Telecommunications:

Management and Operation of FCC's Public Reference Rooms

RCED-88-83: Published: Mar 4, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 18, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) management of its public reference rooms, focusing on their: (1) ease of use; (2) document security measures; and (3) document handling procedures.

GAO found that FCC reference rooms were difficult to use, since: (1) staff activities generally focused on file retrieval rather than user assistance; (2) rooms operated on a self-help basis, with limited staff assistance; and (3) user guides and manuals did not provide specific, current assistance information. GAO also found that FCC: (1) operated its reference rooms on an honor system with limited safeguards for documents, many of which were originals; (2) document handling procedures contributed to the problems involving missing documents; and (3) had backlogs of unrecorded documents because it could not handle periodic large inflows of documents. In addition, GAO found that FCC: (1) is considering implementing videodisc technology to record docket files; (2) plans to record on microfiche the entire contents of its Mobile Services reference room for easier access and safeguarding; and (3) is considering consolidation of its reference rooms.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Contact GAO at 202/512-6100 for details.

    Recommendation: To make the reference rooms easier to use and improve internal controls over documents, the Chairman, FCC, should direct the Managing Director to provide better guidance for FCC reference room users in the form of an updated user's guide that would include pertinent information such as document contents, locations, access procedures, and other guidelines on all FCC reference facilities. The Managing Director should explore with users what information is needed in a user's guide to facilitate their tasks.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Contact GAO at 202/512-6100 for details.

    Recommendation: To make the reference rooms easier to use and improve internal controls over documents, the Chairman, FCC, should direct the Managing Director to take steps to institute stronger internal controls for its documents. Such controls should ensure that all FCC documents, especially original documents, are properly handled and safeguarded.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission

 

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