FCC Auction Staff to Work Through Federal Shutdown

If Congress fails to appropriate funding to continue the federal government after Sept. 30, up to 120 FCC employees working on “auction-related activities” will be retained during the shutdown, “because their salary and expenses are not funded out of annual appropriations that will lapse on October 1,” according to the Commission’s plan for an orderly shutdown.

Another 13 employees would be retained “to protect life and property” by staffing the FCC Operations Center, to handle emergency contacts for the agency, and the High Frequency Direction Finding Center. “Up to two (2) employees will be retained to conduct interference detection, mitigation, and disaster response operations wherever they might be needed,” “up to nine (9) employees will be retained for crucial oversight/protection of life or property,” “up to nine (9) employees will be retained to perform treaty activity instrumental in the discharge of the President’s constitutional power,” and “five (5) employees will be retained for critical Information Technology (IT) issues.”

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the other four Commissioners would also work during a shutdown, “because their compensation is financed by a resource other than annual appropriations,” the Commission said.

The total of 163 employees to be retained during a shutdown represents roughly 10% of the agency’s current workforce of 1,700. More than 100 additional employees might work on an “as-needed” basis for protection of life or property, and five more may work on payroll/financial operations activities in the Office of Managing Director. The plan also lists more than 100 contractors working on IT support and security of FCC facilities who would continue to work during a shutdown.

An orderly shutdown is expected to be accomplished in four hours on the first business day after a lapse in appropriations.

The plan outlines the activities which will have to cease during a shutdown:  “Consumer complaint and inquiry phone lines cannot be answered; consumer protection and local competition enforcement must cease; licensing services, including broadcast, wireless, and wireline, must cease; management of radio spectrum and the creation of new opportunities for competitive technologies and services for the American public must be suspended; and equipment authorizations, including those brining new electronic devices to American consumers, cannot be provided.” —Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily