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Commission Document Attachment

REPORT ON FCC PROCESS REFORM

FROM THE STAFF WORKING GROUP

LED BY DIANE CORNELL

FEBRUARY 14, 2014


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction......................................................................................................................................3

A. Goals of the Process Reform Initiative...................................................................3
B. Input into the Report ...............................................................................................4
C. Next Steps .................................................................................................................5

Chapter 1. Increasing the Speed & Transparency of FCC Decision-making ............................6

A. Improve Tracking Across the FCC ........................................................................6
B. Reinvent FCC Review Process................................................................................11
C. Tackle Backlogs........................................................................................................15


Chapter 2. Rework Essential Processes .........................................................................................19

A. Internal Distribution, Release Process & Public Dissemination of FCC

Output .......................................................................................................................19

B. Licensing Activities ..................................................................................................21
C. Informal Consumer Complaints.............................................................................24
D. Paperwork Reduction Act & Regulatory Flexibility Act .....................................29
E. Federal Register .......................................................................................................33

Chapter 3. Rethink the FCC’s Policy & Rulemaking Process.....................................................36

A. Explore Innovative Mechanisms for Developing Policy.......................................36
B. Improve Drafting Process for Policy Documents..................................................40

Chapter 4. Elements Critical to Success ........................................................................................45

A. Internal Management ..............................................................................................45
B. IT-Specific Collaborations ......................................................................................54

Chapter 5. Functional & Bureau/Office-Specific Recommendations .........................................63

A. Process-Related Changes.........................................................................................63
B. Specific Rule Changes Relevant to Functional Areas...........................................77
C. Potential Legislative Changes Relevant to Functional Areas ..............................80

APPENDIX 1: List of Recommendations ......................................................................................83
APPEXDIX 2: Glossary of Abbreviations.....................................................................................91
APPENDIX 3: List of Working Group Members.........................................................................92

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I.

Introduction

This Report on process reform at the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or
“Commission”) furthers the goal of having the agency operate in the most effective, efficient
and transparent way possible. It examines the agency’s internal operations with a critical eye,
looking at what the FCC does well and what it can do better, with the aim of improving the
overall functioning of the agency and its service to the public. The FCC can and should be more
agile and business-like in its operations, and this report includes specific recommendations to
help ensure that it is.
Chairman Wheeler requested this Report in his first week at the Commission, and established the
objective of improving how the FCC conducts business. The Report also takes into account
Congressional interest in process reform at the FCC. Based on internal and external suggestions
for process reform, the Report identifies initial steps in what will be an ongoing process of
reexamining, and revising, the way the Commission does its work. This Report is an important
first step in identifying challenges affecting the efficiency and transparency of Commission
operations that have been raised by internal and external comments, and recommending ways to
analyze and address those challenges.
Some of the suggestions received are relatively straightforward and can be addressed quickly
with current resources. Many of the suggestions would require the commitment of more
extensive analysis and resources, and will be addressed as resources allow. For example,
rethinking and re-tooling the Commission’s technology infrastructure would be a far-reaching
reform, potentially promising great benefit, but also requiring significant resources to implement.
Finally, some suggestions would require new rules or even statutory changes, and those will need
to be explored in more depth.
In this reform effort, the staff working group has considered all valid reform suggestions,
regardless of whether they are relatively easy to execute or more complex, with the recognition
that they would be implemented to the extent resources allow and their merits warrant.

A.

Goals of the Process Reform Initiative
The staff working group, made up of staff and managers from throughout the agency, was tasked
with identifying recommendations that could advance the following goals:
Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of how the agency conducts its business. This
Report examines some of the existing roadblocks in the agency’s efforts to operate
efficiently and makes recommendations for tackling those impediments.
Processing items before the agency more quickly and more transparently. The Report
looks at how the agency processes both routine and more complex matters, and provides
recommendations for accelerating the overall speed of disposal of all items. It proposes
steps the agency can take to reduce its current backlog of items, and prevent backlogs
from developing in the future. The Report also examines ways in which the FCC staff
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can be more transparent in FCC processes so that the public is provided more information
regarding the status of particular items.
Streamlining agency processes and data collections. The Report examines the FCC’s
data collection practices and makes recommendations designed to lessen burdens on
regulatees, FCC staff and the public. In addition, the Report suggests changes to the
agency’s data collection practices to ensure that they are better tailored to evolving
market conditions.
Eliminating or streamlining outdated rules. The Report identifies specific rules or
categories of rules and processes that are candidates for modification or elimination as a
result of marketplace or technology changes that render the rules no longer necessary in
the public interest. It also considers modification or elimination of rules that have had
unintended negative effects or could result in greater net benefits to the public if
modified.
Improving interactions with external stakeholders. The Report considers ways in which
the agency can enhance its public outreach, using additional tools at its disposal to
improve transparency and overall interactions with external parties. The Report also
considers ideas for engaging the expertise of external sources to improve the agency’s
policy development and rulemaking processes.
Improving the internal management of the agency. Finally, the Report makes
recommendations for revising certain internal staff and management practices aimed at
maximizing efficiency within the agency. It also provides recommendations to ensure
that staff and management within the agency have the tools they need to function at
optimal efficiency.

B.

Input into the Report

The recommendations in this Report are the product of an extensive outreach effort soliciting the
opinions of a wide range of internal and external stakeholders. Internally, staff and management
provided suggestions on process and efficiency related issues. External stakeholders were
invited via a blogpost to submit recommendations on process in comments to
innovation@fcc.gov, and many commenters submitted suggestions on process reform that were
subsequently posted on the FCC’s website. Finally, representatives of the working group also
started what will be an ongoing process of meetings with other federal agencies to share
information on process-related best practices.
A core team of staff members from across the agency was formed to organize suggested reforms
into appropriate categories and develop recommendations. In addition, a broader working group
comprised of individuals representing the different Bureaus and Offices was briefed on the
initiative’s progress as the Report was developed. The issue analyses and recommendations
presented in this Report are the result of this process.
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C.

Next Steps

This Report represents a significant step in the FCC’s continuing process reform effort. The staff
working group intends to continue to seek input from the public by releasing this Report for
comment.
In addition, FCC Bureaus and Offices will follow up by implementing the various
recommendations, and will make recommendations to the Commission regarding rulemaking
proceedings where appropriate. The working group encourages FCC staff, external stakeholders
and the general public to continue to engage with us on process reform and to contribute their
helpful suggestions for ways in which the FCC can improve its efficiency and effectiveness.
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Chapter 1: Increasing the Speed & Transparency of FCC
Decision-making

Given the dynamic nature of the communications sector, it is important that the FCC decision-
making process be as efficient as possible, even with the complicated nature of the substantive
issues the FCC handles and the rapid pace of technological change. Increasing the speed and
transparency of FCC decision-making will require improved technology solutions to replace the
current Bureau-specific legacy tracking databases, in order to enable an improved capability to
track matters pending throughout the FCC. It will also involve a renewed focus on
accountability and efficiency at all levels in the FCC’s decision-making process, from the staff
author throughout the review chain.
If the FCC is to keep pace with the sectors we regulate, it must borrow from the pages of
successful innovative firms: the FCC must be more transparent in its processes, encourage
horizontal network collaborations across the Commission, and make better use of technology
tools. Immediate steps the FCC can take to improve the efficiency of its internal decision-making
processes are addressed in this section, and approaches for addressing technology challenges are
addressed below in Chapter 4(B). The specific process improvements discussed below include:
(1) improving tracking accountability; (2) streamlining internal FCC review processes; and (3)
making a concerted effort to reduce backlogs.

A. Improve Tracking Across the FCC

Recommendation 1.1:

Efficient Intake Analysis and Relevant Timelines

When any new item is submitted to the Commission, it must be routed quickly to the proper
Bureaus and Offices, and then division or branch within those Bureaus and Offices. This is
typically the case today, but ensuring that every part of the FCC has a process in place to
reinforce this is appropriate. Once an item reaches the proper division or branch, it should
undergo an initial intake analysis promptly. The intake should be done electronically to facilitate
tracking. The analysis would consider a preliminary view on the substantive merits, resources
needed to address the item, and its relative importance to Commission priorities.
Based upon this intake analysis, timelines should be created for an item (or the item could be
classified within a category of items and assigned a timeline in that context). Timelines should
be tracked by management to ensure compliance, and shared with all internal stakeholders to
ensure expectations will be met, and senior management can ensure proper prioritization.
Timelines may need to be re-evaluated on a regular basis to account for particular circumstances.
For example, if a waiver petition is unopposed, it should be possible to shorten the timeframe for
drafting an item. Conversely, if a Petition for Rulemaking receives a disproportionate number of
comments, drafting timelines may need to be extended, or additional resources may need to be
allocated to that particular proceeding.
For items with statutory deadlines, imposing and meeting timelines that realistically reflect
compliance with the statute is important. For example, for a statutorily-required NPRM, specific
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timeframes should be created for drafting and review. For forbearance petitions, the timeline
should incorporate sufficient time to enable the Commissioners to review the proposed ruling
before the statutory deadline. Similarly, for enforcement matters with a one-year statute of
limitations, timelines should be created as appropriate for inter-bureau referrals and possible
actions with respect to that matter. The relevant timelines need to be shared with all those
involved in the process, and should afford Commissioners adequate time to review a proposed
Commission-level action prior to the timeline for a decision.
Several sources suggested specific deadlines, which will be evaluated in the near term by a
working group composed of representatives from the relevant Bureaus and Offices, including the
Office of General Counsel (OGC), which will review any action proposed by the working group
for legal sufficiency. These suggestions include:
 Either put out Petitions for Rulemaking and Petitions for Declaratory Ruling for comment
immediately upon receipt, if procedurally sound, or dismiss such petitions on an
expedited basis.
 Act on Petitions for Reconsideration within 180 days, or deem the petition denied;
alternatively, institute a nine-month deadline for action.
 Generally resolve forbearance petitions within the statutorily-required twelve months,
with a limited three month extension only in extraordinary cases.
 Put non-emergency Special Temporary Authority requests on Public Notice within ten
calendar days of receipt. If uncontested and staff does not have substantive concerns,
require action within fourteen calendar days after the record closes.
 While most items are released within a few days of adoption, require release of all
decisions within 30 days of adoption at the latest.
 Set timelines where feasible for public notices and actions on license applications.
 Expedite processing of Applications for Review (means of doing this are discussed later
in this Report, including in the Tackle Backlogs Section).

Responsible

: All Bureaus and Offices, with support from the Office of Managing Director
(OMD), for setting timelines. The working group to coordinate recommendations with OGC,
and evaluate the desirability and feasibility of the specific deadline proposals in this
recommendation.

Recommendation 1.2:

Review Transaction Shot-Clock Procedures

The Commission currently implements a 180-day shot clock for review and action on proposed
transactions. While this deadline has helped to speed the review of pending transactions, there
are further steps that would improve the efficiency of transaction review. FCC staff should
determine whether additional information is required to assess the transaction as early in the
review process as possible, to ensure there is sufficient time to obtain and analyze the data.
Unopposed transactions could have a shorter timeframe for review, while recognizing that some
public interest determinations/reviews take significant time whether or not the transaction is
opposed.
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After each significant transaction, the team should review the timeline guidelines and
recommend whether any guidelines should be changed. In addition, OGC and the Office of
Strategic Policy (OSP) should review the FCC’s merger process and consider updating it as
appropriate, for example, to address use of technology such as document review software and
systems for monitoring and reporting transaction review time, application of permit-but-disclose
ex parte procedures, or protection of confidential information.

Responsible:

OGC (complex transactions), OSP and licensing Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 1.3:

Ensure Accountability for Timely Decision-making

Timelines are only useful if properly adhered to. Making management and staff accountable for
a failure to meet timelines will be necessary if we are to be successful in speeding the disposal of
Commission matters. Bureau and Office Chiefs should monitor compliance with timelines
within their Bureaus and Offices, and they should report quarterly on compliance with agreed
timelines to OMD and OCH. OMD should develop a consistent format for reporting on
timelines, although the specifics might vary depending on the type of workflow being handled by
a particular Bureau or Office. Timelines should be visible to all within a Bureau or Office.
Organizational units should be regularly tasked with making recommendations on ways to
improve the Commission’s speed of disposal, including adopting new IT tools and/or allocating
additional staff resources.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices. OMD should assist the Bureaus and Offices in designing a
workflow that incorporates the steps above, tailored appropriately to the relevant Bureau or
Office, and should consider whether IT tools such as were developed by the e-gov office
(regulations.gov) might help facilitate this process (see section on Technology solutions, Chapter
4(B), below).

Recommendation 1.4:

Make Information on All Petitions and Open Dockets Publicly
Available and Searchable

For docketed proceedings, currently parties can search the Electronic Comment Filing System
(ECFS) by docket number. If the docket number is unknown, advanced search capabilities may
or may not turn up the relevant item. In the short run, a centralized list, including the name of an
item, the docket number, the status (open or closed), and basic contact information (either the
assigned division or individual) would greatly assist in the transparency and monitoring of
docketed items. The list should be reviewed periodically to determine which, if any, dormant
dockets should be closed. At that point, the docket could be archived, and the ability to submit
further comments could be blocked.
With the proper IT tools, in the longer term further functionality could include more up-to-date
information regarding the status of proceedings, including comment deadlines or days pending
since the close of the comment period.
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For petitions or other documents that are not filed in a pre-existing docket, it takes longer to
determine if the Commission has received the petition or put it out for public comment. Just as
the Commission publishes a list of all items on circulation, the Commission should also publish
information on undocketed as well as docketed matters pending at the Bureau/Office level, to the
extent they are not investigatory or otherwise inappropriate to list publicly.
With some exceptions, Petitions for Rulemaking and Declaratory Ruling are filed with the
Commission in paper form, and routed to the proper Bureau or Office. If it is determined that the
Commission should take up these items, they are put on public notice. Unless and until such
petitions are put out for comment, it is unclear what the review status is with respect to any
particular petition. The Office of the Secretary (OSec) should ensure that the status of all
petitions received is readily available to the public. Status information should include the name
of the Bureau or Office to which the item has been routed and the number of days since the
petition was received.
Alternatively, OSec, working with the Bureaus and Offices, should consider whether to adopt an
approach of uniformly putting all such petitions out for public comment. While most petitions
for rulemaking are routinely put on public notice by the Consumer and Government Affairs
Bureau (CGB) after approval by the responsible Bureau or Office, this does not happen in all
cases for specific reasons. For example, if a petition is procedurally defective, or not within the
jurisdiction of the Commission, it may not be useful to put it on public notice.
Another way to increase the transparency of these undocketed documents would be to allow
parties to electronically file them in ECFS, or whatever database is ultimately adopted.
Currently, it is not possible to file an item in ECFS prior to receiving a docket number.
Implementation of this proposal will be considered in the context of broader IT solutions,
discussed in Chapter 4(B) below.

Responsible

: The FCC’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) initially to provide the IT tools (e.g.
better search capabilities in general on dockets), and Bureaus and Offices to implement.

Recommendation 1.5:

Make Status Information on Circulation Items Publicly Available

Today, the Commission publishes information on which items have been placed on circulation.
Transparency to the public would be enhanced if this circulation list also included information on
which Commissioners have voted on a particular matter. This is especially true for matters that
have been on circulation for more than 60 days. The Commissioners should discuss whether this
is a measure they would like to implement.

Responsible

: Commissioners for Commission-level items.

Recommendation 1.6:

Enhance Transparency of All Unpublished Filings

Today, not all Commission filings are readily accessible to the public. For instance, Petitions to
Deny Broadcast Renewals, Transfers or Assignments are not always accessible on the
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Commission’s website, nor are subsequent pleadings. In this case, the Media Bureau (MB)
should modify the broadcasting licensing database, Consolidated Database System (CDBS) (or
any future database offering comparable capability), in order to require that these pleadings be
filed or later uploaded to make these filings available electronically, or should ensure that
stations upload such filings into their online public file. Again, implementation of this proposal
will be considered in the context of broader IT solutions, discussed in Chapter 4(B) below.
As discussed later in this report, enhancing the transparency of informal consumer complaints
(see Chapter 2(C)) would be useful to both complainants and industry stakeholders.

Responsible

: CIO initially to provide the IT tools, and Bureaus and Offices to implement.

Recommendation 1.7:

Ensure Transparency of FCC Budgetary and Administrative
Information on the FCC’s Website

OMD should ensure that information on the budget and appropriations of the FCC for the current
fiscal year is available on the FCC’s website. The website should also list the total number of
employees (full-time equivalents) at the FCC once a quarter. The website should also include a
link to the FCC’s most recent performance plan.

Responsible

: OMD.

Recommendation 1.8:

Post Logs Providing the Status of Pending FOIA Requests

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Control Office in OMD receives and tracks about 500
initial FOIA requests each year, assigning them to the appropriate Bureau and Offices. In
addition, the full Commission rules on approximately 15-20 FOIA appeals each year. There are
additional steps the Commission can take to make information about the Commission’s FOIA
process and responses more accessible to the public.
OMD, in coordination with OGC, should post on the Commission’s FOIA page a log which
would allow requesters and the public to determine the status of pending FOIA requests. The
logs would provide links to incoming FOIA requests (with sensitive personal information
redacted); identify the Bureau(s) responsible for responding the request; identify the due date
(generally 20-30 business days after the request is received) and whether and why any extension
has been granted.

Responsible:

OMD, supported by OGC and Bureaus and Offices responsible for responding to
request.

Recommendation 1.9

:

Post All FOIA Decisions, Including Released Documents

Generally, only Commission-level FOIA appeal decisions are posted on the FCC website. The
FCC’s FOIA page should include not only these decisions but initial FOIA decisions (including
any related fee estimates or determinations) and all the documents released as part of a FOIA
decision. One exception is that in some cases involving an individual’s request for his or her
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own records, the agency may need to redact the records or withhold them from public release
altogether, in order to protect the individual’s privacy rights.
The decisions, orders, and related documents could be linked to the status logs discussed above.
Alternatively, the agency could expand the already-existing Electronic Reading Room on the
FOIA page, which currently contains agency opinions and orders, policy statements, staff
manuals, and other frequently requested documents.

Responsible:

OMD, OGC, and Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 1.10:

Make FCC FOIA Reports Easily Accessible on FCC.GOV

OMD is required by statute to submit a FOIA Annual Report to the Department of Justice. This
report provides detailed data documenting the volume, speed of processing, backlog, and use of
FOIA exemptions in the agency’s responses and appeals decisions. OMD also submits to DOJ a
quarterly report indicating the agency’s backlog of initial FOIA requests. In addition, the
General Counsel, in his capacity as Chief FOIA Officer, issues an annual report assessing the
agency’s FOIA work.
While these reports are posted on the fcc.gov “transition” site, they cannot be found easily by
searching fcc.gov. These reports should be part of a consolidated FOIA webpage that can be
easily accessed from fcc.gov. In addition, the agency should post a comparison of the volume
and disposition of its FOIA requests over a three-year period. Furthermore, the Commission’s
FOIA page should explicitly link to DOJ’s FOIA.gov, which allows the public to generate
reports on the FCC’s FOIA performance and compare the FCC’s data with that provided by
other agencies government-wide.

Responsible:

OMD and OGC.

B. Reinvent FCC Review Process

Background

: Review is important to ensure the substantive validity of decisions, consistency of
decisions across bureaus and over time, and, as in any knowledge-based institution, to stimulate
useful discussion. But unneeded delay can be created by review processes that are more
elaborate or longer than needed. The goal should be to do what is needed, when it is needed, in
the most efficient way.
1.

Delegation and Accountability

Recommendation 1.11:

Develop Sub-Delegation Plans for Bureaus and Offices
In the past, at least one of the Commission’s Bureaus had a formal “sub-delegation” agreement,
which correlated different projects with different levels of management for decision-making and
disposition. The agreement described the types of matters that could be decided at the branch,
division or “front office” levels. Bureaus and Offices should devise their own sub-delegation
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arrangements, although the level of specificity would vary in different environments. The
guiding principle should be to push decision-making down to the lowest level possible,
consistent with appropriate quality control.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices.

2.

Streamline Review Process

Delegating decision-making to lower levels within Bureaus and Offices would certainly
streamline the review process and expedite decision-making. The staff could, however, take
additional steps to further streamline review.

Recommendation 1.12:

Streamline Management Review
To further streamline review, Bureaus and Offices should evaluate their internal processes with
the aim of reducing the number of managers within any particular Bureau/Office organizational
unit (e.g., branch, division, bureau front office) who review any given decisional document.
Reviews of less complicated/controversial matters should be especially streamlined. Reviews at
lower levels should control for quality as well as substance, whereas reviews at higher levels
should focus on consistency with policy objectives while ensuring overall quality control and
consistency (e.g., similarly-situated parties should be treated similarly across sub-divisions).
This approach could be combined with accepting a more flexible standard of review for purely
stylistic and other non-substantive corrections.
For example, one avenue for increasing speed of disposal of USAC items would be to resolve
low-dollar appeals and those that are consistent with precedent with fewer layers of review. This
would speed the disposition of these appeals significantly.
This process would have to be monitored closely to ensure that reducing the level of review does
not have adverse effects, such as inconsistent outcomes, outcomes inconsistent with broader
policy goals, or significantly increasing appeals from Bureau/Office actions.

Responsible:

Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 1.13:

Establish Comprehensive Guidelines for Inter-Bureau
Coordination and Review

The Chairman’s Office, in coordination with the Bureaus and Offices, should establish more
comprehensive Commission-wide guidelines regarding inter-Bureau/Office coordination. OGC,
for example, reviews many decisional documents drafted by other Bureaus, and, if a decision
affects the work of more than the Bureau initiating a decisional document, other Bureaus or
Offices may also be involved in the review. The guidelines should address the timeframes
within which Bureaus and Offices must complete inter-Bureau coordination and the scope or
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purpose of the coordination, and should ensure Bureaus and Offices have sufficient time to
provide edits and feedback about an item.
The guidelines should also encourage Bureau/Office staff to coordinate items with other affected
Bureaus and Offices as early in the process as possible, even as early as the options memo phase.
Bureaus and Offices should encourage inter-Bureau/Office staff-to-staff coordination and, where
appropriate, multi-disciplinary groups or processes for discussion and review. As discussed in
Recommendation 3.10, this coordination should include early consultation with the Enforcement
Bureau (EB) to identify possible enforcement issues with the proposed options. Furthermore, to
the extent possible, management in Bureaus and Offices should work with their counterparts in
other Bureaus and Offices to coordinate deadlines and prioritize projects. Again, this is
particularly important on matters that may require enforcement action, as statutes of limitations
will drive timing.

Responsible

: OGC and Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 1.14:

Work with NTIA to Ensure a Smooth FCC-NTIA Coordination
Process

The FCC and the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) coordinate spectrum issues involving both federal and non-federal users.
The Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC), which assists NTIA in assigning U.S.
government frequencies, consists of 19 representatives from government agencies. While the
FCC is not a member of the full IRAC, the FCC has designated a Liaison to IRAC to assist with
the coordination of non-federal users with federal users. Any Commission items that may
impact federal operations must be coordinated with NTIA, and NTIA seeks the advice of the
IRAC.
NTIA and FCC staff should work together to determine if there are additional measures that
could be taken that would facilitate coordination between NTIA and the FCC on spectrum issues
of mutual concern. For example, the FCC could identify as early as possible certain issues and a
recommended outcome in memo form, which would then be presented to NTIA and affected
agencies to seek advice on bottom line issues and address concerns in a timely manner.

Responsible:

The Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), which has the lead in the
agency for working with NTIA on spectrum matters and the IRAC process, should take the lead
in coordinating with NTIA, in consultation with the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
(WTB) and the International Bureau (IB).

Recommendation 1.15:

Seek to Establish Firm Timeframes for Executive Branch Review of
Foreign Ownership Issues

Part of the public interest standard the FCC considers in reviewing foreign ownership in
applications for international section 214 authority, Title III broadcast or common carrier
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licenses, submarine cable landing licenses, and transfer of control or assignment of
authorizations/licenses, and/or section 310(b) petitions for declaratory ruling on foreign
ownership, is whether the proposed foreign investment raises national security, foreign policy,
law enforcement or trade policy concerns. The FCC seeks input from the Executive Branch and
accords deference to the Executive Branch on these issues. The Executive Branch agencies
generally ask the FCC to delay acting on applications they are reviewing until their review
process is complete. The Executive Branch review process, including questions to applicants,
can add several months processing time to otherwise streamlined FCC proceedings where there
is 10% or greater foreign ownership. In certain instances, mitigation agreements are required in
order to address Executive Branch concerns.
FCC staff should engage immediately with the relevant Executive Branch agencies to determine
reasonable timeframes for their review, and on an ongoing basis engage in regular coordination
meetings with them to ensure those timeframes are met, or that the causes for any delays are
clearly identified and addressed through Executive Branch or FCC staff action. In addition, FCC
staff and Executive Branch agencies should determine whether any modifications to existing
application forms or regulatory requirements associated with the application would accelerate the
associated review process. To the extent the Executive Branch identifies any concerns with a
pending application, the FCC should be notified immediately and should engage early with the
Executive Branch in determining the extent of the concerns and possible remedies.

Responsible

: IB, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 1.16:

Require Use of Standard Templates and Boilerplate Language for
Commission Documents, Where Appropriate, and Issue “Best Practices” to Facilitate
Drafting and Release

OSec should maintain an up-to-date, easy to access, electronically available library that includes
easy to use templates and boilerplate language for Commission documents. Bureaus and Offices
should be required to use them when drafting items for public release. OSec should also issue a
concise “best practices” guide to identify standard requirements and processes for document
formatting and style requirements, in order to facilitate efficient drafting and release.
Management should require that all documents be created and edited within the appropriate
templates to ensure they meet the requisite format and style requirements. Bureaus and Offices
could also explore whether there are additional templates that would be useful and work with
OSec and the Information Technology Center (ITC) to implement as appropriate. In addition,
Bureaus and Offices should identify types of routine documents that are frequently produced and
work with OSec and ITC to create “form” documents that could be modified as appropriate in
the context of a particular matter.

Responsible

: OSec, in consultation with the Bureaus and Offices.
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Recommendation 1.17:

Develop “Best Practices” for Summary Disposition of Commission
Proceedings Where Appropriate

OGC has in the past provided general guidance to Bureaus and Offices on the use of short orders
disposing of Applications for Review, Petitions for Reconsideration, and other proceedings
where appropriate. This guidance could be formalized and made available to staff on a more
widespread basis. OGC staff could be designated to assist Bureaus and Offices in determining
whether a particular proceeding is appropriate for summary disposition, and Bureaus and
Offices, particularly as part of their backlog reduction efforts, should be encouraged to use
summary disposition wherever possible. OGC could also develop training opportunities to
educate staff about the appropriate use of summary disposition in resolving certain types of
proceedings.

Responsible

: OGC, in consultation with drafting Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 1.18:

Consider Expanding the Categories of Transactions or Other
Matters That Qualify for Streamlined Treatment

Many Bureaus and Offices have streamlined certain categories of transactions or other matters to
expedite review or processing. Each Bureau and Office should review the matters it handles and
determine if additional matters could be afforded streamlined processing. For example, there are
likely additional categories of small transactions that could be afforded streamlined treatment,
such as mergers of geographically adjacent rural carriers.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 1.19:

Develop an FCC Style Manual

The Commission should develop an updated, comprehensive style manual to provide a consistent
approach to formatting and citation issues, and staff should be actively encouraged to use it. The
style manual could be developed from the Bluebook, as well as existing style manuals currently
in use by drafters of Commission items, and maintained online in a highly visible location
available to all Commission staff. The style manual could also be made available on the web, to
encourage outside parties to adhere to the same formatting and citation protocols used by the
Commission. The style manual should be developed in a manner that considers Federal Register
(FR) guidelines, as well as the other formats discussed above (see infra Recommendation 2.32).

Responsible

: A committee made up of OSec, OGC, and Bureaus and Offices.

C. Tackle Backlogs

Background

: The Commission is responsible for processing a wide variety of items on a rolling
basis. These items include petitions, licenses and other applications, complaints, mergers and
15

other requests from outside parties. While the Commission is able to handle the vast majority of
these items as routine matters and process them within reasonable timeframes, resolution of
certain items or groups of items may take longer than agreed speed of disposal guidelines, and
result in a “backlog.”
Backlogs generally develop for four primary reasons: (1) the volume of items coming in
outpaces the Commission’s ability to process them due to resource constraints; (2) the items
present novel, controversial, or complex issues that require detailed analysis and responses by
Commission staff or are awaiting policy decisions by agency leadership; (3) the items become
tied to an ongoing rulemaking or enforcement proceeding or litigation and cannot be acted on
until the related proceeding concludes, or the investigation or litigation is resolved; and/or (4) the
item requires coordination with other agencies and/or extended periods of back and forth
discussions between the Commission and the petitioner to clarify facts or issues or ensure
accurate submissions.

Recommendation 1.20:

Enhance Tracking of Incoming and Backlogged Items to Allow
Greater Accountability

All Bureaus and Offices should have the technological ability to easily generate internal status
reports of pending items on a regular basis, and internal timeframes should be set and tracked for
responding to items to ensure timely processing of both routine and non-routine matters. Speed
of disposal timeframes tailored to the type of matter or procedure addressed (e.g., routine license
versus complicated rulemaking) should be set to ensure timely processing.

Responsible

:
OMD working with the Bureau and Office Chiefs.

Recommendation 1.21:

Increase Tracking Transparency of Pending Items

As noted above in Recommendations 1.4-1.8, there is much that can be done to ensure further
transparency in the context of different matters pending at the FCC. These measures would pave
the way for the Bureaus and Offices to explore developing a detailed inventory of pending
matters, and, over time, making that inventory public. As has happened with the Commission’s
earlier decision to publicly post its list of items on circulation each week, this transparency could
help outside parties to determine when best to engage FCC offices about an item of interest to
them, conserving resources of FCC staff and outside parties. Furthermore, the increased
transparency of what is pending may lead to disposition of certain older pending items as being
dormant and ready for dismissal by the Commission or withdrawal by the petitioner.
The CIO should also work toward developing the capability to track the FCC’s performance
metrics on different types of proceedings, like waiver requests, license renewal applications or
consumer complaints (see Chapter 2(C) for detailed recommendations affecting consumer
complaints). This could be accomplished through a mechanism like an “FCC Dashboard.”

Responsible

:
Bureaus and Offices, with support from OMD.
16

Recommendation 1.22:

Identify Opportunities for Summary Disposition of Routine Items

The FCC’s responses to routine items can be somewhat detailed and labor intensive for staff to
draft. Existing practice is often to dispose of items on procedural grounds, but to also make
alternative findings on policy grounds. Assuming that there is a solid basis for summary
dismissal on procedural grounds, there would not be a legal need to include an alternative,
independent holding on the substantive merits of the agency’s action. In such cases where
appropriate, the Commission would be free to dispose of items strictly on procedural grounds in
order to shorten drafting and review time, unless also addressing substantive issues would help
clarify a pending policy issue that would in turn help the disposition of other matters.
In the past, Bureaus and Offices have taken a summary disposition approach and provided
shorter responses with some success. For instance, since 2011 CGB has been given authority to
close dormant items in a summary fashion. CGB sends out a list of all long-pending items, and
the list is reviewed by the Bureaus and Offices to determine if any dockets can be closed. This
practice should be adopted more widely and systematically across the FCC, subject to OGC
approval, as discussed above in Recommendation 1.17. FCC staff should consider, where
feasible, resolving multiple similarly-situated items jointly, as part of a larger omnibus item.
In addition, FCC staff, working closely with OGC to ensure legal sufficiency, should also
consider whether certain categories of requests for Commission action can be resolved by
allowing them to be deemed as either “granted” or “denied,” as appropriate, if a certain period of
time passes without Commission action (see also Recommendation 1.1). Similarly, applications
for review that have been pending for more than a specified period of time, for example 90 days
after the record closes, could be “deemed denied” in a summary order if no Commissioner
requests further consideration.
Finally, the Commission should consider utilizing a “consent agenda” approach to enable timely
votes of non-controversial Commission-level matters in the context of an Open Meeting, without
presentation of the item or statements of Commissioners.

Responsible

:
Bureaus and Offices and the Commission, with support from OGC.

Recommendation 1.23:

Review and Update Commission’s Procedural Rules

The FCC staff should review the FCC’s procedural rules to determine if there are any updates
that would assist practitioners and the Commission in quickly and efficiently resolving business,
within the guidelines of the Administrative Procedure Act and other procedural laws. The
Commission may wish to seek input on potential updates by issuing a Public Notice, a Notice of
Inquiry, or other similar vehicle.
For example, Section 1.106(p) could be clarified, or expanded through a notice and comment
rulemaking, to make clear under what circumstances, if any, a staff-level order dismissing or
denying a petition for reconsideration of a previous Commission-level denial or dismissal of an
application for review would not be subject to further application for review by the Commission.
Any such approach would of course need to be consistent with relevant statutory requirements,
including Sections 5(c)(4) and (c)(7) of the Communications Act. In those situations, the only
17

avenue for redress would be in court.
The Commission could also consider more strictly enforcing our rules with respect to pleadings
that plainly do not warrant consideration under our existing rules, including pleadings that are
insufficiently pleaded or otherwise procedurally defective, or that fail to make an adequate
showing that relief is warranted.

Responsible

:
OGC, with support from Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 1.24:

Encourage Outside Parties to Submit Proposed Text for FCC
Documents Where Appropriate

In order to focus the input received from the public and to conserve internal resources, the FCC
could employ a practice similar to that employed by courts across the country, namely, to have
the parties before the agency prepare draft text (for example, draft findings of fact or draft
orders) for consideration by FCC staff for inclusion in FCC documents, where appropriate. The
Commission also has a similar procedure in the context of Administrative Law Judge hearings
(see Sections 1.263-1.264 of the FCC rules). This would allow the parties to a proceeding to
very succinctly and specifically propose the relief they are seeking from the agency, and would
facilitate the agency’s understanding of the differences between the parties. This
recommendation would not be appropriate for every type of proceeding, and significant legal
analysis would be required in considering where and how to apply this proposed approach.

Responsible:

OGC, in coordination with appropriate Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 1.25:

Bureau and Office Backlog Reduction Plans to Speed Processing
and Eliminate Backlogs

For existing backlogs, Bureau and Office Chiefs, in consultation with other relevant Bureaus and
Offices, such as OGC, should develop and maintain plans for reducing and eventually
eliminating these backlogs. Requiring Bureau and Office Chiefs to report every other month or
quarterly on backlog reduction progress could provide additional accountability and
sustainability to these plans. Backlogs should be defined in a consistent manner across Bureaus
and Offices for this purpose.

Responsible

:
Bureaus and Offices, with support from OMD.
18

Chapter 2: Rework Essential Processes

A. Internal Distribution, Release Process & Public Dissemination of

FCC Output

Background

: The process of distributing documents internally for review and releasing them
could be streamlined. In particular, it is difficult to justify any remaining distribution of paper
copies of items, which should be discontinued in favor of electronic distribution, both internally
and externally.
Once an item is finalized, it must be released. At the Commission level, release comes after
adoption of an item. At the Bureau or Division level, release comes after the designated official
has signed the item. Multiple steps exist to ensure that items are not released before they are
ready. Internal sources indicate that the release process contains redundant steps that can delay
release of an item, especially for Commission-level items.

Recommendation 2.1:

Eliminate Paper Copies of Items and Related Materials Circulated
Internally

Any remaining distributions of paper copies when an item is distributed internally should be
eliminated, including for circulated or “white-copied” items, and all items should only be
circulated electronically.
In addition, OSec should review the adoption process to improve and further automate the
Bureau Agenda Release Form (“BARF”) process. This form must be signed by each of the
Commissioner Offices and OGC prior to release of an item. The items are now usually approved
by each of the Offices electronically (“E-BARF”), but the BARF form is still submitted in paper
form to OSec. If possible, eCLAS should be expanded to include the ability to E-BARF.

Responsible

: OSec.

Recommendation 2.2:

Eliminate or Reduce Paper Releases

Currently any final item is released electronically to the Commission’s website, but is also
available in paper format for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the Office
of Media Relations (OMR).1 Long-standing practice is to make copies of final items available in
paper format. OMR should transition to an electronic release process in order to conserve
resources and enable speedier release, in coordination with OGC review of any new process.
The Commission should maintain paper copies, as required, in order to properly comply with the
Federal Records Act, but should limit its paper production as much as possible.

Responsible

: OCH, OMR and OGC.

1 47 C.F.R. § 0.445.
19

Recommendation 2.3:

Streamline Release Procedures

Items are often approved or finalized for release late in the day. Once an item is approved or
finalized, it must still go through the release process, which can vary in time and complexity,
depending on whether the document is properly prepared and formatted, all accompanying
statements are available, etc. Several measures were suggested in the crowdsourcing and focus
groups to facilitate the release process.
Currently, only limited staff has been trained to access the Commission’s Electronic Document
Management System (EDOCS), even though access to EDOCS is open to all staff. EDOCS
training should be encouraged for all staff that frequently release items, so that they can be
empowered to begin the document finalization process.
Today, in order to release an item it must be approved by OSec and released by OMR. These
Offices are the last step in the release process, and are the only Offices that are empowered to
release items under EDOCS. As such, personnel from OSec must be available to review and
approve an item for release, and personnel from OMR must be available to release the item and
post it to the Commission’s web page. This can often lead to the limited release staff being
required to be available at extended hours beyond their tour of duty in order to make late-adopted
items available to the public. This problem is exacerbated because remote access to EDOCS is
prohibited.
The Chairman’s Office could consider extending the existing late release cut off from 4pm to
5:30pm, or normal business hours, and tapered work schedules could be adopted for release staff
in the Bureaus, OSec and OMR to ensure that staff is available to release items later in the day,
when items are more likely to be released. Alternatively, OMR could consider empowering
limited trained staff in each of the Bureaus to release items, especially after hours when there
may not be resources available in OSec or OMR. Access to this database should be carefully
limited to senior staff that have the proper authority to authorize release of items, and are
properly trained to ensure either that all of the release process requirements of OSec and OMR
are met, or that these Offices are properly consulted and approve an item’s release in each
instance.

Responsible

: OCH, OMR and OSec.

Recommendation 2.4:

Update Existing Templates and Re-Evaluate Style Requirements

Release of a document is often slowed because an item needs to be reformatted or edited prior to
release because templates are not used consistently across the Commission. As discussed more
thoroughly in the Recommendation 1.16 above, OSec should identify processes and tools to
ensure that templates and style do not slow release of an item.

Responsible

: OSec.
20

Recommendation 2.5:

Update Release Formats

Documents are currently released in Word, PDF, and txt. OMR should eliminate the txt
availability, given the ubiquity of PDF availability.

Responsible

: OMR

B. Licensing Activities

Background

: The processing of license applications, modifications and renewals is time and
labor intensive. The licensing Bureaus and Offices – MB, IB, PSHSB, OET, WCB, and WTB –
issue thousands of licenses every year, with the vast majority done promptly and routinely,
thanks to ongoing streamlining improvements. There are several areas where changes to the
current system may result in further cost and time savings. For instance, the licensing processes
across the agency vary in the amount of paper generated, during both the application and
licensing phases, but in general they can result in hundreds of thousands of pages being printed
and mailed. Significant time and resources could be saved if more of these licensing processes
could be automated. When applications and licenses are generated in non-machine readable
formats, it is harder for staff and the public to perform database searches used in the coordination
process, and can increase the amount of time needed to process applications. Finally, the
licensing fee structure should be revisited. This is discussed further in Chapter 2(B)(3) below.
1. Electronic vs. Paper

Recommendation 2.6

: Communications With Licensees
Where possible, licensing Bureaus should move to an electronic system for communicating with
licensees. To the extent permitted by Federal records retention requirements, staff should
eliminate paper copies of licenses and correspondence (such as FCC Commission Registration
System (“CORES”) letters, etc.), and copies of electronic communications should be routinely
included in the electronic database, searchable by the public. Consideration should be given
whether to have a transition period during which certain classes of licensees (such as small, rural
providers or amateur radio operators) are excluded or permitted to opt-out of an electronic-only
approach.

Responsible:

OMD, with a working group composed of individuals from each of the licensing
Bureaus.

Recommendation 2.7:

Communications With the Public

The FCC should consider revising Section 0.445 of the Commission’s rules to expressly provide
for Public Notices and other communications to be released electronically through publication on
the web. The FCC should also consider whether there are additional ways to streamline/improve
the existing Public Notice process. The FCC should explore improving the functionality of
databases to allow users to manipulate data (sort by licensee, type, etc.).
21

Responsible:

OMD, OMR and OSec, with a working group composed of individuals from each
of the licensing Bureaus.

Recommendation 2.8:

Electronic License Processing

The FCC should consider investing in electronic filing systems for licensing processes that are
still done by paper. In order to implement this recommendation, funding is going to be needed to
update the electronic licensing systems to allow generation of electronic notices and distribution
by e-mail. 47 C.F.R. Section 1.47 and other rules will need to be amended to establish when an
electronic order is “released” or “delivered” for purposes of fixing deadlines for reconsiderations
and appeals. Public outreach will be needed to get appropriate electronic contact information for
existing and potential licensees. Once implemented, however, transitioning to electronic
licensing will enable increased transparency and lower resource commitments for external
parties and FCC staff.

Responsible:

OMD, with a working group composed of individuals from each of the licensing
Bureaus. Commission action will be needed for rule changes.

2. Auto-Processing of Applications and Use of Computer Automation

Recommendation 2.9:

Determine Additional Categories for Auto-Processing

The licensing Bureaus should undertake a study to determine what additional categories of
applications, amendments and renewals would be good candidates for auto-processing, including
ones reviewed by a frequency coordinator. The FCC should also investigate the use of additional
automation in the processing of applications, supplanting manual review where practicable.

Responsible:

OMD, with a working group composed of individuals from each of the licensing
Bureaus.

Recommendation 2.10:

Automate Password Resets for CORES

OMD should explore automating password resets for the Commission Registration System
(CORES). Licensing hotline staff currently receives approximately 75,000 password reset
requests a year. Automating the response system could save significant staff resources.

Responsible:

OMD, with a working group composed of individuals from each of the licensing
Bureaus.

Recommendation 2.11:

Explore Standardizing License Formats

A working group of the licensing Bureaus and Offices should explore whether having a
standardized license format would be helpful. For instance, current licensing records contain
records that cannot be easily queried (e.g.. PDF files) but which contain key data. Standard
licensing formats should ensure that all parts of a record are searchable and that key data is
captured as labels or metadata to further improve search capability. Each Bureau or Office
22

should evaluate the record databases it is responsible for to determine how best to move to an
improved, standardized format. Funding is going to be needed to update the electronic licensing
systems to allow additional processing of applications.

Responsible:

OMD, with a working group composed of individuals from each of the licensing
Bureaus.
3. License Application Fees

Recommendation 2.12:

Explore Making the Application Fee Structure More Consistent
and Equitable

The FCC should explore updating its application fee structure to make it more consistent and
equitable. Currently, application fees vary on a service-by-service basis, and in some cases
services that are very similar are assessed different levels of fees for historical reasons.
Moreover, fees are not charged uniformly for similar types of applications and some services are
exempt altogether. The FCC should explore whether, and what, changes may be appropriate to
ensure that similarly-situated entities are subject to similar fees for similar types of
applications. Application fees are based on a specific request for Commission action and are
thus distinct from annual regulatory fees.
For example, application fees in the wireless radio services vary based on the type of license
(e.g., cellular, private land mobile, microwave, ship aircraft, etc.) and purpose of application
(e.g., new license, license modification, renewal, license transfer, etc.). New licenses, license
modifications, license transfers and renewals range from $60-$395, waivers range from $0 to
$180, and duplicate licenses range from $0-$60. Some services, such as personal
communications service, advanced wireless service, and 700 MHz are exempt altogether.
Inconsistent fee structures also exist with respect to licensees in the international and media
contexts, and perhaps in other areas as well.
Further legal analysis is needed to determine which, if any, fee structure changes that are
determined to be necessary to achieve a more consistent and equitable fee structure might require
statutory changes. If there are changes that may require Congressional approval, the
Commission’s licensing Bureaus and Offices, OMD and OGC should consider whether it is
appropriate for the Commission to raise such revisions with Congress.

Responsible:

OMD and OGC, with a working group composed of individuals from each of the
licensing Bureaus. Congressional action may be required for some aspects of this
recommendation.
23

4. Use of Third-Party Processors

Recommendation 2.13:

Explore Using Third Party Resources for More Licensing
Functions

The licensing Bureaus should also explore whether they may be able to leverage third party
resources toward more efficiently authorizing service, similar to practices used by OET, which
utilizes technical certification bodies, and WTB, which utilized frequency coordinators.

Responsible:

OGC, with a working group composed of individuals from each of the licensing
bureaus.

C. Informal Consumer Complaints

Background

: Through the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau’s Consumer Inquiries
and Complaints Division (CICD), the FCC receives informal complaints2 and inquiries via the
FCC website, postal mail, fax and phone call. CICD tracks complaints and inquiries and
produces, releases and posts on the Commission website quarterly reports analyzing, by topic,
trends in complaint and inquiry numbers. CICD also produces complaint and inquiry data in
response to Bureau and Office requests to support and inform agency rulemaking and
enforcement processes, as well as FOIA requests.
As the variety of consumer complaints has increased, the consumer interface for submitting
complaints has evolved, now including 16 different complaint forms. This complex consumer
interface can result in inconsistent coding of complaints and inquiries. Further, consumer
complaints are processed using a series of databases, storage systems, platforms, complaint
forms and public interfaces that could benefit from a new IT infrastructure approach.
In addition, CGB’s consumer complaint process currently does not support as much transparency
as would be desirable. Consumers filing complaints and carriers and service providers identified
in the complaints are not able to track the status of complaints. Moreover, statistics about carrier
and service provider performance in response to complaints are currently not made public as they
are by other agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).3
This section proposes recommendations that would significantly change CGB’s approach to
handling consumer complaints, providing many efficiencies that are not available with the
current IT infrastructure. In addition to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the FCC’s
informal complaint process, the recommendations seek to ensure that the processing of informal
complaints is done more quickly and more transparently, which will benefit consumers and

2 For purposes of this Report, unless expressly stated otherwise, the terms “consumer complaints” and “informal
complaints” refer to the same thing and are used interchangeably, as distinguished from formal complaints filed
pursuant to Sections 1.720 et seq. of the Rules.
3 We note, as a general matter, that the CFPB statutory obligations for complaint handling differ from the FCC’s
Section 208 requirements. We nonetheless believe that the CFPB experiences can provide meaningful insight,
particularly with respect to lessons learned and consumer experience, as we assess the current complaint process.
24

service providers. This new approach does, however, depend upon the availability of sufficient
IT resources to implement the necessary upgrade, and will need to take into consideration
specific statutory mandates, including the Communications and Video Accessibility Act.

Recommendation 2.14

: Expedite the Treatment of Complaints
CGB should modify the informal complaint intake process to make it more timely, efficient,
transparent, and consumer friendly. Consumers would then be better informed about the
treatment of their complaints soon after submission and throughout the FCC’s processing of their
complaints. In addition, CGB should work with EB to ensure that complaints provide all
necessary information for enforcement purposes. This would facilitate FCC staff being better
able to utilize complaint data as a reliable resource for the agency’s enforcement initiatives.

Responsible

: CGB, in coordination with EB and supported by OMD.

Recommendation 2.15:

Re-focus CGB’s Handling of Informal Consumer Complaints

CGB should take a fresh look at its approach for handling informal consumer complaints, and its
current focus on interacting with individual consumers regarding their complaints. Under a
possible new approach, CGB would continue to receive individual complaints (but using more
automation, as described in Recommendation 2.20 below), and would serve the complaints on
the relevant carrier, requesting a response within a specified time window, as it does today.
Thereafter, instead of focusing on individual informal complaint resolution, CGB would focus
primarily on identifying trends and other data from the complaints filed. By improving
analytical capability and the quality of aggregate information available about complaints filed,
this approach should in turn focus a broader spotlight on problems encountered by consumers in
their dealings with communications carriers, and should facilitate improved customer care
overall. At the time their complaints are filed, consumers would receive a clear explanation on
how their complaints will be handled (as described in Recommendation 2.21 below).
Relatedly, CGB would be better able to efficiently link intake of informal consumer complaints
to the Commission’s policymaking and enforcement processes. This targeted focus would
significantly increase the confidence in the quality and integrity of the complaint data. Further,
the Commission would be able to focus more on larger trends, emerging problems in the
marketplace, and strong enforcement of its rules. Individual consumer complaints still would be
received and shared with other Bureaus and Offices at an aggregate level. Complaint data would
thus be used to achieve the larger goals outlined above, similar to how complaint data is used by
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and CFPB.

Responsible

: CGB is responsible for developing implementation plan, supported by OGC and
EB.
25

Recommendation 2.16:

Improve the Consumer Experience and Clarify Expectations When
Filing Informal Complaints

CGB has an opportunity to vastly improve the consumer experience in the complaint process.
CGB should revise and enhance its informal complaint intake process to allow consumers to file
complaints with greater ease, as well as provide more transparency about how the informal
complaint process works. The consumer would be given a better understanding of what to expect
during the process and the potential outcomes and remedies.4 This improved complaint intake
also would likely lead to faster complaint processing times as it would screen up front for
complaints that contain incomplete information, do not present a rule violation, or are outside of
the Commission’s regulatory authority. Moreover, better complaint intake would allow more
functions to be automated, which would enable complaints to be processed faster and free up
existing staff time to focus on more challenging data analysis tasks.
Implementation of this recommendation would have CGB clearly state its goals in handling
consumer complaints. The Commission would also clarify how it uses aggregate information to
monitor trends that would inform its policymaking and enforcement processes.

Responsible

: CGB, in coordination with EB.

Recommendation 2.17:

Provide a Quick, Easy Single Interface for Consumers to File
Complaints and Encourage Web-Based Submission of Complaints

CGB should revise its current interface with consumers by replacing the 16 current complaint
forms with a single web-based intake form that is accessible to and usable for everyone,
including persons with disabilities.5 Consumers should receive assistance in filing complete and
actionable complaints through immediate prompts and feedback. This ensures that only
complete and actionable complaints are accepted. Similarly, incomplete and non-actionable
complaints would be automatically screened out and the consumer would receive information as
to why the complaint was rejected. Information collections such as this form change will require
approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction
Act (PRA). To accelerate the ability to make this change and future modifications, the FCC
should seek blanket PRA approval for such changes, or at a minimum, a streamlined PRA
approval process for changes in appearance and coding.
These revisions would provide a more user-friendly interface for consumers, and facilitate a
more timely, accurate and efficient processing of complaints than is possible when consumers
use postal mail, fax, or telephone. For these reasons, CGB should encourage intake of consumer
complaints via a revised web site. The Bureau should work with its advisory groups to identify

4 Similarly, under this new approach, as discussed in Recommendation 2.21 infra, it is envisioned that CGB would
work more extensively with carriers and service providers regarding its expectations for carrier and service provider
responses.
5 In this regard, we note that it is particularly important that the consumer intake process, including online filing, is
accessible in accordance to the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
26

how to best serve people who might face challenges accessing the website, including persons
without broadband access or with disabilities.

Responsible:

CGB, in coordination with EB and supported by OMD.

Recommendation 2.18:

Provide Better Guidance to Consumers Regarding the Milestones
of the Complaint Process

CGB should better define for consumers what remedies, if any, it can provide consumers through
the informal complaint process, both substantively and procedurally. For example, CGB should
more clearly explain the steps in the complaint review process and inform consumers of other
options of redress that might be available if satisfaction is not achieved through service on the
carrier (e.g., law enforcement, other state and federal government agencies, judicial remedies). It
should also educate consumers about the practical limits of the complaint process and define
more clearly the substantive scope of the complaints that CGB has authority to accept. In
addition, CGB should provide information about recent enforcement actions related to the issues
raised in the consumer’s complaint and explain how the data provided in informal complaints
submitted by individual consumers are used, in the aggregate, as the basis for analyzing trends
and informing the FCC’s enforcement strategies.

Responsible

: CGB, supported by OMD and EB.

Recommendation 2.19:

Give Consumers the Means to Check the Status of Their
Complaints and Rate the Response

CGB should enable consumers to check online for the status of carrier-served complaints. CGB
should define a sequence of steps toward complaint resolution and indicate where on the
continuum a consumer’s complaint is at a particular point in time. This would provide greater
transparency for the consumer and would likely significantly reduce the number of contacts
inquiring about the status of a pending complaint. Carriers could then also receive automated
reminders of complaints that are due or overdue for response, e.g., with a carrier-specific
dashboard.

Responsible

: CGB is responsible for developing an implementation plan, supported by OMD,
EB and OGC.

Recommendation 2.20:

Automate the Processing of Informal Consumer Complaints

CGB should fully automate complaint processing for all its complaints as quickly as possible.
The Commission has already employed this approach in a limited fashion – e.g., treatment of
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) complaints – and has realized significant
27

reductions in processing times as compared to what was experienced prior to the automation.6
Recently, CGB initiated steps toward automating the intake form for complaints about loud
commercials. This experience could be used to highlight successes and shortcomings as new
automation efforts are deployed. New IT capabilities are an essential component of this
recommendation.
CGB should also streamline the coding information that accompanies complaints as they are
routed, processed, and classified. CGB is already engaged in revisiting its coding structure.
With new IT capabilities and a new web-based intake form CGB could move to an environment
where consumers would “self code” their own complaints. Consumers accessing the
Commission’s website would be presented with a menu of complaint categories that would
mirror how those consumers tend to experience communication services and reflect issues of
concern to them as opposed to how CGB or industry classifies those concerns.
Implementation of this recommendation would not only increase the transparency of the informal
complaint process, it would also enhance the utility of the process from the consumer’s
perspective because the logic of the coding would be more meaningful. A uniform coding
paradigm would, moreover, facilitate both the processing and the analysis of the informal
complaint data for FCC staff and external stakeholders.

Responsible:

CGB, supported by OMD.

Recommendation 2.21:

Improve Responses to Complaints

CGB should automate service of complaints on companies that are cited in complaints.
Currently, companies receive copies of informal complaints on a weekly basis. If consumers
select from lists of carriers and subject matters, a complaint could be served more quickly,
perhaps on the date of submission. CGB would give companies direction on the specific issues
that need to be addressed and would create a standardized template for the response, specifying
the format required for the information, and including automated reminders. CGB should explore
whether structured complaints, e.g., complaints submitted to systems via an application-
programming interface (API), can help service providers handle complaints more efficiently.
These efforts to promote more efficient handling of complaints by service providers would in
turn benefit consumers by decreasing their wait time for a response to their concerns.
Further, CGB should coordinate more extensively with companies about their handling of
consumer complaints. If, as a general matter, CGB implemented a process whereby Division
and Bureau management would meet with carriers on a regularly-scheduled basis to discuss
general handling and response issues, it could provide another a mechanism for addressing broad
consumer concerns.

Responsible

: CGB is responsible for developing an implementation plan, supported by OMD.

6 Automation is sorting through the complaints and reviewing those that are incomplete or not actionable without
human intervention.
28

Recommendation 2.22

: Improve Tracking and Analysis of Complaint Data for Internal
Commission Use

Updated database capabilities would enable CGB and other Bureaus to improve their use of
complaint data internally to inform the Commission’s policymaking and enforcement processes.
A significant step in this direction would be to process complaints, inquiries, and other inputs
within a single system and make the resulting data accessible to staff. This approach is similar to
that employed by CFPB. In addition, OMD and CGB should evaluate how to reallocate or
increase staff and IT resources used to analyze data trends for the Commission.

Responsible

: CGB is responsible for developing an implementation plan, supported by OMD
and EB.

Recommendation 2.23

: Make Data More Accessible and Transparent to the Public
Consistent with principles of openness and transparency in government, CGB should explore
how to make complaint and inquiry data more readily accessible and understandable to the
public, including an examination of whether such data can be exportable in machine-readable
and accessible formats (e.g., spreadsheet or XML form) and subject to filtering for user-defined
criteria for review. Currently, CGB releases quarterly reports containing data for a limited
number of defined categories. With the new database capabilities, CGB would be able to
revamp the quarterly reports to make them more useful to consumers, industry, and other
stakeholders, such as, for example, using a greater number of plain-language categories.
CGB should also evaluate the frequency for compiling and releasing such reports. In addition,
CGB should consider linking the quarterly reports to a searchable database of the underlying
complaints, accessible to the public, which could be updated on a more real-time, if not daily,
basis. This approach is similar to that used by CFPB. Improved transparency of aggregate
complaint data, ultimately on a carrier-specific basis, has the potential to facilitate better overall
outcomes for consumers. It would be important, however, for CGB to ensure that the complaint
data are reliable enough to be included in aggregate statistics.

Responsible

: CGB is responsible for developing an implementation plan, supported by EB,
OMD, and OGC.

D. Paperwork Reduction Act & Regulatory Flexibility Act

Background

: In certain instances when the Commission seeks to collect information from ten or
more entities, the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) requires the agency, among other things, to
articulate the need for the information collection, identify the likely submitters of such
information, and estimate the burden on such submitters as a result of the information
29

collection.7
The Commission must also ensure that all notice and comment rulemakings comply with the
Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended (RFA). The RFA is designed to increase awareness and
understanding of the impact of regulations on small entities, to require agencies to communicate
and explain their regulations to small entities, and to encourage agencies to provide flexibility
and regulatory relief to small entities where appropriate. With the assistance and review by the
Office of Communications Business Opportunities (OCBO), the Commission adopts an Initial
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) for all rules proposed in a Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, and a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) for all rules adopted in a
Report and Order. The RFA also requires publication of small entity compliance guides for rules
adopted by the Commission, adding yet another step to the rulemaking process.
Currently, staff attorneys who are subject matter experts on the proceeding at hand are
responsible for PRA and RFA compliance for each new regulation or collection that is adopted.
These subject matter experts must be consulted when each collection is renewed under the PRA
every three years.

Recommendation 2.24

: Reevaluate PRA Resource Allocation
PRA compliance should be centralized to improve the consistency and efficiency of compliance
within each Bureau and Office, taking much of the burden off the primary authors of the
documents. Staff members who are expert in PRA requirements could serve as compliance
specialists, taking the lead from the initial proposal for information collection to final approval
by OMB, the agency responsible for approving all PRA collections. These compliance
specialists could review existing collections, and determine whether there are opportunities to
streamline the number of collections and improve naming conventions, among other things.
Subject matter experts in the Bureau or Office responsible for the information collection would
work in conjunction with the compliance specialist to achieve the objectives of the PRA.
Alternatively, subject matter experts could continue to prepare PRA documents, with additional
guidance from trained PRA compliance specialists who can answer day-to-day questions. This
option should include a requirement that each subject matter expert document detailed support
for how changes to the burden estimates were calculated, in order to provide background to the
next expert to update an information collection.
In either case, one or more compliance specialists could either be housed within one Bureau or
Office (such as OGC or OMD), and shared among the Bureaus and Offices that do frequent PRA
collections, or each Bureau or Office could house its own compliance specialist(s). Current
OGC and OMD resources are insufficient to fulfill existing needs.

7 Purposes of the PRA include minimizing paperwork burdens on the public, maximizing utility of information
collected by the Federal Government, and improving “productivity, efficiency and effectiveness of Government
programs” by making “uniform Federal information resources management policies and practices.” 44 U.S.C.§.
3501.
30

Responsible

: OMD, in conjunction with Bureaus and Offices that are tasked with PRA
compliance.

Recommendation 2.25:

Update Existing PRA Guidance

In order to properly train the specialists proposed above, and/or to provide assistance to subject
matter experts, OMD should update the existing PRA training to focus on complex legal issues,
form revisions and the calculation of burden estimates, in addition to addressing simpler data
collections. The training materials should specifically address how to draft the supporting
statement and describe revisions to previous collections. Updates to the training should also
include concrete and consistent guidance regarding OMB requirements, especially pertaining to
the transition from paper to electronic information collections. A check-list of necessary steps
would also assist in navigating the process.
OMD should also ensure that there are agency-wide standards or methods for calculating burden
estimates in information collections. Centralizing resources, as discussed above, would assist in
this task.

Responsible

: OMD and OGC.

Recommendation 2.26:

Improved Inter-Agency PRA Coordination

OMD should also work with OMB to determine if there are more efficient means of complying
with the statute, particularly when the Commission seeks to decrease burdens on regulated
entities. OMD could also seek additional delegated authority from OMB to approve more
information collection renewals. Currently, the Commission is one of the few agencies that has
some delegated authority from OMB to approve renewal of any information collection under
5,000 burden hours, although all new collections still require initial OMB approval. Bureaus and
Offices should receive training to ensure that this delegated authority is used consistently
throughout the FCC.
OMD, in conjunction with OGC, should reach out to other agencies for guidance on their
respective approaches to complying with the PRA and RFA, to determine if there are more
efficient means of compliance being utilized elsewhere. Manuals used by other agencies could
serve as examples for improving the FCC’s manuals.

Responsible

: OMD and OGC.

Recommendation 2.27:

Update PRA Approval and Recordkeeping Mechanisms

OMD should recommend initiatives to OMB and work with OMB to improve how information
collections are compiled and submitted for approval. The existing process only allows the
Commission to update one information collection at a time, and the larger approval process
could benefit from some clarification. In addition, improvements in the searchability of
31

information collections on file with OMB at http://www.reginfo.gov" title="www.reginfo.gov">www.reginfo.gov would substantially assist in the
effort to streamline the organization, structure, and overall number of collections that the agency
compiles. The system is currently only searchable by a limited set of features, making it difficult
to determine the coverage of approved existing information collections, i.e., if a new information
collection should be incorporated as an update to a pre-existing supporting statement, or if the
collection is an entirely new type of collection, requiring the creation of a new supporting
statement.
Within the Commission, the CIO should evaluate ways to make the internal compilation effort
more user-friendly and less burdensome, including automation of reminders to Bureaus and
Offices when existing information collections require renewal.

Responsible

: OMD.

Recommendation 2.28:

Focus Information Collected to Comply With the PRA

As sectors change, so does the need for information. Past categories of information that are no
longer needed should be discontinued – and promptly. The FCC staff should review existing
data collections to determine if there are collections that should be discontinued. Further, staff
should take the opportunity at each three-year renewal to determine if a collection is still
necessary, or if it could be modified to lessen any burdens. If the review indicates that a
collection can be reduced or eliminated, the Commission should take that opportunity to modify
the underlying requirement, which may require issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
At the same time, the Commission may need to seek and obtain newly relevant information
necessary to carry out its statutory and regulatory responsibilities. In that circumstance, the
Commission should keep the purposes of the PRA in mind at all times, striving to ensure that all
new regulations are narrowly tailored to realize a legitimate public interest goal and that the
benefits of each information collection outweigh any cost burden. The Commission should also
take into consideration the fact that many added collections of information by the agency will
require substantial justification under the PRA.
Finally, as a logistical matter, OMD should require PRA comments to be filed in ECFS (or a
successor database), and add a new PRA filing identifier to the existing ECFS pull-down menu
of types of filings, instead of being emailed to OMD.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices tasked with PRA compliance, and OMD.

Recommendation 2.29:

Consult OCBO Earlier in the RFA Compliance Process

Unlike the PRA, compliance with the RFA is done concurrently with rulemakings, in the form of
IRFAs and FRFAs. Subject matter experts generally draft these in conjunction with drafting
rulemaking items, and OCBO reviews all IRFAs and FRFAs prior to adoption of an item. This
process would work more efficiently if staff drafting IRFA and FRFA sections consulted with
OCBO earlier in the drafting process. This will not only ensure that a circulated item is properly
32

vetted by OCBO early in the process, but it will also ensure that the Commission’s small entity
and RFA experts are engaged in the policy considerations of proposed and adopted rules.

Responsible

: OCBO, and Bureaus and Offices that draft regulatory flexibility analyses.

Recommendation 2.30:

Update Existing RFA Guidance

In order to properly assist subject matter experts who draft IRFAs and FRFAs, OCBO should
consider providing additional tools on its intranet website. This could include IRFA and FRFA
samples, updated statistical information, answers to FAQs, and a check-list for ensuring
compliance. Such tools could lead to better initial IRFA and FRFA drafts, streamlining OCBO
review.
OCBO should also consider implementing training opportunities for those who frequently draft
IRFAs and FRFAs. Reviving training offered in conjunction with the Small Business
Administration Office of Advocacy would be particularly useful.

Responsible

: OCBO.

E. Federal Register

Background

: In addition to being posted on the FCC website and published in the FCC Record,
a summary of Commission-level and other items is published in the Federal Register when
required by the statute. The Federal Register is the official record of the Federal government. It
serves as the official notice of new and proposed rules, in addition to certain other actions.
Because Federal Register publication is often a trigger for certain actions – including comment
dates, effectiveness dates for rules, and time for seeking judicial review – there is often an
impetus to get an item published in the Federal Register as quickly as possible.
The Federal Register has a process and style that are unique and distinct from those for the
Commission’s releases. Consequently, after an item is adopted by the Commission, the
originator of that document must oversee or create a summary that is specifically designed for
publication in the Federal Register. Depending on the complexity and length of the item, this
can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. Further, the Commission must pay by
the column for each Federal Register summary.

Recommendation 2.31:

Investigate Ways to Streamline and Shorten Federal Register
Summaries

Current practices in summarizing items for Federal Register publication vary by Bureau and
Division. Authors often opt to include the entirety of an item in the summary in order to avoid
dissecting a document, and risking that the public might not receive sufficient notice of some
contents or requirements in the document. This practice is not only expensive, but resource-
intensive, as authors must still spend considerable time modifying a document to meet Federal
33

Register requirements. This practice is also time-intensive for others, as these documents – often
long – must be reviewed by OSec, and then the Federal Register, a process that may take weeks.
In order to explore acceptable means of shortening Federal Register summaries, a working group
should be formed (including representatives from OSec and OGC) to investigate the practices of
other agencies to determine whether other agencies have a more efficient process. The working
group should also explore the alternative of publishing a document’s executive summary or
introduction, any proposed or final rules, and any regulatory flexibility analysis, along with
cross-references or a link to the full document on the Commission’s website.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in conjunction with OSec and OGC.

Recommendation 2.32:

Amend Commission Formatting and Style to Reflect Federal
Register Requirements and Update Guidance

In order to avoid the process of revising an item to meet Federal Register guidelines, OSec, in
conjunction with other stakeholders, should consider revising our own citation and rule style
requirements to mirror those of the Federal Register, especially as they pertain to rule
publication. (See Recommendation 1.19 above, calling for creation of agency-wide FCC Style
Manual.)
As part of this process, OSec should consider improving training and guidance on Federal
Register guidelines. OSec provides training classes on the use of the Federal Register Document
Drafting Handbook, including specific guidance on drafting summaries. Training should be
expanded to include guidance on common issues and obstacles, and provided to relevant staff
when hired and either yearly or every other year to keep up-to-date on Federal Register
requirements. A link to the FAQs from the Document Drafting Handbook should be posted to
the intranet for easy access to staff. OSec should develop an internal checklist for drafting
Federal Register summaries, similar to the checklist for processing Federal Register documents.

Responsible

: OSec, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 2.33:

Designate Federal Register Liaisons

The approach to drafting Federal Register summaries varies by Bureau and Office. Some
Bureaus and Divisions designate paralegals to create summaries, whereas others require the
primary author to assume this task. Regardless of who does the initial draft, each Bureau and
Office should appoint a Federal Register Liaison who is trained to review and edit Federal
Register summaries, coordinate edits with document drafters, and work with OSec staff.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices releasing documents that must be published in the Federal
Register.
34

Recommendation 2.34:

Automate Publication Notice

OSec notifies the Bureaus and Offices when an item is scheduled to be published in the Federal
Register by forwarding the email notification received from the Federal Register to the document
drafter or designated bureau contact. To ensure that all relevant staff members have been
notified, Bureaus and Offices should identify a Federal Register Liaison to be notified of
publication for all Bureau and Office Federal Register summaries, in addition to the document
drafter.
OSec should investigate, subject to sufficient IT resources, developing an additional report that
regularly generates publication information using existing systems, e.g. RSS feeds and EDOCS.
This report should be sent on a daily basis to the relevant liaisons and posted on the intranet (and,
if appropriate, could be made publicly available as well).

Responsible

: OSec, Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 2.35:

Investigate and Pursue Paperless Options

OSec currently submits the majority of summaries to the Federal Register in paper form, with
original signatures, and on CD ROM, requiring agency resources and the use of a courier. OSec
should investigate the feasibility of electronically fulfilling the requirements of the Federal
Register Act, possibly by providing all summaries with a digital signature via a secured e-mail or
internet-based system. This will require funding for the development of the necessary IT
capabilities.

Responsible

: OSec and OMD.

Recommendation 2.36:

Adopt Procedures to Ensure FCC Staff Actions to Effectuate
Federal Register Publication Are Timely

OSec should adopt a means of monitoring the status of the actions the FCC staff must take to
ensure that a document that must be published in the Federal Register is properly delivered to the
Federal Register in a timely manner after it is released by the Commission. OSec should ensure
that documents are delivered to the Federal Register as quickly as possible after release, but
certainly within 30 days.

Responsible

: OSec, in coordination with Bureaus and Offices releasing documents that must be
published in the Federal Register.
35

Chapter 3: Rethink the FCC’s Policy and Rulemaking Process

The FCC conducts rulemaking processes designed to develop policy across a wide area of
communications law and regulation. The FCC’s process for developing and issuing rules is well
established. The process is governed by the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act,
as well as provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and many years of
precedent. Rulemaking procedures are used for a wide variety of policy initiatives ranging from
the relatively simple to the extremely complex, and as such, can vary greatly in predictability and
process. We seek faster action and more predictability in the agency’s rulemaking process.
This chapter considers some novel methods for the FCC to focus and resolve the issues in
controversy in its policymaking processes. In addition, it considers ways the FCC staff might be
able to improve the process for drafting policy documents, including the steps that could be taken
early in the process. Innovations should be considered in terms of their capacity to expedite and
otherwise facilitate the rulemaking process, consistent with the requirements of the
Administrative Procedure Act. Below are a number of possible ways the FCC can start
rethinking its policy and rulemaking processes.

A. Explore Innovative Mechanisms for Developing Policy

Background

: While the agency’s rulemaking processes follow a well-known and long-standing
pattern of practice, which in general serves the agency’s policy development well, there may be
some new and creative mechanisms that the FCC could consider that would facilitate the
rulemaking process by narrowing and focusing the issues in dispute. For instance, the FCC
could consider using multi-stakeholder mechanisms, using negotiated rulemakings, using more
mediation and settlement mechanisms in enforcement and dispute resolution contexts, and/or
increasing reliance on external experts. Each of these recommendations must be carefully
evaluated for compliance with the requirements of the Communications and Administrative
Procedure Acts prior to implementation, and may be appropriate for pilot programs before
widespread adoption.

Recommendation 3.1

: Consider Expanding Use of Multi-Stakeholder Mechanisms
It is often difficult for policymakers to keep up with the rapid pace of change in communications
and information technology. To try and address this problem, a number of multi-stakeholder
groups have formed to try and help inform policy. While there is no one simple definition of the
term, multi-stakeholder groups would typically have representation from a wide diversity of
economic and social interests, including government, industry, civil society and consumers,
depending on the focus of the group.8 Generally, these organizations require accountable and
transparent processes by which those who will be affected by a decision have an equal say in
how that decision is made. Multi-stakeholder mechanisms could help inform the FCC’s policy
development process in some contexts, and FCC staff should consider whether there are
circumstances in which expanded use of such mechanisms would be beneficial.

8 Joe Waz and Phil Weiser, Internet Governance, The Role of Multistakeholder Organizations, The Silicon Flatirons
Roundtable Series on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Public Policy
(2011).
36

While some believe that multi-stakeholder bodies should have some adjudicatory function, e.g.,
resolving disputes, the most successful multi-stakeholder groups tend to be those which are
technical in nature and which seek to set standards and best practices. Examples of multi-
stakeholder groups of this kind include standards bodies like the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the World Wide Web Consortium
(W3C), and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).
There are also multi-stakeholder groups that seek to inform domestic communications policy.
Some, like the Broadband Internet Technology Advisory Group (BITAG)9, are independent of
government. Others, like the Commission’s various advisory committees, are formed pursuant
to the Federal Advisory Commission Act (FACA).

Responsible

: Bureau and Office action and implementation, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.1.1:

Identify Independent Multi-Stakeholder Bodies With Relevance to
the Commission’s Work

No one has yet catalogued all of the multi-stakeholder bodies that could be relevant to the FCC’s
activities. The FCC staff should identify those multi-stakeholder organizations that are engaged
in activities that are relevant to the Commission’s work. In doing so, staff should consult with
experts inside and outside of the agency.
Once the list of relevant multi-stakeholder organizations is developed, staff should monitor the
work of these groups to see if they can help inform FCC policymaking. Commission staff
should also make it clear to the representatives of those organizations that they are invited to
participate in appropriate rulemakings, workshops and other agency processes. Commission
staff should send notices of relevant proceedings to the appropriate representatives of multi-
stakeholder bodies when they are made public.

Responsible

: Bureau and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.1.2:

Evaluate Suitability and Feasibility of Conducting Multi-
Stakeholder Pilot Program(s) to Narrow Issues in an Ongoing Proceeding

Commission staff should define contexts in which multi-stakeholder input might help further the
FCC’s regulatory activities, and the criteria that should guide that evaluation process. To date,
multi-stakeholder approaches have proven especially effective when their focus is well defined,
and the scope of their tasks understood and agreed. One tool that could be used to aid this

9 The BITAG brings together engineers and other technical experts from various sectors of the communications
industry and civil society for the sole purpose of determining what practices, as a technical matter, constitute the
kind of “reasonable network management” permitted by the FCC’s open internet rules. When presented with a
question as to whether a particular network management practice is reasonable, the BITAG produces a report on the
matter within 120 days.
37

assessment would be to issue a Public Notice soliciting input on contexts in which multi-
stakeholder organizations could be used to inform the FCC’s work.
The staff should also determine whether there are issues or proceedings currently before the FCC
which might make effective use of a multi-stakeholder mechanism to help refine the issues. In
particular, the staff should determine if there is a context in which a pilot program might be
appropriate.
Recommendations on enhanced use of multi-stakeholder mechanisms must be developed in
compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.2:

Refine Focus of Current Advisory Committees to Enhance the
Relevance of Their Work

First, Commission staff should consult with members of current FCC advisory committees on
how to focus the work of the committees and make their output more relevant to the agency’s
work. In this vein, the Commission should consider whether to encourage advisory committees
to submit proposed text for FCC documents in appropriate circumstances. (See Recommendation
1.24
: Encourage Outside Parties to Submit Proposed Text for FCC Documents Where
Appropriate) The FCC should regularly evaluate the work of FCC advisory committees to
ensure relevance to the agency’s work. If it is apparent that there is no clear path by which an
advisory committee can be helpful to the agency’s decision making, the Commission should
consider disbanding it.
Second, the current approach to some advisory committee activities should be reevaluated with
the thought in mind that “less can be more”. The Commission should consider whether some of
its present and future advisory committees would benefit from being smaller, more expert and
more focused.
In addition, it is worth considering whether a paid, standing advisory committee comprised of
technical experts in a relevant field could be assigned specific tasks by the Commission, as
appears to be the case at some other agencies. This approach could provide independent,
experienced technical advice that could tackle targeted issues in ongoing proceedings.
Third, the Commission should ensure that membership on FCC advisory committees is diverse in
all aspects, and that consumer, civil society and small business representatives have meaningful
opportunities to participate. These groups (and in the international context, developing
countries) all lack the personnel and financial resources to participate in the same way as large
industry players. Having a multi-stakeholder body that is simply open to diverse participation is
not enough. There needs to be both the opportunity and the resources available to permit
underrepresented groups to participate in multi-stakeholder governance in a meaningful way.
38

This recommendation must be developed in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee
Act.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.3

: Consider Whether a “Negotiated Rulemaking” Process Could be
Useful to Narrow Issues and Develop Proposed Rules for Commission Consideration

As discussed above, some concerns have been raised that the Commission’s rulemaking
proceedings are less focused than they could be. One procedural option for addressing such
concerns is the negotiated rulemaking process, in which a committee of stakeholders is
established to narrow issues and develop proposals in advance of the formal rulemaking process.
The Commission has used this option in some past proceedings, though less frequently in recent
years.
The FCC staff should consider whether it would be appropriate to develop criteria for using
negotiated rulemakings, taking into account both the potential benefits and the limitations of the
negotiated rulemaking process. For certain proceedings, negotiated rulemaking may enhance the
effectiveness of the rulemaking process and reduce the burden on Commission resources by
encouraging stakeholders to negotiate consensus-based solutions that the Commission can easily
implement. In other cases, negotiated rulemaking may be less effective – particularly where the
committee does not include all relevant stakeholders or is otherwise unable to reach a consensus
that can be readily implemented in the traditional rulemaking proceeding that follows.
Developing a systematic set of criteria for use of negotiated rulemakings could help the
Commission identify which proceedings would be most likely to benefit from inclusion of a
negotiated rulemaking component. This approach should only be considered where it would
speed the outcome, lessen the overall burden on FCC staff and stakeholders, and increase the
likelihood of a better result, compared to the traditional rulemaking process. The staff could also
look for ways to improve the negotiated rulemaking process itself – consistent with relevant
statutory requirements – to increase the likelihood of achieving consensus-based solutions in
those proceedings where the process is used.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.4

: Consider Additional Mediation and/or Other Dispute Resolution
Techniques to Narrow Issues in Controversy and Find Solutions

Currently, EB staff mediate disputes between parties to formal complaint proceedings, or parties
contemplating a formal complaint proceeding. The agency could consider expanding a
mediation program for other adjudications and rulemakings, similar to the program used in the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Staffed by volunteers such as retired judges or
commissioners, academics, and senior attorneys from a variety of disciplines, the mediation
process could narrow the issues in major proceedings and contribute to their timely resolution.
39

This process could be informed by the existing work of Market Dispute Resolution Division in
EB.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.5

: Increase Access to External Technical Experts
The Commission’s policymaking process often involves issues that can be very complex and
controversial, with the potential for significant economic impact on stakeholders. The agency
employs professionals, such as economists and engineers, with the expertise to tackle and resolve
many of these issues, but in some cases individuals outside the FCC may have additional and
more specialized expertise. While stakeholders in some contexts engage “dueling” experts to
support their policy positions, the Commission may benefit from engaging experts itself, in order
to inform the policymaking process on a more detailed basis in an unbiased way. Other agencies
such as the Federal Trade Commission routinely hire outside experts as needed. The
Commission may not, however, have an ongoing need for these experts after the issues in a
particular policymaking proceeding have been resolved. The Commission should therefore
consider engaging more external experts on a case-specific, contract basis, to supplement in-
house engineering and economic expertise where needed, subject to availability of sufficient
funding resources.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices to identify proceedings that could benefits from external
experts. OMD to identify potential budget to support hiring such experts.

Recommendation 3.6

: Continue to Engage with Other Agencies to Develop Best Practices
for Rulemakings

The Commission could benefit from the experiences and practices of other executive branch and
independent agencies that engage in the rulemaking process. In the past and throughout the
process of developing these Recommendations, the Commission has engaged with other agencies
to try to learn from those agencies’ experiences, as other agencies have learned from the FCC’s
experience. In addition, the Commission has been an active participant in the Administrative
Conference of the United States (ACUS), an independent federal agency specifically dedicated
to improving federal agency procedures. Commission staff should continue to consult with their
counterparts at other agencies and adopt their best practices to improve our processes.

Responsible

: Bureau and Office implementation, in consultation with OGC.

B. Improve Drafting Process for Policy Documents

Background

: In addition to considering innovative ways to develop or refine policy options
discussed above, the FCC might also consider refinements to its conventional rulemaking
process. There have been a number of suggestions received in the input process to this Report
40

that could improve the efficiency of the policy framing process at the FCC. This Report
addresses several of those suggestions in recommendations described below.

Recommendation 3.7

: Ensure Timely Policy Cuts
Staff resources drafting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Report and Order, or other decisional
document would be most efficiently used if possible policy alternatives are evaluated and policy
cuts are made as early as possible in the drafting process.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 3.8

: Include Proposed Rules in NPRMs Whenever Possible, and Draft
Proposed and Final Rules Early in the Process of Developing Decisional Documents

In recent years, FCC Notices of Proposed Rulemakings (NPRMs) as well as Reports and Orders
have typically included the text of proposed rules. While there is no requirement either in the
Administrative Procedure Act or in the Communications Act that the text of a proposed rule
must be included in the NPRM, many have suggested that, as a best practice, the text of a
proposed rule should be included in an NPRM. The primary advantages of including the text of
the rule in the NPRM are to ensure adequate notice of the potential final rule and to focus both
drafters and commenters on the precise proposal under consideration.
As a general matter, staff should draft specific rule text for all NPRMs, and should do so early in
the process of drafting the text of the document itself; keeping in mind that the fundamental
purpose of the text is to explain the basis for the proposed rules under consideration. In rare
cases, however, including the text of a proposed rule in the NPRM unnecessarily limits the
comments received by the agency and may result in a failure to consider other plausible
alternatives. In those cases in which staff has determined that it is not advisable or possible to
include the precise rule text in an NPRM, the drafters should acknowledge that specific rule text
is not proposed and provide an explanation, and ask specific questions about the subjects and
issues involved that are adequate to provide notice under Section 553 of the Administrative
Procedure Act (APA).
Documents such as Reports and Orders that adopt rules clearly must include the text of the rules
themselves. As with NPRMs that include proposed rule text, staff drafting documents such as
Reports and Orders that adopt rules should also focus on rule text before or at least early in the
process of drafting those documents. Staff should also be mindful that all policies intended to
prohibit or require certain conduct should be expressed in rules, that all prohibitions and
requirements contained in the rules should be stated authoritatively and unambiguously, and that
the decisional documents should focus on explaining and justifying the final rules.

Responsible

: OGC to provide best practices; Bureaus and Offices to implement.
41

Recommendation 3.9

:

Draft Shorter Decisional Documents Where Possible

As a general matter, FCC policy documents should be shorter and more focused than they are
today. For example, many of the Commission’s decisional documents in rulemaking
proceedings contain extensive recitations of comments received, and the procedural history of
the matter. While this approach to drafting is comprehensive, it can lengthen presentation
unnecessarily, creating more text for review, both internally within the Commission and
externally for parties affected by the proceeding. Commission staff should look for ways to
streamline presentation of these portions of decisional documents, consistent with APA
standards. While the APA requires that agency action, findings, and conclusions not be
arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or not in accordance with law, the Commission need
not address every comment received in a rulemaking proceeding so long as it responds in a
reasoned manner to relevant comments that raise significant issues. It also does not require the
agency to set forth the procedural history of a matter.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.10

: Adopt Policies for Minimum Comment Periods for Significant FCC
Regulatory Actions, Including Rulemakings

A working group of FCC staff representing different Bureaus and Offices should review whether
minimum comment periods for comments and reply comments should be defined for major
Commission regulatory actions, including rulemaking proceedings, subject to flexibility to depart
from those minimum comment periods if good cause is shown to do so. The working group
should seek input from the public via a Public Notice, and recommend whether minimum
comment periods should be implemented immediately and enforced through OGC review, or
whether they should be developed through a rulemaking proceeding and implemented in formal
rules.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.11

: Include Performance Measures for Evaluating the Effectiveness of
Major Program Activities

In recent years, the FCC’s NPRMs and Reports and Orders have in many cases included
performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of major program activities when those
activities are being adopted or substantially changed. Including performance measures in these
circumstances (or determining that existing performance measures are sufficient) should be a
routine part of any proceeding that adopts or changes a major program activity, and should be
enforced through the OGC review mechanism. These performance measures should rely, where
possible, on data already collected by the Commission.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.
42

Recommendation 3.12

: Consider Listing Specific Questions with Rebuttable Presumptions
at the End of an NPRM

Across the agency, the current practice in drafting most NPRMs is to include the questions for
which the staff seeks responses from commenters throughout the text of the document. This
practice likely has developed so that the questions are located in proximity to the document’s
discussion of the relevant issue. It may be helpful to commenters if the Commission’s NPRMs,
like those of some other agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission, grouped questions
together in one location at the end of the NPRM to give prospective commenters one location to
look to for requested input. This in turn could result in more focused, organized responses from
commenters that would help staff to draft a more focused, streamlined order. Grouping
questions at the end of an NPRM, separate from the discussion of the issues, may also advance
Recommendation 2.31 supra regarding streamlining Federal Register publication of Commission
documents.
Consideration should, however, be given to whether it would be confusing to have questions
grouped in one location in an NPRM, separated from the text describing the context and rationale
for the questions. It might also be possible to have questions remain in the text of an NPRM in
the context of the discussion of related issues, but then additionally list them at the end.
In addition, formulating questions using rebuttable presumptions may also be a useful tool in
focusing the questions in an NPRM, and consequently the comments received from the public
and the ultimate decisional document.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.13

: Focus Comment Rounds in Large Dockets
Some rulemaking proceedings include not only the initial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, but
also further NPRMs or public notices on a particular topic. In some cases, this practice may be
necessary to address new issues that have been raised, to more fully develop the record in an area
that was not the focus of the initial NRPM, or to refresh a stale record. As a general rule,
however, Bureaus and Offices should avoid lengthy rulemaking proceedings where possible, and
should strive to avoid soliciting additional rounds of comments in a rulemaking proceeding after
the issuance of the initial NPRM unless the issue is directly related to the original NPRM.
Instead, FCC staff should initiate new proceedings as necessary to address additional issues if
not directly related to the original NPRM as they arise.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 3.14

: Obtain Economic, Technical and Enforcement Input Early in
Rulemakings

Many rulemaking proceedings that the agency undertakes require significant economic and/or
technical input. When planning to initiate or conducting a rulemaking proceeding, Bureaus and
Offices should prioritize involving economists, engineers, enforcement and other technical
43

experts as early as possible in the process, as appropriate. This will increase the efficiency of the
drafting process by incorporating this input early on, ensuring that this input is taken into account
as a draft is developed.
Economists and engineers should be involved as needed in the initial drafting of the outline or
policy memorandum that will initiate the rulemaking process or that will finalize the process
through adopting rules. In addition, staff responsible for drafting NPRMs, Reports and Orders,
and other decisional documents should include economists and engineers throughout the drafting
process to leverage their expertise and ensure that such is reflected in the final document. EB
staff should be involved throughout the process as well so that their expertise can be utilized in
improving the enforceability of rules. Finally, staff involved in rulemaking processes should
consider ways in which they can glean economic and technical advice in advance of any
rulemaking proceeding through regular consultation with experts and training opportunities.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 3.15

: Commit to Review Rules Periodically
The process of retrospective review of regulations is an important undertaking for the FCC.
Pursuant to express statutory direction, the Commission regularly reviews its
telecommunications regulations as well as its media ownership regulations. These statutory
reviews do not, however, cover the rest of the agency’s regulations. In some cases, these rules
do not get reviewed with any regularity and may remain in the Code of Federal Regulations
(CFR) long after they have become unnecessary.
In drafting Orders that will add such rules to the CFR, staff should consider whether it would be
appropriate to include an express commitment to review the rule after a specified period of time,
which will vary depending on the content of the rule, to determine if such rule remains necessary
in the public interest in its current form. Staff should also endeavor to make reviews required by
statute as meaningful as possible by using them as a tool to identify and eliminate outdated
regulation.

Responsible

: Bureaus and Offices, in consultation with OGC.
44

Chapter 4: Elements Critical to Success

The FCC must ensure that its internal management practices are as agile and efficient as they can
be in order for it to be responsive to the changing sectors, stakeholder needs, and opportunities of
the 21st century. To further this goal, the sections that follow discuss additional specific
recommendations about the necessary tools that the FCC needs to continue to progress as an
agency and to ensure it has the right resources to achieve its mission.

A. Internal Management

1.

Internal Communications

Background:

Today, the FCC relies heavily on email to communicate. The FCC’s internal
communications could benefit by greater reliance on centralized approaches to information
dissemination, input, management and reporting, utilizing up-to-date technologies that maximize
effective communication across the Commission.
Staff and external stakeholders often find it time-consuming to identify the appropriate contact
person or subject matter expert on a particular issue, and would appreciate access to better
information in this area. The Commission’s internal tools, such as the website, organization
charts and telephone directory, could be modified to better serve as a mechanism to identify
people in the Commission with relevant expertise in a subject matter area.

Recommendation 4.1:

Enhance Availability of Current Information on Staff Expertise

The Bureaus and Offices, working through OMD, should create an enhanced internal knowledge
network to allow staff to better identify experts within the Commission. Staff location and
contact information should be updated regularly, and current organization charts should be
maintained. Additional information could be provided either by updating and expanding the
existing directory to include more complete information about each staff member, or by
developing new tools to allow staff to identify expertise, such as more granular organization
charts, and lists of experts.
Contact information for FCC experts by topic that goes beyond the FCC’s organizational charts
on its website should be made available both to internal and external stakeholders, so as to
enable quick access to current information on the relevant staff experts on a particular issue.

Responsible:

OMD working with Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 4.2:

Define and Communicate the Commission’s Goals and Priorities to
Staff

The Commission’s senior leadership should regularly describe the FCC’s goals and priorities to
staff and measure progress towards those goals and priorities. Bureau and Office management
45

should discuss with each staffer how his or her responsibilities contribute to the accomplishment
of the FCC’s goals and priorities. The Commission’s senior leadership should also encourage
front-line and mid-level management to develop mechanisms for tracking progress toward those
goals.

Responsible

: With direction and input from the Offices of the Chairman and Commissioners, the
Bureau and Office chiefs can develop plans to further highlight and communicate the priorities
of the Commission.

Recommendation 4.3:

Provide Enhanced Opportunities for Staff to Share Knowledge, and
Develop and Expand Relevant Professional Expertise

Bureaus and Offices, with input from OMD, should evaluate whether there might be additional
opportunities for staff to develop and enhance their professional expertise in areas that are
germane to the FCC’s mission. In doing so, they should consider ways to augment the FCC’s
existing training resources and to leverage the knowledge and expertise within its ranks, drawing
from best practices used already within the agency. For example, Bureaus and Offices could
work with OMD to expand on internal “brown bag” or training series to serve as primers for
what is done by the respective Bureaus and Offices, as well as highlight major proceedings and
initiatives completed over the last year and on the horizon for the coming year.
In addition, staff professionals, in consultation with their supervisors/managers, could identify
emerging communications topics that are ripe for additional research, analysis and/or study and
then write staff white papers or develop internal FCC training on such issues. For example,
economists might be interested in posting research on the Social Science Research Network
(SSRN) or, separately, releasing research as OSP or FCC working papers, after appropriate
internal review. Finally, making a point to ensure that knowledge sharing is a part of regular
staff meetings is a helpful way to ensure the timely exchange of information about recent
developments and policy priorities. These opportunities would provide a motivating and
meaningful way for staff to develop and expand their relevant professional expertise and would
likely result in additional institutional knowledge and expertise for the agency.

Responsible:

Bureaus and Offices, with assistance from OMD and OSP.

Recommendation 4.4:

Publicize and Expand FCC Wiki

The Commission’s Intranet has an excellent resource for information sharing in the FCC Wiki.
The FCC Wiki can expand its role in serving as a repository for the FCC’s institutional
knowledge, providing background information, explanations, literature reviews, statistics, data,
and definitions for issues before the FCC. The FCC Wiki can also include other information
relevant to FCC staff, such as a calendar of upcoming events.
The link to the Wiki should be more prominently featured on the FCC’s Intranet home page, and
staff should generally be encouraged to visit the Wiki. An individual staff member in every
46

Bureau and Office should be assigned to ensure that every time a major proceeding or event is
held, a short description is included in the Wiki, with a link to the relevant information on the
FCC’s webpage. Among the advantages of the Wiki is that it is easy to update and multiple staff
can collaborate on topics.

Responsible:

OMD, in coordination with OSP and Bureau and Office Chiefs.

Recommendation 4.5:

Expand Regular Events to Keep Staff Informed

OMD should explore additional ongoing mechanisms to keep staff informed, such as brown
bags, town hall meetings, etc. The Commission staff should also publish and continually update
a unified intra-agency calendar of upcoming meetings, presentations, courses, etc. to highlight
events of interest to staff in more than one Bureau. Similarly, Bureau and Office Chiefs should
explore ways to keep Bureau staff informed of upcoming events or issues, including regular
quarterly or semi-annual meetings to discuss trends in the practice area.

Responsible:

OMD, in coordination with OSP and Bureau and Office Chiefs.

Recommendation 4.6:

Post Agency-Wide Information on the Intranet Instead of
Disseminating by Email

Newcomers to the FCC have repeatedly noted that there are a fair number of “agency-wide”
emails, which creates excess email traffic. The use of agency-wide emails should be curtailed,
with the information instead posted on the Intranet. The number of people with access to send
agency-wide emails should be limited, and appropriate policies should be developed to ensure
that information aimed at a wide audience is typically posted on the Intranet rather than emailed
around. Similarly, information intended for Bureau- and Office-wide dissemination should
generally be posted on each Bureau and Office Intranet page, rather than emailed.

Responsible:

OMD.
2.

Human Resource Allocation & Management

Background

: Over the past few years, the Commission’s head count has declined due to
retirements and other forms of attrition. Furthermore, tight budgets and sequestration cuts have
made it more difficult to replace departing staff, and many of these staff members take valuable
knowledge gained through years of experience with them as they leave. The remaining staff
members have struggled to find ways to fill both the functional gaps and knowledge gaps that are
left when key employees depart. Moreover, over the past several years, the Commission’s
information technology systems have continued to age, and as a result the reduced staff base is
working with tools that do not enable the most efficient use of their limited time and resources.
The Bureaus and Offices must ensure that the skillsets of their staffs are well aligned with their
47

evolving work requirements. For example, there is a constant need to update the skills of the
FCC’s employees to ensure they remain current with modern technology. Collegial interaction
with outside parties is an important driver in continuing to develop these skills. As such, the
FCC may wish to encourage staff to develop outside interactions with technical groups, attend
conferences, or participate in other such activities to recalibrate their skills and learning in terms
of the latest technologies in the marketplace. By taking these steps, the FCC may further
embrace the strategic nature of technology along with technical staff to capitalize on their ability
to transform the way the Commission does its work.
While budgets in and around the Federal government are currently under intense scrutiny and
budgetary increases are challenging, the Commission must find ways to make the best use of the
resources available. Some of the recommendations below are not new, but reduced staffing and
resources have limited their availability in recent years. If the Commission staff is going to be
effective in fulfilling its responsibilities, it needs to have the right expertise and tools available.

Recommendation 4.7:

Promote and Require Individual Accountability for Work
Performance and Meaningful Feedback

Staff input to this Report stressed the importance of prioritizing greater individual accountability
of staff to perform their duties in a way that supports their entire work unit. When staff does not
perceive that individual accountability towards team performance is a priority, the work of the
team may be impacted negatively. To address this concern, managers should ensure that
employees receive explicit information about expectations for their work and be held to them. If
perceived workload inequalities exist, managers should try to work through those issues with
their teams and avoid letting them linger.
In general, the Commission managers should ensure that employees at all levels are given
meaningful feedback about their performance, lessons learned, individual and work unit goals,
and areas for development and/or training. Supervisors should be encouraged to provide
feedback as frequently as practicable and not less than twice during the appraisal and review
period.
Finally, OMD should examine the FCC’s performance review and appraisal program and
benchmark it against other agencies to determine whether it should be modified so as to better
promote and require individual accountability.

Responsible

:
OMD working with Bureau and Office Chiefs.

Recommendation 4.8:

Continue to Recognize Outstanding Performance and Significant
Contributions by the FCC Staff

In these tight budget times, the FCC’s senior leadership should reassess its system for staff
recognition. In this regard, the Commission’s Bureaus and Offices should continue to utilize the
existing mechanisms for staff recognition associated with the performance review and appraisal
system – quality step increases, monetary performance awards, and time-off awards. In addition,
48

the Commission’s senior leadership should also continue with the tradition of Gold and Silver
Medal Awards in recognition of significant contributions and government service, as well as
awards recognizing excellence in engineering, economics and customer service.
Further, given budgetary constraints, the Commission’s senior leadership should explore
additional means for staff recognition that would not require funding increases but would have
significant returns in terms of staff motivation, particularly on a specific project or initiative
basis. Whatever the approach employed, the guiding principle is staff recognition aimed at
motivating staff. The paradigm should be sufficiently flexible to resonate with those who are
motivated by public recognition as well as those who prefer to avoid the limelight.

Responsible

:
OMD, working with OCH and Bureau and Office Chiefs.

Recommendation 4.9:

Revisit External and Internal Hiring Strategies

Human Resources’ hiring policies for both internal and external hiring should be reviewed by the
Commission’s senior leadership, with representation from all of the Bureaus and Offices, to
ensure the best hiring outcomes are occurring. By targeting hiring based on workload and
needed expertise, the Commission could better align its needs and those of the commercial
marketplace, benefit from subject matter experts in various industry sectors, improve the
distribution of its work, and continually increase the expertise and efficiency of the staff in the
process. In particular, OMD should evaluate whether the FCC has the right mix and number of
information technology staff to meet the Commission’s increasing needs in that area. As an
example, technical support for Summation software is a particular challenge for the
Commission’s transaction teams, who are operating under a tight 180-day shot clock. Finally, as
part of this recommendation, OMD should evaluate hiring flexibilities that may allow the FCC to
fill positions more efficiently and timely.

Responsible

:
OMD, working with the Bureaus and Offices’ senior leadership to evaluate
external and internal hiring practices.

Recommendation 4.10:

Planning for and Funding Travel

Performing outreach to the Commission’s stakeholders and participating in industry conferences
serve important information needs for the Commission and the public. To perform these
functions, Commission staff members need to travel throughout the year. In the current
budgetary environment where travel is necessarily constrained, it is even more important that the
Commission’s senior leadership improve its planning and coordination for those travel needs and
manage its funding resources accordingly. Even though the Commission understands that travel
needs can sometimes occur at the last minute, as a general practice, planning for and prioritizing
of travel needs to be done well in advance to secure advantageous rates, in particular for
international travel. When the budgetary environment permits, Bureaus and Offices should be
given their own travel budgets to manage, and individual trip approvals should be made as timely
as possible.
49

Responsible

: OMD, working with Bureaus and Offices to facilitate their development of travel
budgets and specific plans each year and to streamline the approval process.
3.

Training

Background:

In this era of convergence and continuous technological growth and development,
the FCC must keep up with market and technological changes and ensure that it sustains a
knowledgeable and adaptable workforce well prepared to support the FCC’s role as an expert
agency in the telecommunications field. In this regard, focused and strategic training of its
workforce continues to be an important concern for the FCC. With the press of mission-critical
functions and other operational demands, often there are limited resources (in terms of time,
funds, and personnel) that can be dedicated to staff’s ongoing training needs.

Recommendation 4.11:

Enhance FCC University
The FCC has made a significant and substantial investment in staff training through its
development and use of FCC University. Currently FCC University is the primary portal
through which staff register for and track their attendance and completion of training. OMD
should determine if fiscal resources can be committed to upgrade FCC University to increase its
utility and to enhance the user experience. If possible OMD should post on the Intranet a list
cataloging the inventory of training courses (or, as an alternative, a user-defined search/sorting
capability). In addition, OMD could develop a clearinghouse approach for external courses with
links to agencies and organizations providing relevant training, along with improved filtering and
sorting capabilities (e.g., by profession or subject area).

Responsible:

OMD with input from Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 4.12:

Reassess Strategies for Staff Training and Development Overall
Including the Need for Additional Training Resources

Effective training has the potential to create a win-win scenario for both the FCC and its staff.
From an agency perspective, training increases the competencies of on-board staff, supports an
internal mechanism of filling identified skill gaps, increases the ability to be reflective of and
responsive to changing needs and technologies, and equips the workforce with necessary skills to
perform their jobs. From an employee perspective, training keeps technical and professional
skills current, teaches and develops new skills, supports the pursuit of professional and personal
development goals, and equips employees with necessary skills to perform their jobs. For
example, continually developing the FCC’s internal engineering expertise promotes both
independent analyses of critical technical issues as well as continual development of valuable
staff expertise and skills.
The FCC’s senior leadership should re-assess its strategies and resources for staff training and
development to ensure that more of the components of the win-win scenario described above are
50

present. Strategies might include soliciting additional input from both employees and managers
concerning (1) the topics on which they need training, (2) measures to better tailor training so as
to accommodate employee and management schedules, and (3) whether the most essential
training should be mandatory (e.g. for advancement to higher graded positions). To make the
best use of limited training resources, the FCC should continue expanding the use of internal
“experts” as trainers, and using internal communication strategies for “pushing” training to
employees (such as tip sheets, short articles, and best practices).
In addition, the FCC’s senior leadership should also consider whether its current training
approach is sufficiently flexible and adaptable to respond to a variety of training needs and
diverse ways of learning. The FCC might employ more targeted training by offering case
study/scenario/discussion format training working with intact work groups, or by providing
separate and more specialized training for different categories of employees (e.g. different
training for application processors, staff assistants, paralegals, attorneys, and first-line
managers), assuming resources could be made available for such training and attendance could
be assured. The FCC has been expanding its offerings of training in a variety of formats to allow
for different learning styles (e.g. in person, instructor-led; on-line; facilitator-led; interactive
reading and discussion groups; hands-on, experiential), and OMD should continue to explore
how best to ensure essential topics are offered in a variety of formats to meet the learning styles
of FCC staff.
OMD should examine how to create an Intranet-based catalogue of “performance support”
resources for both managers and staff. The underlying goal would be to provide readily-
available training resources when the need for knowledge or skills arises, regardless of the
training schedule. These training resources (when allowed by intellectual property laws and
licensing agreements) could be available in a variety of formats, including PowerPoint
presentations, primers, tip sheets, or top 10 lists.

Responsible:

OMD with input from Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 4.13:

Increase Training in the Use of Technology and Project
Management Tools

An increase in technology training targeted to both less experienced as well as skilled users can
increase the efficiency and speed with which the agency can accomplish its mission. Examples
of technology courses for less experienced users might include Microsoft Office tips, how to be
more effective in using e-mail, and how to use alternative methods for communicating.
Examples of technical courses for more skilled users might include advanced data science
training for economists and engineers, coding for those interested in advancing their cloud-based
application development expertise, and user-interface development and web-based
communications for individuals focused on maximizing the communications potential of the
FCC’s website.
Training in project management and enterprise task-tracking provides valuable skill sets across
the FCC, and could enable staff to accomplish FCC goals more efficiently and quickly.
51

Policymakers and technologists should (and often do) strategically work together on FCC reform
efforts, from the conceptual beginning of a project, through development, launch, and ongoing
operations. An increase in data science, coding, and user interface development courses would
enhance this collaboration and thereby transform the quality and efficiency of the FCC’s work.

Responsible:

OMD with input from information technology staff within the Commission.

Recommendation 4.14:

Reassess the FCC’s Approach to Management Training and
Development

OMD should reassess its management training and development and consider establishing three
distinct training programs for managers and supervisors: (1) a revised Supervisory Certification
Program (SCP) for new supervisors, (2) a new program for current managers and supervisors to
address training on the more complex issues confronted in the workplace, and (3) a more robust
leadership development program.
First, the SCP is required for new FCC managers and supervisors and was designed to convey
essential information for those new to these roles. Supervisors have frequently mentioned that
the supervisory training courses, while useful, seem to be longer than necessary to communicate
the relevant content. OMD should explore whether these training courses can be streamlined,
condensed, or consolidated without adversely affecting the necessary content. The courses
should be offered more frequently and flexibly, perhaps when possible in an on-line format, to
facilitate managers being able to attend despite the press of other work assignments. More
importantly, new supervisors should be offered and required to complete a short course on the
key personnel policies of the agency very soon after they begin supervising others. In order to
keep training costs down OMD could explore using current FCC managers as subject matter
experts and use them as trainers in some of the SCP courses. Finally, supervisors and managers
should be held accountable for completion of the SCP.
Second, the addition of a second tier of supervisory and management training could help focus
training on the management skills that are necessary to supervise the wide variety of staff and
projects that FCC managers supervise. OMD should re-examine the available course offerings
for management and leadership training. Advanced supervisory training should include the most
important topics, including, but not limited to, practical strategies for dealing with performance
issues, how to conduct effective meetings, managing your managers, interpersonal
communications, change management, how to give effective feedback, how to hold staff
accountable, and leadership versus management. All management training courses should
include FCC-specific information about personnel policies and provide opportunities for
discussion of the issues that most frequently arise when supervising FCC staff. Short duration
training courses might be more effective in attracting managers, as would interactive training that
allows managers to share their wisdom with other managers. Finally, the FCC’s senior
leadership should promote manager training and development beyond completion of the SCP.
52

Third, OMD, working with the Commission’s senior leadership, should continue leadership
training programs like the Management Excellence Program10 or another similar program, if
resources permit.

Responsible

:
OMD working with the Bureaus and Offices’ senior leadership.

Recommendation 4.15:

Actively Encourage and Facilitate Continual Staff Education
The FCC’s senior leadership should encourage all staff to pursue training opportunities that
would increase skills and knowledge relevant to and necessary for successful performance of
their job duties. In this regard, it should be noted that for certain types of training it may be more
prudent and economically feasible for staff to take training outside the FCC. Furthermore, there
may be some subject areas for which a public-partnership model could be utilized to create
training environments that would benefit both the FCC and industry (e.g., to explore emerging
technologies or to become familiar with new or anticipated commercial offerings and/or
products). The FCC might also take greater advantage of its Practising Law Institute (PLI) and
West LegalEdcenter (WLEC) memberships by flagging PLI and WLEC training programs that
are particularly useful for FCC attorneys. The FCC may also consider having staff participate in
industry hosted technical trainings or other programs providing advanced materials on cutting
edge engineering topics.
OMD, working with the Commission’s senior leadership, should consider reintroducing personal
development plans (PDPs) at all levels as a mechanism to promote and reinforce the continued
need for staff development. These PDPs should be reintroduced within a framework that reflects
an emphasis on the importance of staff’s continual education.

Responsible

:
OMD, working with the Bureaus and Offices’ senior leadership.

Recommendation 4.16:

Explore Ways to Provide Additional On-the-Job Training
To the extent the FCC seeks to utilize existing on-board staff to address identified skill gaps or to
retrain staff in response to regulatory, industry, or technology changes, the FCC’s senior
leadership should explore ways to equip such staff with the necessary skills to perform the new
jobs through on-the-job training. This approach would facilitate a smooth transition for the staff
and would allow the FCC to reduce the time lag in filling identified skill gaps. One strategy for
expanding on-the-job training might be to use more experienced staff to train less experienced
staff through informal training sessions, informal mentoring, and “shadowing”. Supervisors
could be encouraged to use such techniques, in addition to their own training and feedback
efforts, to help move staff into new or more responsible roles. Also, the FCC’s senior leadership
should examine whether implementation of mentoring, whether formal or informal, would also
facilitate additional on-the-job training support.

10 This program had a successful year in 2012 and was not repeated after that due to budget constraints. It included
internal instructor-led training, coaching sessions, and a significant work project.
53

Training managers to deliver constructive feedback, develop teams, and develop staff would help
foster a mentoring culture throughout the agency. In addition, a more formal mentoring program
could be helpful to those staff interested in being mentored or in learning new skills (or in
mentoring others) and could enable more senior non-supervisory staff to help develop the skills
of less experienced staff.

Responsible:

OMD, with input from Bureaus and Offices.

B. IT-Specific Collaborations

1. Improve FCC’s Future-Focused IT Strategy and Infrastructure

Background:

Any effort to improve and reform processes at the FCC requires an agency-wide
recognition that technology is a transformational opportunity to change how the FCC
accomplishes its mission. The strategies described here are an effort to modernize its existing IT
infrastructure, further develop its data management approaches, and address concerns about the
FCC web site.
The FCC owns more than 200+ different IT systems, with over 40% of them more than 10 years
old. Some Bureaus and Offices have technical capacity outside of central IT-maintained
functions, resulting in disparate database, licensing, or tracking systems. Sometimes these
systems lack modern components built on current information technology standards; sometimes
they approach technology implementation well. In either case, the agency could benefit from a
more holistic, strategic and modernized approach.
The recommendations identified here would help modernize the FCCs information technology
assets. Some of the recommendations are already underway; some are highly specific to certain
applications; and some are potentially large new initiatives. All are important to making the
Commission operate more efficiently. In many cases, however, the timing and scope of
implementation of the recommendations depend on obtaining sufficient funding resources.

Recommendation 4.17

: In Progress IT Projects
This recommendation focuses on efforts which have begun but are not completed. Input from
our review found that these efforts could benefit from additional mid-course outreach and input,
which will result in better overall products. In particular the agency will:
 Deliver a virtual desktop environment, ensuring secure remote business access for FCC
employees.
 Complete an enterprise architecture guide focused on migrating legacy FCC systems to
the cloud.
 Deliver a new model for handling FCC consumer complaints for review.
 Deliver specific cyber recommendations to address ongoing security enhancements to the
FCC’s systems.
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Responsible:

FCC Chief Information Officer (“CIO”).

Recommendation 4.18

: Re-baseline the FCC’s IT Budget and Improve Procurement
Currently much of the FCC IT budget is focused on maintaining legacy systems. A legacy-
focused approach does not allow for using advanced and efficient technology for increased
productivity. The FCC’s IT budget should be re-baselined with a focus on investing in moving
to modular solutions that reduce the number of unique systems the FCC maintains. Modular
approaches are more agile, reusable and efficient. This process should be implemented in a
manner that reflects the varied and distinct requirements of the different Bureaus and Offices,
and accommodates those needs.
Re-baselining the FCC’s IT budget would allow a focus on the future, and enable the FCC to
break away from the cycle of just maintaining legacy systems infrastructure. Benefits include
long-term costs savings by avoiding legacy focus and increased IT project delivery time. This
investment would include an adaptive model implementing modern web-based technologies for
every future IT expenditure. Generally speaking the following items would be addressed:
 Ensure every system has a lifecycle so legacy costs do not outweigh new development.
 Develop a Service Platform that allows external stakeholders to retrieve, remix, share,
and even submit data back to the FCC. This modern infrastructure would include the use
of cloud-based IT solutions as opposed to internal infrastructure and focus on a modular,
reusable information Enterprise Architecture.
 Fully develop a Data Mart for the FCC Enterprise (See Recommendation 4.25).
 Retool the Website and Open FCC Interfaces for everything to be sent or received via the
web (See Recommendation 4.29).
 Improve the procurement process to include piloting applications such as cloud-based
email, document authoring, and collaborations. The long-term goal is to have almost all
of the activities of the normal FCC work functions hosted externally to the FCC and/or
available on secure mobile and/or remote devices.

Responsible:

OMD, principally CIO and CFO.

Recommendation 4.19

: Improve WebTA Reporting
WebTA is a time coding system for employees to enter the time spent on different projects which
was recently deployed at the FCC. Because WebTA is a new system, it needs some adjustments.
Previously the FCC’s use of WebTA was planned to be hosted in the cloud, but that plan has not
yet been fully executed. Plans to migrate the FCC’s use of WebTA to the cloud should be
updated and pursued with expediency. Additionally, some short-term 120 day enhancements and
fixes should be done while waiting for cloud migration. For example, one recent short-term
enhancement provided employees with remote access to WebTA.
55

Responsible:

OMD.

Recommendation 4.20

: Review Legacy FCC HR and Financial Operations IT Systems
Similar to WebTA, the staff in OMD should work to explore additional areas to go paperless.
HR, Financial Operations, and IT should work to examine more automation and paperless
processes for several other personnel-related and financial-related functions. Areas of
consideration might include electronic filing of personnel reports such as annual reviews,
electronic process for hiring review, and potentially an online knowledge center for hiring,
including sample position descriptions and standard questions for interviews that could be
utilized by selecting officials across the agency.

Responsible:

OMD, based on information supplied by the Bureaus and Offices.
2. Improve Internal Task Tracking and Collaboration Systems

Background

: The agency has many tracking systems that are used to track internal and external
processes. They were developed over time to meet individual Bureau or Office specific
requirements. Some of these tracking systems lack functionality expected from modern systems,
and some are built on dated technology.
To complement these capabilities, the agency would benefit from adhering to Standard
Operating Procedures across all Bureaus and Offices for common tasks, and should develop and
adhere to workflows that maintain and protect data in this system.

Recommendation 4.21:

Develop an Enterprise Tracking and Collaboration System

As detailed above in Chapter 1, the FCC staff’s ability to track ongoing matters and other tasks
effectively would benefit significantly from IT enhancements. The CIO’s office, working in
close coordination with the Bureaus and Offices to be responsive to their requirements, should
prioritize an initiative to develop more robust, state-of-the-art tracking and team collaboration
capabilities at the agency. Several commercial software solutions specialize in tracking work
flows. These solutions can be customized to incorporate needs specific to Bureaus and Offices.
This initiative should:
 Develop working definitions of a workflow tracking system(s) and what it would track,
and decisions on a specific tracking system to develop using state-of-the-art IT standards;
 Determine whether and how document collaboration and workflow tracking should be
integrated into a single effort or remain separate;
 Determine which of the agenda-related systems and work flows such as e-BARF and
EDOCS should be integrated into the system;
 Evaluate whether commercial solutions are likely to be sufficiently flexible to address the
FCC’s needs;
 Mockup an enterprise tracking solution; and
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 Create a working prototype (“beta”) of the enterprise tracking solution for high priority
items.

Responsible:

OMD, based on information supplied by the Bureaus and Offices.
3. Improve FCC Data Collection and Reporting

Background

: The FCC requires data as a critical element of consumer protection, spectrum
allocation, license management, and other FCC functions. Some FCC data is in individual
systems and some in master database containers and there is no unified “enterprise view” across
all of the FCC data assets. In addition, some external parties have said the FCC collects some
information that is no longer useful or necessary.
The agency should focus on evaluating state-of-the-art technology solutions to improve its data
collection and reporting, and renew its efforts to eliminate or streamline outdated or unnecessary
collections. A modern data effort presents an opportunity to collect and use data more
efficiently. FCC employees should have access to better information about what data is available
within the agency’s database systems, and easier means to gain access to the data in a form that
is usable with standard analytic tools. Technology is only an enabler in this effort. The
migration to a unified data architecture requires the mapping of information across all systems,
an arduous and time-consuming process.
Again, implementation of the recommendations in this section depends on the FCC obtaining
sufficient resources to fund the necessary IT capabilities.

Recommendation 4.22

: Develop an FCC Data Mart
A Data Mart is an always-available, enterprise-wide view of the different databases managed by
the FCC. With the right Data Mart architecture, data can be accessed, analyzed, shared and even
submitted back to the FCC in a consistent streamlined fashion. Instead of more than a hundred
operational databases, the FCC should store all its data in a cloud-based solution that provides a
centralized way to store and retrieve the data. A Data Mart improves data accessibility, security,
and availability.
A principal focus on this Data Mart would be to improve enterprise tracking of matters and
activities across the agency, ranging from policy actions to complaints and data collection
efforts. The Data Mart would support tools or other user interfaces, which would allow query
and programmatic access by staff. The Data Mart would also greatly improve the FCC’s
licensing and auction endeavors.
With this strategy, data would reside in three spheres: private, enterprise, and public. Private
data would be confined to the application’s users. Enterprise data would be available to all FCC
employees and contractors without explicit request. Public data would be available to everyone.
The goal would be, working in concert with internal stakeholders and technologies, to migrate all
legacy systems over next three years, with cost-savings as legacy systems are retired, breaking
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the solution in to modular, manageable pieces with progress shown along the way. This
approach maximizes modern technology approaches and minimizes lost productivity from
switching systems.

Figure – Graphical depiction of an FCC Data Mart

Figure – Levels of Private, Enterprise, and Public Access to the FCC Data Mart

Responsible

: OMD and Data Working Group (which should include senior representatives from
every Bureau and Office).
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Recommendation 4.23

: Develop and Implement a Data Governance Plan
A data governance plan refers to the specific policies, procedures, controls, use restrictions,
terms, and conditions that collectively manage the data. The Data Mart needs these rules in
order to perform the functions of serving data.
The agency should appoint a working group to write these governing rules and develop a
cohesive data governance plan. An agency-wide governance plan should, among other things,
articulate policies for data lifecycle, data stewardship, access controls, publication and use, terms
and conditions, and general data processes. The plan needs to address continued active
involvement of the governance body, which would have the authority to manage these policies in
the future.

Responsible

: OMD, based on information supplied by the Bureaus and Offices.

Recommendation 4.24:

Improve FCC Data Collection

The FCC has many data collections today, and can use IT to collect and manage data more
efficiently. With over 200 legacy systems in a constant state of maintenance, and a very real and
growing cyber security challenge, the importance of collecting and managing data more
efficiently becomes paramount. The risks of system breach and losing data are more easily
mitigated with modern cloud-based solutions which have built in protection.
Two specific efforts will be required to help reach the Data Collection Improvement goal. First,
building on the success of an FCC Data Mart, new approaches to data collection that will reduce
burden and improve data validity can be achieved by implementing modern data collection
approaches. Second, building on the earlier success of the 2011 Data Improvement effort, a
policy/legal team needs to be established to propose on an ongoing basis any regulatory or
perhaps even statutory changes needed to remove old, outdated collections.
New approaches to data collections include but are not limited to:
 Providing data models/containers of collections in open transparent technology resources
for data providers to enter data into and deliver to the FCC;
 Removing outdated “forms- based” collection efforts which require hand entering every
record;
 Providing tools which pre-scrub data and assist data providers in addressing potential
errors before they get into the FCC Data Mart;
 Ensuring the FCC can accept machine-readable data submissions (e.g., .csv, .xml, or
JSON files) so that outside parties can submit data in response to FCC requests and to
better support their advocacy);
 Enabling external parties to file their confidential data electronically via the web, and the
FCC to manage access appropriately; and
 Using the Internet as an asset in providing data delivery, such as:
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 Opening up more Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) so that data
providers can provide machine-to-machine data inputs to the FCC; and
 Using industry standard version control software to provide access points for data
providers to manage their public data delivery to the FCC in the web ecology.

Responsible

: OMD/CIO, working with OGC and the relevant Bureaus and Offices.
4. Improve the FCC.gov Website and New Media Outreach

Background

: During the review process, the FCC’s website was a very popular topic in both
external and internal comments. In 2011, the website (fcc.gov) was redesigned, replacing its
previous website, which remains available as transition.fcc.gov and it is still actively used by
several internal and external audiences. The intent of the 2011 effort was to increase focus on
consumers with topic-based navigation and more emphasis on graphics. The effort also
implemented a widely-used content management system at the time (Drupal). While the
previous web site had a dated visual design and was very difficult to update, some users (both
external and internal) have expressed frustration with certain aspects of the new website’s
functionality, especially its search and navigation functions. Addressing these concerns should
be a high-priority focus of the FCC’s process reform.
The content from the transition.fcc.gov site has only been partially migrated, creating confusion
when the new site exists alongside the old site. The dual site issues also cause undue burden on
the FCC staff who manage both. Visitors to fcc.gov report having difficulty finding information
through the site search mechanism. Site navigation and information architecture have also been
problematic for some users. Advanced users are very familiar with internal FCC structure, and
therefore want site navigation and information architecture to reflect the Bureau and Office and
divisional structure of the agency when searching for documents. However, this legacy
divisional structure is counter-intuitive to good site design for other constituents.
Some practitioners also report difficulty finding the information they need on Bureau and Office
webpages. Either the information is not displayed in a uniform, consistent manner on the various
Bureau and Office webpages, or pertinent information is missing or difficult to find.

Recommendation 4.25

: Improve Web Site Search Functionality
The FCC should focus on improving the fcc.gov search function immediately. As part of this
effort, it should conduct internal and external user testing to better understand how people are
using search across fcc.gov, as well as on other databases and applications.
Through existing resources, the combined technologists from the FCC New Media team and the
FCC IT team would:
 Improve the current search configuration;
 Enhance crawling and indexing of the FCC website;
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 Improve layout of the search results page to be better organized and minimize
distractions;
 Improve existing search filters;
 Expand the number of commonly searched terms that return featured search results,
based on Bureau and Office term suggestions, a survey of currently-active rulemaking
efforts and advisory committees; and
 Provide a trackable mechanism ("ticket system") for both internal and external users to
submit search-related suggestions and commit to implementing them expeditiously.
The FCC should optimize the search engine and make documents more search-friendly. This
will involve a manual process that needs continuous review and refinement. Some manual
search improvement strategies include meta-tagging (e.g., to distinguish speeches from public
notices) and keywords, relevancy tuning, results grouping, synonyms, stop words, search rules,
a/b testing, real-time refinements to search configurations, and application integration.
The FCC also should evaluate fcc.gov’s information strategy and conduct user testing to reveal
how practitioners and consumers, both internal and external, are using the Bureau and Office
webpages of the fcc.gov site. The user testing data should then be analyzed to improve
navigation and enhance user experience.

Responsible:

OMD, with assistance of the Bureaus and Offices

Recommendation 4.26

: Implement a Consistent Design for FCC Web Presence
The FCC's web content is large and decentralized and resides in various applications, websites,
content management systems, and databases distributed across Bureaus and Offices. For a
variety of technical and operational reasons, it is not feasible or desirable to migrate all web
functions into a single system immediately. However, the FCC should develop, implement, and
enforce a style guide across all of the FCC's public-facing applications, websites, and databases
to achieve a unified look and feel and consistent navigation. This style guide would lend
uniformity and coherence to the FCC’s website and applications. In addition, Bureaus and
Offices should be encouraged to migrate their content to the main site, achieving a consistent
central web experience for end users. The technical details for consistent design will be drafted
in an implementation guide.

Responsible:

OMD/CIO and OMR.

Recommendation 4.27:

Improve Bureau and Office Webpages and Update the fcc.gov
Information Strategy

Bureaus and Offices should take more responsibility by actively managing the FCC content on
their webpages, enabling decentralized content updates via a centralized enterprise web platform
interface. This would be accomplished by engaging with relevant practitioner groups to receive
feedback on content that would be most useful on Bureau and Office webpages. The agency
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should reduce the number of gatekeepers required to update the content on the FCC external
webpages and intranet to reduce overhead and provide for better content. Working with the
Bureaus and Offices, the FCC IT team should:
 Focus on content and efficient, uniform navigation;
 Establish and enforce procedures and schedules for Bureau and Office webmasters to
migrate content from transition.fcc.gov to fcc.gov; retire Bureau and Office as well as
common pages on transition.fcc.gov by a set date; ensure redirects exist for old links to
new persistent content; create uniform perma-links; and retire data storage sites such as
hraunfoss.fcc.gov after checking with the Bureau and Office webmasters and external
user groups; and
 Develop a web site sandbox where proposed website changes can be tested prior to
release and also test the methods by which Bureaus and Offices can make changes to the
website.
This effort would result in more web delivery of FCC information assets. New delivery
schemes, beyond just text, and static images, are envisioned. Combined with a mature Data
Mart, the FCC web would become a more interactive toolset with database, interactive
visualizations and more involvement between FCC staff and stakeholders.

Responsible:

Bureaus and Offices, working with OMD and the CIO.
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Chapter 5: Functional & Bureau/Office-Specific Recommendations

A. Process-Related Changes

Recommendation 5.1:

Streamline the Process for Receipt and Processing of Requests for
Closed Captioning Exemptions

Section 713(d)(3) of the Communications Act permits video programming providers or owners
to request an exemption from the closed captioning requirements where it can be shown that
such requirements would be economically burdensome. CGB should take the steps necessary to
revise its process to allow parties to file closed captioning exemption requests electronically. At
the present time, these requests must still be filed by paper. The paper-only filing requirement
adversely impacts the speed of processing these requests, particularly when additional
information is sought from the requestor, and may present administratively burdensome
challenges for all parties to the process.

Responsible:

Commission-level action likely required. Implementation will require input from
CGB and OMD.

Recommendation 5.2:

Create a “Contacts Database” for Outreach and Consumer
Education

CGB should create a unified database of contacts, readily available to the Bureau and in an
easily-manipulated and sorted format that would contain contact information for industry,
government and organizational stakeholders. This should result in significant savings in staff
hours and would enhance the overall effectiveness of the Commission’s outreach and consumer
education initiatives.

Responsible:

CGB, OMD and OGC.

Recommendation 5.3

: Consider Notifying Investigation Subjects of Closure
Outside parties have asked that EB notify subjects upon closure of an investigation. Some
agencies follow such a practice, while others do not. EB should consider whether to adopt such
a practice, and, if so, how such notice could be provided consistent with the agency’s current
resources. Generally speaking, EB does not routinely issue closure letters to the subjects of
investigations indicating that it has elected not to pursue a matter. In some contexts, doing so
would have required the issuance of hundreds of thousands of pieces of correspondence. At the
Commission, the Media Bureau’s Video Division routinely does this. While the subject of an
investigation may contact EB to determine its status at any time, we understand that targets are
often reluctant to do so.
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Responsible

: EB.

Recommendation 5.4

: Reevaluate Case Selection Criteria to Maximize Enforcement
Impact

EB must exercise discretion in determining which cases to pursue, and which enforcement tools
to use to address a particular violation. These decisions are complex and multi-factored. In
general, EB’s cases align with the agency’s expressed strategic goals (e.g., consumer protection,
public safety), and it uses the forfeiture process to address the violations at issue. However, given
new budget and human resource realities, EB should re-evaluate its enforcement priorities in
order to provide effective enforcement in traditional areas as well as identify and pursue
emerging enforcement issues. It would also be useful for EB to make information on the
statutory framework applicable to enforcement referrals more widely available to other Bureaus
and Offices so that violations are timely referred. EB should also identify ways to further
standardize and streamline the referral process, and Bureaus and Offices should consider and
coordinate on the enforcement implications of a matter as early as possible, given the applicable
one-year statute of limitations.

Responsible

: EB.

Recommendation 5.5

: Develop Public-Private Partnerships and Enhanced Transparency to
Improve Resolution of Interference Issues

Information from the input process elicited several ideas for improving EB’s interference
detection and resolution functions. Suggestions include EB creating and maintaining, for both
internal and external use, a database of these actions, and wireless carriers granting EB access to
their privately-held databases that track interference (on a confidential basis). If feasible in the
current environment, these ideas would enhance opportunities for EB staff and the private sector
to learn from one another in furtherance of the common goal of identifying and resolving
interference problems. In addition, EB should continue to modernize its interference detection
and mitigation efforts. Specifically, EB should:
 Develop new “droppable” direction-finding technology that will allow field agents to
monitor possible interference remotely;
 Implement technology permitting field agents to perform more tasks in their direction-
finding vehicles or otherwise in the field.

Responsible

: EB efforts in this area are already underway and should continue, in coordination
with MB and WTB, and with support from the CIO.

Recommendation 5.6

: Improve Databases on Which EB Relies
EB has its own database for tracking its enforcement activities – the Enforcement Bureau
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Tracking System (EBATS) – and, as the agency’s primary enforcer of its rules, orders and
policies, EB staff often needs to access and interact with databases created and maintained by
other Bureaus and Offices. For example, EB relies on OET’s equipment authorization database
when monitoring compliance with the wireless Hearing Aid Compatibility rules. Expanding the
functionality of EBATS (or a successor database capability) to include fully automated transfer
of complaint and other data from other Bureaus’ databases would increase processing efficiency.
Similarly, automated workflow functionality would permit more expedited and timely action.
Further enhancements to the EB database capabilities, including improved search and reporting
capabilities, should be prioritized. Therefore, the functionality offered by enforcement-related
databases can and should be improved, either by upgrades to EBATS or as part of the overall
initiative to address upgrades to the IT infrastructure.

Responsible

: EB to identify and relay ideas for improvement; CIO and other Bureaus and
Offices to implement.

Recommendation 5.7:

Eliminate the Requirement for Prior Approval of Pro Forma

Changes in Ownership of Space and Earth Station Licensees

When space and earth station licensees make pro forma changes in ownership (such as
conversion of a licensee from a corporation to an LLC with no change in the ultimate control of
the licensee), the Commission’s rules require them to seek prior approval from the Commission.
Under the existing approach, the practice for satellite licensees differs from the practices
followed for Section 214 and for certain wireless licenses. IB should follow the practices for
Section 214 and for certain wireless licenses and eliminate the requirement that space and earth
station licensees seek prior approval from the Commission before making pro forma changes in
ownership.

Responsible:

IB, OGC.

Recommendation 5.8:

Improve the ITU Notification Process

The Commission should explore a process for allowing satellite companies the flexibility of
starting the ITU notification process prior to submitting a full space station application with the
FCC. Since 2001, the International Bureau has submitted filings to the ITU for new or modified
frequency bands only after an application for the frequency band and orbital location had been
submitted to the Commission and the applicant had certified unconditional acceptance of all cost
recovery responsibilities. This policy was implemented to address, in part, the ITU’s adoption of
cost recovery fees for satellite network filings. In certain cases, given the detailed information
required for a space station application filing with the FCC, operators do not submit their
application until well after their decision for including the new band occurs. During the
intervening time, operators from other administrations can file at the ITU and receive a higher
ITU priority. By providing satellite companies the flexibility to file their submission to the ITU
at an earlier stage of the process, these companies can avoid a lower ITU priority for the filing.
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Responsible:

IB.

Recommendation 5.9:

Fix/Upgrade the International Bureau Database Functionality

IB should upgrade the International Bureau Filing System (“IBFS”) (or a successor IT
infrastructure) to create a better user experience for filing applications and to permit the
expedited processing of additional categories of earth station applications. Specifically, IBFS (or
a successor system) should be upgraded to minimize downtime, fix the conversion of space and
earth station applications, and update the forms to reflect recent changes to the Commission’s
rules regarding satellite licensing, international section 214 applications, submarine cable
licenses and section 310(b) petitions for declaratory ruling.

Responsible:

IB, working with OMD and outside contractors.

Recommendation 5.10:

Fix/Upgrade the Information Technology Systems for Cross-Border
Work

IB should upgrade the information technology systems it uses as part of its international outreach
and cross-border work with Canada and Mexico.

Responsible:

IB, working with OMD and outside contractors.

Recommendation 5.11:

Improve Access to Satellite Licensing, Orbital Location and
Frequency Band Information

All satellite application dismissal letters, public notices, and declaratory rulings are currently
available on the old IB website, http://transition.fcc.gov/ib/pdocs.html. IB should work with
OMD to ensure that these documents are migrated to the new FCC website. There are other web
pages that compile documents related to satellite licensing that should also be migrated to the
new FCC website.
In addition, IB should make orbital location and frequency band information more easily
available. In order to identify existing opportunities to bring new spectrum and orbit resources
into use, potential applicants need real-time, easy-to-access information about orbital locations,
frequencies, polarization and coverage of space stations currently authorized by the FCC. For
this requirement to be met, IB should consider the possibility of publishing on its website a
summary of all orbital locations, frequencies, polarization and coverage of space stations
currently authorized by the Commission.
IBFS contains the functionality to provide reports of all current authorizations including
frequencies and orbital locations. These reports do not include, however, polarization and
coverage of space stations currently authorized by the Commission. To provide this information
in a timely and automated manner, IB may need to revise its data collection fields.
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Responsible:

IB, working with OMD for IT-related issues.

Recommendation 5.12:

Publish Explanatory Materials on Satellite Licensing

IB should prepare materials to assist applicants in completing the licensing process. One
possible approach is preparation of a primer that would be available on the Commission’s
website, reflecting the current state of the Part 25 rules. Another possible approach is
preparation of lists of Frequently Asked Questions concerning earth station and space station
licensing.

Responsible:

IB.

Recommendation 5.13:

Expedite Rulemaking Consideration in the Media Context

As discussed elsewhere, MB should create targeted timelines for rulemaking proceedings,
including addressing Petitions for Reconsideration of Commission action. MB should also
routinely put any Petitions for Rulemaking and Petitions for Declaratory Ruling on Public Notice
within one month, or quickly dismiss such petitions if procedurally defective.

Responsible

: MB, working with OGC. Commission action required for any suggested rule
changes that might be required.

Recommendation 5.14:

Update Existing Media Bureau Databases and Forms

The Consolidated Database System (CDBS), the existing licensing database for broadcasters,
should be upgraded, or improved capabilities provided via an alternative IT infrastructure.
CDBS is an aging system due for an upgrade or conversion to another database with enhanced
functionality. CDBS functionality upgrades should include revising Form 323; requiring
electronic filing of Applications for Review, Petitions for Reconsideration and Petitions to Deny;
making data more accessible to the public; and continued development of a common licensing
system.
The Commission should also change its database to allow licensees to make minor amendments
to the initial filing of Children’s Television Programming Reports, or file updates to the initial
filing.
The Cable Television Relay Service (CARS) database is the Commission’s last licensing system
that does not use electronic filing. The database should be upgraded to become automated. In
addition, the Cable Operations and Licensing System (COALS) database should be modernized.
These licenses should be capable of being filed electronically, either through CARS and COALS
or an alternative modernized database.
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Responsible

: MB and OMD responsible for developing proposed approach. Commission action
required for any suggested rule changes that might be required.

Recommendation 5.15:

Expedite Media Bureau Licensing Processes

As discussed elsewhere in this Report, use of Commission-level summary judgment orders and a
“deemed denied” procedure for Applications for Review could enable faster review of appealed
initial decisions. This is especially relevant in the media context, where such applications are
more common than in other sectors.
Many licensing appeals may be dismissed on procedural grounds, where there is a solid basis for
summary dismissal on such grounds. In such cases, there would not be a legal need to include an
alternative independent holding on the substantive merits of the agency’s action. Overall, where
appropriate, the amount of detail and discussion required in decisions on appeal should be
reviewed and streamlined, as discussed elsewhere in this report (see Chapter 1, Part C, the
Tackle Backlogs Section).

Responsible

: MB and OGC responsible for developing proposed approach.

Recommendation 5.16:

Modernize Hearing Aid Compatibility Compliance Process,
Including Enhanced Automation of Reports

WTB should update the Hearing Aid Compatibility (“HAC”) compliance process to accelerate
review and minimize manual processing of reports. The manufacturer and service provider
reports both provide information for consumers and enable staff to monitor compliance with the
hearing aid compatibility rules. WTB staff is working with IT contractors to improve the
accessibility of HAC rating information in OET’s equipment authorization database, and
specifically to further automate connections between this database and the HAC reporting
system. Such automation will enable filers to complete their reports more quickly and reliably,
as well as ease the burden on FCC staff of verifying the reports’ accuracy. We note that the need
for hearing aid compatibility reports could potentially be eliminated in the future if all new
handset models were required to meet HAC standards. The FCC should explore this possibility
as well.

Responsible:

WTB, working with OET and IT contractors.

Recommendation 5.17

: Increase Automation of License Processing and Review
WTB should explore additional opportunities to expand auto-processing of license applications,
including ones reviewed by a frequency coordinator. Possible candidates for automation may
include private land mobile services, registrations in the 3650-3700 service, some categories of
applications in certain microwave services and renewals of auctioned paging licenses. WTB
should also explore whether automated cross-checks and review could help facilitate manual
review, particularly for microwave licenses.
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Responsible:

WTB, with IT contractors and OMD.

Recommendation 5.18:

Create an Electronic Filing System for Network Change
Notifications

Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) that want to make a network change, either temporary (like
shutting the power off at an exchange while they install new equipment) or permanent, must
notify all affected interconnected parties, and must file with the Commission. This is currently a
paper-based process. FCC staff should create an electronic filing system for Network Change
notifications, possibly on a website interface, or via a data container submitted over the web.
The resulting database could be set up to automatically notify parties who had indicated their
interest, notify parties the ILEC identified as interconnecting carriers, and generate PNs,
quarterly reports, and external data inquiries.

Responsible

: WCB with support from OMD on contracting, technical issues.

Recommendation 5.19:

Modernize the Equipment Authorization System

OET should explore upgrading and modernizing the Equipment Authorization System to take
aggressive action against use of non-compliant products. The Equipment Authorization System
(EAS) does not provide adequate support to the field staff to perform their jobs in a timely
manner. At the same time the complexity of modern RF transmitters and the increasing use of
devices by consumers require easily understandable information for use by general public.

Responsible

: OET to continue work underway regarding the Equipment Authorization Process,
working with other Bureaus and Offices (e.g. EB to determine how to address the variety of
issues of equipment compliance and related matters of interference mitigation), and OMD-CIO
(to make current systems for data collection and information sharing more flexible and secure).
It is anticipated that the process reform suggestions identified would be discussed in, and help
inform, the equipment authorization streamlining rulemaking process that is currently underway.

Recommendation 5.20:

Establish Procedures to Better Detect and Address Noncompliant
Ex Parte

Filings in a Timely Manner

Although OGC is responsible for issuing rulings on whether Commission’s ex parte rules have
been violated, Bureaus and Offices are in the best position to detect and flag for OGC action
noncompliant ex parte filings. Some Bureaus and Offices are more proactive in their review of
ex parte filings than others. OGC addresses potential violations when they are brought to OGC’s
attention, but OGC is not always made aware of potentially deficient or noncompliant ex parte
filings.
OGC should provide written guidance to staff on the ex parte requirements. In addition, OGC
staff designated to advise on specific instances of ex parte non-compliance could explore the
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feasibility of working directly with Bureaus and Offices to perform periodic spot checks to
determine whether recently filed ex partes are in compliance with our rules. Where appropriate,
OGC will continue to take remedial action, which may include directing parties to refile
compliant ex partes, or referring cases to EB for further enforcement action.

Responsible

: Action by OGC, in consultation with Bureaus and Offices as appropriate.

Recommendation 5.21:

Provide Clear Guidance on Fee Processes to Petitioners

While the seasonal volume of fee related requests is generally outside the Commission's control,
making very clear guidance available to regulatees about the waiver and deferral process may
reduce the volume of incoming requests. Many requests that come in currently fail to state
sufficient grounds for seeking a waiver or deferral. In the long term, developing an electronic
form for the intake of waiver and deferral requests may both simplify the tracking of incoming
requests and serve as an initial gateway for ensuring petitioners are clearly aware of the
evidentiary standard for obtaining a waiver or deferral.

Responsible

: OMD.

Recommendation 5.22:

Prepare Streamlined Responses to Fee Related Requests

Implementing a policy of preparing shorter form letter responses to fee requests would alleviate
some of the time-intensive labor associated with the current response process.

Responsible

: OMD, in consultation with OGC.

Recommendation 5.23:

Evaluate the Processes Used for Intake, Tracking, Processing,
Response, and Publishing of Fee Related Matters

The previous recommendations would assist OMD in speeding its responses through the use of
its current system; however, the Office would also benefit from an overall review of the existing
processes for handling fee related inquiries from intake to response. In particular, re-evaluating
how incoming fee related petitions are tracked and how final decisions are ultimately made
available to the public would potentially improve FCC service and transparency for petitioners.
Furthermore, there may be additional efficiencies and opportunities for automation that are
identified from this review that could result in longer term improvements to operations.

Responsible

: OMD would take the lead on implementing this recommendation, in coordination
with OGC. In addition, OMD may seek input from other interested stakeholders.

Recommendation 5.24: De Minimis

Collection Requirement for Regulatory Fees

Each year in the Commission's Order to collect regulatory fees, the Commission provides that
regulatees whose total annual regulatory fee liability, including all categories of fees for which
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payment is due, is less than $10 are exempted from payment of regulatory fees. Raising the de
minimis
requirement could improve the cost effectiveness of the regulatory fee collection
process. OMD should evaluate whether the current de minimis amount should be changed and
what potential impact there may be on other regulatory fee payors.

Responsible

: OMD would take the lead on implementing this recommendation in coordination
with OGC and relevant Bureaus as needed.

Recommendation 5.25:

Complete the Legislative Tracking System Development Effort
The Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) tracks and manages Congressional correspondence and
non-correspondence communication between the FCC and Members of Congress. OLA also
tracks other legislative materials (e.g., bills, transcripts, etc.). The Congressional correspondence
is tracked and managed by the Legislative Management Tracking System (LMTS) application.
All non-correspondence communication between FCC and the Members of Congress and other
legislative materials are managed by ad hoc tools ranging from Microsoft Outlook to Excel
spreadsheets.
OLA is currently in the process of developing a more comprehensive database and tracking
system using Microsoft SharePoint. The first module (LMTS Mail Module) replaced the failing
legacy LMTS correspondence tracking system and went live in late November 2013. The
remaining modules require additional funding and project approval, and should be pursued to the
extent resources allow.

Responsible

: OLA, with support from OMD.

Recommendation 5.26

:

Improve Coordination on Economic Policy Across Bureaus and
Offices

To ensure that FCC economists apply sound economic thinking as they review policies in the
particular industry they cover, as well as to ensure consistency across Bureaus, the Chief
Economist should develop a more consistent process to better coordinate policy reviews
conducted by the Commission’s economists. This would also be relevant to economic analysis in
the context of merger assessments as well as regulatory impact analyses, which should be
rigorous and well-coordinated across the Commission. The goal should be to ensure that
Commission economists are promoting economic efficiency overall, recognizing
interdependence between industry segments, and assessing the consequences of choices made for
non-economic reasons.

Responsible

: Chief Economist.
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B. Specific Rules Changes Relevant to Functional Areas

Recommendation 5.27

: Consider Updating Forfeiture Guidelines
EB should consider whether it would be appropriate to modernize the forfeiture guidelines to
reflect a more current assessment of reasonable base forfeiture amounts, especially given the
lengthy period of time since these amounts were last reviewed and the need to provide adequate
deterrence. Adjusting the base forfeitures for already-specified violations to account for
inflation, and establishing base forfeitures for newer legal requirements or other violations that
have become more common in recent years, would bring the base forfeitures up to date and put
parties on better notice of the scope of the penalties they could face. EB should work with other
Bureaus to weigh the costs and benefits of updating the guidelines, and make a recommendation.

Responsible

: EB, working with relevant Bureaus as needed.

Recommendation 5.28:

Consider Changes to the Two-Degree Spacing Policy

The Commission should initiate a proceeding to consider changes to the two-degree spacing rule
and allowing technical coordination agreements between operators to control operational
requirements. These changes would recognize that the current rule is outdated and should be
modified to facilitate a more efficient processing of satellite applications.
The Commission’s two-degree orbital spacing policy was established in 1983, and it is time to
revisit that policy. It was designed to maximize the number of geostationary-satellite orbit
(GSO) satellites in orbit and allow for competitive entry of new operators. However, in light of
technological advances in recent years, today operators may prefer to operate at orbital spacings
greater or lesser than two degrees and rely on ITU coordination methods to govern whether a
new satellite system should be allowed entry at adjacent orbital locations.
In the alternative, the Commission should explore the possibility of initiating a proceeding to
consider allowing an operator to certify that its operation complies with uplink and downlink
power levels in the Commission’s two-degree spacing rules instead of submitting an interference
analysis to demonstrate compatibility, whenever operation is to be conducted in a two-degree
spacing environment. In cases where an operator needs to operate at higher power levels, the
operator would need to specify that it will coordinate with impacted operators.

Responsible:

IB.

Recommendation 5.29:

Continue to Examine Part 25 Rules to Streamline Information
Filing Requirements

In August of 2013, the Commission issued a Report and Order revising over 150 rule provisions
in Part 25 to better reflect evolving technology, streamline information filing requirements, and
improve transparency and clarity. There may be additional changes to IB’s satellite licensing
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rules that would increase efficiency, transparency and clarity for satellite applicants, licensees,
and Commission staff, and IB staff should work with stakeholders to prioritize additional
streamlining measures.
In particular, IB staff should review the information required in Schedule S, which IB uses to
collect technical and operational data associated with satellite licensing applications. The
Bureau should determine (1) if all of this information should continue to be collected, or if there
is a smaller subset of information that could be sufficient to address licensing needs, and (2) for
information that still needs to be collected, whether there is a more efficient and effective method
of obtaining that data. If the staff finds that some version of Schedule S is still the most efficient
and effective method for obtaining the necessary information, the process for filing Schedule S
should be simplified to ensure the Commission collects only essential information from
applicants, and that Schedule S is easier to work with and file than it is today.
In addition, the Commission should consider the possibility of replacing some or all of the
current technical showing requirements for demonstrating compliance with the construction
milestones with legally binding certification requirements by a senior executive with appropriate
responsibility in the company, (see e.g., 47 C.F.R. 64.5001(c)) and/or consider increasing the
associated fines for noncompliance.

Responsible:

IB, working with IT with respect to the development of a user-friendly filing
process, and working with OGC with respect to the construction milestones.

Recommendation 5.30:

Extend the Closing Deadline for Certain International Assignments
and Transfers of Control

The Commission should change the closing deadline for certain international assignments and
transfers of control from 60 to 180 days. Under section 25.119(f) of the Commission’s rules,
assignments and transfers of control must be completed within 60 days from the date of
authorization. This section is inconsistent with other Commission deadlines faced by parties
seeking assignments or transfers of control, which require assignments and transfers of control to
be completed within 180 days. Parties often petition IB to extend this deadline in order to
complete the transfer of control, requiring additional work by applicants and additional time by
Commission staff.

Responsible:

IB, working with OGC.

Recommendation 5.31:

Update Obsolete Media Rules and Procedures

MB should initiate a proceeding to update or eliminate any obsolete rules and procedures. For
example, in 2012 the Bureau issued an NPRM initiating a review of the Part 76 technical
standards, and the proceeding should be completed expeditiously. In addition, the Commission
should eliminate the Part 76 Cable Rate Regulation rules dealing with regulation of Expanded
Basic and eliminate any other reference in the rules. The Commission should also replace all
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outdated forms referring to these rules. Similarly, the Commission should initiate a rulemaking
to update FCC Form 325, capturing data more reflective of the current MVPD marketplace and
technologies. Finally, the Commission’s rules should be updated to allow electronic delivery of
retransmission consent letters with appropriate proof of receipt.

Responsible

: MB.

Recommendation 5.32

: Update Tower and Lighting Requirements to Address Changed
Circumstances

Existing tower and lighting obligations are outdated. The Commission’s rules governing tower
and lighting requirements are set forth in Part 17 of the Commission’s rules and rely, in part, on
requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the expert agency on aviation
safety. The existing regulations have not kept pace with changes implemented by the FAA or
with technology advances in the remote monitoring of tower lighting. The Commission explored
this issue in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released on April 20, 2010 (FCC 10-53).
Specifically, it proposed certain changes to tower marking and lighting specifications,
maintenance and inspection requirements, and other related matters. WTB should follow up on
this NPRM and recommend changes to the Part 17 tower and lighting obligations as
expeditiously as possible.

Responsible:

WTB.

Recommendation 5.33

: Eliminate the BRS Transition Rules Because They Are No Longer
Necessary

The Broadband Radio Service (BRS) previously was used primarily for wireless cable services,
but has since evolved to include two-way systems capable of providing high-speed, high-
capacity broadband service, including two-way Internet service, via cellularized communications
systems. To enable use of the BRS spectrum for these types of services, the Commission
adopted a market-based transition path for licensees to move to the contiguous spectrum blocks
necessary to support BRS operations. The last transition took place in 2012. The rules
governing the transition are no longer necessary and should be eliminated.

Responsible:

WTB.

Recommendation 5.34

: Harmonize and Streamline Requirements for Licensees to
Overcome a CMRS Presumption

Entities that are classified as commercial mobile radio service ("CMRS") licensees are generally
subject to different and more rigorous regulation than private mobile radio services. Certain
licensed services, such as personal communications services and specialized mobile radio, are
generally classified as CMRS, although a licensee can overcome this presumption by meeting
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certain requirements, which vary on a service-by-service basis. WTB should initiate a
proceeding recommending changes to harmonize and streamline the rules that allow a licensee to
overcome a CMRS presumption. Harmonizing and streamlining the rules could be particularly
helpful to entities who acquire spectrum through the secondary market.

Responsible:

WTB.

Recommendation 5.35

: Reform Licensing of 800 MHz Cellular Services
WTB should continue its efforts to reform the way that unserved areas in the Cellular Service are
licensed and recommend a solution for Commission adoption as quickly as possible. The
Commission proposed to transition the Cellular Service from a site-based licensing scheme to a
geographic-based system in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order released on February
15, 2012 (FCC 12-40). Specifically, the Commission proposed a two-stage transition to auction
geographic area “overlay licenses” for unserved areas based on the level of licensing in a given
area. The proposal was intended to put the Cellular Service more on par with the way that other
commercial wireless services are licensed, providing greater flexibility and reduced
administrative burdens. After numerous discussions with WTB staff, in November 2013 carriers
submitted an alternative proposal to continue a site-based licensing model, including
consideration of frequency coordinators to expedite the licensing process and reduce
administrative burdens. The FCC should build upon the progress made to date to bring this
proceeding to closure.

Responsible:

WTB.

Recommendation 5.36:

Update Terminal Attachments Rules

Part 68 of the Commission’s rules contains requirements applicable to terminal equipment that
attaches directly to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The technologies and
businesses for these devices have evolved significantly since the rules were adopted. The
Administrative Council for Terminal Attachments, which adopts and publishes technical criteria
for terminal equipment, has petitioned the Commission to initiate a rulemaking to subject IP
devices to Part 68 terminal attachments requirements to the extent they are capable of attaching
to the PSTN. WCB should review the rules for terminal attachments for possible updating to
account for technical and market changes.

Responsible

: WCB.

Recommendation 5.37

: Remove Rules Subject to Forbearance in 47 C.F.R. § 64.804(c)-(g)
The Commission granted forbearance from 47 C.F.R. § 64.804(c)-(g) in the U.S. Telecom
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Forbearance proceeding.11 Those rule sections were adopted to address a specific issue that
arose in an election,12 and that is unlikely to recur given current practices and campaign laws.13
WCB is drafting an order to remove these rule sections from the CFR.

Responsible

: WCB.

Recommendation 5.38:

Delete Rule Provisions Referencing Telegraph Service

A number of wireline rule provisions continue to reference telegraph service, which appears to
have a limited role in the telecommunications services market. Sections that still reference
telegraph service include:
Separations. The primary purpose of separations is to determine whether a local
exchange carrier’s (LEC) costs of providing regulated services are recovered through its
rate for intrastate or interstate services. As part of this process the Commission’s rules
identify which of the LEC’s equipment is considered circuit equipment. 47 C.F.R §
36.126 identifies telegraph system terminals and telegraph repeaters as examples of
circuit equipment.
Universal Service Contributions. Currently, 47 C.F.R § 54.706(a)(13) requires providers
of interstate telegraph services contribute to the universal service fund if they provide
more than a de minimis amount of such service.
Discontinuance. Section 214(a) of the Act states in part that “[n]o carrier shall
discontinue, reduce, or impair service to a community, or part of a community, unless and
until there shall first have been obtained from the Commission a certificate that neither
the present nor future public convenience and necessity will be adversely affected
thereby.” 47 C.F.R § 63.61 and other Part 63 rules require carriers providing telegraph
services to follow the Commission’s discontinuance rules.
Traffic Damage Claims. 47 CFR § 64.1 covers traffic damage claims by telegraph and
ocean cable-service providers. The Commission's order in the USTelecom proceeding
this year granted forbearance from this rule, along with others, so it is not currently in
effect.
WCB is now working on the steps necessary to formally delete § 64.1 (along with others covered
by the USTelecom order). The Commission should initiate a rulemaking to delete telegraph from
47 C.F.R § 36.126 and WCB recommends sharing that proposal with the Joint Board on
Separations. WCB would also support a proceeding to eliminate the requirement in §

11 Petition of USTelecom for Forbearance under 47 U.S. C. § 160(c) from Enforcement of Certain Legacy
Telecommunications Regulations
, WC Docket No. 12-61, 28 FCC Rcd 2605, 2610-12, paras. 10-12, 15-19 (2013)
(USTelecom Forbearance Short Order); Petition of USTelecom for Forbearance under 47 U.S. C. § 160(c) from
Enforcement of Certain Legacy Telecommunications Regulations et al.
, WC Docket No. 12-60 et al., 28 FCC Rcd
7627, 7702-03, paras. 167-170 (2013) (USTelecom Forbearance Long Order).
12 See USTelecom Forbearance Short Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 2610, para. 11.
13 Id. at para. 12; USTelecom Forbearance Long Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 7702-03, paras. 169-170.
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54.706(a)(13) (through forbearance if needed) that telegraph services be assessed a universal
service fee (to the extent they do today, which is doubtful). WCB would support having a
proceeding to address deleting the Section 214 requirements for domestic telegraph service
(through forbearance if necessary) and IB staff concur.

Responsible

: WCB.

Recommendation 5.39:

Parties Aggrieved by a USAC Decision Must Seek Review From
USAC Before Seeking Review From the FCC

Section 54.719 of the Commission’s rules allows parties seeking review of a USAC decision to
file an appeal with USAC or with the Commission. Often, aggrieved parties decline to seek
review from USAC and appeal directly to the Commission. Requiring parties to first file appeals
of USAC decisions with USAC would reduce the number of appeals coming to the Commission
and would allow USAC to correct its own error or review additional information provided by the
applicant without having to involve the Commission staff.
As part of its oversight of the administration of the Universal Service Fund, WCB regularly
receives a significant volume of appeals of USAC decisions, and other matters that require
review and disposition, such as USAC requests for guidance. The speed of disposal of these
items is affected by the volume and complexity of requests, staffing resources and the need to
address other Bureau priorities.

Responsible:

WCB.

Recommendation 5.40:

Relax the Equipment Certification Program

Current rules require that prior to marketing (selling or offering to sell) or importing, shipping or
distributing a radiofrequency (RF) device it must be properly authorized or must be exempted
from such requirements as specified in the rules (§ 2.803). The Equipment Authorization
Procedures (Subpart J Part 2) specifies different approval processes, allowing the vast majority
of devices to be self-certified either by the manufacturer or by the use of accredited test labs.
The devices incorporating RF transmitters, on the other hand, are generally subject to
certification requirements which require approval from the FCC or Technical Certification
Bodies (TCBs) authorized by the Commission to process and issue grants on its behalf.
OET should explore proposals to relax the equipment certification program, including permitting
more self-approval by the manufacturers, permitting TCBs to have greater authority to issue
grants, or allowing manufacturers to self-certify devices (including HAC devices that meet the
2011 ANSI standard), provided that whatever changes the Commission makes will not affect the
Commission’s oversight over the certification program or compromise compliance with the
technical rules, consequently avoiding interference in the market.
77

Responsible

: OET to continue work underway regarding the Equipment Authorization Process,
working with other Bureaus and Offices (e.g. WTB exploration of HAC rules contained in
Section 20.19), and OMD-CIO (to make current systems for data collection and information
sharing more flexible and secure). It is anticipated that the process reform suggestions identified
would be discussed in, and help inform the equipment authorization streamlining rulemaking
process that is currently underway.

Recommendation 5.41:

Update Labeling and Identification of Approved Products

Currently the certification rules require that a label showing a FCC Identifier (FCC ID) should be
affixed on the product. The FCC ID is issued at the time of approval and identifies a responsible
party as well as the unique product. With the modern manufacturing processes and devices
including approved transmitters from multiple parties, the current requirements are becoming
difficult to manage for the device manufacturers.
OET should explore increased use of electronic labels (eLabel) on devices which have a display
screen. The Commission should also consider a more flexible regimen in how FCC IDs are
assigned to devices which have variations in base implementations. A streamlined labeling and
tracking procedure would help manufacturers who have to develop products for multiple sectors.

Responsible

: OET to continue work underway regarding the Equipment Authorization Process,
working with other Bureaus and Offices (e.g. EB to determine how to address the variety of
issues of equipment compliance and related matters of interference mitigation), and OMD-CIO
(to make current systems for data collection and information sharing more flexible and secure).
It is anticipated that the process reform suggestions identified would be discussed in, and help
inform the equipment authorization streamlining rulemaking process that is currently underway.

Recommendation 5.42:

Hold Application Information Confidential Automatically

Currently, the rules permit applicants to request the Commission to hold certain proprietary or
business specific information confidential. The applicant is required, however, to explicitly
make a request for confidentiality at the time of filing, and the request has to be balanced with
the Commission’s obligation to make information available publicly as soon as practicable. OET
should explore modifying the permit application process to grant confidentiality automatically,
disclosing information to the public only if the applicant explicitly permits it.

Responsible

: OET to continue work underway regarding the Equipment Authorization Process,
working with other Bureaus and Offices, including OMD-CIO (to make current systems for data
collection and information sharing more flexible and secure). It is anticipated that the process
reform suggestions identified would be discussed in, and help inform the equipment
authorization streamlining rulemaking process that is currently underway.
78

Recommendation 5.43:

Propose Rule and Procedure Changes to Facilitate More
Streamlined Review of Routine Subpoenas, or Eliminate the Requirement for OGC Review
of Routine Subpoenas

Under the Commission’s rules (section 0.111(h)), EB is required to obtain approval from OGC
before issuing a non-hearing-related subpoena for testimony and documents deemed relevant to
an investigation. Except where subpoenas raise new or novel issues or raise significant policy
concerns, EB should be empowered to issue them without prior OGC review. A rulemaking is
necessary to modify this requirement. Such a rulemaking could be done without notice and
comment. Until a rulemaking is completed, OGC could work with EB to streamline its review
and approval process for routine subpoenas.

Responsible

: OGC and EB. Commission action would be required for rule changes.

Recommendation 5.44:

Transparency as to Real Party in Interest

The Commission’s rules generally do not require those filing in docketed proceedings to disclose
anything about themselves or the motivation for their advocacy before the Commission. In most
cases, a filer’s motives are apparent, but sometimes they are hidden. For instance, an
organization purporting to represent consumer interests may actually represent industry, or may
be influenced by industry contributions. In a 2011 Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the
Commission noted that “although some interested parties may be knowledgeable about the
identities of the ‘parties behind the parties’ supporting or opposing their positions, other parties
and the general public may not be equally knowledgeable.” The Commission concluded that
“[w]e believe it would serve the public interest to have a disclosure requirement that addresses
this problem …,” and sought further comment on the type of disclosure rule to adopt.
OGC should draft an Order for Commission consideration that recommends the Commission
adopt rules as proposed in the 2011 FNPRM. Disclosure of the real party-in-interest behind FCC
filings would help the agency, other parties, and the public evaluate the credibility of factual and
policy arguments by knowing who is making them. It would also increase public confidence in
our decision-making process by making clear that the Commission is aware of the source of the
arguments before it. Such rules would allow all interested members of the public, not just
industry insiders, to know who is attempting to influence the agency’s decision-making process.

Responsible

: OGC is responsible for the Ex Parte Rulemaking in which this issue was
raised. Consultation with the other Bureaus and Offices would be necessary.
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C. Potential Legislative Changes Relevant to Functional Areas

Recommendation 5.45

: Evaluate Whether Legislative Changes to Enhance the
Commission’s Enforcement Powers Are Needed

As a general matter, pursuant to Section 503(b)(6) of the Communications Act, the Commission
cannot determine or impose a forfeiture for a violation of law that occurred more than one year
prior to the date a required notice or notice of apparent liability (NAL) is issued (or, for
broadcasters, before the start of their current license term, if the violation occurred during that
term). EB often learns of significant violations of the Communications Act or the Commission’s
orders and rules well after they have occurred, which often forces EB to shift to prioritizing its
work based on impending deadlines, rather than a more logical workflow. The Commission
should consider whether to recommend to Congress that it amend the statute of limitations to at
least two years, which could begin to run on the date the FCC knew or should have known of the
violation.
In addition, under Section 503(b)(5) of the Communications Act, if a violator does not hold a
Commission authorization (and is not engaged in conduct for which an authorization is required),
the Commission is empowered to determine or assess a forfeiture against the wrongdoer only (1)
after it first formally warns the violator of the misconduct via a “citation,” and (2) the same kind
of misconduct is repeated thereafter. This restriction can impact the effectiveness of
Commission enforcement and may have outlived its usefulness in certain contexts (e.g., where
sophisticated entities are involved). The Commission should consider whether to recommend to
Congress that it should amend the citation requirement so that EB can propose a monetary
forfeiture in the first instance in certain defined classes of cases where there would be significant
efficiency and effectiveness gains, such as the “junk fax” context.
EB also should evaluate whether there are other legislative changes that would enhance the
Commission’s enforcement powers.

Responsible

: EB and OLA to evaluate whether to recommend that statutory amendments would
be an appropriate way to address these issues.

Recommendation 5.46:

Eliminate the ORBIT Act Report

IB should consider whether it is appropriate for the Commission to renew its recommendation to
Congress that it eliminate the ORBIT Act Report because the issues in the Report are more
appropriately addressed in the Satellite Competition Report.
The Orbit Act Report highlights the progress made to promote a fully competitive global market
for satellite communications services for the benefit of consumers and providers of satellite
services and equipment by fully privatizing Intelsat and Inmarsat. The ORBIT Act was signed
into law in 2001 and required the pro-competitive privatization of both Intelsat and Inmarsat
from their intergovernmental status. Since that time, both companies have long since privatized
in a manner consistent with the Act, and in most years, no parties other than Inmarsat and
80

Intelsat filed comments. To the extent other parties file, those filings are not ORBIT Act-related,
and raise issues better addressed in the Competition Report.

Responsible:

Congressional action required for any suggested statutory change. IB staff,
working with OLA, would be available to brief Congress as necessary.

Recommendation 5.47:

Eliminate the International Broadband Data Report

IB should consider whether it is appropriate for the Commission to renew its recommendation to
Congress that it eliminate the International Broadband Data Report because the information in
the report is publicly available elsewhere.
The Broadband Data Improvement Act requires the Bureau to prepare the International
Broadband Data Report, which evaluates the United States’ rates of broadband adoption, speeds,
and prices in comparison to the international community. The data collection and analysis
required to generate these reports expend significant resources of the staff of IB and of
stakeholders. With the exception of pricing data – which is increasingly available from public
search engines – the data used in the report does not come from original research from Bureau
staff. It is instead collected from other sources, such as Ookla (speed data), OECD and ITU
(broadband adoption data, population and economic data), and Telegeography (market and
regulatory information) among others.

Responsible:

Congressional action required for any suggested statutory change. IB staff,
working with OLA, would be available to brief Congress as necessary.

Recommendation 5.48:

Modify the Reporting Requirements for the Video Competition
Report and Cable Price Survey

MB should consider whether it is appropriate for the Commission to renew its recommendation
to Congress that it seek approval to change the requirement that the Video Competition Report
and Cable Price Survey be created biennially instead of annually.
The Video Competition Report requires the Commission to annually report to Congress on the
status of competition in the market for the delivery of video programming. The Cable Price
Survey requires the Commission to annually publish statistical reports on the average rates for
basic cable service, other cable programming, and cable equipment. The Commission has
produced these items since they were required as part of the Cable Television Consumer
Protection and Competition Act of 1992.
In 2013, the Government Accountability Office suggested that the Commission evaluate the need
for annual reporting, noting that less frequent reporting could reduce the burden on the FCC and
industry participants.14 The GAO Report found little change in recent annual filings, but noted

14 See Video Marketplace: Competition Is Evolving, and Government Reporting Should Be Reevaluated, available at
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-576" title="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-576">http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-576.
81

that Congress, with input from the FCC, would need to determine any new reporting frequency.
MB has determined that shifting the reporting requirement to every two years could reduce
burdens while also fulfilling the intent of the statute, which is to provide continued measurement
of industry performance.

Responsible:

A statutory amendment would be required. Congressional action required for any
suggested statutory change, and Commission action required for any suggested rule changes. MB
staff, working with the OLA, would be available to brief Congress as necessary.

Recommendation 5.49:

Seek Further Delegation of Low Power FM Licensing Authority

Allowing the delegation of hearing matters to the Media Bureau would relieve the full
Commission from considering the thousands of Low Power FM (LPFM) applications filed in the
window that closed November 15; however, this will likely require a statutory change. MB, in
consultation with OGC, should evaluate whether it would require a statutory amendment, and if
so, whether it would be appropriate for the Commission to recommend that this change should be
raised with Congress. Section 403(c) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 already allows the
Commission to delegate point determinations in ITFS, and the LPFM licensing processes follows
similar point system procedures.

Responsible

: MB and OGC, to evaluate whether to recommend whether legislative measures
would be an appropriate way to address these issues. Commission action required for any
suggested rule changes. Congressional action required for suggested statutory change.
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APPENDIX 1

LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Chapter 1: Increasing the Speed & Transparency of FCC Decision-making

Recommendation 1.1: Efficient Intake Analysis and Relevant Timelines
Recommendation 1.2: Review Transaction Shot-Clock Procedures
Recommendation 1.3: Ensure Accountability for Timely Decision-making
Recommendation 1.4: Make Information on All Petitions and Open Dockets Publicly Available
and Searchable
Recommendation 1.5: Make Status Information on Circulation Items Publicly Available
Recommendation 1.6: Enhance Transparency of All Unpublished Filings
Recommendation 1.7: Ensure Transparency of FCC Budgetary and Administrative Information
on the FCC’s Website
Recommendation 1.8: Post Logs Providing the Status of Pending FOIA Requests
Recommendation 1.9: Post All FOIA Decisions, Including Released Documents
Recommendation 1.10: Make FCC FOIA Reports Easily Accessible on FCC.GOV
Recommendation 1.11: Develop Sub-Delegation Plans for Bureaus and Offices
Recommendation 1.12: Streamline Management Review
Recommendation 1.13: Establish Comprehensive Guidelines for Inter-Bureau Coordination and
Review
Recommendation 1.14: Work with NTIA to Ensure a Smooth FCC-NTIA Coordination Process
Recommendation 1.15: Seek to Establish Firm Timeframes for Executive Branch Review of
Foreign Ownership Issues
Recommendation 1.16: Require Use of Standard Templates and Boilerplate Language for
Commission Documents, Where Appropriate, and Issue “Best Practices” to Facilitate Drafting
and Release
Recommendation 1.17: Develop “Best Practices” for Summary Disposition of Commission
Proceedings Where Appropriate
Recommendation 1.18: Consider Expanding the Categories of Transactions or Other Matters
That Qualify for Streamlined Treatment
Recommendation 1.19: Develop an FCC Style Manual
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Recommendation 1.20: Enhance Tracking of Incoming and Backlogged Items to Allow Greater
Accountability
Recommendation 1.21: Increase Tracking Transparency of Pending Items
Recommendation 1.22: Identify Opportunities for Summary Disposition of Routine Items
Recommendation 1.23: Review and Update Commission’s Procedural Rules
Recommendation 1.24: Encourage Outside Parties to Submit Proposed Text for FCC Documents
Where Appropriate
Recommendation 1.25: Bureau and Office Backlog Reduction Plans to Speed Processing and
Eliminate Backlogs

Chapter 2: Rework Essential Processes

Recommendation 2.1: Eliminate Paper Copies of Items and Related Materials Circulated
Internally
Recommendation 2.2: Eliminate or Reduce Paper Releases
Recommendation 2.3: Streamline Release Procedures
Recommendation 2.4: Update Existing Templates and Re-Evaluate Style Requirements
Recommendation 2.5: Update Release Formats
Recommendation 2.6: Communications With Licensees
Recommendation 2.7: Communications with the Public
Recommendation 2.8: Electronic License Processing
Recommendation 2.9: Determine Additional Categories for Auto-Processing
Recommendation 2.10: Automate Password Resets for CORES
Recommendation 2.11: Explore Standardizing License Formats
Recommendation 2.12: Explore Making the Application Fee Structure More Consistent and
Equitable
Recommendation 2.13: Explore Using Third Party Resources for More Licensing Functions
Recommendation 2.14: Expedite the Treatment of Complaints
Recommendation 2.15: Re-focus CGB’s Handling of Informal Consumer Complaints
Recommendation 2.16: Improve the Consumer Experience and Clarify Expectations When
Filing Informal Complaints
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Recommendation 2.17: Provide a Quick, Easy Single Interface for Consumers to File
Complaints and Encourage Web-Based Submission of Complaints
Recommendation 2.18: Provide Better Guidance to Consumers Regarding the Milestones of the
Complaint Process
Recommendation 2.19: Give Consumers the Means to Check the Status of Their Complaints and
Rate the Response
Recommendation 2.20: Automate the Processing of Informal Consumer Complaints
Recommendation 2.21: Improve Responses to Complaints
Recommendation 2.22: Improve Tracking and Analysis of Complaint Data for Internal
Commission Use
Recommendation 2.23: Make Data More Accessible and Transparent to the Public
Recommendation 2.24: Reevaluate PRA Resource Allocation
Recommendation 2.25: Update Existing PRA Guidance
Recommendation 2.26: Improved Inter-Agency PRA Coordination
Recommendation 2.27: Update PRA Approval and Recordkeeping Mechanisms
Recommendation 2.28: Focus Information Collected to Comply With the PRA
Recommendation 2.29: Consult OCBO Earlier in the RFA Compliance Process
Recommendation 2.30: Update Existing RFA Guidance
Recommendation 2.31: Investigate Ways to Streamline and Shorten Federal Register Summaries
Recommendation 2.32: Amend Commission Formatting and Style to Reflect Federal Register
Requirements and Update Guidance
Recommendation 2.33: Designate Federal Register Liaisons
Recommendation 2.34: Automate Publication Notice
Recommendation 2.35: Investigate and Pursue Paperless Options
Recommendation 2.36: Adopt Procedures to Ensure FCC Staff Actions to Effectuate Federal
Register Publication Are Timely

Chapter 3: Rethink the FCC’s Policy and Rulemaking Process

Recommendation 3.1: Consider Expanding Use of Multi-Stakeholder Mechanisms
Recommendation 3.1.1: Identify Independent Multi-Stakeholder Bodies With Relevance to the
Commission’s Work
85

Recommendation 3.1.2: Evaluate Suitability and Feasibility of Conducting Multi-Stakeholder
Pilot Program(s) to Narrow Issues in an Ongoing Proceeding
Recommendation 3.2: Refine Focus of Current Advisory Committees to Enhance Focus the
Relevance of Their Work
Recommendation 3.3: Consider Whether a “Negotiated Rulemaking” Process Could be Useful
to Narrow Issues and Develop Proposed Rules for Commission Consideration
Recommendation 3.4: Consider Additional Mediation and/or Other Dispute Resolution
Techniques to Narrow Issues in Controversy and Find Solutions
Recommendation 3.5: Increase Access to External Technical Experts
Recommendation 3.6: Continue to Engage with Other Agencies to Develop Best Practices for
Rulemakings
Recommendation 3.7: Ensure Timely Policy Cuts
Recommendation 3.8: Include Proposed Rules in NPRMs Whenever Possible, and Draft
Proposed and Final Rules Early in the Process of Developing Decisional Documents
Recommendation 3.9: Draft Shorter Decisional Documents Where Possible
Recommendation 3.10: Adopt Policies for Minimum Comment Periods for Significant FCC
Regulatory Actions, Including Rulemakings
Recommendation 3.11: Include Performance Measures for Evaluating the Effectiveness of
Major Program Activities
Recommendation 3.12: Consider Listing Specific Questions with Rebuttable Presumptions at the
End of an NPRM
Recommendation 3.13: Focus Comment Rounds in Large Dockets
Recommendation 3.14: Obtain Economic, Technical and Enforcement Input Early in
Rulemakings
Recommendation 3.15: Commit to Review Rules Periodically

Chapter 4: Elements Critical to Success

Recommendation 4.1: Enhance Availability of Current Information on Staff Expertise
Recommendation 4.2: Define and Communicate the Commission’s Goals and Priorities to Staff
86

Recommendation 4.3: Provide Enhanced Opportunities for Staff to Share Knowledge, and
Develop and Expand Relevant Professional ExpertiseRecommendation 4.4: Publicize and
Expand FCC Wiki
Recommendation 4.5: Expand Regular Events to Keep Staff Informed
Recommendation 4.6: Post Agency-Wide Information on the Intranet Instead of
Disseminating by Email
Recommendation 4.7: Promote and Require Individual Accountability for Work Performance
and Meaningful Feedback
Recommendation 4.8: Continue to Recognize Outstanding Performance and Significant
Contributions by the FCC Staff
Recommendation 4.9: Revisit External and Internal Hiring Strategies
Recommendation 4.10: Planning for and Funding Travel
Recommendation 4.11: Enhance FCC University
Recommendation 4.12: Reassess Strategies for Staff Training and Development Overall
Including the Need for Additional Training Resources
Recommendation 4.13: Increase Training in the Use of Technology and Project Management
Tools
Recommendation 4.14: Reassess the FCC’s Approach to Management Training and

Development
Recommendation 4.15: Actively Encourage and Facilitate Continual Staff Education
Recommendation 4.16: Explore Ways to Provide Additional On-the-Job Training
Recommendation 4.17: In Progress IT Projects
Recommendation 4.18: Re-baseline the FCC’s IT Budget and Improve Procurement
Recommendation 4.19: Improve WebTA Reporting
Recommendation 4.20: Review Legacy FCC HR and Financial Operations IT Systems
Recommendation 4.21: Develop an Enterprise Tracking and Collaboration System
Recommendation 4.22: Develop an FCC Data Mart
Recommendation 4.23: Develop and Implement a Data Governance Plan
Recommendation 4.24: Improve FCC Data Collection
Recommendation 4.25: Improve Web Site Search Functionality
Recommendation 4.26: Implement a Consistent Design for FCC Web Presence
87

Recommendation 4.27: Improve Bureau and Office Webpages and Update the fcc.gov
Information Strategy

Chapter 5: Functional & Bureau/Office-Specific Recommendations

Recommendation 5.1: Streamline the Process for Receipt and Processing of Requests for
Closed Captioning Exemptions
Recommendation 5.2: Create a “Contacts Database” for Outreach and Consumer Education
Recommendation 5.3: Consider Notifying Investigation Subjects of Closure
Recommendation 5.4: Reevaluate Case Selection Criteria to Maximize Enforcement Impact
Recommendation 5.5: Develop Public-Private Partnerships and Enhanced Transparency to
Improve Resolution of Interference Issues
Recommendation 5.6: Improve Databases on Which EB Relies
Recommendation 5.7: Eliminate the Requirement for Prior Approval of Pro Forma Changes in
Ownership of Space and Earth Station Licensees
Recommendation 5.8: Improve the ITU Notification Process
Recommendation 5.9: Fix/Upgrade the International Bureau Database Functionality
Recommendation 5.10: Fix/Upgrade the Information Technology Systems for Cross-Border
Work
Recommendation 5.11: Improve Access to Satellite Licensing, Orbital Location and Frequency
Band Information
Recommendation 5.12: Publish Explanatory Materials on Satellite Licensing
Recommendation 5.13: Expedite Rulemaking Consideration in the Media Context
Recommendation 5.14: Update Existing Media Bureau Databases and Forms
Recommendation 5.15: Expedite Media Bureau Licensing Processes
Recommendation 5.16: Modernize Hearing Aid Compatibility Compliance Process, Including
Enhanced Automation of Reports
Recommendation 5.17: Increase Automation of License Processing and Review
Recommendation 5.18: Create an Electronic Filing System for Network Change Notifications
Recommendation 5.19: Modernize the Equipment Authorization System
Recommendation 5.20: Establish Procedures to Better Detect and Address NoncompliantEx
Parte Filings in a Timely Manner
88

Recommendation 5.21: Provide Clear Guidance on Fee Processes to Petitioners
Recommendation 5.22: Prepare Streamlined Responses to Fee Related Requests
Recommendation 5.23: Evaluate the Processes Used for Intake, Tracking, Processing, Response,
and Publishing of Fee Related Matters
Recommendation 5.24: De Minimis Collection Requirement for Regulatory Fees
Recommendation 5.25: Complete the Legislative Tracking System Development Effort
Recommendation 5.26: Improve Coordination on Economic Policy Across Bureaus and Offices
Recommendation 5.27: Consider Updating Forfeiture Guidelines
Recommendation 5.28: Consider Changes to the Two-Degree Spacing Policy
Recommendation 5.29: Continue to Examine Part 25 Rules to Streamline Information
Filing
Requirements
Recommendation 5.30: Extend the Closing Deadline for Certain International Assignments and
Transfers of Control
Recommendation 5.31: Update Obsolete Media Rules and Procedures
Recommendation 5.32: Update Tower and Lighting Requirements to Address Changed
Circumstances
Recommendation 5.33: Eliminate the BRS Transition Rules Because They Are No Longer
Necessary
Recommendation 5.34: Harmonize and Streamline Requirements for Licensees to Overcome a
CMRS Presumption
Recommendation 5.35: Reform Licensing of 800 MHz Cellular Services
Recommendation 5.36: Update Terminal Attachments Rules
Recommendation 5.37: Remove Rules Subject to Forbearance in 47 C.F.R. § 64.804(c)-(g)
Recommendation 5.38: Delete Rule Provisions Referencing Telegraph Service
Recommendation 5.39: Parties Aggrieved by a USAC Decision Must Seek Review From USAC
Before Seeking Review From the FCC
Recommendation 5.40: Relax the Equipment Certification Program
Recommendation 5.41: Update Labeling and Identification of Approved Products
Recommendation 5.42: Hold Application Information Confidential Automatically
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Recommendation 5.43: Propose Rule and Procedure Changes to Facilitate More Streamlined
Review of Routine Subpoenas, or Eliminate the Requirement for OGC Review of Routine
Subpoenas
Recommendation 5.44: Transparency as to Real Party in Interest
Recommendation 5.45: Evaluate Whether Legislative Changes to Enhance the Commission’s
Enforcement Powers Are Needed
Recommendation 5.46: Eliminate the ORBIT Act Report
Recommendation 5.47: Eliminate the International Broadband Data Report
Recommendation 5.48: Modify the Reporting Requirements for the Video Competition Report
and Cable Price Survey
Recommendation 5.49: Seek Further Delegation of Low Power FM Licensing Authority
90

APPENDIX 2

GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS

CDBS
Consolidated Database System
CFPB
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
CGB
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
CFO
Chief Financial Officer
CIO
Chief Information Officer
CICD
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
CORES
Commission Registration System
EB
Enforcement Bureau
EBATS
Enforcement Bureau Tracking System
ECFS
Electronic Comment Filing System
EDOCS
Electronic Document Management System
FACA
Federal Advisory Committee Act
FRFA
Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
HR
Human Resources
IB
International Bureau
IBFS
International Bureau Fling System
IRFA
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
IT
Information Technology
ITC
Information Technology Center
ITU
International Telecommunication Union
LMTS
Legislative Management Tracking System
NPRM
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
MB
Media Bureau
OCBO
Office of Communications Business Opportunities
OCH
Office of The Chairman
OET
Office of Engineering & Technology
OGC
Office of the General Counsel
OLA
Office Legislative Affairs
OMB
Office of Management and Budget
OMD
Office of the Managing Director
OMR
Office of Media Relations
Osec
Office of the Secretary
OSP
Office Strategic Planning and Policy
OLA
Office Legislative Affairs
PRA
Paperwork Reduction Act
PSHSB
Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau
RFA
Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended (RFA).
SCP
Supervisory Certification Program (SCP)
WTB
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
WCB
Wireline Communications Bureau
OIG
Office of Inspector General
91

APPENDIX 3

LIST OF WORKING GROUP MEMBERS

Jessica Almond
Meribeth McCarrick
Eric Bash
Sue McNeil
Lauren “Pete” Belvin
Roger Noel
David Bray
Karen Onyeije
James Brown
Timothy Peterson
Kirk Burgee
Ronald Repasi
Michael Byrne
Holly Saurer
Diane Cornell
Henning Schulzrinne
Ana Curtis
Cecilia Sigmund
Daniel Daly
Deanna Stephens
Maria Gaglio
David Strickland
Kalpak Gude
Troy Tanner
Thomas Horan
Jennifer Tatel
Sherille Ismail
D’wana Terry
Joel Kaufman
Suzanne Tetreault
Christine Kurth
Sheryl Todd
The Working Group wishes to thank FCC staff members who contributed ideas and information
through the crowdsourcing, focus groups, and Bureau and Office submissions.
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