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Report: CDBS Is “Aging System”

FCC process reform report suggests CDBS needs upgrading

The FCC is taking public comment on its just-released report on how the agency can improve how it accomplishes its business each day.

The report spends much time discussing the agency’s IT infrastructure. The commission owns some 200 different IT systems and 40% of them are more than 10 years old. The Consolidated Database System, the existing licensing database for broadcasters, should be upgraded, or improved capabilities provided via an alternative IT infrastructure, according to the report, which calls CDBS “an aging system due for an upgrade or conversion to another database with enhanced functionality.”

The document is the result of one of the first things new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler did when he came to the Portals; he appointed his Special Counsel, Diane Cornell, to set-up a committee to come up with recommendations to improve the FCC’s process reform.

More than 150 suggestions are made in the 92-page report, including overall goals of streamlining the agency’s internal review process, improving tracking accountability and reducing backlogs. Proposals include eliminating paper copies of documents circulated internally and limiting how many paper copies of documents it releases publicly. Documents are currently released in Word (DOC), PDF and basic text (TXT) formats. The commission should eliminate the TXT version, given the ubiquity of PDF availability, suggests the report.

As far as licensing, the report’s authors say right now, “hundreds of thousands of pages” of paper are being printed and mailed. “Significant time and resources could be saved if more of these licensing processes could be automated,” note the authors, which also note that applications and licenses generated in non-machine-readable formats make it hard for the staff and the public to search for that information in the FCC’s electronic databases.

Lots of staff time could be saved by changing some procedures, according to the report. An example would be automating password reset request for the Commission Registration System; the report notes that the agency receives 75,000 such request a year and automating that process would reduce staff time spent on this task.

Comments on the report are due to GN Docket 14-25 by March 31.