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Chairman Pai Defends Budget Cuts

He says the FCC can do more with less

WASHINGTON � FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the commission can do more with less � including 102 fewer full-time employees � and his budget reflected that philosophy, while still being able to serve the FCC’s core mission of protecting the public interest and closing the digital divide.

Pai, joined by Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, testified on the FCC’s budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

The FCC has asked for about $322 million, 5.2% less than the previous year, though the FCC budget has been flat since 2009.�

While Pai said past chairmen had pointed out that the FCC is fully funded by fees charged to licensees, he also remembered�and more than one legislator reminded him�that someone was paying that fee, including businesses big and small, and the consumers to whom those fees were passed along.

Pai said that even with fewer employees, the FCC had more than doubled the number of items it was dealing with at its public meetings. He cited a number of cost savings as well, from closing an off-site warehouse to cutting down on the number of printers and copying machines.

The chairman also said refraining from regulatory overreach would also prove to be a cost savings.

Many legislators sought, and received, assurances from the chairman that the FCC would continue to prioritize broadband deployment with that tighter budget. Pai said that while reaching underserved communities continued to be important, the commission would prioritize getting it to some of the 30 million unserved who have no access to high-speed broadband.�

But Commissioner Clyburn cautioned that having to do more with less will eventually come to a point of diminishing returns, a point she said is fast approaching.

A version of this article was originally posted on B&C. Read the full article here.