FCC wants comments on commenter requirements


The FCC has been accused of last-minute data dumps related to complex rulemaking proceedings, in particular by Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that is seeking legislation to restrict the agency. The FCC says there is a reason for making data available late, but it isn’t to cloud the issue – and is asking if it should require commenters to submit supporting documentation with their remarks for public posting.

The FCC said that when considering a complex issue, data comes in from all kinds of places, including much that is not submitted for the record. It mentioned, as an example, “…materials such as state statutes, academic articles, blog posts, and company financial reports,” which may or may not impact the final result in the matter. It wants comment on whether everything need be made public, since overloading the public record may turn out to be counterproductive, making the collection too unwieldy to be of much use.

It further notes that it has made information cited by outside commenters available in recent major actions, late, in an attempt to make review more convenient for others. It was not an attempt to sneak something into the record at the last minute.

It now wants to know if it should require the submission of supporting material with comments, and further, it wants to know what kind of things should be required. It notes that this is not a cut and dried question.

Some information is under copyright and cannot be submitted easily or at all; some information is unwieldy, or pulled from a large database. If an appending requirement is adopted, should excerpting be allowed?
Comments will be accepted within 30 days of publication of the inquiry in the Federal Register, with reply comments due within 45 days.

Read the full request for comment here.