Another Pai Reform

Posted on March 29th, 2017 by

New FCC Chairman Pai has implemented more than a few reforms in his first weeks, but there’s one discussed in an FCC Blog post by Commissioner O’Rielly that has peeled back the curtain on some inside-the-agency practices from the last administration (and likely those before).

In short, the previous administration apparently closed down certain internal lines of communication on issues that the FCC was considering. So, for example, when a Commissioner in the minority asked a staffer for information on a matter before the Commission, it was not provided. In Commissioner O’Rielly’s words, “some of the most knowledgeable people in the building seemed to be under direction not to share certain information or answer certain questions. Sometimes I would get a wry smile, other times it was a blank stare, and occasionally there was a more honest response that the information would not be forthcoming. Frustrating indeed.”

Chairman Pai, now in the majority, has fixed that by giving unequivocal direction to the FCC staff that they should be completely up front with all Commissioners, not just the Chairman or those in the majority. Staff is not to withhold information requested by Commissioners or fail to share information that is pertinent to matters before the Commission.

Yes, you read that correctly. Pretty clear, huh? Seems to us that the new Chairman knows from experience that the agency cannot get to its best result on behalf of the public without the full input from and debate with all Commissioners, not just those in the majority. What a concept – openness over closed-mindedness. It is a new day at the FCC, one where a Commissioner’s opinion and view is not stifled or obstructed because of a party label, but instead is welcomed in an atmosphere of openness, the end product of which might just be collaboration.