Walden, Heller Unveil FCC Process Reform Legislation

WASHINGTON: Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) today unveiled legislation to improve the way the Federal Communications Commission operates by improving transparency, predictability, and consistency as part of Republicans’ ongoing effort to ensure the commission’s work encourages job creation, investment, and innovation.

The legislation would require the commission to:

  • • Survey the state of the marketplace through a Notice of Inquiry before initiating new rulemakings to ensure the it has an up-to-date understanding of the rapidly evolving telecom marketplace.
  • • Identify a market failure, consumer harm, or regulatory barrier to investment before adopting economically significant rules. After identifying such an issue, it must demonstrate that the benefits of regulation outweigh the costs while taking into account the need for regulation to impose the least burden on society.
  • • Establish performance measures for all program activities.
  • • Adhere to the regulatory reform principles that President Obama endorsed in his January 2011 Executive Order.
  • • Prevent regulatory overreach by requiring any conditions imposed on transactions to be within the commission’s existing authority and be tailored to transaction-specific harms.
  • • Enhance consistency and transparency in operations by requiring the FCC to establish and disclose its own internal procedures for: ~ adequate review and deliberation regarding pending orders, ~ publication of orders before open meetings, ~ initiation of items by bipartisan majorities, and ~ minimum public review periods for statistical reports and ex parte communications.
  • • Establish “shot clocks” so parties know how quickly they can expect action in certain proceedings.
  • • Operate more efficiently through reform of the “sunshine” rules, allowing a bipartisan majority of commissioners to meet for collaborative discussions subject to transparency safeguards.
  • • Consolidate eight, separate congressionally mandated reports on the communications industry into a single comprehensive report with a focus on intermodal competition, deploying communications capabilities to unserved communities, and eliminating regulatory barriers.

“We have reached out to our Democratic colleagues, [FCC] Chairman Genachowski, each commissioner, and job creators to identify what current FCC processes work and what can be improved. Taking this feedback into account, we developed a series of sensible process reforms to improve the way the commission operates,” Walden said.

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