The Federal Communications Commission released its 102-page fiscal year 2011 budget request to Congress this week. Here are some fascinating factoids about the agency that I’ll pass on without commentary, beyond saying that they caught my attention:
- The FCC has hired “close to 54 data experts, statisticians, econometricians, economists, and other expertise” to help with the National Broadband Plan mandated under the Recovery Act. These are “term employees,” meaning they’re not permanent, but the FCC says it needs more permanent hires to work on broadband after the plan is done. (p. 2)
- The commission asks for a “budget” of $352.5 million. (p. 1) But its total requested spending actually tops $440 million, because it also asks for authority to spend $85 million of spectrum auction proceeds to cover the cost of auctions. (p. 5)
- The administration proposes to give the FCC authority to charge user fees for unauctioned spectrum licenses, with projected revenues totaling $4.8 billion through 2020. (p. 6)
- The FCC commits to 24 “outcome-focused performance goals.” (pp. 16-29) Most of these goals are phrased as activities, not accomplishments, with lots of verbs like “enact,” “encourage,” “facilitate,” “enforce,” “promote,” “work to,” “foster,” advocate,” and “maintain.” In some cases, one can identify the actual concrete outcome by looking at additional wording or performance targets. It’s clear, for example, that the FCC wants to make sure that all Americans have access to broadband. In other cases, the concrete outcome, or how we would know if it is accomplished, is not clear. For example, the only targets listed under the goal “Promote access to telecommunications services to all Americans” are targets for enforcement actions rather than measures of whether the FCC has actually accomplished the desired outcome.
- The FCC has been supported almost entirely by regulatory fees assessed on regulated companies, with virtually no direct appropriations of tax dollars since fiscal year 2003 (p. 31).
- Spectrum auctions have generated more than $51.9 billion for the US Ttreasury. (p. 33)