Last week, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) released a Public Notice seeking comment on whether to terminate almost 650 dormant proceedings (i.e., dockets that have no planned action and no further comments expected). I applaud Chairman Wheeler for initiating this item as well as the CGB staff and the individual Bureaus and Offices that worked on this document.
The charts below, prepared by my great staff, help visualize the scope of the Commission’s recent effort. As the first chart shows, the agency has over 2,800 open proceedings pending. The second chart organizes—by Bureau and Office—the specific proceedings contemplated for closure in the Public Notice.
I’m in the process of reviewing CGB’s recommendations and its corresponding attachment, but in general I believe that closing outdated FCC proceedings makes a lot of sense. Doing so could help the agency become more organized and focused on decisions that need to be made. It could also make it easier for both Congress and the public to track what the agency is working on or still considering. And it could help prevent the Commission from using antiquated information as a basis for regulating.
In fact, clearing the regulatory decks is something we should probably do more often—maybe even annually. The Commission may also want to consider creating an automatic closure process. Perhaps after a year, and with appropriate notice, we could close proceedings that have been concluded and for which no further pleadings are filed. This could significantly reduce the number of unnecessary open proceedings, while still allowing public access to the documents that were generated.
Overall, this is a step in the right direction for the FCC. So again, I cheer this good government action, and I look forward to reading the record that develops from this Public Notice. I hope that we can quickly evaluate the 650 proceedings that have been teed up and then turn to review the 2,200 or so that remain.