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Shutdown Update


FCC has announced that except for 38 employees and a few contractors the agency has been shutdown due to the current budget impasse. No one in OET is included in the 38. In a separate action FCC announced that filings due during the shutdown will be now due the 2nd day after work resumes. (How do you file reply comments if you have not have access to the comments in a proceeding?) Other questions have not been addressed on the minimal remaining FCC website. What about licenses that are about to expire but whose renewal has not been issued? I thought I the past these were extended, but no word yet. Will radio and TV broadcast stations have to go off the air? (New cellular base station do not require FCC action so routine growth in the cellular community will not be affected although FCC won’t be able to help with the zoning and permitting disputes that are so common..)

Equipment authorizations? Word from a prominent test lab is that they can test and approve new equipment modeled but the approval is not effective until registered with FCC which can’t be done. Will FCC be the “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” if high tech toys for the holiday season that need TCB approval, generally those with transmitters like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, are not approved and thus can not be imported?

How in the world will the incentive auction be implemented with such a gap in planning since the schedule was already rather tight?

Will the Commission ever get back to 5 members if Congress is so distracted?

FCC already has done too little recruiting of new staffers for many years in a row and will likely suffer from this in the future. This distraction will just make that problem worse and creating problems 10+ years in the future when there are too few qualified middle managers.


The 1995 Federal Shutdown:
A Belated Confession

Above: CNN on then and now
===================================== Photo by PinkMoose, via Flickr

In 1995 the federal government shut down for several weeks due to a budget impasse that may be about to be repeated. While not all federal agencies were affected, FCC certainly was. Virtually all employees were ordered not to come to the office during the shutdown and guards at the then headquarters building at 1919 M St., NW enforced this.

But your blogger sometimes listens to a different drummer. At that time FCC/OET was in a separate building, 2020 M St. that was almost all private tenants and had no FCC security officer. Since no one bothered to change the lock, it was easy to get in if you had a key. I had a health club membership in the same block and came in 2-3 times/week to work out at the health club. (My wife’s agency had an appropriation at that point, so she had to work anyway.)

After working out at the health club, I sneaked into the FCC/OET office space to both ponder the stupidity of the shutdown and also to water everyone’s plants. I figured that people were stressed out enough about the shutdown - it was not clear at that point whether they would eventually get paid - and the last thing they needed was to come back and find that their beloved office plant of x years had died during the shutdown.

Yes, I violated FCC directions and possibly the law. I hope that the statute of limitations has expired. I have no regrets.

2013 Shutdown