The FCC Open Meeting is the tip of the regulatory iceberg – it’s where staff summarize and the Commissioners cast their votes on issues that have often been years in the making. Commissioner Michael O’Rielly has a few ideas on improving them.
The first is to avoid inviting guest speakers to address a particular issue. While he has no objection to expert testimony, by the time an issue has made it to an Open Meeting it is pretty much a done deal.
The experts should be accessed far earlier in the process, via either a workshop format or a hearing-type format where witnesses can make statements and answer questions.
And when experts are invited to an Open Meeting, he said, the Commissioners need more advance notice than they are currently getting. Sometimes, they only know a couple of days or even hours ahead of time.
O’Rielly plans to implement his second suggestion. He explained, “I suggest that we can improve the discourse and relevance of an Open Meeting by allowing unscripted questions and answers. Accordingly, I serve notice that I no longer plan to provide questions to staff in advance of an Open Meeting. I promise that I have no intention of blindsiding or embarrassing staff by asking questions. There should be no gotcha moments. In fact, I only seek to advance further understanding of the issue and examine arguments that aren’t readily apparent.”