The independent blog on spectrum policy issues
that welcomes your input on the key policy issues of the day.

Our focus is the relationship between spectrum policy
and technical innnovation.

A net neutrality free zone: We pledge no mention of any net neutrality issues before 2018.

When they deserve it, we don't hesitate to criticize either NAB, CTIA or FCC.

FCC Again Honors Top Performing Staffers in Secret

The FCC presents the Distinguished Service Award (Gold Medal) and Meritorious Service Award (Silver Medal) to employees whose accomplishments have had an extraordinary impact on the ability of the Commission to accomplish its mission. Previously these awards were publicly announced. However, the last such public announcement was in 1998. While I understand that the Republican leadership of the Commission in the Bush 43 years might have been reluctant to honor career civil servants publicly, it puzzles me why the current leadership continues the secrecy.

Nevertheless, from sources on 12th Street, SW I have the list of those who received awards on October 18th in the Commission Meeting Room:

Gold Medal

  • Val Brock, WCB
  • Bill Cline, CGB
  • James Higgins, EB
  • Michael Wagner, MB

Silver Medal

  • James Brown, WTB
  • Barbara Cutts, IB
  • Sandra Haase, OET
  • Kim Mattos, OGC

I do not know several of these people, but I worked alongside Sandra Haase and Barbara Cutts in OET (and also when Barbara moved to IB). Both are apolitical civil servants who have worked for decades improving the FCC and its role.

I also worked closely with Jim Higgins in many points in my career both when I was exiled to EB’s predecessor, FOB, and while I was in OET and its predecessor. We first met during the spread spectrum rulemaking - which is the basis of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth now. Jim helped perform an experiment that confirmed that spread spectrum that is strong enough to cause interference could also be located with standard FCC equipment. (At the time the opponents of spread spectrum were creating also sorts of specious arguments to stop it.)

Jim Higgins and you blogger ca. 1992 in Hong Kong
to measure Chinese jamming of VOA

Jim and I also worked closely on developing “fingerprinting” techniques to identify illegal transmitters and track Soviet Jamming of VOA, on the “Captain Midnight” and “Playboy” satellite jamming case. and on the first successful prosecution of a Coast Guard false distress case. Jim is now deputy regional director of EB although he is not well known on 12th Street, SW since he has always worked in Columbia MD.

My congratulations to all the award winners.
I only hope that FCC reverses course here and publicly announces these awards and gives examples of the excellent work these people have done in the public interest. We should all be proud of such excellence!


I spoke with someone who knows all the medal winners this year who confirmed that they are all mid-level long term career civil servants and that none of them are particularly close to political appointees. In the past, high level political people have sometimes received these awards. Indeed, former Managing Director Minkel received the very first “Gold Medal” “at the insistence of the commissioners”.

I am impressed that the new team focused on apolitical career civil servants exclusively.
blog comments powered by Disqus