GAO Finds FCC Agenda Leaks To Lobbyists
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/7/2007 8:00:00 PM
The FCC could be in for another reprimand from the Government Accountability Office.
The GAO released a report last week that concluded FCC staffers were leaking nonpublic information about what items the FCC planned to vote on to lobbyists they routinely dealt with, while not doing so for smaller firms and public interest groups.
Now the GAO is preparing another report that will also be critical of the FCC.
Last week's report was based on four proposed FCC rulemakings from 2002 to 2006 as well as interviews with current staffers and stakeholders. The GAO concluded the FCC needed to take steps to ensure equal access to information, though a spokesman for the chairman countered that the commission “actively reaches out and works with consumer and public interest groups.”
The GAO study was requested by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) chairman of the House Telecommunications & Internet Committee, who is also behind the request for a report on the DTV transition.
The report on the DTV transition may not be ready for release by a hearing on Oct. 17, the first of two on the topic scheduled for this month, but the staffer said the GAO witness would be able to discuss its findings.
If the GAO's testimony at a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on the DTV transition is any indication, the FCC won't be getting light treatment.
Mark Goldstein, author of the report criticizing the leaks, testified for the GAO at the Aging Committee hearing, saying there was a definite lack of coordination between the FCC and National Telecommunications & Information Administration on the DTV transition, and adding, “It is pretty clear to us that there is no one in charge.
“We'll have a lot more to say [Oct. 17],” said Goldstein, “and if anything, it will be even stronger.”
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