Organizing the Federal Communications Commission for Greater Management and Regulatory Effectiveness

CED-79-107: Published: Jul 30, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1979.

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There is substantial merit in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) form of organization for regulating domestic and international communications, a complex and politically sensitive area. Technological changes in the communications industry have prompted a critical reexamination of basic communications policy and regulatory methods contained in the enabling legislation of FCC.

Many of the criticisms of independent regulatory agencies, including FCC, are directed at weaknesses related to internal organization and procedural matters, and management of the organization. FCC has not established a comprehensive planning process, a basic element of management, within which it defines its organizational goals and objectives in relation to its mission, sets priorities to achieve these goals and objectives, and measures results through organized, systematic feedback.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

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    Matter: Congress should amend the Communications Act of 1934 to: make the Chairman of FCC the administrative head of the agency; reduce the number of commissioners from the present seven to five; provide for Senate confirmation of the designation by the President of one Commissioner as Chairman; lengthen the terms of office; provide for a periodic rather than a permanent budget authorization; increase the number of professional assistants available to each Commissioner from two to four and the number of secretarial assistants from one to two; increase the opportunities for effective representation of the general public interest in proceedings of FCC; and provide for the position of Managing Director and empower the Chairman to delegate to the Director responsibility for the day-to-day management of the agency, under the Chairman's general supervision and direction.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: FCC must act in three areas: (1) the Chairman, the Commissioners, and bureau management must become more aware of the importance and functions of the planning process; (2) FCC must establish a structure in which planning can occur; and (3) FCC must establish a planning process which includes a long-range plan and a measurement and feedback process. FCC should amend the Office of Plans and Policy (OPP) to include specific responsibilities for a comprehensive Commission-wide planning process which is coordinated with the bureaus and offices; direct the bureaus and offices to establish planning units with responsibilities parallel to OPP; establish a planning process which includes a long-range plan; a short-range plan, and a measurement and feedback process; and submit the long-range plan to the FCC oversight committees.

    Agency Affected: Federal Communications Commission


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