Change at FCC
Change at FCC
Change at FCC

    Get Involved Today

    Acting Chairman Copps has his work cut out for him in addressing the sad
    mess at FCC these days. An anonymous post to my blog, SpectrumTalk, from an FCC staffer
    reported on Copps first meeting with the FCC staff,

    “When Chairman Copps gave his speech today to the entire FCC
    staff, before he had said even a word, he was met by thunderous
    applause. Like Obama with Bush right behind him declared that the
    country he was receiving was in disarray, Copps made clear that the FCC
    is in disarray and that things will be changing.”

    Copps’ address to the FCC staff is posted
    on the FCC website
    and is a great plan for short term action. As he
    has written
    to Comm. McDowell, he is limiting his actions during his interim period
    to allow the new chairman flexibility in making major changes. He has
    stated that he is removing the unusual barriers between the staff and the
    other commissioners that were the hallmark of the ancienne
    regime. He stated,

    “Second is how Commissioners and Bureaus communicate between and
    among themselves. In order for all of us to do our jobs well, make
    reasonable policy decisions, oversee the regulated industries under our
    purview, and represent American consumers, we must improve these lines
    of communication as well. To promote more opennesss, starting this
    coming week, we will have a weekly Chairman’s Office Briefing with
    Bureau and Office chiefs, or their designees, and we will include a
    representative from each Commissioner’s office. Opening up these
    meetings will, I am convinced, significantly improve the quality of our
    decision-making. It will also expedite the business of the Commission. I
    also want to ensure that my Commissioner colleagues have unfettered
    access to the Bureaus, with the presumption being that requests for
    information will be honored, and that there will be positive outreach
    from the Bureaus and Offices to them, with the presumption being that
    important information shouldn’t have to be asked for—it
    should be provided. I realize this is not a bureau-created problem but,
    beginning now, requests from Commissioners’ offices—not just
    the Chairman’s Office—should be answered directly and as
    quickly as possibly, just as if the Chairman’s Office is asking
    for it and without the need for running those requests through the
    Chairman’s office first—the only exception I can currently
    think of being the very narrow one that such requests not be unusually
    time-consuming or necessitate an excessive juggling of Bureau or Office
    resources. In those cases, we will attempt to craft a workable

    I agree completely with this, but it focuses on staff responses to
    questions from the “8th Floor”. I hope that the
    new leadership can also address the need for responsible 2 way
    communications between the staff and the 8th Floor. Under the
    ancienne regime the staff was discouraged from taking
    any initiative. Virtually any action needed Chairman’s Office
    approval – even the “hiring” of interns! There is a
    need to reestablish normal delegations of authority to senior staff
    managers so work can proceed without bottlenecks on the 8th
    Floor for routine matters which don’t establish policy precedents.
    There is also a need to encourage responsible feedback from the staff to
    Commission leadership.

    Thus if the staff sees a problem and wants to propose a solution they
    should be encouraged to do so. If staff members are concerned about a
    pending decision or an existing policy, there should be a responsible way
    to express that concern and propose alternatives. In industry this is
    called empowering employees. The extreme frustration of FCC employees
    when they are powerless to make any internal comment on something that
    troubles them both hurts morale and leads to leaks of information. A
    better 2 way internal dialogue could help in both areas.