On Paying to Hear Public Officials Discuss Their Work
On Paying to Hear Public Officials Discuss Their Work
On Paying to Hear Public Officials Discuss Their Work

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    In June I had a post here entitled “Should the Public Have to Pay $1149 to Hear FCC Officials Talk About Broadband Policy?”.  In it I pointed out that 2 commercial groups were sponsoring in conjunction with the FCBA a seminar on broadband issues and you could hear a wide variety of officials from FCC, NTIA, and State speak for only $1149.   At the time I made a suggestion for reform:

    “FCC should adopt an internal policy that its officials will not speak at events charging more than a certain amount, say $100, UNLESS the sponsors provide a video of the official’s remarks – including questions and answers – within 24 hours after the event for posting at the FCC web site.”

    I discussed this issue with several people at an FCBA meeting later and was told it was not really an issue since the publc statements would be posted by FCC.  Now let’s look at this month’s PLI/FCBA Annual Institute on Telecommunications Policy & Regulation on December 9-10.  The annnouncement has disappeared from the PLI website, but is archived on p. 13-14 of the FCBA November newletter.  This seminar was priced at $1,595 but only $1,435 for PLI or FCBA members.  The PLI announcement emphasisized how attendee would have plenty of time to ask speakers questiosn on their topics.

    The FCC speakers with presentations, not panel discussions, were:

    FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell, and Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

    Senior FCC staffer with presentations:

    Sharon E. Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau; Ruth Milkman, Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau; and Julius P. Knapp, Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology

    So where do we stand with transparency  a week after the seminar? Comm. Clyburn and Comm. Baker have posted their remarks. Comm. McDowell’s statement is nowhere to be seen. Neither is the statement of NTIA’s Strickling.  None of the senior FCC staffers have posted their statements.

    But fear not, if you really want to know what was said you can always buy a DVD set from PLI.  The price isn’t posted yet but previously PLI indicated it would be about $1,200.

    So the promised public availability of the remarks of public officials last week has been limited.  Perhpas FCC should act on my earlier suggestion of making public availability of federal official’s presentation video a precondition for invitations to such officials – especially if the sponsoring organization is making such videos anyway and selling video’s of the whole event.