We reported last month that a few of the FCC’s new rules for Wireless Communications Service (WCS) and Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) licensees finally went into effect – a mere 16 months after the FCC had adopted them. The bizarre delay in getting the rules approved by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) – which must approve agency rules that impose paperwork burdens on people – has never been explained, as far as we can tell. But, after most of the implicated rules finally made it over to OMB for review last summer, those rules were quickly blessed and went into effect on September 19, 2011.
It turns out, however, that a handful of these star-crossed rules were omitted from the original packet sent to OMB for approval. So yet another trip to OMB was necessary. The final seven rules were duly approved by OMB on September 26, 2011, and have become effective as of October 31, 2011 through publication in the Federal Register. The rules in question deal with coordination or certification by or between WCS and SDARS licensees and other parties. (For those of you keeping track, those rules are Sections 27.14(p)(7), 27.72(b), 27.72(c), 27.73(a), and 27.73(b), all of which have now become effective, and Sections 25.202(h)(3), 25.214(d)(2), and 27.53(a)(10), which will now be enforced.)
While this situation may have been anomalous – let’s hope so, at least – it is clearly unacceptable for rules, once formally adopted by an administrative agency, to remain in regulatory limbo for a year and a half pending perfunctory review by another government agency. If the rules were worth adopting in the first place, they should be worth putting into effect right away. Here the notification and coordination requirements established by the rules have not been effective and therefore have not been able to serve their intended purpose for no good reason.