Republicans say FCC 'marred by bad process'

Republicans at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and on Capitol Hill are calling on the agency to be more transparent and allow for greater public interaction.

In a blog post last week, Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly pushed for the ability to disclose and discuss items ahead of agency votes.

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“Allowing public access to the draft text of Open Meeting items before a vote is the right thing to do from a good government perspective,” O’Rielly wrote

Under current agency rules, commissioners are prohibited from disclosing information about the substance of items once those items are set to be voted on by the five-member commission.

The rules keep commissioners from hearing concerns about specifics and bar interested parties from contributing more meaningfully to the debate over the items, O'Rielly continued.

“The inability of the public to obtain a complete picture of what is in a pending proposal or order leads to routine confusion over what exactly is at stake,” and the fragmented information that does get out “can lead to more questions than answers,” he wrote.

“This barrier to a fulsome exchange can be extremely frustrating for all involved.”

In a statement Monday, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — the chairman of the House Commerce Committee on Communications and a vocal advocate for FCC reform — echoed O’Rielly’s concerns.

“Commissioner O’Rielly’s call for increased transparency and better process at the commission could not be more timely,” Walden said, pointing to recent instances of frustration among the Republican commissioners.

“The commission’s last few open meetings have been marred by bad process and insufficient sharing of information among the commissioners — underscoring the need for reform.”

Walden pushed the Senate to take up an FCC process reform bill that passed the House earlier this year.

“Despite its unanimous passage through the House, this commonsense legislation has hit a roadblock in the Senate,” he said.

“In both the FCC and the Senate, the American people deserve better — the time for reform is now.”