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Rosenworcel Defends 2023 Budget Request

Cites long list of additional mandated responsibilities

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is defending the FCC’s proposed fiscal 2023 budget as “balanced and cost-effective.”

In a letter to Rep. Bob Latta, ranking Republican on the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Rosenworcel said the request includes full-time equivalent job positions similar to the agency’s staffing in 2016.

“However, the challenges and statutory obligations that the agency must address are different today from those in the recent past and also different from those three decades ago when the FCC had more than 2,000 employees,” Rosenworcel wrote.

“I believe today the agency requires a sophisticated IT workforce capable of ensuring the safety and security of data and information provided by the entities we oversee as well those who depend upon our IT to engage with the government on a variety of communications-related issues.”

She said that to do its job in a fast-moving marketplace, the FCC needs more engineers, technologists and other professionals.

“The request for increased staffing reflects our work to ensure that the FCC can fulfill its longstanding statutory duties in light of these challenges, as well as implement a number of new directives from Congress.”

Those directives include new efforts to address pirate radio through enforcement; a system-wide updating of FCC data collection practices; development of a process to address supply chain security through removal of vulnerable equipment from U.S. communications networks; COVID-19 relief programs to support connectivity; and development of programs and proceedings related to broadband access, digital discrimination and broadband labeling.

[Related: “FCC Plans to Hire to Fight Pirate Radio“]

Rosenworcel pointed out that Congress further wants the agency to provide more resources for reviewing satellite license applications and related work, commit more resources to wireless resiliency, spend money and increase staff work on illegal robocalls, and continue efforts to ensure that more spectrum is available for 5G.

She defended the FCC’s allocation of FTE resources to pursue a “100 Percent” broadband policy, which aims to help bring affordable high-speed broadband to all of the population.

Broadcast fees are not mentioned in her letter. The FCC is planning a 13% increase in fees on radio and TV stations. NAB has complained that broadcasters should not be burdened with regulatory costs that aren’t related to their own industry.

(Read Rosenworcel’s letter.)