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Snowe Introduces Bill to Add Tech Experts to FCC Commissioner Staffs

S. 2881 specifies electrical engineering or computer science skills

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has introduced a bill that would potentially add one electrical engineer or computer scientist to the staffs of each commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.

This would be an additional position; the bill does not seek to replace any of the current three authorized staff assistants in each commissioner’s office.

Co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., S. 2881, the new position of “staff engineer” would require that the person have a degree in electrical engineering or be a computer scientist. If eventually passed, the new authorization would effectively undo a loosening of requirements for technical staff at the highest level of the FCC that began more than 25 years ago, according to the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

SBE President Vinny Lopez said the bill will go a long way toward returning technical expertise to the FCC commissioners’ offices. SBE will seek to get a companion bill introduced in the House.

The previous attempt to add technical expertise to the FCC commissioner’s offices was in 1991, when Rep. Don Ritter introduced HR. 3501, which would have required that at least one member of the commission be skilled in the engineering sciences, according to the SBE.