Walden: FCC Process Answers Raise 'Serious Concerns'

House Communications Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is not happy with the FCC's responses to the subcommittee's ongoing look into commission processes and plans to make that clear at a hearing Sept. 17.

"Since our last hearing with Chairman [Tom] Wheeler, the subcommittee has examined additional aspects of the FCC’s operation including, management of backlog and current workload, staffing, its budget and operating expenses, as well as other related issues through inquires and information requests to the agency. The FCC’s responses to our questions, reports submitted by the Inspector General and reports in the media raise serious concerns as to whether the FCC’s house is in order," he plans to say in his opening statement for the hearing, according to a copy obtained by B&C

He also takes aim at the FCC argument that it is trying to do more with less money.

"[C]ontrary to Chairman Wheeler’s oft-touted remedy, the solution to the commission’s woes is not simply to throw more money at the problem, but to use the money available to the commission more effectively. Nowhere is this more evident than in the FCC’s IT expenditures."

Wheeler will not be in attendance. But there to take the heat and answer the questions will be Jon Wilkins, the FCC’s managing director, and FCC Inspector General David Hunt.

Those questions will include IT issues Walden has issues with.

"According to the FCC’s responses to our data requests, it has spent more than $352 million in the last five years on IT. How much of that was wasted on the FCC’s disastrous revamp of its website," he says. "How much is now being spent to 'fix' the website that then-FCC CIO Steve VanRoekel said would pay for itself in just nine months? And, how much was spent on the commission’s public efforts to consolidate aging licensing systems, only to have the project simply disappear, years of work apparently abandoned?"

The FCC has taken heat, both inside and outside the commission for its Web site functionality, or lack of it, but is in the process of collecting input on how to make it more user-friendly.

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.