S 611

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 611

To provide greater technical resources to FCC Commissioners.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 17, 2011

Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mr. WARNER) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation


A BILL

To provide greater technical resources to FCC Commissioners.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `FCC Technical Expertise Capacity Heightening Act' or the `FCC TECH Act'.

SEC. 2. APPOINTMENT OF TECHNICAL STAFF.

    Section 4(f)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 154(f)(2)) is amended by inserting after the first sentence the following new sentence: `Each commissioner may also appoint an electrical engineer or computer scientist to provide the commissioner technical consultation when appropriate and to interface with the Office of Engineering and Technology, Commission Bureaus, and other technical staff of the Commission for additional technical input and resources, provided that such engineer or scientist holds an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution of higher education in their respective field of expertise.'.

SEC. 3. TECHNICAL POLICY AND PERSONNEL STUDY.

    (a) Study-

      (1) REQUIREMENTS OF STUDY- The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (hereafter in this section referred to as the `Commission') shall enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences to complete a study of the technical policy decisionmaking and the technical personnel at the Commission.

      (2) CONTENTS- The study required under paragraph (1) shall--

        (A) review the technical policy decisionmaking of the Commission, including if the Commission has the adequate resources and processes in place to properly evaluate and account for the technical aspects and impact of the Commission's regulatory rulemaking;

        (B) review--

          (i) the timeliness of the rulemaking process utilized by the Commission; and

          (ii) the impact of regulatory delay on telecommunications innovation;

        (C) based upon the review undertaken pursuant to subparagraph (B), make recommendations for the Commission to streamline its rulemaking process;

        (D) evaluate the current staffing levels and skill sets of technical personnel at the Commission to determine if such staffing levels and skill sets are aligned with the current and future needs of the Commission, as well as with current and future issues that come or may come under the jurisdiction of the Commission and shall include a recommendation on the appropriate number or percentage of technical personnel that should constitute the Commission workforce;

        (E) examine the current technical staff and engineering recruiting procedures at the Commission and make recommendations on how the Commission can improve its efforts to hire and retain engineers and other technical staff members;

        (F) examine--

          (i) the reliance of the Commission on external contractors in the development of policy and in evaluating the technical aspects of services, devices, and issues that arise under the jurisdiction of the Commission; and

          (ii) the potential costs and benefits of the development of `in-house' resources to perform the duties that are currently being outsourced to external contractors; and

        (G) compare the decisionmaking process of the Commission with the decisionmaking process used by similar regulatory authorities in other industrialized countries, including the European Union, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

    (b) Report- The Commission shall transmit a report describing the results of the study and recommendations required by subsection (a) to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives.

    (c) Offset of Administrative Costs- Section 4(a) of Public Law 109-34 (47 U.S.C. 703(a)) is amended by striking `annual' and inserting `biennial'.

END