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Wheeler: FCC “Is More Efficient, More Transparent and More Engaged”

Agency chair doesn’t believe proposed reforms will work; Walden calls proposals “trifecta for transparency”

Thanks to process reforms, the FCC “is more efficient, more transparent and more engaged with the public.”

That’s what FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to tell members of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee today during a hearing on increasing transparency within the agency, according to Wheeler’s prepared testimony.

The agency closed more than 1,500 dockets that were dormant and the Enforcement Bureau closed more than 8,000 cases. He also noted the launch of the Consumer Help Center and said the commission is improving the search and navigation functions on its website.

In advance of legislation the agency has reformed process by establishing minimum comment periods and including draft rules with Notices of Public Rulemaking, according to Wheeler.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, (R-Ore.) had called the three draft measures being considered by the subcommittee a “trifecta for transparency.” GOP lawmakers are pushing the commission to open up its processes.

A bill offered by Communications and Technology Subcommittee Vice Chair Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) would require the agency to publish a list of items that are placed on delegated authority — that is, decided at the bureau level in lieu of a commission vote. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) would require the FCC to publish the draft of a rulemaking, order, report or any other action when it is circulated to the commissioners for a vote to allow the public to see what the chairman is proposing to the rest of the commission.

A measure by Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) would require the FCC to publish new rules on the same day that they are adopted, rather than days or, occasionally, weeks later.

Both GOP Commissioners Michael O’Rielly, who was due to testify, and Ajit Pai have complained that at times they’ve been shut out of the voting process until the last minute.

Wheeler believes the proposed bills would “add procedural steps” slow down decision-making and increase litigation and disputes as parties clash over the interpretation of new procedures.