The FCC Prepares for a Partial Shutdown

Despite the partial shutdown, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will continue working.

The FCC will shut down “most operations” should the partial government shutdown continue on Thursday.

At that time, employees will have up to four hours to complete an orderly shutdown of operations.  However, work required for the protection of life and property will continue.

Work related to spectrum auctions, funded by auction proceeds, will also continue.  In addition to the shutdown, the Office of the Inspector General will continue operations until further notice.

Once the four hours is completed, only 245 employees – or 17% of its workforce – will continue working.  The FCC currently employs 1,442 “on-board” workers.  Over 80% will remain at home without receiving a paycheck until the government shutdown ends.

The FCC also shared a public notice earlier today outlining the impact of the partial closure.  This notice will address “electronic filing and database systems, filing deadlines, regulatory and application fee payments, transaction shot clocks, and more.”

The government agency wrote:

During a lapse in funding, the Network Outage Reporting System (NORS), the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), the Public Safety Support Center (PSSC), the Licensing Management System (LMS), the Consolidated Database System (CDBS), the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), the Universal Licensing System (ULS), the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS), the Auctions Public Reporting System (PRS), the Auction Application System, the Auction Bidding System, the Daily Digest, and the Commission Online Registration System (CORES) will remain available.

All other Commission electronic filing and database systems will be unavailable to the public until normal agency operations resume.”

The FCC previously laid out its plans for an orderly shutdown in December.  This includes:

  • 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.
  • Equipment authorizations, including those bringing new electronic devices to American consumers, cannot be provided.

The FCC has also explained who will remain onboard as well as outlining their job functions.

“Chairman Ajit Pai and the three FCC commissioners continue working.

“Up to 200 employees will be retained under the plan because their salary and expenses are not funded out of annual appropriations that will lapse on December 21st and they will be supporting spectrum auction-related activities.

“Up to 13 employees, not otherwise exempt, will be retained to protect life and property.  These are full-time employees, working shifts to cover 24-hour and 18-hour operations.  Up to two employees working per shift at each location.

“Staff of the FCC Operations Center will handle emergency contacts for the agency.  Staff of the High-Frequency Direction Finding (HFDF) Center will operate the high-frequency antenna system used to protect life and property.  One management employee will oversee and coordinate regularly with both operations to help identify and respond to imminent threats to life or property.

“Up to three employees will be retained to provide oversight or conduct interference detection, mitigation, and disaster response operations wherever they may be needed.  These will be full-time employees strategically located across the country to resolve imminent threats to the safety of life or property.

“Up to 11 employees will be retained for critical oversight/protection of life or property.

“Up to five employees will be retained to perform international and treaty-related activity instrumental in the discharge of the President’s constitutional power.

“Five employees will be retained for critical Information Technology (IT) issues.

“Two employees will be retained, working as needed, to certify Universal Service Fund (USF) disbursements.”

A quarter of the government has shut down following a budget stalemate between congressional Democrats and the White House.

President Donald Trump has sought $5 billion in funding for a wall on the southern border of the United States.  Democrats have vowed to pass spending legislation that would re-open government offices without paying for the wall.


Featured image by Ser Amantio di Nicolao (CC by 3.0).