Upgrade on Process Reform at the FCC

In early 2014, we embarked on an ambitious effort to improve how we do business at the Commission with the release of the Process Reform Report. The 154 recommendations within the report focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of how the company conducts business, handling items faster and more transparently (especially backlogged matters), improving our interactions with external stakeholders, and eliminating or efficiency outdated rules, procedures, and procedures.

FCC staff throughout the agency has been working hard on these recommendations over the last yr, and that work continues every day. You will find ten active working groups, as well as teams tackling backlogs, streamlining, IT upgrades and many other process reform objectives within the individual Bureaus and Offices. There’s much work left to be done, but we’ve made plenty of progress, and I’m very happy with the team effort. Here are just a few of the highlights of the notable achievements over the last year:

  • Improved Community interfaces
    • Revamped consumer help center, along with user-friendly web portal
    • Moved to electronic filing plus distribution of licenses for most issues (and plans en route to tackle the remainder)
    • Reworking FCC. Gov searchability and navigability (ongoing improvements)
    • Updating ECFS, the Electronic Remark Filing System (rolling out this Summer)
  • Increasing Swiftness of Disposal
    • Working group developed and distributed best practices for efficiency processing of matters within the Agencies and Offices
    • New Consent Agenda approach utilized to speed voting on items
    • Accelerated processing pertaining to appropriate Applications for Review
    • Electronic processing plus transmittal of Federal Register submissions
  • Backlog Reduction
    • Working group developed and distributed best practices pertaining to tackling backlogs
    • Every Bureau developed and is applying backlog reduction plans, including inventories of all pending items
    • Initial result was nearly a 50% reduction in items impending more than 6 months across the entire FCC over the last year.
    • Over 1500 dormant dockets closed
    • Individual Bureaus/Offices achieved significant backlog reductions. By way of example:
      • Enforcement Bureau closed over 7, 900 situations since April 2013
      • Wireless Telecom Bureau solved over 2, 000 applications older than 6 months
      • Mass media Bureau reduced its pending Apps for Review by over 50%
      • Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau reduced its pending matters by over 50%
  • Promoting Efficient and Effective Internal Operations
    • IT improvements have enabled significant efficiencies:
      • Remote access is now available to over 80% of FCC staff, enabling more telework and other efficiencies
      • FOIA webpage revamped
      • New tracking capabilities being developed
      • FCC systems being modernized and shifted to the cloud
    • Paper copies virtually eliminated for internal distribution
    • New inter-bureau coordination recommendations developed and distributed
    • Working groups developed guidelines memos on conducting meetings and taking advantage of email more efficiently
    • All Bureaus & Offices are already streamlining internal review processes to improve efficiency
  • Additional Principle and Process Changes to Promote Efficient Regulation in Bureaus/Offices
    • E-filing of closed captioning requests
    • Virtual elimination of tolling agreements for enforcement matters subject to the statutory deadline, saving both external and internal stakeholders significant sources
    • Satellite Part 25 rule comprehensive streamlining going forward launched
    • Nearly 1000 license media license renewals granted in fourth quarter 2014
    • Improved personnel training and communications enabling efficient application review processes, resulting in a two-week reduction in time for processing public safety applications
    • Antenna Part 17 streamlining Order, expedited processing of cellular permit applications and new electronic submitting and distribution instituted
    • New procedures implemented pertaining to processing of USAC appeals
    • Improvements in e-labeling, equipment certification and telecom qualification body programs
  • This is good progress, but there’s much more to be done – internal process reform initiatives will continue over the months to come. All of us plan to deploy new IT monitoring and collaboration tool capability, more electronic filing and automated procedures, and adopt many more proposals that would eliminate or streamline outdated guidelines.

    These are just a few of the numerous accomplishments – in every area, we now have made tremendous progress. It could not need been possible without the hard work plus dedication of staff throughout the FCC, and the many suggestions and helpful feedback from external stakeholders. I actually look forward to working with you all to realize even more of the tangible benefits moving from process reform initiatives throughout 2015.

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