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Report on Staff Professions in National Telecom Regulatory Agencies

Steve Crowley’s blog has a new post entitled “Staff at the FCC: How Many Lawyers, Economists, and Engineers?” that describes a recent report from the German consulting firm WIK-Consult GmbH (a spinoff from the former W. German Bundespost/PTT). The report, Drivers and Effects of the Size and Composition of Telecoms Regulatory Agencies was written by J. Scott Marcus, a former senior FCC staffer and no relation to your blogger, and Juan Rendon Schneir.

The report is based on data from the following regulatory agencies: Canada (the CRTC), France (ARCEP), Germany (the Federal Network Agency, or BNetzA), the Netherlands (OPTA), New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC), Peru (OSIPTEL), Spain (CMT), Sweden (PTS), the United Kingdom (Ofcom) and the United States (FCC). They then tabulate the professional backgrounds of the staff at each agency.

One of the problems with this type of analysis is that the 10 agencies examined have overlapping but different jurisdictions. The Canadian CRTC only has 7 engineers because if doesn’t deal with spectrum policy which is mainly in the jurisdiction of Industry Canada. The French ARCEP is more like the old FCC Common Carrier Bureau - it also has some postal functions - and French spectrum policy is more in the control of ANFR. Thus it is difficult to compare apple with apples, not oranges.

Comparison of professions in national regulators

Based on a FOIA request to FCC, WIK found out that FCC now has 268 engineers, 55 economists and 542 lawyers. Actually I was surprised by this, because throughout most of my career engineers were the most numerous professional group although few were in policy positions. The WIK researchers then got the graph shown at the top of this post which compares ‘senior managers” among the 10 agencies. I suspect OET Chief Julius Knapp is the only engineer senior manager considered in the report, emphasizing the imbalance with respect to regulators in other countries. The WIK report comments “Particularly striking was the skills distribution among senior managers in the United States, where of 23 senior managers who were categorised for this study, 22 were lawyers, only one was an engineer, and none were economists.”

The report makes interesting reading as FCC struggles with how to deal with the technical issues that are at the core of many key telecom issues.

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