The Return of the TAC
The Commission's Technological Advisory Council seems to be coming back in a circuitous way. In April the Commission asked for nominations. Then last Monday they asked again.
Interestingly, all traces of the old TAC web page have disappeared recently from the Commission webs site, possibly as a cleanup drive to get ready for the new one.
The stated explanation of the renewed nomination request is
"Concurrent with the establishment of the TAC, the Commission was charged by Congress to develop a plan that seeks to ensure that people of the United States have access to broadband capability. In support of this and related efforts, the Commission is now seeking additional nominations to the TAC to ensure that its membership best serves the needs of the Commission."Several suggestions for the new TAC, readers are encouraged to comment - after all this is a blog not a magazine.
- The Commission has stated "The Council will consist of recognized technical experts in telecommunications and related fields." The previous TAC and its counterpart at NTIA have been overly heavy with representatives from every conceivable party practicing before the Commission with token public representatives. The credentials of some have been questionable other than their employment. A simple and realistic goal would be for at least 50% of the TAC members to have significant peer recognition such as being members of the National Academy of Engineering or Fellow of the IEEE.
- Brookings has published a book entitled The Advisers that surveys use of technical advisory committess at several federal agencies. I urge senior commission staff to review this survey and decide which type of advisory committee the Commission really wants. I would urge the Defense Science Board model.
- The previous FCC leadership was ambivalent at best on using the TAC for any issue or subissue related to ongoing policy deliberations. Thus the TAC debated vague issues about future problems - none of which had any impact. It can been seen from The Advisers that other regulatory agencies use advisory committees in more substantive ways. Mitchell Lazarus and I recently had an exchange on his blog on whether the TAC should get involved in advising the Commission whether the exponent of the field strength drop from BPL emissions is 2,3, or 4. Mitchell commented,
"Rather than consult the Technological Advisory Committee, I would rather see the FCC technical staff base its recommendations on data from actual, reproducible experiments, whether conducted in public by the FCC itself or submitted from outside."There are a lot of good things presidential appointees like the 5 FCC commissioners can do but I think the issue of exponents of electromagnetic fields is not one they are good at and their skill in this area was never reviewed at Senate confirmation hearings.