Today, the House of Representatives is voting on the “FCC Process Reform Act,” a bill put forward by Rep. Greg Walden [R-OR] aimed at bringing the Commission’s process up to speed with the pace of innovation. In anticipation of the vote, Rep. Walden took to the pages of Politico in order to express why reform is so urgently needed. As he writes:
[P]rocess at the FCC is broke and does need fixing. This is not the fault of any one administration or any one FCC chairman. Indeed, the current chairman, Julius Genachowski, has improved the commission’s process in a number of ways. But it has fallen into sloppy habits over the years, and more needs to be done.
Sometimes the FCC acts before thoroughly examining whether regulation is needed. It’s now time to stop putting the regulatory cart before the horse. That’s why this bill requires the FCC to survey the marketplace, identify a failure and conduct a cost-benefit analysis before imposing rules.
The commission now frequently proposes to regulate without publishing the specific wording of a tentative rule. So public input can’t be specific. The result is rules that could prove less well-vetted and more likely to have unintended consequences. My bill would require the FCC to publish the specific text.
Not even the House of Representatives operates that way.
There’s no denying the FCC plays a vital role in American government. But as with most government agencies, readiness to act is always an issue. As we all know, technology moves at breakneck speed. New innovations, new disruptions to business models, arrive each and every day. Smart reforms, like those presented by Rep. Walden, are a vital first step in helping the Commission remain effective.
From allocating new spectrum for mobile broadband, to examining proposed mergers between companies aimed at better serving consumers, the FCC has a lot on its plate. If the Commission has any hope of keeping up with the blistering pace of technology, reform is absolutely necessary.