Federal Communications Commission: Regulatory Fee Process Needs to Be Updated

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assesses regulatory fees among industry sectors and fee categories based on obsolete data, with limited transparency. The Communications Act requires FCC to base its regulatory fees on the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) that perform regulatory tasks in certain bureaus, among other things. FCC based its fiscal year 2011 regulatory fee assessments on its fiscal year 1998 division of FTEs among fee categories. It has not updated the FTE analysis on which it bases its regulatory fees, in part to avoid ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 10, 2012.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) assesses regulatory fees among industry sectors and fee categories based on obsolete data, with limited transparency. The Communications Act requires FCC to base its regulatory fees on the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) that perform regulatory tasks in certain bureaus, among other things. FCC based its fiscal year 2011 regulatory fee assessments on its fiscal year 1998 division of FTEs among fee categories. It has not updated the FTE analysis on which it bases its regulatory fees, in part to avoid fluctuations in fees from year to year. FCC officials stated that the agency has complied with its statutory authority by dividing fees among fee categories based on FTE data—although the data is from fiscal year 1998—since the statute does not prescribe a specific time for FCC to update its FTE analysis. As a result, after 13 years in a rapidly changing industry, FCC has not validated the extent to which its fees correlate to its workload. Major changes in the telecommunications industry include the increasing use of wireless and broadband services and a convergence of telecommunications industries. Moreover, FCC’s practice is inconsistent with federal guidance on user fees. As a result of FCC’s use of obsolete data in assessing regulatory fees, companies in some fee categories may be subsidizing companies in others. FCC officials said it has become more challenging to align current FTEs to the 86 fee categories given the increasingly cross-cutting nature of FCC’s work, raising the potential that FCC’s fee categories may also be out of date. FCC’s regulatory fee process also lacks transparency because of the limited nature of the information FCC has published on it. This has made it difficult for industry and other stakeholders to understand and provide input on fee assessments. On July 17, 2012, FCC released a regulatory fee reform Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing changes to FCC’s regulatory fee program related to many issues raised in this report."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 10, 2012

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Federal Communications Commission: Regulatory Fee Process Needs to Be Updated, report, August 10, 2012; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc297099/: accessed October 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.