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Walden Wants Some Answers on FCC USF Order

In advance of a hearing Wednesday (Nov. 30) on FCC process reform -- actually, opening statements start at the end of the day Nov. 28 -- House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) has written FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to express his concerns about the way the FCC handled the vote and release of the Universal Service Fund (USF) reform order.

In the letter, dated Nov. 28, Walden said that some of the actions in that process confirmed the process reform issues that had prompted the bills scheduled to be marked up this week.

That included the FCC putting thousands of pages into the record two days before the vote, containing information the FCC said it might consider as part of the proceeding. He said that regardless of whether or not that information was "over and above" what it was required to notice legally, as the FCC claimed, stakeholders then had to read, process and react to al that information, and the public at large could not possibly have been able to review it.

Walden also said he was concerned that while reports put the order at 400 pages, by the time it was released three weeks later, it was 759 pages. "The length of this delay and the increasing girth of the order suggest that the delayed release resulted not from the editorial privileges normally reserved for staff but from continued negotiations that occurred after the sunshine period and expired and the public understood the negotiations to be concluded," he wrote.

Walden asked for responses to a list of requests by Dec. 12, including copy of the item as it existed when it was adopted on Oct. 27, what changes, if any, were made, and an explanation of how the sunshine rules applied to the order between the time of a seven-page executive summary released Oct. 27 and the 759-page order was released Nov. 18, including any ex parte communications.