Senate Committee Approves Technical Resource Enhancement Act

Bill would allow FCC commissioners more time with engineers

The Senate Commerce
Committee Wednesday approved a bill
March 24 that would allow the FCC's commissioners to get more face time with
electrical and computer engineers.

The FCC Commissioners'
Technical Resource Enhancement Act (S. 2881), makes a slight tweak to the
Communications Act by expressly permitting each of the five FCC commissioners
to "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.'

Currently the commissioners
are allowed five staffers, including assistants, advisors and a chief of staff,
but those advisory posts are already taken up by mostly attorneys helping with
the policy issues related to wireless and wireline oversight, various media
issues and serving as a chief of staff.

The FCC has acknowledged
that it is going to need more engineering help as it rolls out its broadband
plan and deals with network latency and management issues, among many others.