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Working Group: Lots of Work to Do on FCC Reform

The working group on FCC process reform has come up with more than 100 recommendations to make the FCC more effective, efficient and responsive to both consumers and stakeholders.

Diane Cornell, who is leading that effort, briefed the commissioners ( on the report, which will soon be released for public comment.

Among its recommendations is 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.

The report on FCC process reforms was one of Wheeler's first instructions as chairman, and he promised it would provide a roadmap to action.

He said the recommendations would:

"Focus the accountability of the decision-making process at the FCC, relying on rigorous internal deadlines and 21st century tracking capability to enable us to better monitor and report on the status of open items;

"Help speed and streamline the licensing process, and shorten the timeline for the processing of applications for review and other Commission-level decisions,

"Modernize the consumer complaint process and create a searchable database;

"Reduce the backlog of matters pending at the FCC, and take steps to ensure that backlogs don’t build up in the future; and

"Eliminate or streamline regulations that are outdated, and update our data collection capability so it is less burdensome and more focused both for our stakeholders and for FCC staff."

Wheeler got a shout out from Commissioner Ajit Pai, a longtime voice for regulatory reform, for not only picking up the reform banner but actually running with it.

Pai said that he hopes the FCC will prioritize making internal processes more efficient and transparent. On the latter point, he said: "'Let's] create an FCC Dashboard on our website that collects in one place our key performance metrics. Let’s keep track of how many petitions for reconsideration, applications for review, waiver requests, license renewal applications, and consumer complaints are pending at the Commission at any given time."

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn did not want lost in the reform effort the point that the FCC also accomplished much, and did so under budget constraints.

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.