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H.R. 2583, the FCC Process Reform Act of 2015

Nov 15, 2015

H.R. 2583, the FCC Process Reform Act of 2015 is bipartisan legislation to require the FCC to make certain changes to its rules within one year, with the goal of improving agency processes and making the commission more transparent, efficient, and accountable.

  • The first of two required FCC proceedings is a rulemaking to seek comment and adopt rules that:
    • Set minimum comment periods for rulemaking proceedings;
    • Allow time for public comment by eliminating the practice of placing large amounts of information into the record on the last day of the public comment period;
    • Increase public transparency of items before the commissioners;
    • Require publication of the text of proposed rules; and,
    • Set timelines for FCC action on certain types of proceedings.
  • The bill also requires the FCC to conduct a second proceeding -- an inquiry into reform of more complex issues, such as commission review and voting procedures and whether it is feasible to publish final text of items to be adopted before the commission votes on them.
  • Both the rulemaking and the inquiry require the commission to set expected timelines for proceedings and to report to Congress annually on whether the commission met the timelines. This gives the public a sense for what to expect from the FCC while retaining the FCC’s flexibility to set realistic goals.
  • The bill also provides mandatory transparency into the commission’s business by requiring publication of certain documents on the FCC website and mandating a searchable online database for consumer complaints.
  • The bill makes changes to the Government in the Sunshine Act to allow more than two commissioners to meet privately when certain safeguards for transparency are met. This change would not take effect until the Commission completes the other requirements for process reform.
  • This bill also includes a temporary waiver of the Antideficiency Act until the end of 2020 for the FCC’s Universal Service Fund. The fund has been subject to sequential waivers since its creation, which have routinely been granted. This waiver makes the process more efficient.
  • The bill incorporates three Democratic amendments that require a report on actions the Commission can take to improve the participation of small businesses in FCC proceedings, publication on the FCC’s website of the status of a quarterly progress report, and publication of any internal policies established or changed by the chairman.