Angela Siefer, NDIA executive director, will advocate for a national digital inclusion strategy today while testifying on “Closing the Digital Divide: Overseeing Federal Funds for Broadband Deployment” before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
In her testimony, Angela highlights the growth of the NDIA community, which is currently made up of more than 1,200 affiliate organizations, along with national advocates, researchers, and public servants. These are the people and the communities that she calls digital inclusion “heroes” and is proud to represent at the hearing.
In her testimony, Angela also highlights the following:
- The digital inclusion field has grown rapidly since the Covid-19 pandemic
- The Affordable Connectivity Program is critical to advance digital inclusion.
- Meaningful community engagement, collaboration, and partnership are crucial to the Digital Equity planning process
- The Federal government should develop a national digital inclusion strategy
Angela paints a picture of what digital equity would mean for individuals of all backgrounds, explaining, “Achieving digital equity in the United States would mean that a senior in North Dakota can access their doctor from the comfort of their home in the winter, that an entrepreneur in Florida has the digital skills to start their own business, and that school kids in Virginia never have to sit outside a Taco Bell again to do their school work.”
To achieve these ends, the federal government needs a national broadband strategy. A national digital inclusion strategy should:
- Strengthen and support local, state, territory, and Tribal digital inclusion ecosystems.
- Designate a coordinating body to facilitate digital inclusion work across all federal agencies.
- Identify federal programs that could support (through existing funding) digital skill building, affordability of internet service, and access to appropriate devices.
- Designate a portion of the cost savings federal government agencies realize through the conversion of manual services to digital for digital inclusion programs.
- Support the creation of public-private partnerships across industries and geographies to support local digital inclusion programs.
- Ensure the federal government continues to address all barriers to digital equity holistically and comprehensively.
“Access to the internet and the skills to use it are essential to not only survive but to thrive,” Angela states in her testimony. “And thriving is essential to America’s promise, to the wellbeing of its people, and to the country’s ability to compete globally.”
Angela last testified before Congress in December 2022, where she advocated for sustained funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a full FCC commission, the Digital Equity Foundation Act, and additional dedicated digital equity funding for Tribes and territories.