Back in February we reported on the release of the Fifth Report and Order (5th R&O) in the on-going EAS proceeding, and then a couple of weeks ago we noted that the effective date of most, but not all, of the new EAS rules had been set (for April 23). We observed that the effectiveness of several of the new rules would be delayed because of the need to run them past the Office of Management and Budget for Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) review. 

We may have spoken too soon.

According to a notice in the Federal Register, the FCC has asked OMB to review the new EAS rules “on an emergency basis” with an eye to getting everything approved by April 16, 2012. That might be a bit ambitious schedule-wise, since the deadline for comments in response to the notice is April 17, 2012, the day after OMB approval would be issued if the FCC were to get its way. Perhaps the Commission, figuring that any comments filed in response to the notice are likely to be ignored anyway, is suggesting that OMB can and should act before it ignores those comments, rather than hold off until the comments have been filed, at which point OMB could act after it ignores them.

The Federal Register notice is also unclear as to precisely which “information collections” it would like OMB to approve. As we pointed out in an earlier post, the 5th R&O itself was not a model of clarity on that score. The latest Federal Register notice merely refers vaguely to “a new information collection”, without identifying what that collection entails. The notice does indicate that the Commission will be submitting the information collection to OMB at some point during the 15-day comment period – but, again, that seems to undermine the utility of having a comment period at all. If commenting parties don’t know what they’re supposed to be commenting on, what’s the purpose of a comment period?

We’ll try to keep on top of this and report on any developments that may crop up.