pertaining to the management of E911 funds, 23 
indicated that the funds are managed at the state level, 6 said funds 
are managed locally, and 2 others indicated that the funds are managed 
by a mix of state and local entities. We found that various state-level 
entities can have authority to manage the funds collected for wireless 
E911 implementation, including the public utility commission, the 
treasury office, and state-level boards. In one state, for example, a 
state-level board comprised of members from municipal organizations, 
PSAPs, state and local law enforcement agencies, local exchange service 
providers, and the wireless carriers industry established the criteria 
and guidelines for administering the funds. Of the seven states 
indicating that the local government manages the funds, one state said 
that the governing boards of 54 local 911 jurisdictions (51 counties 
and 3 cities) have the ultimate authority over the expenditure of 
wireless E911 funds. 

Methods of disbursement also varied. Some states use formulas based on 
various criteria to determine the amount of funds distributed to 
different localities. For example, a number of states allocate the 
funds to localities based on criteria such as the volume of 911 calls 
made in the jurisdiction or the number of wireless subscribers. Other 
states allocate funds based on PSAP requests. One state reported that 
it reimburses county governments and providers for the costs they have 
incurred to implement wireless E911 services. Alternatively, the PSAPs 
in another state must first request funding from the state, which a 
state-level office must then approve. 

Most States Have Written Criteria on the Allowable Use of E911 Funds: 

As part of our survey, we asked the state E911 contacts if their states 
had established written criteria on the allowable uses of funds 
collected for the purposes of wireless E911 implementation. Of the 38 
state contacts who responded to this question, 35 reported that their 
state had established written criteria, while the other 3 indicated 
that written criteria had not been established. Examples of allowable 
uses of funding include the purchase of equipment upgrades or software, 
personnel costs directly attributable to the delivery of 911 service, 
and costs related to the maintenance of Phase I and II services. For 
example, according to one state, its law permits wireless E911 funds to 
cover the salaries, benefits, and uniforms of 911 service employees 
such as call takers, dispatchers, and supervisors. We also asked the 
state E911 contacts if the state had any kind of oversight procedures 
to control the use of E911 funds. Of the 38 state contacts who 
responded to this question, 33 reported that their state had 
established oversight procedures to control the use of E911 funds, 3 
others indicated no oversight procedures had been established, and 2 
contacts did not know. According to our survey results, audits were the 
most common approach used to oversee the use of E911 funds. For 
example, one state reported that the wireless E911 fund and the state's 
wireless E911 services board is audited annually by the state's Auditor 
of Public Accounts and that the reports are available to the public 
online. 

A Few States Reported Using Wireless E911 Funds for Unrelated Purposes: 

Based on the responses of the 44 state E911 contacts who completed our 
survey, four states that collected funds for the purposes of wireless 
E911 implementation made those funds available or used them for 
purposes unrelated to E911 during 2005.[Footnote 15] For the six states 
and the District of Columbia that did not respond to our survey, we do 
not know whether they used any of their E911 funds for unrelated 
purposes. Four other states were unsure if their wireless E911 funds 
have been used for unrelated purposes because the funds are collected 
and maintained at the local level. See figure 5 for a complete breakout 
by state of their use of E911 funds during 2005, along with their 
progress in implementing E911 in their counties. 

Figure 5: State Wireless E911 Implementation by County, as of January 
2006, and the Use of E911 Funds during 2005: 

[See PDF for image] 

[A] According to the state E911 contact, funds are not specifically 
collected for wireless E911. Rather, funds are collected for wireline 
and wireless 911 and these revenues are used to support the overall 
statewide 911 program. 

[B] According to the state E911 contact, use of wireless E911 funds is 
determined at the county or local level. 

[C] According to the state E911 contact, some funds have been 
transferred to the state's General Revenue Fund. The amount was 
verified by a state budget official. 

[D] According to the state E911 contact, E911 funds are not collected 
in the state. 

[E] According to the state E911 contact, the state's General Assembly 
took funds from the E911 fund to help balance the state's budget. The 
amount was verified by a state budget official. 

[F] According to the state E911 contact, the wireless E911 fund was 
just created in 2005. 

[G] According to the state E911 contact, E911 surcharge revenues are 
deposited into the state's General Fund. The amount not used on E911 
implementation was verified by a state budget official. 

[H] According to the state E911 contact, E911 funds have been frozen 
and are not being used to deploy E911 services. 

[I] According to the state E911 contact, the state does not collect 
E911 funds; rather, the state uses monies from the state's Universal 
Service Fund to implement wireless E911 services. 

[J] According to the state E911 contact, some E911 funds were 
transferred to the state's General Fund and some were transferred to 
the state police since they answer wireless E911 calls in some areas of 
the state. The amount was verified by a state budget official. 

[End of figure] 

For the four states that reported E911 funds were made available or 
used for purposes not related to E911 during 2005, the state contacts 
reported that the E911 funds were transferred to their state's general 
fund. For example, the E911 contact for North Carolina reported that 
E911 funds were transferred to the general fund to help balance the 
state budget. According to the E911 contact for Virginia, funds were 
transferred to both the general fund and to the state police, which 
responds to emergency calls in some areas of the state. One of these 
four states, Rhode Island, has implemented Phase II services in all of 
its counties and Virginia has implemented Phase II for 83 percent of 
its counties. For the remaining two states, Illinois has implemented 
Phase II in 47 percent of its counties and North Carolina for 71 
percent of its counties. 

One state responded to our survey that, while E911 funds have not been 
made available for other purposes, approximately $72 million in state 
wireline and wireless E911 fees collected have not been appropriated to 
the state 911 program. In other words, the funds remain in dedicated 
E911 accounts, but are "frozen" and are not being used to deploy or 
maintain E911 services. We heard from four other states that because 
funds for wireless E911 are collected and managed by local 
jurisdictions without any state involvement, the state is unsure if 
wireless E911 funds have been used for purposes other than wireless 
E911 implementation. For example, one state E911 contact told us that 
the state currently has no mechanism to monitor the use of wireless 
E911 funds at the local level. However, this contact further said that 
if a federal grant program for wireless E911 is funded, the state could 
establish a mechanism to validate that local jurisdictions were using 
wireless E911 funds only for allowable purposes. 

Agency Comments: 

We provided FCC with a draft of this report for their review and 
comment. In response, FCC provided technical comments that we 
incorporated where appropriate. 

We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional 
committees and the Chairman, FCC. We will make copies available to 
others upon request. The report is available at no charge on GAO's Web 
site at [Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. Contact points for our offices 
of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last 
page of this report. 

If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please 
contact me on (202) 512-2834 or [Hyperlink, goldsteinm@gao.gov]. Key 
contributors to this report were John Finedore, Assistant Director; 
Kimberly Berry, Andy Clinton, Stuart Kaufman, Sally Moino, Josh Ormond, 
Jay Smale, and Mindi Weisenbloom. 

Signed by: 

Mark L. Goldstein: 
Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues: 

[End of section] 

Appendixes: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

The ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004 required us to review the imposition and 
use of taxes, fees, or other charges by states or localities that are 
designated to improve emergency communications services, including 
"enhanced 911" (E911). As such, we are reporting on (1) the progress 
made in implementing wireless E911 services throughout the country, (2) 
the states and localities that have established taxes, fees, or charges 
for wireless E911 implementation, and (3) the states or localities that 
have used funds collected for the purposes of wireless E911 for 
unrelated purposes. 

To obtain general information on wireless E911 implementation, we 
interviewed officials from the National Emergency Number Association 
(NENA), the National Association of State 9-1-1 Administrators, and the 
Federal Communications Commission (FCC). We also met with officials 
from the Department of Transportation to learn the status of the E911 
Implementation Coordination Office. To obtain information pertaining to 
the collection, management, and use of wireless E911 funds at the state 
and local level, we developed and administered a Web-based survey to 
state-level E911 contacts. The state E911 contacts are listed on FCC's 
Web site as the point of contact for emergency communications in their 
states and were provided by the governor of each state in response to a 
request from FCC. From September 21, 2005, through September 28, 2005, 
we conducted a series of "pretests" with state E911 contacts to help 
further refine our questions, clarify any ambiguous portions of the 
survey, and identify any potentially biased questions. Upon completion 
of the pretests and development of the final survey questions and 
format, we sent an announcement of the upcoming survey to the state 
E911 contacts (including the District of Columbia) on October 4, 2005. 
They were notified that the survey was available online on October 6, 
2005. We sent follow-up e-mail messages to non-respondents as of 
October 30, 2005, and then attempted several times to contact those who 
had not completed the survey. The survey was available online until 
January 20, 2006. Of the population of 51 state E911 contacts who were 
asked to participate in our survey, we received 44 completed 
questionnaires for an overall response rate of 86 percent. Although the 
individual listed as the Wyoming state E911 contact was unable to 
answer the questionnaire, a representative at the county level 
completed it. We did not receive completed questionnaires from Alaska, 
Colorado, the District of Columbia, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, and 
South Dakota. We administered the survey between October 2005 and 
January 2006. To view selected results of the survey, go to 
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-400sp. 

The practical difficulties of conducting surveys may introduce errors 
commonly referred to as "nonsampling error." For example, differences 
in how a particular question is interpreted or the sources of 
information available to respondents may introduce error. To minimize 
nonsampling error, we worked with a social science survey specialist to 
develop the questionnaire and conducted three pretests. In addition, 
steps were taken during the data analysis to minimize error further, 
such as performing computer analyses to identify inconsistencies and 
completing a review of data analysis by an independent reviewer. 

We contacted state budget officials for the four states that reported 
using funds collected for the purpose of E911 implementation for 
unrelated purposes to verify the information we received in response to 
our survey. Other than this, we did not independently verify the survey 
results. To provide information on the progress made in deploying 
wireless E911, in addition to the survey, we used NENA data current as 
of January 2006. To assess the reliability of NENA's data regarding the 
number of public safety answering points receiving Phase II data, we 
interviewed knowledgeable officials from NENA about their data 
collection methods and reviewed any existing documentation relating to 
the data sources. We determined that the data were sufficiently 
reliable for the purposes of this report. 

We conducted our review between February 2005 and January 2006 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 

(543119): 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] Pub. L. No. 106-81, 113 Stat. 1286 (1999). The purpose section of 
the act states that it is meant to "encourage and facilitate the prompt 
deployment throughout the United States of a seamless, ubiquitous, and 
reliable end-to-end infrastructure for communications, including 
wireless communications, to meet the Nation's public safety and other 
communications needs." 

[2] NENA is a membership organization of emergency communications 
professionals in government and industry that fosters the technological 
advancement, availability, and the implementation of a universal 
emergency telephone number system. DOT contracted with NENA to create a 
database of PSAPs, including information about implementation of 
wireless E911, which is updated on a quarterly basis using wireless 
carrier information filed with FCC, and supplemented by data gathered 
directly from the PSAPs. The NENA database is accessible through 
http://www.nena.org. FCC also maintains a registry of PSAPs in 
connection with the wireless carrier E911 deployment reports filed with 
FCC. This registry is located at 
http://www.fcc.gov/911/enhanced/reports/psapregistry.html. 

[3] GAO, Telecommunications: Uneven Implementation of Wireless Enhanced 
911 Raises the Prospect of Piecemeal Availability for Years to Come, 
GAO-04-55 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 7, 2003). 

[4] Pub. L. 108-494, title I, 118 Stat. 3986 (2004) (to be codified at 
47 U.S.C § 942). 

[5] The state E911 contacts are listed on FCC's Web site as the point 
of contact for emergency communications. This list can be found at 
http://www.fcc.gov/911/stateplans/contacts.html. The contacts were 
provided by the governor of each state in response to a request from 
FCC. The request was made to fulfill FCC's responsibility under the 
Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act. See 47 U.S.C. § 615. 

[6] PSAPs vary in size and technical sophistication. Some large urban 
PSAPs have dozens of call takers and split the functions of call taking 
and dispatching the proper emergency responder. Smaller PSAPs are 
sometimes staffed by only two or three call takers who also handle 
dispatch. In some rural areas, the PSAP may be the sheriff's office. 

[7] Revision of the Commission's Rules to Ensure Compatibility with 
Enhanced 911 Emergency Calling Systems, CC Docket No.94-102; RM-8143, 
FCC 96-264, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 
11 FCC Rcd 18676 (rel. July 26, 1996). 

[8] See 47 C.F.R. § 20.18(d)-(g) for further information on FCC's Phase 
I and Phase II deployment requirements. FCC's rules allow wireless 
carriers to choose a network-based or a handset-based approach to 
determine a 911 caller's location. A network-based solution involves 
locating a caller through a triangulation process involving the cell 
towers closest to the caller. A handset-based solution relies on 
triangulation using Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites and a 
GPS chip inside the mobile phone. FCC's accuracy requirements vary 
depending on whether a carrier deploys a network-based or handset-based 
solution. See 47 C.F.R. § 20.18(h) for more details on FCC's Phase II 
location accuracy requirements. FCC has granted waivers of the Phase II 
rules to wireless carriers. 

[9] For additional information on the technical aspects of wireless 
E911 service, see GAO-04-55. 

[10] The act requires certification that no funds were used during the 
period beginning 180 days immediately preceding the date of the 
application and continuing until the funds are available to the 
applicant. 47 U.S.C. § 942 (c)(2). 

[11] The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-171, 120 Stat. 
4 (2006), among other things, sets a definite date for the release of 
spectrum held by broadcasters and requires FCC to auction the freed 
spectrum to begin no later than January 28, 2008. The act establishes 
the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Fund to receive 
spectrum auction proceeds and disburse designated sums to the Treasury 
and for other purposes. Among the proceeds for the funds are 
contributions totaling no more than $43.5 million to implement the 
ENHANCE 911 Act of 2004. 

[12] GAO-04-55. 

[13] Figure 5 has specific information on each state's implementation 
status at the county level. 

[14] We did not review or verify state law. 

[15] We contacted the state budget offices for these four states and 
asked the offices to verify the accuracy of the amount of E911 funds 
made available or used for purposes not related to E911.