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Retrospective Analysis at the FCC

by: Ruth Milkman, Special Counsel for Innovation in Government, FCC

August 9, 2011

On July 11, 2011, the President issued an executive order to the heads of all independent agencies, including the FCC. The new executive order builds on the President's January 2011 Executive Order on Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and asks independent agencies to conduct both retrospective and prospective regulatory analyses, consistent with law.

In a recent communication to staff, Chairman Genachowski said the agency would act in accordance with the new executive order, and that he expects all FCC Bureaus and Offices will perform their responsibilities consistent with the order. The Chairman asked me to oversee development of a plan to follow up on this directive.

The President's directives are consistent with the values and philosophy we apply here at the FCC. In a press conference following the release of the July 11 Executive Order, Cass Sunstein, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in OMB, noted that the FCC has a robust regulatory review process in place. Under Chairman Genachowski's leadership, we are proud of the progress we have made so far.

We've eliminated more than 50 unneeded regulations and we're working toward eliminating 25 unnecessary data collections.

We're focusing on developing innovative market-based policies that help advance important policy goals, such as Incentive Auctions for repurposing spectrum; increasing the flexible use of spectrum; and market-based mechanisms to more efficiently and effectively distribute Universal Service Fund support.

We've responded to calls from industry to review our rules and initiated proceedings on Retransmission Consent, and on Out-of-Band Emissions in the Broadband Radio Service (BRS) and Educational Broadband Service (EBS) bands to permit operators to use licensed spectrum more efficiently.

We took steps to reduce the burden on broadcast radio licensees by allowing licensees to rely on previous technical filings instead of submitting a new set of technical exhibits.

We began the process of eliminating the majority of reports currently collected on international communications, which will exempt hundreds of small businesses.

This work is ongoing. Today, the Commission is scheduled to consider lifting restrictions that impede the availability of wireless backhaul, a regulatory reform that will promote broadband build-out and spectrum efficiency. The agency will also take up proposals for significant streamlining of the foreign ownership review process.

We will continue our work to promote innovation inside and outside government and to spur economic growth and job creation, while ensuring that the benefits of our rules outweigh the costs and burdens. The FCC will continue to ensure appropriate regulatory impact analysis is conducted for all major rulemakings.

The FCC staff has demonstrated a commitment to the principles in the executive documents over the past months. Going forward, we will revisit and reemphasize these principles in our daily work on behalf of the American people.

The July 11, 2011 Executive Order suggested that independent agencies complete their retrospective review plans and make them public by November 8, 2011. As we work on the plan for the FCC, we welcome your suggestions and comments on how to make this plan as effective as possible.

Please comment below or send an email to innovation@fcc.gov.

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