One of the primary areas of concern of Republican members of the House Committee on Commerce and Energy has been the sea of paperwork in which the FCC is believed to be drowning. Responding to a December letter from key committee members, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski spelled out how far the Commission has come in eroding the pile.
The query came from Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Cliff Stearns (R-FL). The asked about the extent of backlog reduction in a number of areas.
Genachowski said this project had been a priority of his since taking office, with varying levels of success. The one area where there has been almost a total lack of success, however, has been in addressing indecency complaints. Genachowski explained that the FCC’s hands have been tied as the indecency battle has been waged in the federal court system.
Here are specifics as stated by Genachowski in a letter of reply:
“Because of the hard work of the Commission staff, the number of license and license renewal applications pending at the Commission has reduced by 12 percent. Notably, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has reduced its pending applications by 38 percent, the International Bureau has reduced its pending applications by 52 percent, and the Media Bureau has reduced the number of applications pending more than 5 years by 43 percent.
“Additionally, the Commission has reduced the number of pending petitions for reconsideration and applications for review by 24 percent. The Media Bureau alone has reduced the number of petitions for reconsideration and applications for review pending more than two years by 43 percent.
“Further, there are items, such as indecency complaints, which are currently out of the Commission’s control. Ninety-nine percent of all consumer complaints pending more than two years cannot be resolved by Commission while courts consider the indecency issues.
“Finally, through a diligent effort involving all of the Bureaus and Offices a significant number of stale dockets were closed. The number of open dockets has been reduced by 43 percent and the number of dockets with no filings in over 5 years has been reduced by 89 percent.”