Federal Internet Law & Policy
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FCC Chair & Commissioners Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
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- FCC Chairs & Commissioners

The FCC is led by the "Commission" which is comprised of a panel of five commissioners.   Each commissioner is appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.  No more than three of the commissioners may be from the same political party.  If confirmed, the commissioners serve 5-year terms and will serve until their successors have taken office - except they cannot serve in an unconfirmed or reappointed position "beyond the expiration of the next session of Congress subsequent to the expiration of said fixed term of office."  The President has the power to select the Chairman out of the currently serving commissioners. Sometimes the Commission does not have a full slate of commissioners - this is not however a problem: "No vacancy in the Commission shall impair the right of the remaining commissioners to exercise all of the powers of the Commission." 47 USC § 154(c).

The Chair sets the agenda for the Commission and can determine which proceedings are initiated and which proceedings come up for vote. 47 U.S.C. § 155(a).

"The chairman decides when the commission will vote on final rules and whether the vote will occur during a public meeting or by circulation, which involves electronically circulating written items to each of the commissioners for approval. According to FCC officials, while it is not possible to vote on every rulemaking at a public meeting, items that are controversial or have a broad impact on the industry are more likely to be voted on during a public meeting. Of the 240 recent rules, 101 were adopted on the day the commission held a public meeting, indicating they may have been voted on at the meeting, while the other 139 appear to have been adopted by circulation." [GAO-07-1046, p 15]

The FCC is to hold an open to the public meeting at least once a month. 47 U.S.C. § 155(d). See Sunshine Act. Live and archived webcasts of FCC meetings can be viewed on the FCC website.

Policy is decided at the FCC by vote of the commissioners.  In order for a policy decision to be made, generally the commissioners will sit in a panel in a meeting that is open to the public and broadcast on C-SPAN and over the Internet in Realaudio. Matters are brought before the Commission, generally by the Bureaus, and then a vote is taken.  A simple majority of commissioners takes the day.  The dissenting commissioners will frequently attach dissenting, and at times, intriguing, opinions to the decisions of the FCC.

2008 / 09 Transition

Transition Team: The FCC transition team is being lead by Prof. Kevin Werbach (formering with the FCC's Office of Plans and Policy) and Prof. Susan Crawford.

Science, Tech, Space and Arts Team Leads

  • Tom Wheeler, on leave from Core Capital Partners, former CEO of NCTA (Overseeing review of science, tech, space and arts agencies)
  • Department of Commerce Team Leads
  • Don Beyer
  • Ralph Everett
  • FCC Review Team Leads
  • Susan Crawford
  • Kevin Werbach
  • NASA Review Team Leads
  • Lori Garver
  • Roderic Olvera Young
  • NEA / NEH Review Team Leads
  • Bill Ivey
  • Anne Luzzatto
  • Clement Price
  • NSF Review Team Leads
  • Jim Kohlenberger
  • Henry Rivera. Former FCC Commissioner. Rivera is a partner at the law firm Wiley Rein. He served as a Commiussioner at the FCC from 1981 to 1985. He has acted as Chair of the Commission's Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age. - However, as a result of the Obama anti-lobbying rules, Rivera recused himself leading the FCC transition.
  • The Obama team is apparently receiving advice from former FCC Chairs Reed Hundt and Bill Kennard. [Ars Technica 111308] Comm Daily is reporting (11/28/8) that Kevin Werbach has ask that former Ch. Michael Powell (Republican) assist with the transition.

    Kevin Martin's FCC


    Top Reasons It's Fun to Work at the Martin FCC:

    7. Agenda meetings - where will they go, what will they do, and what time will they start?
    6. FCC Carolers now sing UNC Fight song
    5. More time for margaritas because there's no need to worry about returning reporters' phone calls
    4. Your old boss works for you and your old intern is a Bureau Chief
    3. Plenty of time for Golf because there's no need to work on Wireless issues
    2. Trips to Siberia not limited to the International Bureau
    1. KGB-like atmosphere grows on you after awhile
    - FCC Chairman Kevin Martin (FCBA Chairman's Dinner 2005)




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