Feds Launch Probe of FCC Activity

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee has concerns with the FCC’s use of delegated authority and its rule-making process.

by / February 19, 2015

The U.S. House of Representatives Energy & Commerce Committee is taking a closer look at how the Federal Communications Commission conducts its rule-making process and other affairs.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, leaders of the committee requested documentation on the commission’s decision-making processes, citing concerns over open and transparent government.

”Unfortunately there are far too many instances where good process has been cast aside at the FCC and American consumers and job creators suffer as a result,” said E&C Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Oversight and investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., in a joint statement.

“This investigation is another step forward in raising the curtain at the FCC as we work to ensure an open and transparent government working on behalf of all Americans,” they added. “Although communications laws may be complicated, the public can easily recognize when the process is broken.”

Upton and the other chairman referred to various examples of FCC conduct they were concerned with, including how the commission delegates authority to its bureaus and offices on matters deemed “noncontroversial,” its dealings with Congress, and most recently, the open Internet rulemaking.

Specifically the E&C Committee letter references May 2014 press reports that Wheeler’s office withheld the final version of the Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from two commissioners for up to 24 hours, after sharing it with the other two commissioners.

The requested information includes FCC guidelines and policies regarding interaction with the commission's bureaus and other offices, and how information is shared. Wheeler and the FCC have until March 4 to respond.