Acting Chairman Copps Testifies on FCC FY2010 Budget
In testimony today , Acting FCC Chairman Copps asks for many things, two of which were long overdue.
"During Fiscal Year 2010, the FCC also proposes to take some necessary steps forward to modernize our technological infrastructure, for which we seek $15 million. First, we will upgrade and integrate our IT systems to make our processes more transparent and easier for the public to access. For instance, we will upgrade our website capabilities so that consumers will be able to perform keyword searches of comments filed in ongoing proceedings, thereby permitting and encouraging increased public participation in our decision-making process."As I have written many times in the past, the FCC website is a disaster, sort of the nation's information policy attic. ECFS, the comment filing system suffers from 2 sets of hasty design decisions whihc have never been corrected: The original mid-1980s design for terminals in the Docket Reading Room which was a "quick fix" to the "Mrs. Field's Cookies scandal" - where FCC file clerks gave preferential access to bound files of comments if the paralegals bribed them with their favorite cookies. Then a later quick conversion to Internet technology in the mid 1990s. At least now there is light at the end of the tunnel!
I hope while they are changing this they will allow electronic filing of all documents. At present, some documents such as petitions or review and petitions for rulemaking can not be filed electronically. In restricted proceedings, all comments must be served with paper copies. These are anachronistic rules and should be changed.
"(T)he FCC will improve internal coordination and information sharing by its staff. For example, at present, each of the various Bureaus maintains its own distinct licensing database. This patchwork of data is inefficient, requiring redundant processing and IT support efforts. Moreover, because our data is stove piped, it is often difficult for the Commission to extract the information necessary for particular policy decisions. Finally, absent a comprehensive knowledge of each Bureau’s system, it is difficult for the parties that participate in our proceedings andformembers of the public to navigate the various databases to cull the valuable information that each database contains."Thus the cognoscenti know that the Universal Licensing System is only "universal" within the universe of the Wireless Bureau. Broadcast licenses and licenses within the purview of the International Bureau are in independent systems. In ancient history they were in one systems and Don Campbell of OET has done a heroic "Humpty Dumpty" job trying to use software tricks calls GenMen to create the appearance of the comprehensive database for those users who need complete information.