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FCC Gets OK for New Economic Analysis Office

It should be up and analyzing by year's end

WASHINGTON — The FCC has received approval from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and the Office of Management and Budget to create a new Office of Economics and Analytics.

Dating from his time as a commissioner in the minority, FCC chair Ajit Pai has argued that the FCC needs to do more economic cost-benefit analysis of its rules, both those on the books and ones that are proposed, to gauge their impact on the economy.

The FCC signaled the office would be up and running by the end of the year. The office will bring together approximately 100 staffers including economists, attorneys and data specialists from across the FCC with the goal of improving the analysis and data usage.Auction oversight will be moved under the new office. 

“I’m excited that we are in the final stages of standing up the Office of Economics and Analytics,” said Pai. “Pursuant to the agreement that was reached with the union, we are committed to helping all FCC employees involved make a smooth transition to the new office. I look forward to the new opportunities they will have to make sound economic thinking a cornerstone of FCC decisions.”

As part of the revamp, the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis will be eliminated and its staffers moved into the new office, as well as some staffers from other offices.

Acting chief of the new office will be Giulia McHenry from the Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis, who used to be the chief economist at that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which oversees government spectrum as the FCC does private spectrum, as well as serving as White House communications policy adviser.Back in January, a divided FCC voted to create the office. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel dissented from the decision.

Rosenworcel said at the time she hoped the new office would be a net positive to the FCC’s work, but said since she had had some basic questions about the office that went unanswered, she could not support it.