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Require at least one FCC Commissioner to be an engineer

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    dane1234 shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →

    11 comments

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      • Mike Marcus commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        There is a real problem, but this type of simple fix is unlikely to have the desired result. The IEEE-USA recommendation on thsi area, www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/SpectrumPoilcy1112.pdf‎, deals with this by urging appointment of people with an ITC industry background. Meeting the payroll of a Silicon Valley firm would also be a good life experience.

        Unfortunately, our dysfunction government system at present leads to pressure to appoint Senate staffers - nice people but do we really want such a monoculture?

        A simple legislature fix, such has been advocated by SBE in the past, will likely result in appointees who nominally have engineering degrees, never worked in the field, and despise it - possibly because they were pushed into against their will.

        A key part of the problem is that the Silicon Valley leaders who give money to both parties and have access to their leaders neither volunteer for FCC commissioner slots nor tell the political leaders how important it is to have people who have worked in the ITC area.

        The problem is real, the fix isn't simple, though.

      • John H commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Having the honor of working with FCC Field Enforcement and Homeland Security Staff for the past 25 years it's become very clear the FCC has moved away from a "technical" agency to a "Regulatory" agency, meaning at one time all field staff had an extensive technical background and had a clear understanding of wireless communications from the power supply to the antenna and parts in between. They understood how radio waves propagate and the limitations of terrain and its effects on signals. That has changed over the past 10 years and it appears the emphasis is now on regulatory and most of not all the management of field personnel are lawyers and have little if any technical experence. I understand the need for Commissioners to be an Attorney but it’s imperative to also have a technical background.

      • vincern commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The FCC commission should employ lawyers, but I see no use for lawyers as commission members, unless they also have a technical background. Certainly require there to be an engineer or two, and require al member to understand what they are regulating.

      • Nickolaus E. Leggett commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        The Commission should welcome the FCC Commissioners' Technical Resource Enhancement Act H.R. 4809 that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. This bill will assist FCC Commissioners in dealing with complex communications technology issues. The companion bill in the Senate is S. 2881 that was introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe.

        The text of these bills is listed below.

        FCC Commissioners' Technical Resource Enhancement Act (Introduced in House)
        HR 4809 IH

        111th CONGRESS
        2d Session
        H. R. 4809
        To provide greater technical resources to FCC Commissioners.

        IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
        March 10, 2010
        Mr. MCNERNEY introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce

        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

        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 Commissioners' Technical Resource Enhancement 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.

        FCC Commissioners' Technical Resource Enhancement Act (Introduced in Senate)
        S 2881 IS

        111th CONGRESS
        1st Session
        S. 2881
        To provide greater technical resources to FCC Commissioners.

        IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
        December 14, 2009
        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 Commissioners' Technical Resource Enhancement 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.'.

        --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      • dane1234 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Some commenters appear to believe that my proposal was that all FCC commissioners be engineers. No, it's only that at least one FCC commissioner have his or her own technical background. I would even settle for an FCC commissioner who is both an engineer and an attorney.

      • Richard Weil commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I don't know about the FCC, but other federal agencies, notably the FAA, have been alleged to have terrible disconnects between the people working in the field, the bureaucrats making the rules, and the administrators who think they are on top of what is occurring. A Commissioner who was an engineer and actually understood the reality on the ground might avoid such a gap, but it ultimately depends on honest communication going from "ordering" to "doing". Perhaps a minimal course in the technology of communications as part of the orientation for new Commissioners would be helpful. But just going out and talking to people beyond the Beltway would also be a big plus. Do members ever go to ham conventions, visit tiny independent broadcast stations, try small ship and aircraft radios, or visit repair shops? Such experiences could add a lot more than sheer technical expertise.

      • MARTIN D. WADE commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        By requiring industry expertise is a step in the right direction but we must not get hung up on getting a bias in the board toward or against a particular service or industry regulated by the FCC. Our future prosperity depends upon our communications industries being leading edge and our regulatory board should reflect that directive.

        FCC and NTIA should have merged functions as to prevent duplication of efforts in communications.

      • Dale Lamm commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Sorry, I clicked VOTE intending to vote NO, but all votes in this system are affirmative. Subtract my false positive vote from the total. I'm an engineer, and have been dealing with the FCC in one way or another since 1970. Commissioners are lawmakers, not technicians. They depend on their staff to advise them on matters they do not fully understand. Lawmakers usually rise up from legal or public service careers. I feel a commissioner's understanding of human and economic matters is more important than mastery of RF or telephone or CATV engineering. If we allow a rule forcing one engineer on the commissioner staff, then we might as well insist on one economist, one psychologist, a policeman, etc. A better plan, IMHO, would be to grant commissioner seats to FCC workers (engineers included) who have moved up through the ranks and discourage political appointments.

      • Nickolaus E. Leggett commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        At least one Commissioner should be an engineer or technician
        At least one of the FCC commissioners should be a certified engineer, a certified technician, or a licensed radio operator (amateur or commercial). This will make sure that technical knowledge and insight are included in the various FCC decisions.

      • jeremy lansman commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Wow. What a novel idea! That takes me back to the olden days. Of course, selection of Commissioners is political. However, more real life engineers who have worked in the field would be on staff if evaluation of job applicants put increased emphasis on field experience.

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