In a party-line 3-2 vote held today at the FCC’s January 2017 Open Meeting in Washington, the Commission moved forward on creation of a unit that “will help ensure that economic analysis is deeply and consistently incorporated as part of the agency’s regular operations.”
Thanks to the Republican majority of the Ajit Pai-led Commission, the FCC Office of Economics and Analytics has been born.
To create the OEA, the FCC will use existing staff resources by bringing into one office Commission economists, attorneys, and data professionals who work on economic analysis, data policy and management, and research.
The agency will be eliminating the current Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis and incorporating that team and other bureau and office staff into the new office.
In support of and in coordination with other FCC bureaus and offices, the new office will provide economic analysis for rulemakings, transactions, adjudications, and other Commission actions.
The OEA will also be charged with managing the FCC’s auctions program, and it also will manage significant FCC data collections, such as Form 477.
Furthermore, the OEA will develop policies and strategies to manage the FCC’s data resources and establish best practices for use throughout the agency, and conduct long-term research on ways to improve the Commission’s policies and processes.
The new office will include four divisions: economic analysis, industry analysis, auctions, and data.
The Economic Analysis Division will provide the Commission with analytical and quantitative support. The Industry Analysis Division will be the FCC’s principal resource for designing and administering significant, economically-relevant data collections. The Auctions Division will lead the agency’s work in auction design and implementation issues, including for spectrum and universal service auctions. The Data Division will help develop and implement best practices, processes, and standards for data management to meet the Commission’s needs.
The plan incorporates the proposals from a recent staff report by a working group which studied the idea of creating an office focused on economics.
“FCC staff worked for months to put forward a comprehensive report on how such an office would function, how best to integrate it into the FCC’s work, and how to implement such a plan,” the Commission said in announcing the 3-2 vote approving the Order.