New ECFS to be Unveiled
Those of us who are communications policy wonks are endless frustrated by the workings of the Commission’s Electronic
Comment Filing System (ECFS), first introduced in 1998 and planned under the Hundt Chairmanship. I saw Chmn. Hundt recently at a social event and he was surprised to hear that the original systems is still in use with only minor updates.
On October 14th the Commission announced the new system and scheduled a public demo for 10/23. They described the new features as following:
With the 2.0 upgrade, ECFS will including many new features, including fully Section 508 compliance; the ability for users to file multiple documents to multiple rulemakings in a single submission; advanced search and query of rulemakings; ability to extract comments; RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds; and the ability to export data results to Excel or PDF formats.Oddly, there is no explicit announcement of when the new system will be available.
The announced new features are certainly welcome. But we would like to see if they have solved some of the following problems:
1. Allowing people with overseas addresses to file directly without an obscure "work around" of giving misleading addresses.
2. Allow viewing of documents that "fall between the cracks" now and are not viewable such as new petitions for rulemaking and petitions for review of actions that do not have docket or file numbers.
3. Will more documents be posted with text that can be copied electronically. Some parties now file scanned .pdf files or locked .pdf files that can not be copied. This complicates the work of both FCC staff in preparing comment summaries and outside parties preparing reply comments.
4. ECFS 1.0 has an undocumented and unsupported feature that is very useful: you can derive a URL for a specific docket and use it to go directly to the current list of comments for that docket. For example, the comments for Docket 04-186 are (or at least have been_http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/cgi-bin/websql/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.hts?ws_mode=retrieve_list&id_proceeding=04-186 I hope ECFS 2.0 has a similar feature.