In October, I provided an update on the FCC’s efforts to reduce our backlogs. As 2014 draws to a close, I want to provide an update on another key reform objective: streamlining the Commission’s processes. We have had several working groups as well as staff throughout the Commission focusing on new approaches to simplify how we do business, with the goal of improving the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of the Commission’s work. Just in these last few months we’ve made tremendous progress on many fronts. A few of these initiatives are highlighted below:
- Rocket Docket: As proposed by Commissioner Pai last year, the Commission has launched a streamlined way of processing certain applications for review (AFRs) internally, which we call the “ Rocket Docket.” This process provides guidelines for accelerated review of AFRs that are suitable for such treatment, both within a bureau or office, and on the 8th floor.
- Closing Dockets: Today, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB), working with the Bureaus and Offices, is releasing an order closing an additional 751 dormant dockets, bringing the total number of dockets closed this year to well over 1,500.
- Consent Agenda: The Media Bureau has been a leader in utilizing the consent agenda process, which enables the Commissioners to vote a group of items before or during the monthly Open Agenda Meeting in an expedited way, without staff presentations. Thus far, 62 consent agenda items have been adopted by the Commission, disposing of over 70 applications for review, from that bureau.
- Streamlining Best Practices: One of the working groups has drafted and circulated a best practices memo to provide guidance for using summary disposition and other methods of streamlined treatment of Commission items. The Bureaus and Offices have been pro-actively utilizing the ideas proposed in the document to provide faster decisions on pending items. For example, the Wireline Bureau has disposed of over 110 applications for review, E-rate appeals, high-cost audit appeals and waiver requests since September.
- Expedited Review of Complaints: The Enforcement Bureau has continued its expedited review of pending complaints, enabling the Media Bureau to grant over 950 license renewals in the past few months.
- Streamlined Internal Coordination: The Bureaus and Offices have prepared plans to streamline internal review processes within each Bureau or Office and expedite decision-making. Moreover, a working group has prepared comprehensive guidelines to foster more timely and focused inter-Bureau/Office coordination. These initiatives will promote more efficient decision-making by staff here at the Commission.
- Automated Password Reset: The Managing Director’s Office (OMD) has automated the password reset for the CORES database, relieving significant staff resources by forestalling the approximately 75,000 password-reset requests received annually.
- Expanded Online Filing: The Commission recently adopted two orders to require the online filing of certain types of applications and complaints. CGB and OMD made the necessary changes to our Electronic Comment Filing and Fee Filer systems to allow those and other types of filings to be submitted over the Web, which has made filing easier for the public and processing easier for FCC staff.
- Electronic Distribution of Licenses: In October, the Wireless Bureau announced that licensees now have electronic access to their official authorizations. Ultimately, WTB will stop providing paper copies of current authorizations to licensees unless it is notified that the licensee wishes to continue receiving official authorizations on paper. Moving to official electronic authorizations will save money in terms of staff resources, paper supplies, and mailing costs.
- Streamlining Federal Register Submissions: Last month, the Office of the Secretary instituted electronic processing and transmittal of all Commission-level Federal Register documents to the Office of Federal Register using the Federal Register System. This will facilitate faster publication of Commission documents in the Federal Register and enable the staff, and ultimately the general public, to track the progress of Commission items.
Such notable accomplishments would have been impossible without the help of everyone here at the Commission, and the constructive comments from our external stakeholders. Thanks to all for this collaborative effort. More news on all this will come in the New Year. In the meantime, Happy Holidays!