Monday, October 26, 2015

Republicans Want FCC Enforcement Probe

House Republicans are asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate whether the FCC is making good use of its enforcement arm.

According to TheHill, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked for a follow-up to a 2008 GAO study that recommended the commission develop a broader strategy to make sure the fines and punishments it hands down are actually deterring bad behavior.

“Notwithstanding GAO’s recommendations, it appears from commission responses and staff briefings that in the intervening years no consistent metrics — and at times, none whatsoever — were in place for the Enforcement Bureau,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the GAO.

Travis LeBlanc
The letter was signed by committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio).

The FCC receives tens of thousands of complaints each year on issues such as unwanted robocalls, phone billing and TV quality. It also recently appointed an ombudsman to deal with net neutrality complaints against Internet service providers.

The FCC issued some of the largest fines in agency history in the past year against major wireless providers and has been aggressive in publicizing the work of the agency’s enforcement bureau chief, Travis LeBlanc.

Republicans point out that enforcement action on robocalling and pirate radio in particular have dropped significantly in recent years. They speculated that the FCC’s lack of a comprehensive strategy might have played a role. They also pointed to the FCC’s planned closure of a number of field offices.

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