The House Communications and Technology subcommittee will meet on July 24, 2013, and July 25, 2013, to mark up two bills aimed at reforming the FCC’s processes: the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act; and the Federal Communications Commission Consolidated Reporting Act.
Among other things, the Process Reform Act would require the FCC to:
- Survey the marketplace before initiating a rulemaking, with some exceptions.
- Ensure that Notices of Proposed Rulemaking: (1) follow within three years of Notices of Inquiry; (2) include the specific text of proposed rules; and (3) provide at least 30 days each for comments and replies. Adopted rules would have to follow within three years.
- Publish the status of open rulemakings as well as list the draft items the commissioners are currently considering.
- Establish “shot clocks” for action in each type of proceeding it oversees and report every six months regarding its progress in meeting its shot clocks.
- Establish a schedule for the release of its required reports, release all orders within 30 days of adoption, and report to Congress whenever it misses its own deadlines.
- Publish the documents specified in the Federal Register no later than 45 days after release of the document.
- Put consumer complaint information in a publicly available, searchable database on its website.
The law would also reform the “Sunshine Act” to allow three or more commissioners to gather on a bipartisan basis subject to certain disclosures.
The Consolidated Reporting Act would require the FCC to:
- Publish and submit to Congress a communications marketplace report synched to the two-year Congressional cycle.
- Assess: (1) the state of competition in the communications marketplace, (2) the state of deployment including the deployment of advanced telecommunications capability, and (3) regulatory barriers to market entry and competitive expansion; identify the issues it plans to address over the next two years as a result of this assessment; and report on its progress.
- Consider intermodal, facilities-based, and Internet-based competition and compile a list of geographic areas that are not served by any provider of advanced telecommunications capability.
The bill would also eliminate outdated studies and consolidate the ones that remain into a biennial release.
Versions of both bills passed the House of Representatives in May of 2012.
We will be monitoring developments closely to keep you informed.