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FCC IG: "Fast and Furious" Report Highlights Comparison with Other Agency IGs Who Do Their Whole Job

Headlines across the country today deal with the report of the Justice Department Inspector General on the “Fast and Furious” gun tracking program of ATF that resulted in guns getting to Mexican drug dealers. The role of the FCC Inspector General has been a recurring theme here. The first few FCC IGs were cronies of the chairmen who appointed them and naturally had no interest in finding anything that might embarrass their patron.

While the current IG does not have this background, he has continued the pattern set by his predecessors and focused almost exclusively on the fraud aspect of his charter (with the Universal Service Fund and Telecommunications Relay Service there is certainly enough fraud in FCC-related programs to keep one busy) with occasional forays into obscure issues such as “procedures to ensure that digital copiers or scanners, when going off lease or being deaccessioned, contained no sensitive, confidential, or personal data.”

As I have written before, “A credible IG would make FCC more credible”. At NRC, another independent commission, the IG played a key role in curbing the excesses of their recently departed chairman. Clearly Chmn. Martin had no fear that FCC’s IG would similarly cramp his style as his excesses forced the FCC into being dysfunctional during his term. Yet the FCC IG, the NRC IG, and the DOJ IG have the same statutory charter.

The fact that the FCC IG is appointed by the Commission not the President does not give him a free pass on his mandate to review existing programs and activities for their effectiveness. Indeed, the nonpresidentially appointed IGs, such as FCC’s, have special protection against arbitrary dismissal to encourage their independence.

So, FCC IG David Hunt, if you want to start doing your whole job here are some topics you might want to dig into that go back more than a decade:

  • Why does the FCC consistently ignore Section 7 of the Communications Act?

  • Does the lengthy delays associated with new technology deliberations discourage capital formation for wireless technology innovation unnecessarily?

  • Why do petitions to FCC consistently get “lost” without any visibility and FCC and go for years without any action? (Here’s an example.)

  • Why has FCC been unable to resolve the Docket 10-4 controversy even though the stalemate is clearly hurting all parties including the public?
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