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FCC Budgets for an Increase

President asks Congress for $18.4 million more, plus new authority for ‘spectrum user fees’

The FCC would see a 5.6% budget increase in 2012 under the proposal sent to Congress by President Obama.

He proposes funding for the Federal Communications Commission of $354.2 million in fiscal 2012, which would be an increase over its estimated 2011 budget of about $18.4 million.

The FCC says the money would help it implement the National Broadband Plan; overhaul its data systems and processes; continue to “modernize and reform” the FCC; strengthen the auditing and investigating functions of the commission’s inspector general; and help it in its public safety and cyber-security work.

(Its widely quoted budget figure does not include a line for “Auction Cost Recovery Reimbursements.” That $85 million, plus some other tweaks, bring the commission’s grand total proposed budget authority to $445.4 million.)

The commission also released a chart, shown, showing how regulatory fees it collects offset its costs. Fees were set at $335.8 million in 2010, while the 2011 budget proposes the same. In 2012, according to the latest budget proposal, fees would be $354.2 million. “These funds will support commission-wide goals that will allow the FCC to serve the American public in an efficient, effective and responsive manner.”

The commission also wants new authority to use “other economic mechanisms, such as fees” as a spectrum management tool. “FCC would be authorized to set user fees on unauctioned spectrum licenses and could be used in instances where incentive auctions are not appropriate. Fees would be phased in over time to determine the appropriate application and level for fees. Fee collections are estimated to begin in 2011, and total $4.8 billion through 2021.”

NAB: No New Spectrum Taxes” (B&C)