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FCC to Release Regulatory Review Plan

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski says the FCC expects to soon release a plan for "continuing" review of agency rules and processes.

That came in a statement to the House Government Oversight subcommittee in advance of a government oversight hearing and in lieu of testimony--he was not able to make the hearing, though avowed FCC reformer Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell is scheduled to speak.

Cass Sunstein, who heads the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Regulatory Affairs, told the same Subcommittee last month that he had not gotten a review plan from the FCC for addressing the costs and benefits of its regulations, but was hopeful that would be forthcoming from it and other independent agencies.

At the time, an FCC source familiar with the chairman's thinking said no formal plan would be submitted, and maintains that is still not what is happening.

The same source confirms that the release of the plan is new, but that it is not directly responsive to that administration request and that the FCC maintains its independence from that order or the requirement of a formal plan--independent agencies are not subject to the order--while the FCC continues to honor the spirit of the order with its ongoing regulatory review, which Genachowski pointed out predates the order.

"Although our retrospective reviews predate Executive Order 13563 on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, (and the Executive Order does not apply to independent agencies such as the FCC) I have directed Commission staff to comply with this and other regulatory reform Executive Orders," said the chairman in his carefully worded statement Thursday. "This directive has already born fruit, and the process of identifying outmoded or counterproductive rules is ongoing Agency-wide. In this regard, we expect soon to release an FCC plan for continuing these retrospective reviews of agency rules.

Republican leaders of the subcommittee's parent Energy & Commerce Committee had been pushing the chairman for more specifics on what other regs could be ripe for repeal.

The chairman spent much of his statement going over what the commission has already done, including eliminating more than 50 "outdate" regs, which he points out is "far more" than the FCC has adopted.