|Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
|News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
|December 21, 1998|
Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth Issues Comprehensive Report on FCC's Biennial Review Process; Expresses Disappointment In Extent of 1998 Review, Offers Constructive Suggestions for Year 2000 Review
FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth today issued a comprehensive report
on the Commission's biennial regulatory review process.|
The biennial review must be conducted by the FCC pursuant to a key provision of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, codified at Section 11 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. Section 11 requires the FCC to review all of its telecommunications rules every two years and determine whether any are no longer in the public interest.
Furchtgott-Roth's report describes in detail how the FCC carried out the 1998 biennial review and, in particular, acknowledges the hard work of all the staff involved with the project. The report concludes, however, that the Commission did not clearly review all of the rules required under Section 11, did not establish clear standards by which rules are evaluated, and did not produce a full written record of the review.
"Congress directed a thorough, attic-to-basement review of all of the FCC's telecommunications rules," said Furchtgott-Roth. "Unfortunately, this report demonstrates that the Commission has reviewed only a handful of rules."
The report includes suggestions for the full Commission to consider for the next biennial review, and describes a model review, conducted by a team of part-time legal interns working for Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth, that demonstrated how future Section 11 regulatory reviews could be conducted by the Commission. Among the many ideas proposed by Furchtgott-Roth is the appointment of a small, full-time team of FCC staff members to help the five commissioners plan and conduct the next review.
The Report concluded, "As a matter of law, the FCC must review all of its rules relating to telecommunications providers every two years. Although the FCC did not fully meet this obligation in 1998, the analysis herein and the model review conducted by a team of legal interns demonstrates that such an FCC review not only is required but is eminently feasible for the year 2000."
Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth said, "Although I am disappointed by the extent of the 1998 biennial review, I look forward to working with Chairman Kennard and my fellow Commissioners on the year 2000 review, planning for which should begin in earnest by next July."
The executive summary and proposed year 2000 review timeline from the Furchtgott- Roth report are attached.
The complete report is available on the Commission's Internet Web site at <http://www.fcc.gov> as well as from the FCC's copy contractor.
News media contact: David Fiske at (202) 418-0500.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 included a section on "Regulatory Reform." Codified at Section 11 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, this provision requires the FCC to review, every two years, all of its rules that apply to telecommunications service providers and determine whether any are no longer necessary in the public interest. Section 11 then directs the Commission to repeal or modify unnecessary rules.
Although the FCC has made significant progress on Section 11, the official 1998 review had shortcomings. In particular, the Commission did not clearly review all of the rules required under Section 11, did not establish clear standards by which rules are evaluated, and did not produce a full written record of the review. At the same time, however, a few law student interns performed a model review which demonstrated how future Section 11 reviews could be conducted by the FCC. In any case, the full Commission should begin planning for the year 2000 biennial review very soon; this report includes specific procedural suggestions for that review.
Conducting a biennial review is no easy task. All those involved with this year's review worked very hard and, in one sense, even harder than necessary. With similar hard work, as well as strict attention paid to the requirements of Section 11, the shortcomings of the 1998 review certainly can be corrected for the year 2000 review.