Thursday, February 02, 2017

FCC Chairman Pai to Release Items Publicly Before Commission Votes

Today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced a new pilot program with the effort of making the FCC more open and transparent. Chairman Pai said that when a proposed rulemaking is released publicly after the vote takes place it is “precisely the opposite of transparency.” Chairman Pai states that under the new pilot program he will publish proposed rulemakings on the same day that he presents them to his fellow Commissioners. If successful, Chairman Pai said this reform will become common practice at the FCC.
In a January 2017 blog entitled “A Proposal for Trialing FCC Process Reforms,” FSF President Randolph May proposed a number of process reforms for the FCC. Specifically, Mr. May proposed that the FCC publish its items online before the Commission votes, adding that “it seems to make little sense to deny the public access to the full text of the item.” Mr. May also stated: “Posting the text on the Commission’s website will eliminate disparities in access by the public to Commission information and also reduce misunderstandings that arise from selective filtering and partial release of snippets of the draft item.”

I commend Chairman Pai for his leadership in establishing such an important process reform. FSF scholars have been critical of the Commission for lacking transparency during its rulemaking process. By allowing the public to access proposals before the Commission votes on them, the FCC will establish greater transparency and public confidence.