FCC Seeks Input on Process Reforms

The FCC has released its internal report on possible process reforms and is now looking for some external feedback.

At last week's monthly meeting, Diane Cornell, who headed up the working group that produced the report, outlined its key recommendations, which were primarily to improve accountability, streamline internal review of FCC processes, reduce backlogs, "rework" licensing, modernize consumer complaint procedures, improve the drafting process for policy documents, improve the IT infrastructure and improve Web site functionality.

Among the proposed methods—some 150 proposals—for achieving those aims include putting the text of rules in proposed rulemakings, easier summary disposition of routine items, and encouraging outside parties to provide draft language for findings or orders so they could "succinctly and specifically propose the relief they are seeking from the agency."

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled process reform, in the interests of a more efficient and consumer-friendly agency, as a key priority early in his tenure.

Stakeholders, who have generally applauded the effort, will have until March 31 to weigh in officially (docket number 14-25).

“Improving the way our government conducts business by increasing transparency and predictability in commission processes is a winning solution for everyone,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, but he said that the Hill still needs to act on FCC reforms as well.

“I am pleased that many of the recommendations of the working group are so closely aligned with those contained in H.R. 3675 and look forward to their implementation," he said in a statement. "However, without enshrining these reforms in statute, their future will always be at the whim of whomever may be appointed chair. We owe it to the American people to enact laws that work on their behalf, and the FCC Process Reform Act certainly meets that test.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.