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Spectrum Enforcement Downsizing Report has Leaked Out


The consultant's report that was used to rationalize the downsizing or decimation of the FCC's spectrum enforcement field staff has now leaked out. I previously filed a FOIA request for this. EB's response that did not produce even a word of the text due to total stonewalling. Of course this is the same EB that in the previously discussed case of the Motorola 5 GHz radio that was interfering with safety-of-life airport weather radars thought so little about the FOIA Act and its mandates that they let Motorola's lawyer respond directly to me (saving FCC postage, perhaps?) and ignored the statutory requirement of marking any redacted section with the FOIA exemption number.

Now, through anonymous sources, we have a 253 page Powerpoint presentation. Oddly, it lacks any indication of authorship. The second slide being with this statement:

FCC engaged OceanEast and Censeo in October 2014 to conduct an organizational assessment of the Enforcement Bureau’s (EB) Field operations in order to identify whether Field resources were being used in an efficient manner aligned with FCC mission and policy priorities in the current state and for the long term

OceanEast was paid $845,520 in FY15 by FCC for this study.

Would a comparable amount of effort spent on reviewing FCC's overall throughput and productivity in it main product line of telecom policy have been more cost effective?

Below is page 86 of the presentation on how the EB field staff, at least those around when the survey was held, thing about decision making speed in the Bureau:


Note that 32 out of 70 EM field staffers felt that EB's "speed of making critical decisions over the past two years" was "very slow" and another 27 felt that it was "somewhat slow". Does this have something to do with the growth of the EB front office staff? Or perhaps the Commission's present general disinterest in spectrum policy other than key political issues such as the incentive auction?

Perhaps our recent post on antenna tower marking and lighting enforcement is indicative of this problem. The Johnson Towers Corp. case was initiated by an inquiry from FAA to FCC in November 2013 and was not finally resolved until 2 years later! The General Communication, Inc./Alaska Wireless Network, LLC case also took about 2 years to resolve. (Since this case involved a self-reported violation, erasable people could disagree on whether a $620,500 fine was appropriate, but since this is a safety of life issue most would agree that timely resolution of both of these cases was needed to show that FCC is serious!

A final sample of the slides in the report that FCC leadership tried to suppress deals with the staff's understanding of FCC's enforcement goals:


32 out of 70 EB staff respondents answers that they either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement "The field’s mission is explicitly aligned with the broader mission of the FCC". Is this an indication that spectrum enforcement should be downsized or a call for a major shakeup in EB leadership? For more than a decade the EB spectrum enforcement staff has been puzzled on what were the goals and priorities of the organization. Since they didn't know the goals, initiative was discouraged because you might enforce something that wasn't wanted. Look at the April 24, 2010 blog post that was here. FCC could have saved a lot of money if they had read it and acted! Here is an excerpt from hat post that indicates EB staff confusion over enforcement goals:

Sources in EB tell me that during the DTV transition when EB agents were visiting electronics retailers in large numbers to check for proper labeling on TV receivers being sold they were actively discouraged from noticing other equipment being sold that was illegal. Thus a return to the Adm. Nelson “telescope to the blind eye” approach.

Field downsizing will not accomplish anything - except maybe saving some money to be spent elsewhere in FCC - unless FCC & EB leadership take an active role in defining
clear goals for field spectrum enforcement and gets adequate funding for equipment, travel and overtime: 3 things that field enforcement needs that are not needed by FCC staffers in Southwest! (As we have said before, city hall clerks need fewer resources than policemen and firemen. Does that mean that cites should downsize police and fire resources?) There is a real risk that the downsizing without strong leadership will facilitate spectrum chaos.

Indeed, the current glut of broadcast pirates may be a premonition of what is coming if FCC does not get its spectrum act together. Aviation safety may also take a big hit as the report minimizes the need for continued tower marking and lighting inspections mandated by
§303(q) and gives no alternatives to assure this safety related compliance.

Think about this next time you fly!


At no time has your blogger ever solicited internal nonpublic FCC documents from FCC staff. The first draft of the consultant report that I announced on this website was received from a known source outside FCC who sent it unsolicited. The longer document in this post was received unsolicited from a GMAIL account that is clearly a pseudonym and the cover message implied it was from an FCC employee. I have no idea who it was from and again did not solicit it, although I had requested it in my FOIA request that I believe was improperly handled at FCC. Before posting it here, I checked to make sure it contained no information affecting national security or law enforcement function or the privacy of FCC employees.. Indeed, the document's marketing do not imply it contains such material.
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