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Pai Calls Out Former CIO for “Inaccurate Information” About ECFS

He also announced plans to revamp comment system, change commission’s IT culture

WASHINGTON — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai threw some serious shade at former FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray in a Monday statement about the Office of Inspector General’s investigation into the May 2017 “incident involving the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System.”

Although he did not refer to Bray by name — only as “the FCC’s former Chief Information Officer (CIO), who was hired by the prior Administration and is no longer with the Commission,” “the former CIO” or “then-CIO” — in the statement, Pai made clear that he laid the blame for the rumors and conspiracy theories at his feet.

Pai said he is “deeply disappointed” that Bray “provided inaccurate information about this incident to me, my office, Congress, and the American people,” referring to a statement released by Bray’s office that said the disruption to the comment system was a result of “multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (i.e. DDoS). These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host.”

Although he called Bray’s actions “completely unacceptable,” Pai said he is “pleased that this report debunks the conspiracy theory that my office or I had any knowledge that the information provided by the former CIO was inaccurate.”

In addition to castigating Bray for telling him “we’re 99.9% confident this was external folks deliberately trying to tie-up the server to prevent others from commenting and/or create a spectacle,” Pai said it’s “abundantly clear that ECFS needs to be updated.” And he said the good news is that Congress last week authorized funding to revamp the FCC comment system.

Pai also addressed cultural issues that he said contributed to the misleading statements. “I’m also disappointed that some working under the former CIO apparently either disagreed with the information that he was presenting or had questions about it, yet didn’t feel comfortable communicating their concerns to me or my office.”

Because of this report, Pai said his office plans to “make it clear” that FCC IT employees “are encouraged to speak up if they believe that inaccurate information is being provided to the commission’s leadership.”

Radio World reached out to Bray to get his side of the story.

Bray now works as executive director of the People-Centered Internet Coalition.

A representative shared a prepared statement: “Dr. Bray has not been contacted by the FCC IG and has not seen their reported findings. There has not been any outreach to ask what he had seen, observed, or concluded during the events more than a year ago in May 2017.” After emphasizing that Bray is no longer with the commission, the statement added that “Swift response ensured the commenting system was up more than 99.4% of the time for the total commenting period” (presumably referring to the Title II debate).