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Walden, Stearns Seek FCC Update on Pending Workload

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Wednesday, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Communications Subcommittee and Cliff Stearns, chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, said that they wanted the FCC by Jan. 9 to give them a rundown of how many license renewals and transfer applications are pending, the number of complaints pending -- estimates are that there are well over a million indecency complaints still pending due to the lack of clarity on the FCC's indecency enforcement regime's legality.

They also want to know how many open dockets there are, and how many pending petitions for reconsideration, which are requests for the FCC to review one of its decisions.

They are particularly interested in how much progress the FCC has made since they corresponded with the chairman on the same subject back in July.

The committee last month released its own report on the FCC's to-do list based on July data.

The chairmen-to-chairman letter gave Genachowksi props for taking steps in the right direction. "The data reported to the Committee on Energy and Commerce (Committee) in July 2011 demonstrated that there have been substantial improvements in the handling of the Commission's workload since Chairman Genachowski joined the Commission," they said, but added: "There is growing consensus that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) processes need to be reformed. Under both Democratic and Republican chairmen, the FCC has fallen into practices that weaken decision-making and jeopardize public confidence."

House Republicans, led by Walden, have proposed FCC reform legisation that would create shot clocks for action; require the commission to launch inquiries whenever it proposes rules; always print the text of orders before adopting them, essentially requiring the FCC to hew deadlines and stricter standards of justifying and implementing regs, including market and cost-benefit analyses; and make the regulatory standard more about preventing harms than an "indeterminate" public interest standard.