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FCC Wants to Cut Through Docket Backlog

Suggests ways to streamline procedures

Aside from the suggestions to change its ex parte rules, the Federal Communication Commission has put forth other proposals to streamline its procedures.

One of the main things the commission is trying to do is give bureau and office chiefs the ability to kill defective or repetitive petitions for reconsideration so those don’t reach the eighth floor. A “defective” petition for recon contains errors, or it is untimely, or it has raised no new arguments, or it doesn’t relate to the issue at hand.

The agency has also proposed changing its rule that specifies it can reconsider a decision on its own motion within 30 days to make clear the FCC can change a verdict, and not just set it aside or vacate it.

The commission wants to make more use of electronic filing and has upgraded its Electronic Comment Filing System; in the NPRM, it asks for comments on how it can maximize e-filing and minimize paper submissions.

With more than 3,000 dockets open, this commission has quite a backlog to slog through. Some of those dockets have seen “little to no activity in years,” the agency said in its notice. The commission asks for comment on whether it should just pick dockets that make sense to close or if it should publish a list of those first and what other procedures it should be thinking of to handle the docket overload, including what to do about dockets that have become large and unwieldy.

I chuckled when I saw they’re still accepting comments to GC Docket 10-44 (PDF) via both electronic and paper (how quaint!); those are due 45 days after the proposals are published in the Federal Register.

Chairman Genachowski thinks expanding the use of e-filing will reduce costs, speed resolution of pending issues and make the agency’s proceedings easier for the public to follow. What do you think? E-mail me.