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25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

25th Anniversary of FCC Decision Enabling Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
A series of posts describing how this all came about. (Click on picture above)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

FCC Managing Director Reportedly Dismissed

47 U.S.C. 155(e)
Managing Director; appointment, functions, pay
The Commission shall have a Managing Director who shall be appointed by the Chairman subject to the approval of the Commission. The Managing Director, under the supervision and direction of the Chairman, shall perform such administrative and executive functions as the Chairman shall delegate. The Managing Director shall be paid at a rate equal to the rate then payable for level V of the Executive Schedule.
The position of FCC Managing Director was created around 1980 as a reform to improve the management of the FCC. On April 2, a FCC news release contained the following item:
"Anthony J. Dale, Managing Director, is currently on leave and will leave the agency in the next several weeks to pursue other interests."
Mr. Dale was "named" as Managing Director by former Chairman Martin on March 29, 2006. At the time he had worked at FCC for almost 10 years. He replaced Andrew Fishel who was appointed by former Chairman Sikes around 1989.

Fishel had held a similar job at EEOC when Justice Clarence Thomas was chairman there and since he had helped EEOC move to a new building he had some logical experience for what was a pending issue at the time. Fishel's transfer to FCC was probably related to Justice Thomas' connection with Chairman Sikes, since both had worked for Sen. Danforth while he had been Attorney General of Missouri. Fishel moved around the time Thomas was appointed to the Appeals Court. When Fishel left the position in March 2006, he moved into a nondefined role in the FCC's Enforcement Bureau that was not on any organization charts. Contacts in EB knew he was there, but had no idea what he was doing or even if he was doing anything. Reportedly he retired in late 2008 after meeting retirement eligibility.

The first Managing Director was Edward Minkel, appointed by Chairman Fowler in 1981 as his "management expert". Minkel had worked at FCC in the 1970s on the Chicago Spectrum Management Task Force, a novel private land mobile (Part 90) spectrum management experiment that was widely opposed by industry that was then under the hegemony of one large manufacturer. (Oddly, the techniques it developed are used in Canada to this day.) Minkel had been RIFed by FCC when the Chicago effort was closed in the late 1970s - a fact he appeared not to forget.

So why is Dale "leav(ing) the agency in the next several weeks to pursue other interests"? The rumor within FCC is that he was fired for not giving sufficient oversight to the FCC's budget. While, the underlying problem was probably Martin's legendary secrecy and lack of trust of civil servants, there are now rumored to be major budget problems at the FCC, which is one reason why there have been no job postings in months, and Dale is being held accountable for not detecting those problems.

Let's hope they bring in a nonpolitical person for this nonpolicy job - perhaps someone who has held another high management position in an agency with a better management tradition than FCC. And let's hope that the new team can develop a new team spirit between political appointees and career staff where that each respect each other and their respective roles.


Anonymous said...

From the Union's perspective: I am not suprised that so many problems have now surfaced with the Martin Administration.

The management team for the Office of teh Managing Director was selected by Martin's Chief of Staff, Dan Gonzales, who rapidly promoted employees he had worked with as an FCC staffer or brought in people that he or Tony Dale had worked with and trusted. This group was loyal to a fault; loyalty became the litmus test for promotion and hiring practices. The Union was also informed that the loyalty test (with one token exception)also went beyond Party affiliation true loyalty was judged by whether the individual had donated to the Republican party.

Anonymous said...

> widely opposed by industry that was then under the hegemony of one large manufacturer.

Hegemony? I can't iMagine which large Manufacturer that Might have been.