Sunday, June 12, 2011

Of Timeliness and the Talmud: The FCC's Perspective

On June 8, 2011, the FCC denied a petititon for reconsideration that was filed by the United Talmudical Academy on December 23, 2003. The Talmudical Academy's petition sought reconsideration of two FCC orders,  one issued on January 4, 2000, and the other on October 24, 2003. Both orders involved determinations concerning UTA's eligibility to receive certain universal service subsidies.

The FCC denied the reconsideration petition as untimely because it was not filed within 30 days of the public notice of the action sought to be reviewed as the FCC rules require. Fair enough.

But it does make you wonder why it took the FCC more than seven years to deny a reconsideration petition as untimely when all the agency had to do was calculate that the petition was not filed within the required 30 days. After all, counting the days did not present an issue requiring a lengthy discussion among Talmudic scholars.

Granted, the FCC's action -- inaction, really -- here may not be of great moment. But the fact that the Commission can deny a petition as untimely filed six or more years after the agency should have acted does not inspire confidence in the Commission's ability to handle more important matters.

And the fact that the FCC can do so without displaying any sense of irony makes you wonder whether the Commission really appreciates that it is an institution in need of reform.

I've suggested other reform measures recently, but here's another modest reform suggestion: If the Commission doesn't act on a reconsideration petition within 18 months, it will be deemed granted.

PS. I have a hard copy in hand but I can't find the order on the FCC's website. The agency's website is a whole other story -- one consistent with the theme of an agency that often looks to fix non-existent problems while not fixing real ones. Don't get me started.