[RFI] Senate Bill Introduced to Beef Up FCC Technical Staff

Jim Brown jim at audiosystemsgroup.com
Thu Dec 24 09:31:27 PST 2009

As a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers, I just received 
this email from the President of that organization. Lack of 
technical expertise at the policy making level (that is, the 
offices of the FCC Commissioners), has been a major cause of many 
bad policy decisions by the FCC. That this bill was introduced at 
all is very good news; that it is jointly sponsored by Senators on 
opposite sides of the aisle is even better. If these technical 
staff had been on board when BPL was introduced, it's quite 
unlikely that it would have ever happened. 

I strongly urge ALL hams and others with interest in FCC matters to 
write your Senators and ask them to support this bill. 

This is, however, off topic of this reflector, so please do not 
start a thread on it. 


Jim K9YC 

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Senate Bill Proposes Engineering Help for FCC Commissioners 

Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia), 
introduced S. 2881, a bill that would authorize each FCC 
Commissioner to add one staff assistant position to the three that 
are currently authorized. The new position of "staff engineer" 
would require that the holder either be an electrical engineer or a 
computer scientist. If enacted, the new authorization would 
affectively undo a loosening of requirements for technical staff at 
the highest level of the FCC that began more than 25 years ago.  

SBE President, Vinny Lopez, CEV, CBNT, remarked, "Ensuring the 
technical integrity of the FCC decision-making is perhaps our most 
important legislative goal. This legislation will go a long way 
toward returning technical expertise to the FCC Commissioner's 
offices." Lopez added, "We encourage other members of the Senate to 
support this well-crafted legislation. SBE will seek the 
introduction of a companion bill in the House and we will urge 
rapid passage of both Bills in the House and the Senate." 

The proposed legislation, which would amend Section 4(f)(2) of the 
Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 154(f)(2)), explains that the 
G€œstaff engineerG€ would provide each commissioner with technical 
consultation when appropriate and interface with the Office of 
Engineering and Technology, Commission Bureaus and other technical 
staff of the Commission for additional technical input and 
resources. The staff engineer would need to hold an undergraduate 
or graduate degree from an institution of higher education in their 
respective field of expertise. 

The Senate bill would not seek to replace any of the existing staff 
assistants in each Commissioner's office but rather authorize each 
Commissioner to add one assistant. 

SBE has already begun contacting members of the House of 
Representatives to seek sponsors for a House version of the Bill. 
SBE members are asked to contact their senators and urge them to 
support S.2881, the "FCC Commissioners' Technical Resource
Enhancement Act." 

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