[ Text Version ]


May 27, 1997

(as prepared for delivery)


Earlier today, I sent a letter to President Clinton. I asked him to begin the process of selecting my successor as chair of this marvelous agency. I told him that I intend to remain in my post until he has completed that process. I told him it was a high honor to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, but that it is high time for me to spend more time with my family. My children Adam, Nathaniel,and Sara are growing up fast, and I cannot afford to miss any more of their childhood.

It has been the thrill of my professional life to spend the last three and half years with you at the center of the communications revolution. I have been proud to soldier along with you toward the lofty goals of the American Dream: opportunity and prosperity for all.

As the economic, social, and political wars raged around us, you never lost your intention or your zeal to do the right thing for the American people. All of you at the agency have worked prodigious hours at almost impossibly complex tasks in order to guarantee that the American people would benefit from the communications revolution and that the economy would boom because of the communications revolution. You have succeeded in both efforts.

You have delivered huge benefits for families and for the economy.

You have guaranteed that every family in America will have education over the air and down the pipe at home and in every classroom. You have assured for people of low income, people who do not have English as a first language, people with disabilities, people with medical problems, people in urban and people in remote rural areas that all will have access to the information highway, the information economy, the information age.

This FCC has done more for K-12 education than the federal government has ever done before, with the sole exception of the school lunch program.

This FCC has done more to provide resources to libraries and to health care clinics than the federal government has ever done before.

The breadth and depth of our accomplishments in the interest of the public is known best to us; it may be unremarked by many in the future. But we shall always know what we were able to do to set the communications revolution on the right track and we shall all always have good cause to be proud.

We can be proud too that we helped the American economy grow at its most sustained pace in history.

The information sector represents one-seventh of the U.S. economy. It is the single fastest growing sector with a growth rate twice that of the overall economy.

In the last four years our competition policies have already been a tremendous success. Job growth in the communications sector is 65% higher than in the overall economy. Investment in this sector is up 11% per year. The astonishing success of PCS demonstrates the wisdom of our spectrum policies. Wireless investment has increased more than 250% since 1993 and over the next ten years will total more than $50 billion. It is the largest single investment in a new, non-military technology in American history.

Since President Clinton was elected in 1992, 12 million new jobs have been created. Eight million of those jobs are in the information sector.

The economic success of our country is directly attributable in substantial part to the policies that we have put in place.

All our accomplishments have been hard won. The communications revolution is complicated and controversial. It is not surprising that the complications and controversies are brought to the FCC for resolution.

We have completely rewritten the rules for all five lanes of the information highway: telephony, wireless, satellite, cable and broadcasting. This has not been easy. Our top-to-bottom overhaul of the $200 billion telecommunications industry was the first since the Bell System was created more than 100 years ago.

It is one thing to say that the agency should write the rules to open the telephone markets to competition. It is another thing -- and a distinct challenge and honor -- actually to have to write those rules. It is also an invitation to controversy.

It is one thing to say that the agency should decide whether and how Bell companies should get in the long distance market, or how foreign investment should be permitted in our country, or what should be the shape of the satellite industry that will transform the globe, or what should be the price of a cable subscription, or how to auction airwaves when no one has ever done that, or whether any rules are truly necessary for use of the airwaves.

And it is another thing actually to make those decisions. That is an honor and an irrestible invitation to controversy.

Given the inevitabilities of difficulty and debate in all our decisions, it has been clear from the start that if we didn't hang together, they would certainly hang us separately.

But we hung together. And as a team -- a team that includes career staff, new appointees and each of my friends on the Commission, Jim Quello, Susan Ness, Rachelle Chong and Andy Barrett -- we produced so much that we can be proud of.

We produced policies and rules that work not only for Wall Street, but for Main Street.

We adopted an overarching philosophy appropriate for the Age of Communications Competition that we ushered in. Our philosophy is neither conservative nor liberal. It is a third way for communications policy that will serve the country well in the 21st century.

Our digital era philosophy relies on markets to allocate goods efficiently and to produce innovation, consumer choice, lower prices and better services; but where the market does not generate goods the public rightly insists on, we respond with clear and enforceable rules directly tailored to the public interest and necessity.

This is a trust-but-verify philosophy. Government should trust markets, but verify that they are truly serving the interests of communities, citizens, children. Where they are not, government should intervene with laser-like precision to promote public needs.

It is a philosophy that embraces both market values and family values.

It is a philosophy that will produce the greatest levels of investment, job creation and economic growth, while ensuring that no one is left behind and that important social needs are not compromised or ignored.

It is a philosophy that reverses most of the previous approach. It is a philosophy that rejects micromanagement of communications markets or a laissez faire approach to the public interest.

Whatever virtue the old approach may have had when the FCC existed primarily to monitor monopolies, we were right to discard it as the Commission's fundamental mission changed to causing competition.

That mission of creating competition throughout all aspects of the communications marketplace is one that we began pursuing in 1993 and 1994, and that became the law of the land in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act's fundamamental goal is to establish a "procompetitive, deregulatory" national communications policy. That is a mantra we had been chanting for many months and years before the Act was passed and that we were ready and eager to pursue immediately upon enactment. It is one of the reasons we have been able to defy the oddsmakers and beat each of the impossibly aggressive deadlines in the Act.

How have we implemented our private competition/public benefits philosophy?

Never has the Commission done more to foster the public interest when the market won't.

Some examples:

Public Benefits

* We have guaranteed universal access to the information highway.

On its own, the market won't ensure that all schools, libraries, and rural hospitals have access to the opportunity-rich information highway.

Thanks to the leadership of President Clinton, Vice President Gore, the untiring efforts of Senators Snowe, Rockefeller, Exxon, Kerry, Hollings, Congressman Markey, Secretary of Education Riley, the Communications Act for the first time explicitly addresses this public interest need.

And our universal service order turns that legislative dream into a reality, providing up to $20 billion in federal,state and local funding over the next 5 years to link kids, teachers and libraries to the information highway.

Many of you, of course, worked on the universal service order. Many of you also helped bring Snowe-Rockefeller about. And many of you have devised other creative ways to accomplish the same ends. For example, many of our social contracts settling cable rate disputes included commitments to connect classrooms.

* We have renewed and reformed the social contract between broadcasters and the public.

In exchange for use of the public's airwaves, the Communications Act requires broadcasters to serve the "public interest, convenience and necessity." For many years, the Commission implemented this requirement with vague rules that were unfair and unenforceable -- unfair because vague rules don't give broadcasters notice of what's required of them, and unenforceable because relying on vague rules to punish speakers is an offense to the First Amendmemt.

We took an historic step last year when we replaced vague children's educational TV rules with a clear, enforceable 3-hour guideline. That order was a profoundly significant turning point in Commission history. It was the first time that the agency adopted clear and concrete rules to enforce the statutory requirement that broadcasters serve the public interest. It proved that the Commission can ensure that trustees of the public airwaves truly serve the public interest, while being sensitive and deeply respectful of First Amendment values.

It also proved that modest but clear public interest guidelines can counter market disincentives. As Jean MacCurdy, a Warner Bros. television executive said, "As much as I find this difficult and imposing, creatively, I welcome this over the 1980s, when every show was based on a toy. That was the nadir in creativity. This is a much better direction to be going."

We've jumpstarted the educational TV market. Our rules have led to new partnerships and even new companies working to create educational programming that kids will want to watch. The ultimate success of our rules will depend on parents and communities -- and a Commission that will resist backsliding.

Our kidvid order is not only terrifically important in its own right but because of what it will spawn: clear and enforceable rules providing free airtime for political candidates, and clear and enforceable public interest rules for digital broadcasters.

In our handling last year of the networks' request for approval to give free time to candidates, we proved that we can address the issue of free time in a manner that is faithful to the First Amendment, fair to all candidates, and fulfills our national desire for elevated civic discourse.

The Commission does its job not only when it adopts rules, but when it turns the spotlight of public attention on important issues. This is what we have done on many occasions. Partly as a result, broadcasters have generally declined to accept liquor ads, and I predict that we will see a rise in time devoted to public service announcements. If not, the Commission should act.

* We took unprecedented steps to ensure that the disabled are included on the information highway.

We established the first ever, agency-wide effort to assure accessibility to the communications revolution for people with disaiblities. Our disabilities task force has delivered many separate successess:

We initiated a landmark proceeding to implement Section 255 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act which ensures that all telecommunications equipment and services will be made accessible to persons with disabilities. This is the most significant action for persons with disabilities since the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

We guaranteed that all FCC meetings would be accessible to persons who are hearing impaired by requiring that all such public meetings be close captioned.

We established the first nationwide standards for the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).

Through a negotiated rulemaking we developed the first-ever rules requiring that wireline phones be accessible to the hearing impaired. We have also encouraged ongoing discussions and research to improve the accessibility of wireless phones for the hearing impaired.

We recently released a comprehensive report on video descriptions and closed captioning and will soon adopt rules to implement closed captioning for most types of video programming.

* We created the opportunity for communications and medicine to create brand new health benefits for the public.

We adopted the largest telemedicine program in any nation's history. Our rules will provide up to $2 billion over five years to ensure that rural American's have reasonable access to health care available in metropolitan areas.

* We have given public safety the tools it needs for the information age

Experience shows that the market won't ensure that our police forces, ambulance crews and firefighters get the spectrum they need for critical communications. We set up a Public Safety Advisory Committee to make recommendations about public safety needs, and thanks to the hard work and genius of the Commission's engineers, we will be able to deliver on the most important of those recommendations.

Our engineers devised a digital television allotment plan that frees a large block of spectrum perfectly suited to public safety needs. I'm proud of their efforts, and pleased that the Commission unanimously voted for a DTV allotment plan that allows for the reclamation of 60 MHz of spectrum and to proceed rapidly with a proceeding to assign 24 MHz to public safety. This additional spectrum will make possible for the first time a nationwide, wireless, interoperable public safety network that will enable federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate with one another during times of crisis.

In order to further improve the public safety benefits from spectrum use, we established clear simple rules requiring the rapid implementation of enhanced wireless 911 services. Our rules ensure that, when technically possible, all wireless 911 calls will be passed through to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point regardless of whether the caller is within their carrier's service area or is a current subscriber. Our wireless E-911 rules will assist law enforcement and disaster relief agencies by enabling them to pinpoint the location of a wireless caller and greatly reduce the emergency response time.

The Commission also responded to the request of communities and public safety officials throughout the country by implementing a nationwide, non-emergency 311 number. By easing the burden on the heavily used emergency 911 number, the implementation of 311 will allow for both more rapid emergency responses from 911 and better handling of non-emergency calls via 311.

* We have done more to get licenses in the hands of small businesses, minorities and women than ever before.

Even as judicial decisions made it dramatically harder to pursue directly the statutory goal of encouraging ownership of spectrum licenses by minorities and women, we had extraordinary successes. We have awarded the largest number of licenses to women and minorities than at any other time in history -- indeed, than in the entire previous history of the FCC. We have awarded 465 licenses to minority-owned businesses and 495 licenses to women-owned businesses, and we have awarded more than 2,300 licenses to small businesses.

Your successes in generating public benefits from communications have been extraordinary. Your successes on the private competition front have been equally remarkable. Never has the Commission done more to foster market-based, procompetitive and deregulatory policies.

Some examples:

Private Competition

* We tore down the walls of the monopoly and opened up markets to new entrants.

We opened the local telephone market to competition. Our interconnection policies are being copied around the world, and while three judges on the Eighth Circuit disagreed with our approach, virtually every state in the union has adopted our policies.

I thank and congratulate the states and the many dedicated public servants on their telephone commissions for doing the hard job of promoting competition in their jurisdictions.

We also ended the local wireless duopoly. We did this by unlocking the spectrum warehouse and auctioning large blocks of spectrum for three new PCS licenses in every market in the country. In the last three years, wireless phone users have doubled to 44 million. And where PCS operators compete with cellular providers, wireless rates have dropped by 25%.

And we have promoted competition against the former cable monopoly. Our DBS policies, for example, have seen the DBS installation price drop from $1,000 in 1994 to as low as $99 today while penetration has doubled in the past year alone. DBS is the fastest growing consumer product in history.

* We restructed pricing regulation to provide incentives for competition and productivity, while promoting access to basic service.

The access reform, price cap and universal service orders that we recently adopted reflect a complete overhaul of our telephone pricing policies. The economics and the technology of the networks are complicated, but the fundamental idea is straightforward: allow competition to determine pricing while preserving and promoting access to basic service.

This fundamental idea empowered us to resist tremendous pressure to raise local residential rates. Instead, as a result of these orders, the average long distance bill will drop by 8%. These orders will bring about the single largest consumer benefit in telecommunications to the American people -- about $25 billion over five years.

It is widely believed around the world that competition and universal service are incompatible. We've proven that false.

The idea that competition and universal service are friends and not enemies explains not only our approach to traditional telephone access charges, but to the internet -- which we have declared a subsidy free zone to maximize competition for internet access, which in turn will maximize internet penetration.

The number of internet users in this country is up 263% in the last nine months, to 50 million users. The Internet was almost unheard of outside academia when I got here. Now as millions log on every day we can be proud of two things. First, we didn't mess up this wonderful invention. We resisted efforts to adopt policies that would have discouraged internet use. Second, the policies we did adopt will help promote, in a competitively neutral way, the ongoing success of the internet.

It also explains our approach to cable rates, where we have increasingly allowed competition to dictate the price of enhanced tiers while driving down the price of the basic cable package.

* We replaced government micromanagement of spectrum with a market-based spectrum policy.

Instead of lotteries or comparative hearings -- neither of which did work or could work -- we used auctions to assign spectrum whenever we had the legal authority to do so. We have auctioned 1,164 Mhz of spectrum, netting billions of dollars for American taxpayers and, more important, generating many times more than that in investment, job creation and economic growth.

Our auctions were the first government auctions of spectrum in United States history, and the largest auctions of anything in terms of dollars bid. We have held more spectrum auctions than any country in the world, and have auctioned more licenses to more businesses for more money by far: Our 14 auctions have assigned more than 4,000 licenses to more than 500 businesses for over $23 billion.

We have many more auctions planned over the next year beginning with a quarterly reauction in August, 800 Mhz in October, LMDS and 220 Mhz in November, Paging in January of 1998, IVDS in March of 1998 and 39 Ghz in April 1998.

We have also moved steadily toward a policy of full spectrum flexibility. Instead of having the government dictate what services spectrum licensees can provide, we have increasingly allowed the market to make that judgment.

The Commission staff wrote the first spectrum policy paper at the Commission in over 50 years. This document charts the course for a market- based spectrum policy that promotes competition through auctioning licensnes and providing maximum techncal and service flexibility. Licensing more spectrum in an orderly manner, with sufficient advance notice, is the surest way to spur competition and deconsentrate markets. This doctrine also recognizes that markets rather than government standards should determine how spectrum is used. Licensees should be given maximum flexibility to offer any service technically feasible, subject only to the minimum technical restrictions necessary to prevent harmful interference and protect public health. Technical and service flexibility promote innovation and investment in new technologies by allowing the marketplace to determine success or failure. But markets are imperfect and the FCC must act where necessary to ensure public benefits from spectrum use and to prevent anticompetetive behavior in new wireless markets. This is the model we followed for PCS, LMDS, GWCS and WCS and it should be the model the Commission follows into the future.

Spectrum efficiency has been a critical part of our spectrum policy. Digital television is one example. The original plan had the public recovering 72 MHz of broadcast spectrum in 15 years. Our remarkable engineers devised a plan that has the public recovering a full 138 MHz -- 60 MHz immediately and 78 MHz in ten years. The return of a lot more spectrum a lot faster is a benefit worth billions of dollars to the public in terms of job creation and economic growth, even before auction proceeds are counted.

With just a few exceptions, all Commissioners have stood together on our new spectrum policy. As a group, we have auctioned spectrum repeatedly and enthusiastically.

In fact, out of hundreds of spectrum orders, I have only dissented four times -- in each case because I believed that the majority had wrongly ruled against auctions or adopted unnecessary spectrum regulation. But these were the only times I have dissented out of the 1,550 votes I have cast at the Commission.

* We relied on markets to drive the next generation of broadcast television.

In adopting a digital television standard, we refused to dictate the format that broadcasters would use. Many had argued that the formats recommended by our Advisory Committee would thwart TV-PC convergence. We resisted efforts to mandate a format that would benefit any single industry. Instead, we adopted a standard that would allow -- and already has allowed -- consumer electronics and computer companies to compete. Even in established industries like broadcasting and consumer electronics, we have provided opportunities for new entrants and new competition.

We also resisted calls to micromanage the use of the digital TV spectrum. We did not adopt a high definition requirement. We did not adopt an up-front simulcast requirement. We adopted a flexible-use policy limited only by our obligation to preserve free TV and to ensure that TV serves the public interest. This will maximize broadcasters' ability to work with the computer industry and others to respond to changes in technologies and markets and to launch digital television in a manner that will most rapidly drive purchase of digital TV receivers.

At the end of the day, we reversed every important policy position on DTV that we inherited. While digital television previously was viewed as an opportunity to defend the broadcast status quo against new competitors, we saw digital TV as an opportunity for broadcasters to compete in new markets, with new allies, as well as competing more effectively in their core markets.

* We have successfully exported our competition philosophy.

The FCC was instrumental in the successful completion of the World Trade Organization agreement on telecommunications. We were instrumental by proposing and adopting rules here that made it clear to foreign countries that we would not tolerate the market-distorting effects of closed markets around the world. And we were instrumental by working hand-in-hand with two remarkable U.S. Trade Representatives -- Mickey Kantor and Charlene Barshefsky -- in negotiating the WTO agreement.

As countries implement the WTO, they are generally turning first to the policies drawn up on the blackboards and computer screens right here at the FCC. Our hard work is making a difference not only in the U.S., but around the world.

In addition to multilateral agreements, we have struck an unprecedented number of bilateral agreements -- for example, our landmark agreement with Mexico to open both countries' DBS markets.

Finally, this is the first Commission to take on the international telephone cartel and insist on the lowering of outrageously high accounting rates. This fight is ongoing, and we are starting to see the price of international calls fall.

* We've created new industries

Our policies have created the first private global satellite systems in history. There are now competing multibillion dollar systems under development and deployment -- including Teledesic, Iridium and Globalstar.

Our policies have created the PCS industry and other wireless industries. Our rules have allowed the cable industry to increase investment in new products like cable modems, increase investment in infrastructure, and increase investment in new programming ventures.

There is, of course, much work still to be done at the Commission. For example:

The Commission must ensure that digital television is launched rapidly and with rules that guarantee that digital television programming will serve the public interest.

It must address the threat of liquor ads, the decline of public service announcements, and the great potential of free TV time for candidates to help solve the problem of campaign financing.

It must address the V-chip and ratings issues in a way that will truly give parents the power to choose what their kids watch in the analog TV present and the digital TV future.

It must implement the children's educational TV rules in a way that will give parents something to chose for their kids.

It must ensure that the large pot of money we have identified for wiring classrooms and libraries is used wisely and effectively, with a way found to allow for needed equipment purchases and teacher training.

It must ensure that our local telephone and wireless competition rules are not thwarted by courts, counties or incumbents. It must work with states and local governments to prevent barriers to entry from arising in the first place, and to remove them when necessary.

It must complete the many rulemakings that will assure universal service, innovation and true deregulation in telephone markets.

It must ensure that competition in the long-distance market is enhanced and not diminished by the entry of the Bell companies.

It must work to increase wired and wireless bandwidth available for the internet and other new services.

It must ensure that spectrum is used as efficiently as possible, that neither government nor private users are warehousing this precious public resource, and that all available spectrum is assigned quickly by auction.

And it must implement the World Trade Organization agreement on telecommunications in a way faithful to the vision of the negotiators, as originally expressed in the Vice President's groundbreaking 1993 speech in Buenos Aires.

Many of these challenges will be presented to the Commission even in votes that we will hold in June, July and August.

I am sure that I and my colleagues will be voting on many of these items. I do not intend to slow our efforts or postpone decisions on anything.

I am sure that the current team of commissioners agrees with me that we should leave no jobs undone for our successors if we have the ability and time to do the jobs right in our remaining time.

After I am gone, however the new FCC Chair and his or her team will have no shortage of challenges. They will find a great group already here at the FCC.

None of the successes of last few years would have been possible without the knowledge, creativity and dedication of the FCC staff. I specifically mean both FCC staffers who predated me, as well as relatively new Commission employees.

We have relied upon and honored career staffers. I'll run the risk of omission and mention three career FCC employees, for their special contributions and as representatives of everyone else. I could not have run the FCC without Ruth Milkman and Mary Beth Richards, and our extraordinary accomplishment in devising a digital television plan that recovers a big block of spectrum for the public simply would not have happened without Bruce Franca. The stunning success of our auction program is due in large measure to the boundless energy and dedication of Gerry Vaughan. I'm am enormously greatful to Gina Keeney and Richard Metzger for their leadership and guidance through some of the most complex and difficult proceedings this agencey has ever faced.

I personally have relied upon day and night many, many people at the Commission.

In my own office I am forever in the debt of my senior legal advisers Renee Licht, Diane Cornell, Ruth Milkman, John Nakahata,and Jackie Chorney. These are the most able, intelligent, and indefatigable public servants I can imagine. And on countless occasions they have been better chairmen in fact than I ever could have been myself. Julius Genachowski, as Chief Counsel, Tom Boasberg, Gretchen Rubin, Karen Brinkmann and Merrill Spiegel as Legal Advisors, have served brilliantly and wonderefully. They have performed prodigious feats of diplomacy, analysis, articulation, and patience in order to win the right answers to thousands of questions. Ruth Dancey and her capable team have managed the demands of the office with an applomb and a positive attitude that represent the triumph of mind over what really doesn't matter. And a truer friend there never was than Blair Levin. We had been friends for nearly 20 years when we came here together. The last three and half years have seemed like twice as much friendship, but we have shared the many highs and occasional lows, begged for forgiveness from the same people and from each other, been through the proverbial thick and thin, fire and storm, and come through better friends than ever before. Not only all that, but this agency has never had a better friend, advocate, political guru, jokemeister, rabbi, and chief of staff.

Outside my office, all over the agency, there are many new employees who have made extraordinary contributions to communications policy and to the public interest. The FCC has been able to outrecruit the very best law firms, businesses and investment banks and hire some of the very best young lawyers, MBAs, economists and engineers in the country.

We have elevated and empowered economists and engineers at the Commission. We have tripled the number of economists at the Commission and recruited internationally renowned academic econmists to serve as Chief Economist. We've also set the record for most MBAs in FCC history, including extraordinary young men and women from Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management, and a number of experienced professionals from top-notch consulting firms like McKinsey. These are the people who have given the Commissioners, and will continue to give the Commissioners, the backbone to disagree with economic and factual arguments of industry where disagreement is appropriate and to do the right thing for the public interest. For the same reason, we have beefed up our legal team. We have more Supreme Court clerks at the Commission than most of the law firms that participate in our proceedings, and the quality of our legal team in and out of our General Counsel's office rivals that of any law firm in the country. This gives us the ability to disagree with the legal arguments of industry where disagreement is appropriate and, again, to do the right thing for the public interest.

It has also allowed this Commission to dramatically increase its winning percentage in court -- from 55% to 85%. Bill Kennard, Chris Wright, David Solomon and his team accomplished this while also being asked to handle more cases, and harder cases, than ever before. The team has won a series of hugely important cases at the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals -- must carry, cable and broadcast indecency, cable rates, DBS, C-Block auction, and others.

It allowed us to reinvent thinking about the First Amendment and broadcasting. Through public speeches, including speeches at law schools, and articles published in law reviews, we have articulated a third-way theory of broadcast regulation. We have explained why clear and concrete rules are more First Amendment friendly than vague rules, and we have shown that broadcast regulation is justified not only by spectrum scarcity but also by the nature of spectrum as public property on which it is permissible to place reasonable restrictions.

Not only have we put in place a team that will serve the Commission and the country well in the future, we have reformed the Commission structure and procedures toward the same end.

We made sure our operations are smart, simple, straightforward and slim. We have created an organization that is as fair, dedicated, responsive and effective as the best organization in the private or public sector in the world.

We put computers and push-button phones on every desk for the first

time in Commission history and made laptop computers and wireless phones available to those who need them, dramatically increasing both productivity and (I hope) job satisfaction.

In 1994, we created a Wireless Bureau, Cable Bureau and International Bureau, leaving the Common Carrier Bureau free to focus on the domestic wired telecommunications network. Without this change, we would not have been able to beat each of the deadlines in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, nor produce consistently high quality work. Soon we will address the structure of the Commission's Offices, further strengthening the agency.

On the license-processing line, we have performed the impossible. We've processed the most license applications in history faster than ever before. We did this while also having the biggest reduction in backlog for licenses. We eliminated our international and wireless cable backlogs, and reduced our wireless backlog by three-quarters. We've also handled the greatest number of mergers and acquisitions per year in FCC history. Many of these were radio and TV transanctions. And the Mass Media Bureau not only reviewed this transfer applications carefully and faithfully to the law, they simultaneously cut the time to process applications by more than half.

Meanwhile, we managed somehow to meet or beat the impossibly aggressive deadlines of the Telecommunications Act. We voted over 45 Telecom Act items in one year, and a total of 118 Telecom Act items. We considered over 180,000 pages of written comments and many more ex partes. We responded to over 7,000 letters from Congress. And we held over 170 public forums, roundtables, brownbags or enbancs.

Our public forums included sessions at which leading academics and scholars presented their work. The FCC has never done more to build bridges betweeen the Commission and the academy.

At the same time, our staff worked hard to establish the most extensive federal-state cooperation in history

We have opened the Commission's procedures to the public. Virtually everything we do is available on the internet. Documents can be downloaded. Commission meetings can be followed live. People can communicate directly with Commissioners and their staffs. Our web site has now had 58 million hits.

We have also taken the Commission's debates to the public. Not everything we have done, not every position we have taken, has met with the approval of everyone interested, but we killed the mystery surrounding substantive debates at the FCC. An FCC that does its work in secret and that resists an open dialogue in front of and with the American people isn't doing its job.

We have, in short, reinvented the FCC. And we can prove it. The Vice President gave us a reinventing government award for our auction work. And 21 of Mary Beth Richards' reinventing government proposals were enacted in the Telcom Act.

It is sometimes said that with so many powerful forces arrayed to protect their own pecuniary interests it is simply impossible for government and, specifically, for the FCC to act consistently in the public's interest. But I believe we have done that over the last three years.

We have been able to do that because of the structure and open process we put in place at the Commission, and especially because of the people here at the agency.

We have set new standards for fairness and integrity. The word around town is this: if you want to win at the FCC, you better read the law, study the economics and explain exactly what why you propose is the right thing for the American public -- because that's how the agency makes its decisions.

It is because of you that the agency's reputation has never been stronger. It is because of you that we no longer hear the call to eliminate the FCC.

It is because of you that the Commission has repeatedly made the impossible inevitable.

I don't know how long it will take for my successor to be installed. I don't know how many more weeks or months we will have together. When I do leave I shall be sad to say goodbye but infinitely grateful for having shared this marvelous experience with you.

I and all the people of America thank you for all that you have done and all that you will do to keep the American Dream alive in the information age.