The Federal Communication Commission is confirming to Radio World that it will begin closing field offices in January 2017. Offices in Anchorage, Alaska, Buffalo, N.Y., Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Mo., Norfolk, Va., Philadelphia, San Diego, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Seattle, and Tampa, Fla., will be closed as part of the agency’s modernization plan.
The FCC announced in July 2015 it was closing the offices and trimming up to 44 positions to better reflect technological advances and in the face of budget reductions. The modernization plan creates rapid response teams to handle special enforcement issues. The FCC says the so-called Tiger Teams, based out of Columbia, Md., and Denver, will be dispatched within 24 hours of an interference crisis.
The restructuring plan has the National Association of Broadcasters and the Society of Broadcast Engineers worried that the cuts in the field will limit the FCC’s ability to mitigate interference complaints and leave potential holes in the enforcement fence.
Before the plan could be implemented the FCC had to reach an agreement over the projected job losses with the union representing FCC Enforcement Bureau field employees. The National Treasury Employees Union has been a vocal critic of the overhaul plan, openly questioning the commission’s ability to safeguard radio spectrum going forward. An FCC spokesperson confirmed on Thursday that the displaced FCC agents will have the opportunity to apply for vacancies in the remaining field offices if a vacancy exists.
FCC field offices will remain open in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Columbia, Md., Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Portland, Ore., and San Francisco.